USA Abduction Flick Does the Trick

USA Network, led by the record-setting debut of limited series The 4400, abducted the most basic-cable viewers in primetime from July 5 to 11.

The general-entertainment network averaged a 2.5 household rating during the aforementioned span, bolstered by the 5.7 household mark scored by The 4400 (pictured), a show about people who are returned to Earth after being taken by aliens, on July 11.

USA officials said the show was the highest-rated and most-watched series debut (some 7.4 million viewers) in the history of the medium, surpassing the 4.7 mark registered by the bow of its series The Dead Zone on June 16, 2002.


USA also gained with a 3.7 for the July 9 premiere of an installment of quirky detective series Monk, the fifth-highest show of the week, as well as a 3.2 for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, when it served as an 8 to 9 p.m. lead in to The 4400.

Turner Network Television was second for the week, averaging a 2.1., while Disney Channel was third with a 1.8 mark, according to Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Knotted in the fourth position for that week, all with a 1.5 average, were TBS, Nick at Nite, Lifetime Television and Turner South (again benefiting from its coverage of the Atlanta Braves, the Major League Baseball franchise owned by network parent Time Warner Inc.).

Rounding out the top 10 for the span: Cartoon Network with a 1.4 and Fox News Channel and Sci Fi Channel, each with a 1.2.

A host of networks — ABC Family, ESPN, A&E Network, FX, MTV: Music Television and Hallmark Channel — narrowly missed the top 10, with each scoring a 1.1 for the period.


Conspicuous by its absence was kids’ kingpin and top-10 primetime fixture Nickelodeon, which, owing to a recent rules change by Nielsen, no longer has its own ranking in the daypart.

After MTV Networks requested that Nielsen rank Nick and channel-sharing sister service Nick at Nite as a separate services, beginning in the just-finished second quarter, a host of programmers expressed their frustration over the distinct rankings. In a June 16 letter to the measurement company, they requested that a service be required to offer programming for more than 50% of a given daypart to be ranked therein.

Nielsen complied and Nick, which only airs nine hours out of 21 per week in primetime, will no longer be listed there. (See story on page 41).


On a total programming-day basis, though, Nick was in a familiar spot from July 5 to 11: atop the pack, this time with a 1.9 household average.

That compared with a 1.3 for Cartoon, and a 1.2 apiece for Nick at Nite, Disney and TNT. Rounding out the top 10 in this measure were USA Network at a 1.1 household average; Lifetime with a 1.0; TBS at a 0.9; Fox News at a 0.8; and MTV and ABC Family, both with a 0.7.

Among key adult demos, USA won two of the three primetime rounds. The network set the pace among adults 18 to 49 (1.32 million of those viewers) and adults 25 to 54 (1.38 million), according to a Turner Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen data.

In both cases, TNT was second, averaging 1.09 million and 1.21 million of those watchers, respectively, while TBS was third with 1.08 million and 968,000 of those groups tuning in on average during that week.

TBS was first among adults 18 to 34, attracting 543,000 of those viewers, to finish ahead of MTV (518,000) and USA (509,000).