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As Nick Racks Up Ratings, Daypart Controversy Simmers

As networks await a Nielsen Media Research definition about what constitutes a cable network, the services in the center of the storm — Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite — continued to ring up sizable ratings marks.

With a 2.1 mark, Nick trailed only Turner Network Television’s 2.2 household rating during the week of April 12 through April 18 in primetime, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of the measurement company’s data. Nick at Nite, which shares channel space with the kids’ kingpin, was tied with USA Network and The History Channel, which was bolstered by its airings of the former Home Box Office miniseries Band of Brothers, for third at a 1.8 household rating.

On the total-day side of the ledger, Nick was first with a 1.8, followed by a 1.4 for its channel mate. TNT was third with a 1.2, while Cartoon Network and Disney Channel each posted a 1.1.

Beginning with the second Nielsen quarter on March 29, Nick and Nick at Nite have been rated as separate services. Splitting primetime into nine hours for Nick and a dozen for the sitcom purveyor have raised the eyebrows and ire of executives at competitors to the Viacom networks, which are gauged on a 21-hour primetime basis.

Nielsen recently told Multichannel News that it expects to nail down a more detailed explanation of a “cable network” over the next week or so.

Rounding out the top 10 in primetime: Disney Channel, with a 1.6; Cartoon Network and Fox News Channel, each with a 1.5; Lifetime Television, at a 1.4; and MTV: Music Television, with a 1.3.

As for the top shows of the week, Fox News Channel set the pace with its April 13 coverage of President Bush’s press conference about Iraq and terrorism, scoring a 4.1 household rating from 8:30 p.m. to 9:32 p.m. (ET) that night. Its subsequent analysis of the event also kept viewers, delivering a 3.5 mark until 10 p.m. and a share of seventh place along with TNT’s Law & Order on April 12 and Nick’s Fairly Odd Parents from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on April 18. Nick also had two other slots in the top 10: Fairly Odd Parents, in the prior half hour on April 18, tied Spike TV’s World Wrestling Entertainment on April 12 with a 3.7; and a SpongeBob SquarePants installment on April 18 earned a 3.6, good for fifth that week.

Rounding out the top 10: the second hour of WWE pinned a 4.0 to place second; Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show on April 14 had a fifth-place slice with a 3.6; and a Law & Order episode on April 13 pulled a 3.4 to finish at No. 10.