USA tops cable nets in weekly ratings

Channel gets boost with 'WWE Raw,' 'NCIS,' 'In Plain Sight'

Fresh off a decisive first-quarter ratings victory, USA Network showed no signs of letting up in the first week of April, outdistancing its nearest ad-supported cable rival by 1.18 million viewers.

For the week ending April 4, USA averaged 3.14 million viewers in primetime, besting second-place Fox News Channel's delivery of 1.96 million viewers. USA also swept the three core TV demos, averaging 1.37 million adults 25-54, 1.27 million viewers 18-49 and 553,000 viewers 18-34.

The latter demo marked USA's closest race for the week, as TBS came within 14,000 viewers of taking the 18-34 title.

All told, USA played host to six of the 10 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable, earning its best number with Monday night's "WWE Raw." The wrestling showcase drew 5.5 million total viewers between 9 p.m. and 11:13 p.m., of which 2.83 million were members of the 18-49 demo.

In addition to the three episodes of "NCIS" that scared up 4.5 million viewers or more, USA scored with the Season 3 premiere of "In Plain Sight," as the Mary McCormack vehicle drew 3.82 million viewers in its Wednesday 10 p.m. slot.

History accounted for three of the week's most-viewed programs in primetime, including a new installment of "Pawn Stars" (4.99 million viewers), which on Monday night led out of a two-episode block of "American Pickers." The 9:30 p.m. "Pickers" drew 4.53 million viewers, improving on its lead-in by 20%.

ESPN's coverage of the "Women's Final Four" basketball game between Baylor and UConn rounded out the top 10, drawing 3.77 million viewers Sunday night between 9:37 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. In line with its agreement with the NCAA, Bristol slotted the semifinal on the flagship network; while the MLB season opener was relegated to ESPN2.

The Yankees-Red Sox grudge match was blacked out in the New York and Boston DMAs, the return of baseball still drew a respectable audience, as some 3.23 million fans tuned in Sunday night.

Fox News Channel held onto second place last week, drawing 1.96 million viewers in primetime. Almost one-quarter (487,000) of these viewers were members of the core news demo.

Nick at Nite edged out TBS for a third-place berth, averaging 1.67 million viewers to the Turner net's 1.65 million. History also drew within shooting distance, with a nightly turnout of 1.63 million viewers.

Among the core TV demo, last week's top 10 ad-supported cable nets were: USA, averaging 1.27 million viewers 18-49; TBS (991,000); History (717,000); TNT (697,000); FX (630,000); Discovery Channel (628,000); ESPN (599,000); A&E (593,000); Comedy Central (581,000) and Food Network (539,000).

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel closed out the week second among all basic-cable nets, drawing 2.44 million primetime viewers. The network drew a crowd with the series premiere of "Good Luck Charlie," serving up 4.69 million viewers Sunday at 8:30 p.m. Per Nielsen, some 2 million kids 6-11 and another 2 million tweens 9-14 tuned in for the GLC debut.

Disney enjoyed another stellar week among its target demos, averaging 975,000 kids aged 6-11, 1.27 million aged 6-14 and 783,000 aged 9-14. Disney also outpaced its rivals for supremacy among the younger set, delivering 1.29 million kids age 2-11.