Originals Continue to Perform for USA

Thanks to its roster of original dramas, USA Network last week once again swept the prime- time ratings field, boasting the highest deliveries among total viewers and the three major demos. But even as series like Burn Notice, Covert Affairs and Royal Pains continued their hot streak, the week ended August 22 was all but dominated by a phalanx of unscripted shows.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, USA on the week averaged 3.25 million viewers in prime, of which 1.35 million were adults 25-54 and 1.25 million were members of the 18-49 crowd. USA also won the 18-34 demo, beating out MTV by some 10,000 viewers with an average draw of 596,000.

As has been the case throughout the summer, USA’s Thursday night lineup did much of the heavy lifting. Burn Notice served up 5.5 million viewers Thursday night at 9 p.m., while Royal Pains delivered 5.27 million in the following hour. Burn Notice also drew 2.29 million adults 25-54 and 1.97 million viewers 18-49; with an average draw of 2.33 million 25-54s, Royal Pains out-drew its lead-in by 2 percent in the older demo. Pains also averaged 1.94 million adults 18-49.

Recently renewed for a second season, Covert Affairs on Tuesday drew 5.36 million viewers at 10 p.m., a grand total that included a series high 2.41 million adults 25-54 (45 percent of its overall delivery) and 2.34 million viewers 18-49 (44 percent). Leading out of USA’s youngest-skewing original, sophomore strip White Collar drew a season-best 4.48 million viewers, an average that included 1.92 million viewers 18-49 and 1.83 million 25-54s.

On Wednesday, August 18, Psych drew 4.11 million viewers in its 10 p.m. slot, marking the largest delivery of its fifth season.

Along with the five homegrown dramas, USA also benefited from another WWE Raw boost. The wrestling showcase averaged 4.77 million viewers on August 16 between 9 p.m. and 11:07 p.m., of which 46 percent (2.19 million) were members of the 18-49 demo. Adults 25-54 accounted for 48 percent of the overall delivery.

Despite a surge by History, TNT retained second place on the week, averaging 2.59 million total viewers and 1.08 million adults 25-54. The Turner net tied History among the 18-49 set, as both nets averaged 900,000 in prime.

TNT boasted another powerhouse Monday night, as The Closer won the week with 6.82 million viewers, while Rizzoli & Isles retained 95 percent of its lead-in (6.49 million) at 10 p.m. The Closer on August 16 averaged 2.21 million adults 25-54, which accounted for about a third of the episode’s overall deliveries. Per Nielsen, 23 percent of The Closer’s audience fell into the 18-49 camp.

Rizzoli & Isles drew a slightly younger crowd, as adults 25-54 made up 35 percent (2.28 million) of its overall draw. Meanwhile, 26 percent of R&I viewers were members of the 18-49 demo.

On Tuesday night, the penultimate episode of Memphis Beat drew 3.94 million viewers Tuesday at 10 p.m., marking the series’ biggest delivery since episode two averaged 4 million viewers on June 29. Lead-in Hawthorne scared up a series high 3.8 million viewers.

Sunday night’s installment of Leverage averaged 3.37 million viewers at 9 p.m., while the Jerry Bruckheimer drama Dark Blue improved 4 percent to 2.34 million viewers in its Wednesday 9 p.m. slot, bringing its season average to 2.45 million viewers.

History barreled into third place on the week, as new installments of Pawn Stars and American Pickers and the series premiere of Swamp People helped the net average 1.89 million viewers in prime, nearly half of which (900,000) were viewers 18-49. History also took third place among adults 25-54, luring 991,000.

Monday night’s lineup continued to perform splendidly for History, with the 10:30 p.m. Pawn Stars averaging 6.24 million viewers/3.09 million 18-49s/3.12 million adults 25-54. At the top of the hour, Pawn Stars served up 6.08 million total viewers/2.88 million 18-49s/3.02 million adults 25-54. Leading off the night at 9 p.m., American Pickers packed in 5.2 million viewers, of which 2.44 million were members of the 25-54 crowd, while 2.18 million were viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.

Newcomer Swamp People dredged up 4.23 million viewers in its August 22 debut, a haul that included 2.25 million viewers 18-49 and 2.49 million adults 25-54. Lead-out Ice Road Truckers averaged 3.5 million viewers in the Sunday 10 p.m. time slot, 59 percent of which (2.05 million) were adults 25-54. The core TV demo accounted for a hair under 50 percent of Truckers’ load.

Fox News Channel slipped a notch, taking fourth place with an average nightly draw of 1.83 million. Of that total, 463,000 were members of the core news demo (adults 25-54).

Pre-season NFL action helped ESPN close out fifth place, as the New York Giants and Jets christened their shared new digs in front of a national audience of 5.61 million viewers. (To put that in perspective, the exhibition out-delivered every single regular season MLB telecast on broadcast and cable this season.) The Monday Night Football Giants-Jets scrimmage also averaged 3.09 million viewers 18-49 and 2.94 million adults 25-54.

On the week, ESPN averaged 1.7 million total viewers, 824,000 adults 25-54 and 821,000 18-49s.

The top 10 outlets serving the primary TV demo were: USA, which averaged 1.25 million viewers 18-49; TNT and History (900,000); TBS (885,000); ESPN (821,000); MTV (744,000); A&E (706,000); ABC Family (669,000); Comedy Central (651,000), FX (624,000) and truTV (616,000).

Sammi and Ronnie’s purgatorial love story kept viewers smooshing on Jersey Shore, as the latest installment of MTV’s unscripted hit averaged 5.5 million viewers Thursday night at 10 p.m. While the duck phone is still sorely missed, the episode managed to ring up the best numbers on the week among younger viewers, drawing 3.75 million 18-49s and 2.94 million 18-34s. The show remains weirdly popular among older viewers as well, as episode four finished sixth among adults 25-54, averaging 2.49 million.

Other big draws were: E! juggernaut Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which returned Sunday night to 4.68 million viewers/3.31 million 18-49s; MTV’s Teen Mom 2 (3.5 million/2.55 million viewers 18-49); Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 (2.41 million viewers/1.87 million adults 18-49); and Lifetime’s Army Wives, which attracted 3.91 million viewers and 2 million viewers 25-54 Sunday night. Project Runway also put up some decent numbers for Lifetime, as season eight’s fourth installment drew 3.44 million viewers/1.95 million adults 25-54.

Of the 2.59 million viewers who tuned in Monday night for Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, 68 percent, or 1.77 million viewers, were members of the 18-49 demo.

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel once again second place among all basic-cable networks, averaging 2.67 million viewers in prime. The Mouse handily swept the core kiddie demos, averaging 1.44 million viewers 2-11, 951,000 ‘tweens 9-14 and 1.01 million kids 6-11.

On Sunday night, Hannah Montana Forever drew 4.63 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., of which 1.89 million were ‘tweens 9-14.