Hoops Helps TNT to a Q2 Ratings Triumph

Turner network holds off USA with key audiences

According to Nielsen ratings data for the three months ended June 28, 10 of ad-supported cable’s top 40 networks notched double-digit ratings gains in the second quarter, while a half-dozen suffered declines of 10 percent or more.

While the top 10 was relatively stable, with only TNT, History, and FX growing by 10 percent or more—FX’s nightly delivery of 1.35 million total viewers reflected a 16 percent increase versus the year-ago period—it was a mixed bag for cable nets that ranked between No. 11 and No. 40 in prime. The biggest gainer of the quarter was Investigation Discovery, which soared 70 percent to a network-record 523,000 viewers.

Also making great strides in Q2 were: AMC, which grew 26 percent with an average audience of 1.23 million viewers; MTV, which improved 25 percent to 945,000 viewers; and CNN, which jumped 15 percent to 685,000 viewers. For all that, CNN still lagged behind MSNBC among total viewers (798,000) and the 25-54 demo (221,000 to the competition’s 265,000).

Other gainers in Q2 were: Headline News (up 12 percent to 549,000); Nick Jr. (up 11 percent to 846,000); and Versus (up 11 percent to 567,000, on the strength of its NHL Playoffs coverage.

The six ad-supported nets that lost the most ground in the quarter were: Nick at Nite, which fell 19 percent with 1.41 million viewers; TBS, down 19 percent (1.3 million); Hallmark Channel, which dropped 19 percent to 595,000 viewers; Lifetime Movie Network (down 17 percent to 528,000); ESPN2 (down 17 percent to 472,000); and Oxygen (down 11 percent to 387,000).

Of the top 50 programs on basic cable in the quarter, a mere six were scripted efforts, and all but one of these programs was targeted to kids. History’s lineup of unscripted favorites like Pawn Stars and American Pickers accounted for the lion’s share of the most popular programs on cable, followed by the NBA Playoffs and that indefinable hybrid of sports and scripted drama (WWE Raw).

Two Viacom-produced awards show (Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and BET’s annual self-titled gala) landed in the upper reaches in Q2, as did a pair of breaking news programs. President Obama addressed the nation on Sunday, May 1, informing viewers that SEAL Team 6 had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; CNN’s coverage of the brief speech delivered 10.1 million viewers.

The news network’s half-hour lead-in to the president’s address drew 7.46 million viewers.