August 7, 2012



Any negative ratings effect due to the Olympics seems to have subsided, as the numbers were generally up for cable on Sunday night.

HBO:  TRUE BLOOD, of course, was in the lead, with a 2.7 rating that was up slightly from last week, and another crazytime episode that at least let us bid adieu to the Smoke Monster (as well as a previously well-liked recurring character).  THE NEWSROOM was just a bit of self-righteousness and an idiotic Will-is-stoned-on-the-air subplot away from its most outstanding hour thus far, and the ratings were up a touch to 0.8.  Both shows also skewed a touch younger than last week, with total viewer numbers that were even despite the higher demo ratings.

AMC:  Anna Gunn’s showcase episode of BREAKING BAD, an hour that was like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? if George had been a homicidal meth dealer, was up slightly in both the 18-49 demo (to 1.2) and total viewers.  Also worth nothing:  the episode was superbly directed by Rian Johnson, whose new film Looper will in just a few weeks be the Opening Night presentation at the Toronto Film Festival.  (It was a good night for indie directors on cable:  The Newsroom was directed by Joshua Marston, the man behind the excellent Maria Full of Grace.)

TNT:  After taking a week off against the first Sunday of the Olympics, FALLING SKIES was back with a strong 1.3, more than 50% of its total audience in the 18-49 demo.  The rest of the schedule fared less well, however, with lead-in LEVERAGE at 0.7 and the unscripted GREAT ESCAPE slumping to 0.5 at 10PM.

LIFETIME:  ARMY WIVES was also back after a week’s hiatus to continue its weirdly violent season, this time sparking the hour with some domestic terrorism, with a standard 0.9 (about 40% of the total under 50).  DROP DEAD DIVA was slightly lower at 0.7.

A&E:  Another network back from a break, as LONGMIRE held steady with 0.8 (as usual, the bulk of the viewers–almost 3/4–were over 50), and THE GLADES just below at 0.7.

USA:  POLITICAL ANIMALS managed to stay even at 0.4, for all the good it’s going to do the show, which is entering its homestretch without becoming any more interesting.

SHOWTIME:  EPISODES barely has a pulse (although apparently it’s getting a renewal).  It held at little more than 0.1 with an episode that cleverly played with the idea of a Friends co-star stunt-casting on the show-within-the-show (which, in a meta moment, Showtime tried to promote as though it would have a bigger punchline than it actually did).  However, glass-half-full fans may prefer to note that it ws up 30% from last week.  The valedictory season of WEEDS was also up a bit (less impressively in terms of percentages, because it wasn’t starting from nearly as low a number) to over 0.3.  We’ve noted this before, but it bears repeating that when talking about numbers this minute, it takes only a handful of Nielsen viewers to seemingly move the needle, so these kinds of changes may or may not really reflect increases in viewers at large.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."