USA leads TNT in cable ratings

Holds a 3% demo edge with one week left

With one week left before the second quarter ends, USA Network is drawing away from TNT in the primetime ratings race. According to Nielsen data, USA now enjoys a 3% lead among adults 18-49, and the latest batch of weekly ratings numbers sees the network all but sewing up the title.

USA blew out the competition in the week ended June 21, averaging 1.7 million adults 18-49, topping runner-up TNT by some 728,000 viewers. The NBC Universal cable powerhouse also put together another convincing victory among total viewers, drawing an average audience of 3.95 million in primetime while walking away with the week's biggest deliveries of adults 25-54 (1.87 million) and viewers 18-34 (745,000).

On the week, USA posted eight of the top 10 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable, including episode three of "Royal Pains," which served up 6.5 million viewers on June 18, a week-to-week increase of 16%. Also drawing a crowd to USA were "Pains" lead-in "Burn Notice," which delivered 5.78 million viewers Thursday at 9 p.m., and Monday night's three-hour "WWE Raw" special, which averaged 5.46 million viewers between 8-11:07 p.m.

Five repeat episodes of USA acquisition "NCIS" landed in the top 10, including the Wednesday 9 p.m. installment, which averaged 5.07 million viewers.

TNT last week took second place in prime with 2.33 million total viewers. The Turner network also claimed second among its two top demos, averaging 1.09 million adults 25-54 and 974,000 viewers 18-49.

As has been the case throughout its five-season run, TNT's original drama series "The Closer" put up big numbers, averaging 6.47 million viewers at 9 p.m. on Monday, June 15. The second installment of the season retained 91% of the prior week's audience (7.14 million).

TNT also continued to reap the whirlwind with its NASCAR coverage. Sunday, TNT's presentation of the Sprint Cup series delivered 5.79 million viewers between 5-8:36 p.m., and the 10-minute postrace show averaged 5.6 million viewers.

Fox News held on to the third-place spot, averaging 2.07 million viewers, 503,000 of which were members of the core news demo. FNC once again notched its biggest deliveries with "The O'Reilly Factor," which averaged 3.25 million viewers Thursday at 8 p.m. and 3.22 million viewers on Monday.

Fourth place on the week went to Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, which drew 1.94 million viewers between 8-11 p.m. (On July 5, Nick at Nite will push its start time back to 8 p.m., a move that will synchronize the net's prime-time schedule with the rest of ad-supported cable.)

Nickelodeon once again put up big ratings with its latest installment of "iCarly," which quarter-to-date ranks as the most-watched program on broadcast and basic cable among tweens 9-14 and kids 6-11. Wednesday evening's episode delivered 4.17 million total viewers, of which 1.9 million were kids 6-11.