Lifetime Television finished 2002 as the highest-rated cable network,
while ESPN claimed the lion's share of the year's top programs.
Lifetime averaged a 2.0 household rating last year, according to a Turner
Entertainment Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, on par with its 2001 marks.
Turner Network Television turned in a 1.8 average, growing a strong 13 percent over the year
before, and USA Network and Nickelodeon tied for third with 1.7 averages.
Cartoon Network occupied the fifth spot with a 1.6 rating, but it dropped 6
percent from last year.
ESPN, with a 1.5 prime time average, boasted 18 of the year's 20
highest-rated cable programs. The network's Sunday Night Football games averaged a
stellar 7.4 rating, up 17 percent from the 2001 season. ESPN's Sept. 8 telecast
of the Dallas Cowboys-Houston Texans matchup grabbed a 9.6 rating, the year's
best for cable.
Fox News Channel's ratings surged 20 precent in 2002, making it the only
cable news channel to build off post-Sept. 11 ratings gains. Fox News finished the
year with a 1.2 average, while Cable News Network slipped 10 percentto a 0.9 rating. MSNBC's
ratings dropped 33 percent to a 0.4 and CNBC's 0.2 rating was off 50 percent
MTV: Music Television, buoyed by its hits The Osbournes and The Real World,
increased ratings 13 percent to a 0.9 household average. MTV's 2002 Video Music
Awards in August harvested an 8.3 rating, good enough to rank among the cable's
top-10-rated programs in 2002. MTV's other marquee award show, the 2002 MTV
Movie Awards, grabbed a 5.6 rating in June.
TBS Superstation produced the year's highest-rated original movie, a 5.9 for the June 9 debut of action thriller Atomic Twister.
Meanwhile, TBS's prime time marks slid 12 percent to a 1.5 for the