July 20, 2011

THE SKED: The Cable Ratings World

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>From time to time, we will check in with the cable networks to see what programs are resonating with the audience.  HBO’s True Blood and History’s Pawn Stars would be considered summer hits on any network.  True Blood is especially impressive since HBO is available in only a small minority of US television homes.  And the ESPN coverage of the Women’s World Cup Soccer Final (Japan defeating Team USA in a shoot-out) is just absolutely outstanding, especially considering the match aired at 1:55 pm ET on a sleepy summer Sunday.  And now soccer can revert to irrelevance until the next World Cup (Men’s) in two years.  Anyway, for comparison to the World Cup, TNT’s coverage of NASCAR at 1:00 pm Sunday averaged a 1.3 demo rating, while ESPN’s Sunday coverage of the British Open at 8:00 am and Sunday Night Baseball’s five-hour, 16-inning marathon between the Red Sox and Rays each averaged a 0.8 rating.

Top Cable Programs (above a 1.5 18-49 rating

July 17-18, 2011                 18-49  Viewers 2+
                                 Rating Impressions
Sun ESPN Women’s World Cup Soccer 4.7   13,458,000
Sun HBO  True Blood               2.7    5,104,000
Mon Hist Pawn Stars 10:00 pm      2.5    6,667,000
Mon Hist Pawn Stars 10:30 pm      2.3    6,394,000
Mon Hist American Pickers         1.9    5,574,000
Mon USA  WWE 10:00 pm             1.7    4,981,000
Mon USA  WWE 9:00 pm              1.6    4,703,000
Sun E!   Keeping Up Kardashians   1.6    3,146,000

By the way, cable ratings are released in a logical fashion with programs for the entire day available the next business day.  Broadcast network ratings are still doled out in a bizarre format: prime time program ratings only are released the next day, while weekend sports coverage and weekday morning, daytime and late night programs come out the following week on Thursdays.  Go figure — it’s been done that way for decades so why fix what ain’t broke, right? 

We will also keep tabs on quality scripted series that relatively few people (but a lot of Emmy voters) watch.  If you have a favorite show you want tracked, let us know in the comments section.

Great Shows that Few People Watch

Sun AMC  Breaking Bad             1.1    2,576,000
Sun HBO  Curb Your Enthusiasm     0.6    1,913,000

Nielsen ratings are courtesy, a great website by the way.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.