Cable's Best

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USA Network is back on top. At least, according to Nielsen Media Research. The general-entertainment channel notched a big ratings win in the first quarter, narrowly edging out TNT for bragging rights as cable's most-watched channel. Things haven't been this good at USA since 2000, before World Wrestling Entertainment moved to TNN (now Spike TV).

TNT has reason to celebrate, too. The Turner network claimed top marks for two key adult demos: adults 18 to 49 years old and 25 to 54 years old.

Sporting events reigned as cable's biggest attractions early in the year. TNT's NBA All-Star Game and the network's NASCAR Budweiser Shootout and ESPN's NFL Pro Bowl and Holiday Bowl telecasts ranked as the most-watched programs.

Here's a look at how the networks and top programs fared, according to Nielsen Media Research.

<p>Rank</p><p>Date</p><p>Program</p><p>NET.</p><p>Viewers (000)</p>

1

2/15

2004 NBA All-Star Game

TNT

4,586

2

2/15

NBA All-Star Pregame Show

TNT

3,737

3

2/7

NFL Pro Bowl

ESPN

3,232

5

1/21

Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica

MTV

3,223

6

3/9

Real World XIV

MTV

3,120

7

1/27

Real World XIV

MTV

3,097

8

1/19

American Chopper

Discovery

3,077

9

3/22

WWE

Spike

3,068

10

2/3

Real World XIV

MTV

3,035

11

2/14

NBA All-Star Sat Night

TNT

3,028

12

1/26

WWE

Spike

2,980

13

2/24

Real World XIV

MTV

2,977

14

3/22

WWE

Spike

2,960

15

2/16

American Chopper

Discovery

2,958

16

3/8

WWE

Spike

2,924

17

2/2

American Chopper

Discovery

2,903

18

1/30

Monk

USA

2,902

19

1/26

American Chopper

Discovery

2,894

20

2/17

Real World XIV

MTV

2,890

<p>Rank</p><p>Date</p><p>Program</p><p>NET.</p><p>Viewers (000)</p>

1

2/15

2004 NBA All-Star Game

TNT

4,348

2

2/7

Budweiser Shootout

TNT

3,955

3

1/30

Monk

USA

3,679

4

2/15

NBA All-Star Pregame Show

TNT

3,529

5

1/16

Monk

USA

3,166

6

3/5

Monk

USA

3,151

7

2/8

NFL Pro Bowl

ESPN

3,093

8

2/6

Monk

USA

3,067

9

2/13

Monk

USA

3,066

10

1/23

Monk

USA

3,063

11

12/30

Holiday Bowl

ESPN

3,056

12

1/19

American Chopper

Discovery

3,048

13

3/8

WWE

Spike

2,869

14

2/2

American Chopper

Discovery

2,714

15

2/27

Monk

USA

2,689

16

2/14

NBA All-Star Sat. Night

TNT

2,662

17

1/1

Outback-Bowl

ESPN

2,632

18

1/26

American Chopper

Discovery

2,630

19

1/19

WWE

Spike

2,570

20

3/22

WWE

Spike

2,569

<p>Rank</p><p>Date</p><p>Program</p><p>NET.</p><p>Viewers (000)</p>

1

2/15

2004 NBA All-Star Game

TNT

8,190

2

2/15

NBA All-Star Pregame Show

TNT

6,845

3

2/7

Budweiser Shootout

TNT

6,563

4

2/8

NFL Pro Bowl

ESPN

6,359

5

12/30

Holiday Bowl

ESPN

6,286

6

1/30

Monk

USA

6,267

7

3/5

SpongeBob

Nick

5,957

8

1/16

Monk

USA

5,952

9

1/19

SpongeBob SquarePants

Nick

5,659

10

3/22

WWE

Spike

5,658

11

3/22

WWE

Spike

5,628

12

1/23

Monk

USA

5,613

13

2/13

Monk

USA

5,596

14

1/1

Outback Bowl

ESPN

5,557

15

2/6

Monk

USA

5,517

16

3/5

Monk

USA

5,506

17

3/5

SpongeBob SquarePants

Nick

5,398

18

1/20

State of the Union Analysis

Fox News

5,326

19

1/20

State of the Union

Fox News

5,181

20

2/22

Fairly Odd Parents

Nick

5,117

<p>Network</p><p>2004</p><p>2003</p><p> Chg.</p>

USA

2426

1900

28%

TNT

2410

2332

3%

Nick

2289

2170

5%

TBS

1927

1945

-1%

Lifetime

1659

1835

-10%

Cartoon

1589

1661

-4%

Fox News

1394

2165

-36%

Discovery

1367

1078

27%

ESPN

1360

1143

19%

Sci Fi

1297

1190

9%

<p>Network</p><p>2004</p><p>2003</p><p> Chg.</p>

MTV

532

484

10%

TBS

492

489

1%

TNT

481

467

3%

USA

412

415

-1%

Discovery

387

232

67%

Comedy

343

309

11%

TLC

315

320

-2%

Nick

308

263

17%

Spike

297

293

1%

ESPN

272

234

16%

<p>Network</p><p>2004</p><p>2003</p><p> Chg.</p>

TNT

1105

1105

0%

USA

1038

918

13%

TBS

1025

1020

0%

Discovery

776

537

45%

TLC

690

727

-5%

MTV

677

617

10%

Lifetime

675

707

-5%

Spike TV

615

580

6%

ESPN

605

504

20%

Sci Fi

592

607

-2%

<p>Network</p><p>2004</p><p>2003</p><p> Chg.</p>

TNT

1201

1177

2%

USA

1165

927

26%

TBS

1014

1020

-1%

Discovery

775

571

36%

Lifetime

730

831

-12%

Sci Fi

699

689

1%

TLC

696

756

-8%

ESPN

610

509

20%

Spike

592

541

9%

History

559

456

23%

<p>Network</p><p>2004</p><p>2003</p><p>Chg.</p>

Nick

1204

1086

11%

Cartoon

945

-6%

TBS

138

151

-9%

Toon Disney

131

138

-5%

ABC Family

107

82

30%

TNT

100

100

0%

Spike

88

92

-4%

Animal Planet

86

104

-17%

Sci Fi

84

68

24%

USA

83

131

-37%

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