Last week’s California gubernatorial debate fracas bodes well for Game Show Network’s election-night plans. GSN will declare the winner of its election spoof special, Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game, in a live telecast Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. PT. A special Lingo episode (6:30 p.m. PT) featuring the race’s kooky candidates, a live victory party telecast (8 p.m. PT) and game shows featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger (The New Dating Game) and Gary Coleman (Russian Roulette) cap off the evening. Lifetime delivered to Congress more than 5 million signatures to ban so-called drive-through mastectomies, part of its award-winning Stop Breast Cancer for Life initiative. Oxygen also tackles breast cancer in its original drama Life on the Line (Oct. 2, 10:30 p.m., starring Ally Sheedy), with an online component aided by WebMD and FACCT. Espousing laughter’s healing powers, WE: Women’s Entertainment kicks off its new comedy block Oct. 20 by stripping Ned and Stacey (starring Debra Messing) and The Naked Truth (Téa Leoni) in prime time. Last week’s broadcast onslaught saw FX’s Nip/Tuck nab 3.7 million viewers (including 2.7 million viewers in the 18-to-49 demo) Tuesday night, its biggest draw since it premiered in July. Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in that slot slipped (by 250,000 viewers) to 2.4 million total viewers. ABC’s John Ritter-less 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter led the night with 16.97 million viewers overall. FX last week signed Denis Leary to play a firefighter in a summer ’04 series, Rescue Me, while Bravo inked Kevin Pollak to host its Celebrity Poker Showdown this winter. Cable networks stood up to the broadcasters’ launch of 19 series the week of Sept. 15 to 21. According to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen data, ad-supported cable nets had an average prime-time U.S. household delivery of 33.1 million homes (8.7% higher than a year ago) versus 27.9 million homes (a 3.5% drop) for the seven broadcast networks combined. Cable also posted a 30.6 collective rating (up 7% over last year) while the broadcasters’ collective rating (25.7) slipped 5% from ’02. A CBS analysis of Nielsen data discussed at last week’s MediaPost Forecast 2004 conference showed the average household now receives 102 channels but watches only 15 of them, or 14.7% of what’s available to them. In comparison, households averaged 89 channels in 2001 (and watched 16%) and 19 channels in 1985 (with 26% viewed).

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