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No Drama: TNT Is 2004 Primetime Champ

With the final numbers in, “We Know Drama” Turner Network Television is officially cable’s winner in the primetime-ratings race for 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.

TNT ranked No. 1 with a 2.1 household rating, up 5% from its 2.0 showing in 2003, according to Nielsen data supplied by ABC Cable Networks Group. Dec. 26 marked the official end of 2004 for Nielsen.

TNT was followed in second place by USA Network, which saw its primetime ratings increase a sizable 19% this year, to a 1.9 from a 1.6 a year ago. Disney Channel was No. 3 with a 1.7 rating, unchanged from 2003.

There was a three-way tie for fourth place between Nick at Nite, ESPN and Lifetime Television, all of which had 1.6 primetime ratings this year. Nick at Nite wasn’t broken out from Nickelodeon last year, so there is no 2003 comparison, but ESPN’s ratings were up 7% from a 1.5 last year while Lifetime was down 6% from a 1.7.

Cartoon Network and Fox News Channel each had 1.5 ratings this year, each dropping 6% from their 1.6 numbers a year ago. TBS garnered a 1.4, a 7% drop from its 1.5 last year.

And six networks posted 1.0 ratings: MTV: Music Television, Spike TV, A&E Network, The History Channel, Sci Fi Channel and FX. MTV, Spike, History and FX were all up 11% from 0.9 ratings in 2003, while A&E and Sci Fi were flat.

While Fox News was the only all-news channel in the top 10, several of the cable-news networks were down from 2003. Cable News Network posted a 0.8 in primetime, down 20% from a 1.0. Fox News saw a 6% dip, down from a 1.6 last year. CNBC posted a 0.2, while MSNBC did a 0.4, each performing the same as they did last year.

Some of the biggest primetime gainers this year were: ABC Family, up 29% to a 0.9; Fuse, up 100% to a 0.1; National Geographic Channel, up 50% to a 0.3; Discovery Health Channel, up 50% to a 0.3; Comedy Central, up 33% to a 0.8; and Hallmark Channel, up 29% to a 0.9.

The big primetime losers included: BBC America, down 50% to a 0.1; The Learning Channel, down 27% to a 0.8; and TV Guide Channel, down 25% to a 0.3.