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Top Cable Network Ratings Slide in Second Quarter

Ratings were down for nine of the top 10 basic cable networks in the second quarter, with only ESPN showing an increase among 18 to 49 year old viewers.

Seven of the next 10 cable networks were also down among 18 to 49 year olds and TLC was unchanged, leaving just three of the top 20 networks up for the quarter, according to an analysis of Nielsen numbers by Turner Broadcasting.

With the NBA playoffs and World Cup soccer, ESPN was up 35% in the quarter. It had six of the most-watched programs, topped by the USA-Portugal match from Brazil and the NFL Draft. TNT was the most watched network in the demo, but it was down 20% for the period. It was followed by TBS, off 10% and USA, lower by 12%. ESPN was fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were History, down 14%; Adult Swim, off 12%; FX, dipping 8%; Discovery, slipping 7%; Bravo, off 1% and A&E, diving 39%.

In the top 20, the networks registering increases were Spike and VH1. Those two Viacom networks were each up 15%.

Other networks posting big gains in primetime included Fox Sports 1, CNBC, WGN America, IFC, Destination America and Velocity.

It was a tough quarter for CNN and the other news networks in primetime. CNN’s viewership among 25 to 54 year olds was down 29%. Fox News was off 16%, as was MSNBC.

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.