Cable Networks Are a Mixed Ratings Bag in Primetime This Season

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"Wild
swings" is perhaps the best way to describe a look at Nielsen's season-to-date
prime numbers for cable networks. A number of the top nets have seen declines
while others are celebrating a real boost, often with understandable
explanations.

ESPN
and TNT were certainly at a deficit this season with a shortened NBA schedule.

MTV
got a huge bump last season as the Jersey
Shore
cast headed off to Italy. However, the show lost a lot of steam this
season, declining week-by-week, causing overall ratings to head south. In
addition, Shore spinoff The Pauly D Project has so far failed to
keep viewers tuned in.

Nickelodeon
has been seeing slow, steady losses this season as much of its programming base
loses viewership, while other kid-targeted networks are seeing gains.

USA
is down overall as Burn Notice and Law & Order: SVU both saw shrinking
audiences versus last season. In addition, originals Fairly Legal and In Plain
Sight
were both moved to Friday nights with lower HUT levels and ratings
decreased.

On
the flip side, TBS scored with The Big
Bang Theory
(which included almost 200 airings in primetime alone); FX
scored with American Horror Story and
Sons of Anarchy; A&E scored with Storage Wars (again run in abundance);
and ABC Family loved Pretty Little Liars.
Food Network's Next Food Network Star
has been a hit and the network continues to gobble up viewers. All the while,
Discovery is swimming in the Swamp
and loving it.

And
let's not forget AMC, which had the biggest finale in cable history with The Walking Dead, while Mad Men saw a bump this season.

Source: NTI, Nielsen Live + SD (9/20/11 thru 4/29/12) vs. (9/19/10 thru 5/1/11)

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