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TNT Could Overtake USA for Q2

Jun 26, 2006  •  Post A Comment

After two quarters in USA’s submission hold, TNT is poised to reclaim the basic cable top spot among total prime-time viewers and adults 18 to 49 for the second quarter.

Final data won’t be released until Tuesday, but according to Nielsen Media Research figures from March 27 through June 18, NBA playoffs and the original series “The Closer” have given TNT a hairline lead over wrestling-fueled USA. The tight race comes despite a 19 percent quarterly increase for the NBC Universal-owned USA.

As of June 19, TNT was ahead with 2.59 million total viewers to USA’s 2.54 million. Among viewers 18 to 49, TNT led with 1.21 million viewers to USA’s 1.15 million.

In the fourth quarter of 2005, USA’s telecasts of World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Raw” led to the channel’s overtaking TNT for the first time in five years, a lead that continued through the first quarter of 2006. This season’s NBA playoffs helped bump TNT to a narrow lead, and also boosted ESPN — which enjoyed a 28 percent increase from the same quarter last year among adults 18 to 49. Pro sports also helped OLN, which increased about 141 percent from Q2 2005 among 18 to 49 due to its NHL coverage.

Other networks on the rise for the second quarter among adults 18 to 49 include Biography Channel, up 68 percent thanks to sister channel A&E Networks scheduling fewer “Biography” episodes; and Comedy Central, up about 12 percent due to increased viewership of “South Park.”

Declining networks include Spike TV, which was down 18 percent among viewers 18 to 49, partly due to losing its wrestling programming. Lifetime was also down by 16 percent, blamed on waning viewership of original and theatrical movies. Sci Fi Channel was also down 16 percent due to underperforming theatrical titles.

Among original series, “The Closer” took the top spot among 18 to 49, followed by “South Park,” USA’s “The 4400,” MTV’s “Real World 17,” FX’s “Rescue Me” and Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” Coming in at No. 7 was a new entry, TNT’s “Saved,” with MTV getting a debut entry at No. 10: “The Hills.”