After 8 consecutive summers as the #1 cable net in prime among total viewers, it looks like USA will finally fall from the top spot. It had to happen sometime. After a week that featured Turner headlines on buyouts, potential layoffs and the upcoming departure of TNT, TBS, TCM programming head Michael Wright, here’s some good news for the programmer: TNT is poised to win primetime this summer, thanks to it having the 3 top cable series of the summer season. An ABC/Disney analysis of Nielsen data from May 26-Aug 24 put TNT in 1st place among cable nets, averaging 2.4mln viewers in prime compared to USA’s 2.2mln. USA is set to finish 2nd, but it’s down 25% in total viewers compared to last summer’s nearly 3mln viewers. TNT is also down, but not as dramatically, slipping 9% YOY.
Disney Channel is set to win its 2nd summer in a row in total viewers, with 1.56mln vs runner-up Nick ’s 1.53mln. Disney also took the top spot in kids 2-11, 6-11 and 9-14. For summer-to-date, TNT has 3 of the top basic cable original series: “Rizzoli & Isles” (7.6mln P2+), “Major Crimes” (7.1mln) and new drama “The Last Ship” (6.4mln), according to a Turner analysis of Nielsen data. A&E ’s “Duck Dynasty” (5.9mln) and the just-canceled “Longmire” (5.6mln) took 4th and 5th place, respectively. TNT has 3 more shows in the top 10: “Murder in the First” (4.5mln), “Falling Skies” (4.4mln) and “Perception” (4.2mln). Also in the top 10 are VH1 ’s “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” (4.4mln) and History ’s “Pawn Stars” (4.2mln).
Based on preliminary summer totals, ESPN ’s World Cup coverage of USA-Portugal (13.8mln viewers, Live+7 blended with live+SD) was summer’s most-watched cable program, followed by the net’s coverage of Belgium-USA and Ghana-USA matches.