'Burn Notice' lifts USA
'SpongeBob's' 10th anniversary helps NickLifted by a record showing for its original drama series "Burn Notice," USA Network enjoyed another ratings sweep last week, averaging 3.18 million viewers in prime time.
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, USA once again laid claim to the three major demos in the week ended July 19, averaging 1.47 million adults 25-54, 1.31 million viewers 18-49 and 590,000 viewers 18-34.
In what is shaping up to be its most-watched summer ever, USA maintained its momentum with its Thursday night lineup. On July 16, the net drew 6.66 million viewers with a new episode of Burn Notice, of which 3.12 million were members of the adults 25-54 set. The spy drama also picked up 2.65 million viewers 18-49.
Leading out of "Burn Notice" in the 10 p.m. slot, a fresh installment of "Royal Pains" delivered 6.23 million viewers, a crowd that included 2.9 million adults 25-54 and 2.48 million 18-49s.
The network also drew a crowd on Monday, July 13, as its "WWE Raw" showcase drew 5.23 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11:08 p.m. Hour two of "Raw" drew 5.52 million viewers.
All told, USA last week served up eight of ad-supported cable's 20 most-watched programs. Other standouts were repeats of NCIS, the Sunday night drama "In Plain Sight" and the network's refresh of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
TNT maintained second place with 2.26 million prime-time viewers and 1.04 million adults 25-54. The Turner net also held onto fourth place among adults 18-49, averaging 862,000 members of the demo.
On Monday night, TNT's "The Closer" once again put up huge numbers, averaging 6.59 million viewers in its 9 p.m. time slot, an improvement of 9% versus the prior week's delivery. "The Closer" drew 2.5 million adults 25-54, making it the week's fourth most-watched show on ad-supported cable among the demo.
The Turner net also got a boost from the season-two premiere of "Leverage," which drew 3.89 million viewers Wednesday night at 9 p.m., while the new cop drama "Dark Blue" premiered to 3.54 million viewers in the lead-out slot.
On Tuesday night, new drama "Hawthorne" showed marked improvement in the 9 p.m. slot, drawing 3.21 million viewers, up 22% over the prior week's delivery. Meanwhile, "Hawthorne" lead-out "Raising the Bar" was up 11% versus its July 6 delivery, averaging 3.44 million viewers.
Third place on the week went to Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which drew 2.09 million viewers in prime, thanks to its weekend celebration of "SpongeBob SquarePants' " 10th anniversary. The daffy porifera and his undersea pals accounted for five of the week's top 10 most-watched shows on ad-supported cable, and half of the top 20.
Nick's biggest draw of the week came courtesy of a new episode of "SpongeBob," which scared up 5.37 million viewers on July 19 in the 9 p.m. time slot. A half-hour earlier, another fresh "SpongeBob" story delivered 5.17 million fans.
Fox News Channel slipped a notch to fourth place, averaging 1.95 million viewers in prime, of which 500,000 were members of the core news demo.
Closing out the top five last week was ESPN, which averaged 1.94 million viewers in prime, thanks in large part to its presentation of the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby. The MLB All-Star Game ritual drew 8.25 million viewers on Monday, July 13, between 8:18 p.m. and 11:09 p.m., making it the most-watched program on ad-supported cable for the week.
Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder scarfed up the Derby title, capping the night with a 423-foot moon shot to center. Fielder's pyrotechnics helped ESPN notch the week's biggest deliveries among all three major demos, as the Derby drew 4.27 million viewers 18-49, 4.21 million adults 25-54 and 2.1 million viewers 18-34.
The sports net also got some mileage out of an 18-minute Derby place-setter, which drew 6.07 million viewers, and the 2009 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game, which served up 3.61 million post-Derby viewers.
Tops among the 18-49 demo last week were: USA (1.31 million), ESPN (929,000), TBS (925,000), TNT (862,000), FX (729,000), Discovery Channel (673,000), Nick/Nick at Nite (647,000), A&E (610,000), Food Network (593,000) and Syfy (564,000).
Among all basic-cable nets, Disney Channel surged into first place with 3.31 million total prime-time viewers. The non-ad-supported net delivered the most-watched scripted cable program of 2009, as a special 90-minute crossover stunt, "Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana," drew a whopping 9.29 million viewers Friday night at 8 p.m. The program was seen by 3.8 million kids 6-11 and 3.7 million 'tweens 9-14.
Leading out of the "Wizards of Waverly Place/Suite Life" on "Deck/Hannah Montana" mash-up, a new installment of the Miley Cyrus vehicle drew 6.09 million viewers.