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TV Viewing Up In Summertime

TV viewing is up this summer, particularly on cable, according to preliminary Nielsen figures compiled by Turner Broadcasting.

CBS was the top-rated broadcast network among adults 18-49 in primetime, and on cable, longtime number one USA was given a run for its money by History, which came in No. 2, thanks to a 33% gain from a year ago.

Overall, people watched 34.1 hours of TV per week during the summer, up from 33.9% a year ago, despite competition from other media. While live viewing remained the same at 31.7 hours, time shifting rose to 2.4 hours from 2.2 hours.

Summertime has traditionally been a strong period for cable, as cable networks roll out their original shows and the broadcasters go mostly with reruns and reality. This summer, total viewing fell among the Big Four broadcast networks to 7.6 hours per week, while viewership of ad-supported cable rose to 17.1 hours from 16.6 hours.

Among viewers 18-49, NBC was the only broadcast network not to deliver fewer viewers than last year, registering a 2% gain. Combined, the Big Four were down 6% among adults 18-49.

In cable, six of the top 10 networks were up among viewers 18-49, and in total were up 3%. Turner projects that ad-supported cable will finish this summer with a 75% share among viewers 18-49, up from 73% a year ago.

USA was the most-watched cable network among adults 18-49, followed by History, TNT, FX, A&E, TBS, Discovery, ABC Family, MTV and Comedy Central. In that group, the big gainers were History, up 33%; FX, up 18%; and MTV, up 10%. TBS was down 20% from a year ago, Discovery was down 11% and Comedy dropped 8%.

Crime paid for two cable networks showing huge gains this summer. Headline News, driven by the Casey Anthony story, was up 121%, while Investigation Discovery was up 83%. Also showing strong increases were Style, up 90%; Galavision, up 61%; National Geographic Wild, up 60%; and VH1, up 46%.

The top 10 returning original shows on cable among viewers 18-49 were MTV's Jersey Shore, History's Pawn Stars, Comedy Central's Tosh.0, A&E's Storage Wars and MTV's Teen Mom.

The top new original shows on cable among adults 18-49 were TNT's Falling Skies, USA's Suits, USA's Necessary Roughness, ABC Family's Switched at Birth and TNT's Franklin & Bash.

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.