USA Network continues summer triumph

Cable network is on pace to win second quarter ratings

Although the solstice arrived only this week, USA Network has bobbed around in the summer surf for the past few weeks, soaking up the sun on the inflatable raft of its Thursday night lineup.

In the third week of the new season, the network's "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains" continue to sizzle.

Bolstered by a guest arc from Henry Winkler, sophomore hit "Pains" on Thursday lured 5.5 million viewers to USA. As was the case a week ago, it beat "Burn" in total viewers and both core demographics, drawing 2.2 million adults 18-49 compared with "Burn's" 2.1 million and delivering 2.5 million adults 25-54, edging its 9 p.m. lead-in by 100,000 viewers.

For its part, "Burn" averaged 5.3 million total viewers in its Thursday perch.

Overall, USA boasted four of the week's top 10 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable during the week ending Sunday. "WWE Raw" scared up 4.9 million total viewers from 9-11:11 p.m. Monday, and a Wednesday "NCIS" rerun served up 4.4 million viewers.

Also drawing a crowd to USA was the original series "In Plain Sight," which airs the penultimate episode of its third (and perhaps final) season Wednesday. The Mary McCormack vehicle drew 4.1 million viewers at 10 p.m. last week, its best number since the Season 2 finale in August 2009 (4.4 million).

USA is on pace to win cable's second-quarter ratings crown as preliminary data suggests the network will sweep the three major demos; final tallies will be available Tuesday. For the week, the network averaged 3.3 million total viewers, 1.3 million adults 25-54, 1.2 million viewers 18-49 and 482,000 viewers 18-34.

TNT retained second place during the week, averaging 2.1 million viewers in primetime, of which 1 million were adults 25-54 and 905,000 were members of the 18-49 set. The Turner net drew its biggest crowd of the week with its third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season, averaging 4.5 million viewers Sunday from 3-6:59 p.m. TNT's race-day coverage from Sonoma, Calif., delivered 2.2 million adults 25-54 and 1.9 million viewers 18-49.

Fox News Channel again claimed third place, drawing an average nightly audience of 1.9 million viewers. The news network delivered 435,000 adults 25-54 on the week, according to Nielsen Live+SD data.

History vaulted three spots to seize fourth place as unscripted hits "Pawn Stars" and "American Pickers" continued to dominate the Monday lineup. History averaged 1.6 million viewers, of which roughly half (812,000) were adults 25-54. The network also finished fourth among viewers 18-49, averaging 730,000 in primetime during the week.

The 10:30 p.m. installment of Monday's "Pawn" was the most-watched program on cable last week, drawing 5.9 million viewers on its way to winning key demos. The episode delivered 3.2 million adults 25-54 and 3 million viewers 18-49. The lead-in also put up big numbers, serving up 5.3 million viewers (2.9 million 25-54s, 2.7 million 18-49s).

History got the night off to a strong start at 9 p.m., averaging 4.3 million viewers with its one-hour original "Pickers."

Rounding out the top five was Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which averaged 1.5 million viewers in primetime.

Among the week's biggest draws was the debut of TV Land's original scripted comedy "Hot in Cleveland," which captured 4.8 million viewers at 10 p.m. Wednesday. Anchored by a quartet of familiar faces -- Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick -- the sitcom gave TV Land its best deliveries in its 14-year history. The premiere also drew 2 million members of the network's target 25-54 demo.

For the week, the top 10 outlets serving the primary TV demo were USA, which averaged 1.2 million viewers 18-49; TNT (905,000); TBS (814,000); History (730,000); Discovery Channel (697,000); Bravo (638,000); Food Network (575,000); Comedy Central (574,000); ABC Family (568,000); and A&E (567,000).
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