Wrestling, NCIS Lift USA to Ratings Win

USA Network regained first place in cable’s prime-time ratings race, averaging 3.47 million viewers in the week ended Jan. 10, while sweeping the three major demos.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, USA last week served up 1.49 million adults 25-54, 1.41 million viewers 18-49 and 630,000 viewers 18-49, thanks to its slate of pro wrestling and NCIS reruns.

WWE Raw was the most-watched program on ad-supported cable, drawing 5.61 million total viewers on Monday, Jan. 4, between 9 p.m. and 11:09 p.m. The wrestling juggernaut also put the squeeze on the demos, luring 2.88 million viewers 18-49 and 2.68 million adults 25-54.

USA laid claim to eight of the week’s most popular programs on ad-supported cable, as NCIS accounted for seven of the top 20 entries. Leading into WWE Raw, the Monday 8 p.m. NCIS drew 4.79 million viewers, good for second place on the week.

With an average draw of 2.21 million viewers, TNT jumped back up to second place. The Turner net also took the silver among adults 25-54, averaging 1.02 million, while finishing third with the 18-49 demo (973,000).

Fox News Channel returned to its customary No. 3 spot, drawing 2.15 million prime-time viewers, of which 536,000 were members of the 25-54 demo. Nick at Nite finished fourth (1.92 million), and A&E wrapped up the top five with an average delivery of 1.7 million viewers.

Although TBS finished sixth on the week with 1.69 million viewers, the Turner net boasted two second-place showings among the demos, drawing 1.02 million 18-49s and 582,000 18-34s.

Closing out the week’s top 10 ad-supported networks were: ABC Family (1.6 million total viewers); ESPN (1.39 million); HGTV (1.38 million) and FX (1.33 million).

A week after posting a record 6.39 million total viewers, ESPN’s ratings fell 78 percent, as the sports net had just one major college football game on its schedule. A wild and wooly GMAC Bowl battle between Central Michigan and Troy was decided in two overtime periods, drawing 3.52 million total viewers on Jan. 6.

ESPN also attracted a decent crowd with its coverage of Friday’s Nuggets-Cavs meeting, a 99-97 squeaker that averaged 2.25 million viewers between 10:36 p.m. and 1:24 a.m. What promised to be a reunion of Team USA co-captains Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James was scuttled when Denver’s hot-shooting small forward missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury.

On an individual program basis, the week’s top draws among the core TV demo were all over the map. USA’s WWE Raw was tops, averaging 2.88 million viewers 18-49, followed by E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2.59 million), MTV’s Jersey Shore (2.3 million), ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teen (2.12 million) and Monday’s 11:30 p.m. installment of Adult Swim’s acquired series Family Guy (1.87 million).

Last week’s top 10 ad-supported cable nets among the core TV demo were: USA, averaging 1.41 million viewers 18-49; TBS (1.02 million); TNT (973,000); A&E (826,000); ABC Family (742,000); Discovery Channel (694,000); FX (683,000); truTV (644,000); Food Network (634,000) and ESPN (627,000).

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel moved up a spot to second place among all basic-cable nets, averaging 2.34 million viewers. The Mouse continued to own the youth demos, drawing 966,000 kids 6-11, 1.22 million viewers 6-14 and 763,000 ‘tweens 9-14. That said, Nick at Nite is making a run at Disney’s ‘tween scene, as the Viacom net averaged 666,000 members of the demo last week.