Despite a Friends baby and another Survivor finale, cable
networks stole a little more audience from broadcast networks in May.
The seven broadcast networks saw share decline two-and-a-half points to a 50.1 in
May compared with last year.
Cable's take, meanwhile, increased four points to a 46 share, according to
Nielsen Media Research.
The cable advance was fueled by strong monthly ratings for networks like
Lifetime Television, Nickelodeon and general-entertainment networks Turner Network Television, TBS Superstation and FX.
Lifetime won the month with a 2.0 average prime time rating, followed by TNT
and Nick tied for second with 1.9 ratings.
Cartoon Network and TBS, both with 1.6 ratings, rounded out the top five.
A crop of cable networks posted increases in household delivery since May
Lifetime increased its delivery 18 percent, Nick notched a 27 percent increase and FX was
up 25 percent.
Fox News Channel and Cable News Network claimed the largest gains, with Fox News increasing delivery
67 percent and CNN up 60 percent.
Some niche networks saw ratings slip in May:
- The History Channel's ratings dipped 22 percent.
- Comedy Central and Bravo were each down 25 percent.
- NBC Cable outlets MSNBC (-25 percent) and CNBC (-33 percent) also suffered ratings
Network executives, however, like to point out that losses often look steeper
because ratings are rounded to the tenth of a point.
Fox News remains the top-rated cable news network with a 1.0 average in
CNN notched a 0.8 average.
The see-saw ratings competition between CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown
and Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren tipped in Fox News'
favor in May.
Van Susteren edged out a 0.8 rating and 627,000 households, compared with a
0.7 rating and 581,000 homes for Brown.
Among individual shows, MTV: Music Television's The Osbournes claimed the month's
highest rating with a 5.6 May 7.