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Parsing the First-Quarter Numbers

USA Network was the most-watched basic-cable network during the first quarter, averaging 2.3 million viewers, although the network’s audience was down 22% from the same period last year. In fact, the six most-watched cable networks from Dec. 31, 2013, through this March 31 posted quarter-to-quarter declines, in part due to stiff competition from NBC’s February coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. USA’s win was its 29th consecutive first-place finish in the primetime quarterly ratings among ad-supported entertainment networks, when factoring out sports network ESPN’s eight consecutive years of footballfueled fourth-quarter wins or ad-free Disney Channel’s third-quarter 2007 victory.