USA tops cable ratings again

Network out front for eighth consecutive quarter

Bolstered by the successful debut of its new series "In Plain Sight," USA Network claimed its eighth consecutive quarterly victory among cable networks in the key primetime adult ratings demographic.

USA closed the quarter up 5% (averaging 1.3 million viewers in adults 18-49), edging out TNT (1.2 million), which had climbed 8%, and also besting broadcast network the CW.

In fact, the top five cable networks all showed gains in the demo compared with last year, with FX (622,000) the only significant exception, down 11%. Nick at Nite was the biggest gainer, up a sharp 58% in 10th place thanks to "George Lopez" and "Home Improvement." Farther down the list, Bravo (418,000) also sported some impressive growth, up 45%.

USA said "Sight" was the quarter's top-rated drama, beating such strong-performing runners-up as Lifetime's "Army Wives" and TNT's "Saving Grace." USA's "WWE Monday Night Raw" and originals of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" continued to perform well, and an airing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was the top-rated movie of the quarter in the demo.

Several networks also claimed milestones for the quarter.

Sci Fi Channel (607,000, up 4%) touted its second-best quarter ever, with the reality show "Ghost Hunters" having its best season yet. Lifetime (607,000, up 5%) had its most-watched second quarter since 2005 among total viewers, with "Wives" ranking as the top cable drama among adult women viewers. A&E (828,000, up 5%) had its highest-rated quarter yet, led by its remake of "The Andromeda Strain." E! (353,000, up 14%) had its highest-rated second quarter ever, benefiting from the new series "Denise Richards: It's Complicated" and "Living Lohan."

As always, Nickelodeon won for total day, marking 14 years as basic cable's top total day network.

As for individual telecasts, an April episode of VH1's "Rock of Love" (4 million adults 18-49) was the quarter's highest-rated, with a mingling of NBA playoff games and MTV's "The Hills" populating the top 10.

Among the news networks, Fox News Channel reclaimed the top spot in all key ratings demos, with 1.6 million viewers in primetime compared with CNN's 961,000 and MSNBC's 690,000. In the adults 25-54 demo, Fox remained in first place with 344,000 viewers, though a battle continued to brew between CNN and MSNBC for second place. CNN was ahead with 297,000 viewers, but MSNBC averaged 271,000. Fox was flat in the quarter in the demo, while CNN was up 22% and MSNBC up 46%.

Meanwhile, CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360º" benefited from the network's coverage of the presidential primaries and the election season to take the win at 10 p.m. in the demo against Fox News Channel's "On the Record" ("360" averaged 342,000 viewers in the demo, up 18%, against 316,000 for "Record," down 18%).

"Record" remains on top in viewership with 1.3 million.