Sci Fi propelled by Taken

For Sci Fi Channel, miniseries Taken was a $35 million risk that proved to have priceless rewards Tuesday.

Taken "succeeded in every strategized and imagined way," president Bonnie Hammer said at a press conference Tuesday.

The 10-part, 20-hour alien-abduction miniseries wrapped up its premiere run
on Sci Fi Friday with an average stellar 4.1 rating and nearly 5 million
viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Taken propelled Sci Fi to finish as the highest-rated cable network in
prime time for the first two weeks of December, a first for the niche network.

The boon extended beyond viewership, Hammer said. Taken brought 41 new
advertisers to the channel and ad inventory sold out well before the premiere.
It also gave Sci Fi a platform to promote its 2003 slate to millions of fresh

Hammer said she wouldn't rule out a possible Taken sequel or spinoff
series. More important, she added, Sci Fi showed that it can succeed with ambitious
-- and pricey -- programming. "I don't think we'll be intimidated to go to the
well again," Hammer said.

She has the support of Universal Television Group chairman Michael Jackson,
who said Sci Fi and its sister network, USA Network, will get between $300 million to
$400 million in extra programming money over the next few years to develop
original shows.

"It's with originals that you define a network and define the quality for the
viewers," Jackson said.

Sci Fi finished the week of Dec. 9 through 15 with a 2.5 rating in prime
time, down from a stunning 2.8 average the week before. The closest competitors
were ESPN and Turner Network Television, which posted 1.9 averages.

Lifetime Television followed with a 1.8, and Nickelodeon rounded out the top five with a
1.6 average.

Taken dominated the cable ratings in household marks and delivery to
adults 18 through 49 and 25 through 54.

ESPN's Sunday Night Football National Football League game between the St. Louis Rams and Arizona
Cardinals, however, was the week's highest-rated cable program with a 6.2
household rating.