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Lifetime Hit Rare Double in January

Continuing its eye-popping domination of cable's ratings race, Lifetime Television easily outdistanced the competition for primetime in January and claimed a share of the month's total-day crown.

The female-targeted Lifetime posted a 2.3 household rating from Dec. 31, 2001, through Jan. 27, the best average in its 18-year history, according to the network.

Lifetime, which was up 10 percent, held a 0.5-point lead in primetime over USA Network and Turner Network Television, both of which were down 5 percent from a 1.9 average in January 2001 (Jan. 1 through Jan. 28, 2001).

A Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data showed that TBS Superstation was fourth with a 1.7 (down 6 percent from a 1.8), while Nickelodeon placed fifth, flat at a 1.6.

Lifetime also forged a tie with Nickelodeon for first place in total-day with a 1.4 household rating, making it the first basic-cable entertainment channel to simultaneously don both diadems since Nick did so in April 1997, according to Lifetime officials.

Lifetime senior vice president of research Tim Brooks said the network has been cutting into Nick's total-day lead over the last two years. If Lifetime's ratings surge continues, Brooks believes it could pass the kid-targeted Nick in total-day ratings by the end of 2002.

"It [the total-day tie] is based on a combination of our programming and an erosion of Nickelodeon's delivery base through competition with Cartoon Network and Disney [Channel], which we feel will continue throughout the year," Brooks said.

Rounding out the top 10 in primetime household ratings: Cartoon Network, down 12 percent to a 1.5; Discovery Channel (even) and ESPN (up 30 percent) at a 1.3 apiece; A&E Network, off 25 percent to a 1.2; and Fox News Channel, ahead 38 percent to a 1.1.

Hallmark Channel set a ratings record in January with a 0.8 rating, up 100 percent over last year's numbers, while Lifetime Movie Network (0.8 rating, up 60 percent) and Country Music Television (0.4, up 33 percent) also posted strong gains.

On the flip side, TNN: The National Network (0.9 rating, down 25 percent); VH1 (0.3, off 40 percent); and Bravo and CNBC (both at a 0.3, down 25 percent), all struggled during the month.

On the adult-demographic front, TBS was first among the 18-34 group, scoring a 10 percent increase and averaging 594,000 of those viewers, according to the Turner analysis. It also led the way among adults 18-49, despite a 1 percent downturn to 1.14 million viewers.

Sister network TNT was first in January among adults 25 through 54 with 1.17 million of those viewers, down 3 percent from the January 2001 period.

Lifetime's household dominance, which also extended across a host of women's demos, was fueled in part by the original movie Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story, the third-highest-rated show of the month. It tallied a 5.1 household average on Jan. 21.