NBA Leads TNT’s 2Q Fast-Break

Lifted by its coverage of the National Basketball Association playoffs, Turner Network Television topped basic cable’s primetime during the second quarter.

The drama network posted up a 2.4 household rating, a 9% gain from the 2.2 it registered in the prior-year period. TNT’s NBA playoff presentations accounted for the 11 highest-rated shows in the second quarter.

Nickelodeon ranked second between March 29-June 27, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, with a 2.1 (up 5% from a 2.0). USA Network grew 20% to a 1.8 in the second quarter from a 1.5 in the 2003 quarter, while Nick at Nite and Disney Channel (even) were next, each with a 1.7.

Beginning with its April month, Nielsen began ranking Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite as separate entities, even though they share the same channel space and are not measured by the same hourly standards that pertain to other services.

Competitors recently sent a letter to Nielsen seeking a change in the way it defines networks. The measurement company said it would soon address network and client concerns over the matter.

Rounding out the top 10: Cartoon Network (down 6% to a 1.6); TBS (ahead 8%) and Lifetime Television (off 18%), both at a 1.4; and ESPN (up 18%) and Fox News Channel (down 35%), each with a 1.3 average.

Cable News Network and MSNBC were also down significantly -- 33% to a 0.8 and 50% to a 0.3, respectively -- in the quarter, as the all-news sector suffered in comparison to the corresponding period in 2003, when the United States was at war with Iraq.

Gauged on a total-day basis, Nick easily led the way, increasing 6% to a 1.7. NAN was second with a 1.3. TNT was third (flat at a 1.2), while Cartoon (down 8%) and Disney both averaged a 1.1 on a 24-hour basis.