Basic results: Lifetime top network on Sunday night

'Wives' takes female b'cast demo

Lifetime Television took the basic-cable crown Sunday night thanks to its hit drama series "Army Wives" and the debuts of two new dramas, "Side Order of Life" and "State of Mind."

"Side Order," starring Marisa Coughlan as a photographer who re-evaluates her life after learning that her friend has brain cancer, averaged 2.4 million total viewers at 8 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research. "Mind," starring Lili Taylor as a brilliant therapist with personal problems of her own, drew 2.3 million at 9 p.m.

The two series had a lot of buzz leading up to their premieres, though they didn't quite match the June 3 debut of "Army Wives," which pulled in 3.5 million viewers in its premiere and averaged 3.7 million at 10 p.m. Sunday. "Wives," the network's highest-rated series ever, also was basic cable's top program of the night among the key female demos of 18-34 (570,000), 18-49 (1.2 million) and 25-54 (1.2 million) and even beat broadcast fare from CBS, NBC and ABC in women 18-49.

However, "Mind" did rank No. 1 in its slot among women 25-54 (773,000), and averaged 814,232 viewers in the demo.

Lifetime Networks president of entertainment Susanne Daniels said she was "thrilled" with the numbers on all three series, saying the two new shows performed about on par with what she had predicted and hoped for.

"It's just exciting and remarkable to me to garner this kind of attention for the network considering where we were two years ago," said Daniels, who joined the network in September 2005. "I'm hoping this really sends a message that Lifetime can develop programming and successfully schedule quality shows and market them and that this is a great network to be in business with."

"Wives" was recently renewed for a second season of 18 episodes, targeted to debut in the spring (HR 7/12). Daniels said she plans to wait to see the performance of a minimum of six to eight episodes of "Side Order" and "Mind" before making a decision on whether to renew those series.

Elsewhere in cable ratings news, the Sunday premiere of Discovery Channel's two-hour special "Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen" averaged 3.2 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. "Lost Queen," which followed the archaeological and scientific process of identifying a 3,500-year-old mummy as Queen Hatshepsut, ranked as the No. 1 basic cable program of the night among adults 25-54 (1.6 million).

At VH1, the new relationship-themed reality series "Rock of Love" debuted at 9 p.m. Sunday to 1.6 million total viewers and 1.1 million in 18-49, while "Scott Baio Is 45 … and Single" premiered at 10:30 p.m. to 1.2 million total viewers and 978,000 in the demo. By comparison, the premiere of another celebrity-looking-for-love series, "Flavor of Love 2" — which broke several VH1 ratings records throughout its run, including becoming the most-watched series premiere in the network's history — averaged 3.3 million total viewers last year in its Aug. 6 debut.

Elsewhere, the Sunday broadcast of the 2007 ESPY Awards on ESPN averaged 2 million viewers and 1.7 million in 18-49. The two-hour telecast was the least-watched ESPY show since 2002.

Disney Channel had the most total viewers (3.2 million) for the week ending July 15 in primetime, boosted in part by Friday's "Wish Gone Amiss" programming stunt featuring new episodes of "Hannah Montana," "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" and "Cory in the House" (HR 7/17).

USA was the No. 1 cable network in primetime for the week in the adult demos of 18-34 (508,000), 18-49 (1.1 million) and 25-54 (1.2 million). The network averaged 2.7 million total viewers for the week based on the performance of shows including "Monk" (4.8 million total viewers), "Psych" (4.3 million), "Burn Notice" (3.2 million), "The Dead Zone" (2.3 million) and "The 4400" (2 million).

Also during the week, G4 had its highest-rated week ever among males 18-34, thanks in part to live coverage of E3 (2.5 million total viewers, up 18% from a year ago) and the premiere of new original animated series "Code Monkeys" (900,000 total viewers).