Parting sweet as cable trio's seasons wrap

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Lifetime's "Army Wives," MTV's "Making the Band 4" and HBO's "Big Love" all ended their seasons on a high note Sunday night.

The season finale of drama series "Wives" averaged 4.1 million total viewers at 10 p.m. Sunday, marking its most-watched first-run telecast ever, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"Wives," an ensemble drama whose cast includes Catherine Bell and Kim Delaney, debuted June 3 with 3.7 million viewers, Lifetime's best series premiere in its 23-year history.

"Wives" also stands as Lifetime's most-watched original scripted drama series ever in total viewers -- averaging 3.7 million during its first season -- along with the key female demos of 18-34 (580,000), 18-49 (1.4 million) and 25-54 (1.4 million). It's also basic cable's No. 1 drama among women 18-34 and is the most-watched new basic cable drama this year among women 18-49 and women 25-54.

"It is incredibly gratifying when a critically acclaimed show is also a successful show, and we are grateful to the 4 million loyal viewers who tuned in every Sunday to make this series a huge hit for Lifetime," said Susanne Daniels, president of entertainment at Lifetime Networks.

Online, "Wives"-related traffic on LifetimeTV.com broke a record on Monday, rising 135% over the previous high, set the day after the show premiered.

"Wives" returns for its second season in the spring.

Meanwhile, "Big Love" averaged 2.9 million total viewers at 9 p.m. Sunday, making it the most-watched episode of the series' sophomore season.

The Season 1 finale of "Big Love" averaged 4.5 million viewers, though it should be noted that the show had "The Sopranos" as a lead-in at the time, while Sunday night's episode had a "Big Love" repeat as its lead-in.

The drama -- starring Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin -- recently was was renewed for a third season.

At MTV, the live finale of "Making the Band 4" averaged 3.5 million total viewers at 10 p.m., building significantly on its lead-in, a repeat of the reality competition show, which averaged 1.3 million total viewers.

The "Band" finale took a surprising twist in that music mogul Diddy decided to not only form a band but also sign one contestant to his Bad Boy label as a solo artist.

Elsewhere in cable ratings news, VH1's "Rock of Love With Bret Michaels" and "Scott Baio Is 45 ... and Single" showed growth, with Sunday night's episodes posting the biggest rating in adults 18-49 so far. "Rock of Love" averaged a 1.6 rating in the demo at 9 p.m., while the first-season finale of "Scott Baio" at 10:30 p.m. averaged a 1.2 in the demo, up 19% over the week before.

In total viewers, "Rock of Love" averaged 2.2 million, while "Scott Baio" drew 1.6 million.

At 10 p.m., VH1's "Hogan Knows Best" averaged a 1.2 rating and 1.7 million total viewers.
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