July: TNT Tops UPN, WB

Turner Network Television not only took basic cable in July as far as the ratings were concerned, but UPN and sister service The WB Television Network, as well.

The drama network ran its primetime-victory string to seven months and 17 consecutive weeks in basic cable, while topping the abovementioned broadcast networks in households, viewers and among adults 25-54 for a second straight month.

Buoyed by original series The Closer and Wanted and limited series Into the West, TNT averaged a 2.3 household rating from June 27-July 31, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

That performance over the 35-day period -- up 5% from the corresponding July 2004 span -- was 0.4 points higher than both USA Network, down 14% from a 2.2, and commercial-free Disney Channel, ahead 6% from a 1.8. Indeed, last July, TNT and USA were deadlocked atop the primetime roost.
 Next, there was a three-way tie among Lifetime Television (up 13%), Fox News Channel (31%) and Nick at Nite (21%), all with 1.7 averages.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Turner services Cartoon Network (off 7%) and TBS (even), both with a 1.4; Spike TV at a 1.3 (63%); and regional network Turner South’s 1.2 (down 20%).

Finishing just outside this group were MTV: Music Television (up 10%), Sci Fi Channel (even) and Hallmark Channel (10%), all of which registered 1.1 averages.

Turner officials said TNT beat UPN and The WB for the second consecutive month among adults 25-54 (tops in cable with 699,000 of those viewers on average), persons two-plus (2.69 million) and households (2.03 million).

TNT’s latest original series, Wanted, bowed July 31, pulling in a 2.9 rating from 10 p.m.-11 p.m. to rank in a tie for 22nd for the week of July 25-31. It delivered 3.73 million viewers, 1.81 adults 18-49 and 1.89 million adults 25-54.

For the month, a pair of National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Nextel Cup Series races, covered by TNT, led the overall ratings pace.

The rest of July’s top comprised Black Entertainment Television’s 2005 BET Awards Show; ESPN’s Home Run Derby; the season premiere of USA’s quirky detective series, Monk; Lifetime telepic Murder in the Hamptons; two episodes of TNT original series The Closer; and three installments of Spike’s coverage of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.’s Raw franchise.