Almost Everyone's A Winner This June, Especially TV Fans

Which networks are off to a strong start in cable's peak summer season? To find out, we broke down June's primetime performance for 35 networks that are among the most prolific programmers in basic cable.

There was certainly no shortage of success stories this June as the cable nets kicked their programming into high gear. Rarely do we see the vast majority of nets improving audience vs. the previous month, and this June nearly half the networks earned double-digit improvements from May. If a network couldn't make it work this month, we have to wonder why.

About this chart:

The majority of these 35 networks serve specific audience niches; household and general adult demos don't always apply. To put like networks on equal footing we looked at the primary demographic for each individual network.* This is not a typical comparison, we are essentially comparing percentages of different universes. But it does show how well the networks are reaching their core audience. The comparisons to year ago (June 2012) and month ago (May 2013) ratings reveal which networks have momentum. The adult 18+ audience delivery gives a broad look at the size of each network's audience while male/female skew reveals the audience composition.

You can sort this chart on any of the headers to see which networks are the top performers. Sorting by primary demographic and then primary demo rating gives you a field of competitors for the same audience. For our take on the numbers, scroll past the chart.

June 2013 Primetime Audience Comparison

Live + Same Day Ratings

* NOTE: There are grey areas when choosing a primary demo for some of these nets. We considered network goals, ratings over the past two years and median age. Sometimes there are different target demos throughout the week (TNT, Syfy, Animal Planet) and sometimes the network's target demo is not the demo with the highest ratings. Even with these caveats, we think this paints a more clear picture of what's happening than your standard household or adult 18-49 ranker.

Summer is here, and the living is good for most cable networks. Nearly half the networks earned double-digit improvements from May while only three took double-digit losses: Oxygen, MTV and TNT. (TNT's numbers reflect the pumped up NBA playoff numbers from last month). OWN grew its primary demo rating, women 25-54, by the biggest percentage change vs. both last month and last year. In fact, women’s networks as a whole were strong vs. last year, with OWN, WE, BET, OXYGEN, ID, CMT and HGTV all with beefy growth compared to June 2012. At the male-skewing channels, FX is leading the younger male nets in the ratings while History retains its lead among men 25-54 targeted networks.

The reason for most of this growth is content; the bench is getting deeper and longer. A&E had BATES MOTEL and LONGMIRE and DUCK DYNASTY on its June slate. Discovery had SKYWIRE and NAKED and AFRAID and DEADLIEST CATCH and NORTH AMERICA, and more. USA had five original dramas on the air, each a tentpole program in itself. The list goes on for most networks, certainly the ones that are topping the rankers.

As the networks reinvest profits into programming they continue to grow. Most are not relying on a single program or even a single night for their success. And so most networks can post a win for the month, and TV fans get a slew of summertime viewing options.