USA ‘Roughs Up’ the Competition With Summer Premiere

Cable keeps its hitting streak alive with latest series debut

USA Network’s second major summer series launch all but replicated the solid performance of the first. The new original drama Necessary Roughness drew 4.67 million viewers.

The show, which stars Callie Thorne (Rescue Me) as a tough-cookie divorcée who takes a job as a therapist for a pro football team, perfectly matched the June 16 premiere of Suits among total viewers.

The Roughness opener did lag a bit in the demos. Whereas Suits delivered 2.12 million adults 25-54, last night’s Roughness debut dipped 4 percent (2.04 million). It also didn’t fare as well among the 18-49 set, drawing 1.78 million, down 13 percent from Suits’ 2.04 million.

Although it shares certain structural DNA with other USA series that feature strong female leads (In Plain Sight, Burn Notice), Roughness still presents something of a departure from the network’s established buddy-dramedy template.

“Our feeling was, it’s time to push out a little from where we’ve been,” said USA research svp Ted Linhart. “Roughness feels like the right combination of familiar and novel elements.”

Linhart said USA’s execs are quite pleased with its summer premieres, adding that the real test of a hit lies in how a show performs in its second and third episodes.

Suits had a slightly stronger lead-out in the Season 5 premiere of Burn Notice, which drew 5.17 million viewers a week ago. At 9 p.m., the third season premiere of Royal Pains scared up 5 million viewers, of which 2.08 million were members of the 25-54 demo.

The return of Royal Pains also attracted 1.84 million viewers 18-49.

When compared to its Feb. 24 season finale, Pains grew 23 percent in total viewers, 25 percent among adults 25-54 and 27 percent in the 18-49 demo.

Wednesday is a considerably less competitive night than are Thursdays and Sundays, and Pains and Roughness faced a rather toothless head-to-head fight in TNT’s Franklin & Bash and Men of a Certain Age. Last night’s installment of Franklin & Bash delivered a series-low 2.54 million viewers and 1.1 million adults 18-49 in its Thursday 9 p.m. slot. Meanwhile, Men of a Certain Age appears to be at the end of its tether, drawing a mere 1.5 million viewers and 453,000 18-49s in the lead-out.

A bigger threat came courtesy of USA’s corporate sibling, NBC. The broadcaster drew 13.3 million viewers and a 4.0 rating/12 share in the 18-49 demo with America’s Got Talent (9:16 p.m.-10:16 p.m. EDT), while its new reality series, Love in the Wild, followed with 6.47 million viewers and a 2.2/6.

Among the few other scripted efforts on cable last night were TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland and Happily Divorced. Preliminary numbers for both shows were unavailable late Thursday afternoon; that said, the June 22 installment of Hot cooked up 1.97 million viewers, while lead-out Divorced averaged 1.5 million.

TBS airs the comedy House of Pain at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Last week’s doubleheader averaged 1.7 million viewers.