Ad-supported cable networks grew 9% to 14.9 ratings among 18-49 viewers in prime time for the first week of the broadcast season ending Sept. 28. Cable climbed 13% to 15.5 ratings among 25-54 viewers.
The overall leader among the 2-year-old C3 metric for cable networks is ESPN, with a 1.40 rating among 18-49 viewers in prime time--up from a 1.27 number the year before. Much of this rise is due to its big-rated "Monday Night Football."
USA Network placed second at a 0.98 rating, almost one-quarter of a point higher than a year ago. All this is thanks to shows such as "The Starter Wife," "Monk" and "Burn This."
TBS's late-night programming block, Adult Swim, was in third place at a 0.80 number--down a fraction from a 0.84 for the same week the year before. TBS itself was at fourth place at a 0.68 rating, down from a 0.80.
Further down the top 10 list came Comedy Central in fifth place (0.47), followed by TNT (0.46), FX (0.45), A&E (0.44) and Nick at Nite (0.41). Some of the big gainers for the week ending Sept. 28 versus the same period a year ago were USA Network, CNN, Fox News and A&E.
CNN and Fox News made some big gains due to presidential election coverage. CNN grew more than threefold to a 0.35 rating in prime time among 18-49 viewers, from a 0.11 the year before. Fox News more than doubled its numbers to a 0.37 from a 0.18 a year ago.
That said, C3 ratings are not up as much as their respective cable program ratings--where 18-49 ratings were 9% higher to 16.3, and 13% improved to a 16.9. Magna said cable is much more dependent on repeat programming than broadcast networks, where there is less need to record and play back.