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Cable Victorious in Sweeps

Cable beat the seven broadcast networks in February sweeps for the first time ever, notching a 49.4 household share in prime time compared with broadcast’s 48.6. Cable is on par to win its second straight broadcast season with a 51.8 share this season to date, compared with broadcast’s 45.7, according to Turner Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research numbers.

“The final story in this chapter has closed,” said Turner Chief Research Officer Jack Wakshlag in presenting the company’s quarterly ratings to reporters. “The end of the broadcast-dominated world is in place. Unless something incredibly extraordinary happens, broadcast will never win another sweeps.”

Sci Fi Channel posted the top two new ad-supported cable originals in the first quarter of 2005 to date, with new episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis averaging 1.77 and 1.58 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, respectively. MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, Spike’s Ultimate Fighter and A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter rounded out the top five, averaging 1.5, 1.27 and 1.12 million 18-49s with new episodes.

The top returning cable shows this season are FX’s The Shield (averaging 2.34 million viewers 18-49 with new episodes – up 16% from last season), MTV’s Real World XV (2.04 million viewers 18-49 – down 26% from last season) and USA’s Monk (2.03 million viewers 18-49, down 2% from last season).