January Belongs to USA

Continuing its momentum from late last year, USA Network started 2006 with a ratings flourish.

Riding the strength of the WWEMonday NightRaw franchise and fresh installments of quirky detective series Monk, the characters network was basic cable’s highest-rated and most-watched service in January, leading the way among households with a 2.3 average, viewers (2.8 million) and adults 18-34 (600,000), 18-49 (1.3 million) and 25-54 (1.3 million), according to network officials.

They also noted that it was USA’s most-watched January against all of the four demos mentioned above since 2000.

In growing 15% from a 2.0 household average in January 2005, USA topped Disney Channel’s 2.2 mark, which represented a 29% gain from a 1.7 the prior year. Disney’s cause was elevated by a weekend burst of original telefilm High SchoolMusical.

Turner Network Television, down 9% from a 2.2, was third with a 2.0 average, ahead of ESPN, up 6% to a 1.7, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data from Dec. 26, 2005-Jan. 29.

TBS, flat versus the comparable period, and Nick at Nite, down 12%, were next, both with 1.5 marks. Lifetime Television was seventh, despite a 29% drop to a 1.4. Cartoon Network and Fox News Channel followed, both at 1.3, as the former sustained a 19% drop and the latter a 7% hit.

There was a logjam in the 10th spot for the month at a 1.1 average among FX (ahead 22%), Hallmark Channel (up 10%), The History Channel (even) and Spike TV (off 8%).