Hockey Lifts MSNBC, But USA Wins the Week

USA Network regained the lead in the cable ratings race, averaging 2.76 million total viewers during the week of Feb. 15-22.

Boosted by WWE Raw, repeats of NCIS and its original series Burn Notice, USA also won the two top demos, drawing 1.19 million adults 25-54 and 1.12 million viewers 18-49, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

USA’s Monday night wrestling bloc was the third most-watched program on ad-supported cable last week, trailing only MSNBC’s telecast of the USA-Canada Olympic hockey showdown and a 13-minute post-game show. MSNBC notched its best delivery in its history, drawing 8.22 million viewers Sunday night between 7:45 p.m. and 9:55 p.m. EST, while the wrap averaged 6.48 million viewers.

Raw delivered 4.96 million viewers in its 9 p.m.-11:06 p.m. slot, edging E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians finale, which scared up 4.91 million viewers Sunday night.

NCIS accounted for five of ad-supported cable’s most-viewed programs. Chief among these was Monday’s installment, which delivered 4.72 million viewers at 7 p.m. Burn Notice also boosted USA’s numbers, drawing 4.12 million viewers Thursday night at 10 p.m.

After rebounding from an off week, USA’s Psych dropped again, drawing 2.94 million viewers in its Wednesday 10 p.m. time slot, a drop of 18 percent from the 3.57 million viewers the show served up on Feb. 10. Seven days prior to that, Psych suffered its first major decline of the season, drawing 2.89 million viewers.

USA’s third winter original, White Collar, was on hiatus last week.

After winning the previous week with its NBA All-Star Weekend coverage, TNT eased back to second place with an average nightly draw of 1.97 million viewers. The Turner net took second among adults 25-54 (969,000) and third among the 18-49 set (925,000).

TNT posted its best numbers with Thursday night’s Celtics-Lakers telecast (2.86 million) and the season finale of Leverage (2.85 million). The Timothy Hutton crime caper squares off with USA’s Psych in the Wednesday 10 p.m. slot, and returns for its third season this summer.

Fox News Channel held onto third place, edging Nick at Nite by some 10,000 viewers. FNC averaged 1.87 million viewers in prime, of which 442,000 were members of the core news demo.

Nick at Nite got a lift from its original animated series The Penguins of Madagascar, which delivered 4.6 million viewers Monday at 8 p.m.

TBS closed out the top five with an averaged draw of 1.54 million total viewers, while winning the 18-34 demo outright with 566,000. TBS also took second place with viewers 18-49, averaging 936,000.

While hockey served up MSNBC’s all-time largest sustained audience, the one night wasn’t enough to crack the top five. MSNBC finished sixth among ad-supported cable nets, averaging 1.49 million viewers. The news net’s Olympics coverage helped land the No. 7 spot in prime among adults 25-54 (662,000) and the No. 9 spot with 18-49s (645,000).

Among the core TV demo, last week’s top 10 ad-supported cable nets were: USA, averaging 1.12 million viewers 18-49; TNT (936,000); TBS (925,000); FX (738,000); History (718,000); A&E (692,000); E! (655,000); ESPN and MSNBC (tied for 8th place with 645,000); truTV (604,000) and ABC Family (572,000).

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel moved up to second place among all basic-cable nets, averaging 2.29 million viewers. The Mouse dominated its target demos, drawing 980,000 viewers 6-11, 1.3 million viewers 6-14 and 854,000 ‘tweens 9-14.

Disney Channel picked up its biggest audience on the week with a new installment of Hannah Montana, which drew 4.5 million viewers Sunday night at 8 p.m. A day after debuting to 5.96 million viewers, the Feb. 15 encore presentation of Disney’s latest original movie, Starstruck, delivered another 4.37 million viewers.