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Hits do wonders for MTV, FX

FX and MTV are proving a hit show really can lift an entire network. Their breakout originals—FX's dirty- cop drama, The Shield, and MTV's wacky family act, The Osbournes
—boosted the networks' average prime time ratings 25%, to a 1.0 for the second quarter.

The Shield
averaged a 2.8 rating with its March 12 premiere scoring a 4.1 high. The Osbournes
averaged a 4.4. Its high of 5.9 came on April 23.

A hit show "can change a network for a while," says Turner's Jack Wakshlag. "But that also means you're riding one horse."

With just a week to go in the second quarter, Lifetime was poised to win its sixth consecutive quarter in prime time. Through June 23, Lifetime averaged a 2.1 average in prime, up 11% from second quarter 2001 and up 24% from 2000, according to Nielsen data. Lifetime's original dramas help drive the ratings. Its Sunday-night duo of Strong Medicine
and The Division
averaged a 2.0, despite being in repeats. "The key is how a series holds up over time," said Lifetime researcher Tim Brooks. "Ours hold up and grow."

Nickelodeon (up 20%) and TNT (up 6%) should take second place, each with 1.8 average in prime time. Tied for third with 1.7 ratings are Cartoon Network, flat compared with last year, and TBS, which is up 13%.

Lifetime trotted out Nielsen data showing the average cable viewer spends nearly 30 consecutive minutes tuned in to its two services, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, more than almost all other cable nets. The Hallmark Channel held viewers for 22.3 minutes; Court TV, 21.1, Lifetime said.

Turner said its networks attracted, or reached, the most viewers watching at least once per month. Between last October and May, 34% of adults 18-49 tuned into TBS, and 32% came to TNT. USA reached 29% at least once; Discovery, 25%; and Lifetime, 18.4%, according to Turner.