With 'Pains' come gains

USA fends off 'Closer' to capture cable week

Despite a strong showing from TNT's "The Closer," USA Network retained its post at the head of the cable ratings race last week, averaging 3.35 million viewers.

For the week ended June 14, USA also swept the top three demos, averaging 1.49 million adults 25-54, 1.37 million viewers 18-49 and 568,000 18-34s.

USA's stay at the top was powered by its newbie original drama "Royal Pains," which drew 5.59 million viewers in its Thursday 10 p.m. slot, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data. The second episode added about 20,000 viewers to its premiere tally and showed similar gains among the demos, delivering 2.6 million adults 25-54 (up 3%) and 2.35 million viewers 18-49 (up 2%).

"Royal" lead-in "Burn Notice" declined 13% compared with its season-three premiere, averaging 5.24 million viewers. While the drop was noticeable, it also was less pronounced than the 15%-20% drop most series experience in week two.

"Burn Notice" drew 2.43 million adults 25-54 and 2.17 million 18-49s, down 14% from last week's demo deliveries.

USA also got a boost from a third original series, as "In Plain Sight" delivered 4.27 million viewers Sunday at 10 p.m. The following night, "WWE Raw" scared up its usual big crowd, delivering 5.4 million viewers from 9-11:14 p.m.

After slipping to fourth place in the prior week, TNT surged back to the runner-up spot thanks to the season-five premiere of "Closer," which on June 8 delivered 7.14 million viewers, making it ad-supported cable's most-watched scripted series telecast of 2009. "Closer" also out-delivered its season-four average among adults 18-49 (2.25 million) and adults 25-54 (2.94 million).

The Turner net averaged 2.24 million viewers on the week and took second place among adults 25-54 (1.03 million) and viewers 18-49 (950,000). TNT stood third among viewers 18-34 with an average delivery of 381,000 members of the younger demo.

While the NBA won't return to TNT until this fall -- the network enjoyed a five-week winning streak thanks to its coverage of playoff coverage -- NASCAR remains a major sports draw. Last Sunday, TNT's coverage of the Sprint Cup series delivered 5.12 million viewers between 2-6 p.m., and the postrace show averaged 5.53 million viewers.

Meanwhile, in the Monday 10 p.m. slot, "Raising the Bar" retained exactly one-half of its "Closer" lead-in, averaging 3.57 million viewers. The courtroom drama also served up 1.42 million adults 25-54 and 1.13 million viewers 18-49.

Fox News Channel fell to third place in prime among all ad-supported cable nets, averaging 2.13 million viewers, 530,000 of which were members of the core news demo. FNC notched its biggest deliveries with "The O'Reilly Factor," which averaged 3.44 million viewers Thursday at 8 p.m. and 3.43 million viewers on Wednesday.

Moving up from the No. 16 spot, AMC surged to a fourth-place finish last week, averaging 1.73 million viewers. The network enjoyed a major push via its restored widescreen version of the eight-hour miniseries "Lonesome Dove," which first aired on CBS 20 years ago.

Parts three and four of the Robert Duvall-Tommy Lee Jones western averaged 3.75 million viewers Sunday from 8 p.m.-midnight, 1.2 million of whom were in the 25-54 demo.

Fifth place on the week went to Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which drew 1.61 million viewers in prime.

While TBS finished outside ad-supported cable's top five, the Turner net continued to post significant demo deliveries, taking second among 18-34s (550,000) and third among 18-49s (912,000) and 25-54s (765,000).

TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" continued to overdeliver on Monday, averaging 4.25 million viewers in the 9 p.m. slot. The show also served up some hefty demo numbers, averaging 1.52 million viewers 18-34 (tops on the week) and 2.48 million viewers 18-49.

Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" again boasted the biggest draw of the core TV demo; the June 9 installment averaged 2.66 million viewers 18-49. Discovery finished the week fourth among adults 18-49, averaging 743,000 viewers. FX closed out the top five with 703,000 18-49s.