USA Network Nips TNT to Wear Q2 Primetime Ratings Crown

USA Network won cable’s second-quarter primetime ratings crown by the slimmest of margins over TNT, according to Nielsen.

The "Characters Welcome" network relied on its stable of original dramas, including Burn Notice and White Collar, as well as freshman series Graceland, to average 2.66 million viewers during the period of April 1 to June 30 – down 5% from second quarter 2012 – which was just enough to outlast TNT’s 2.60 million viewers -- many of whom were in the "drama" network's court  for it NBA playoffs coverage, according to Nielsen.

The delivery marked USA’s eight consecutive second quarter primetime win and its unprecedented 28th consecutive quarter win among ad-supported cable entertainment networks, according to network officials.

Nickelodeon bested Disney Channel to finish first on a 24-hour basis for the third consecutive quarter, posting a 6% year-to-year audience increase to 1.7 million viewers, compared to Disney’s 1.6 million watchers, an increase of 5% over second quarter 2012.

Among the news networks, Fox News Channel won its 46th consecutive quarter in primetime with an average of 1.9 million total viewers, an increase of 6% over second quarter 2012. CNN, which has just begun to evolve under CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, finished second for the quarter, posting a 50% year-to-year audience increase to 673,000 primetime viewers. MSNBC lost 16% of its viewership quarter to quarter, falling to third place with an average of 584,000 viewers, while HLN enjoyed a 49% audience boost during the quarter, averaging 524,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.  

Networks posting strong ratings performances during second quarter include Nick-at-Nite, which posted a 43% increase during the quarter to 1.07 million viewers; Hallmark Movie Channel (up 42% to 258,000); Velocity (up 41% to 147,000); WE (up 32% to 344,000); GSN (up 30% to 386,000); OWN (up 27% to 383,000); and Galavision (up 26% to 168,000).

Networks that lost ground during the quarter include Nick Jr. (down 49% to 462,000 viewers); Style (down 34% to 133,000); ESPN (down 33% to 1.3 million) and Current TV (down 26% to 23,000).


Most Watched Cable Networks In Primetime During 2nd Quarter 2013*

Network                                     2Q 2013 Viewers    2Q 2012 Viewers  % Change

*-Period of April 1 to June 30

Source: Nielsen

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.