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Not A Hot Cable Summer for All

No doubt basic cable is having a bang-up summer: cable networks have more original series than ever and some of them are putting broadcast to shame in the ratings. But as they say in beauty contests, they can't all be big winners.

Indeed, summer's been a bit of a mixed bag for many cable networks. Everyone's followed the ratings for the two biggies—TNT and USA—but other networks have seen lesser reported highs and lows with new series:

  • FX's touted Damages dropped off a lot in the two weeks after its premiere, from 3.66 million to 2.93 million to 2.1 million. All are better than the network's July average of 1.29 million, but the show's median age of 51 is decidedly not in the 18-49 demo FX targets.
  • Sci Fi has seen a good showing for Destination Truth—the series has averaged 1.33 million viewers since its June 6 premiere, above the network's July average in prime1.17 million. But fellow new show Mind Control hasn't fared as well, drawing 635,000 viewers over two episodes.
  • Lifetime's Army Wives is an obvious huge success, growing over its run to an average 3.64 million viewers. The network's other two new shows, State of Mind and Side Order of Life have been somewhat overshadowed by that victory, though. Side has averaged 1.92 million and State, 2 million over four episodes each—smaller, but still good numbers for the network that hadn't seen a hit in some time.
  • SoapNet's Fashionista Diaries was a big disappointment, premiering Aug. 1 to just 163,000 viewers, significantly less than the network's July primetime average—325,000. It grew in week two to 206,000 and the network's other new series, General Hospital: Night Shift fared a lot better—it's drawn an average 898,000 viewers over four episodes.
  • AMC's Mad Men premiered to a good number for the network—1.65 million is respectably higher than the network's 1.25 million-viewer primetime average in July. Unfortunately, it dropped off in weeks two and three to 1.04 and 1.07 million viewers, respectively.
  • While it's seen record ratings for season three of Top Chef (the show is averaging 2.03 million viewers over seven episodes), Bravo's struggled with its new series. Hey Paula has averaged 520,000 total viewers since its June 28 premiere, below the network's average in July—631,000. The network's other two new series also started slow, but have grown. Welcome to the Parker premiered to 334,000 viewers and grew to 471,000 in week two.. Flipping Out premiered to 470,000 and grew to 639,000 in week two.
  • Style Network's Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane debuted Aug. 5 to 344,000 viewers—much better than the network's July average (164,000). It did even better later that night on E!, averaging 771,000 (E! averaged 489,000 in July). The network's I Propose hasn't done as well, averaging 149,000 since June 12.
  • VH1's Scott Baio is 45 & Single is a hit for the network with an average 1.29 million viewers over four episodes (the network averaged 695,000 viewers in July). But its I Hate My 30s has been a dud with only an average 410,000 viewers over two episodes. That gives VH1 another number to hate.