Strong Sunday Ratings For CNN, MTV and Lifetime

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Lifetime, MTV and CNN all claimed relative victories with Sunday-night (June 3) programming this week. The women's network's original series Army Wives premiered to more viewers than any other in its history; MTV's 2007MTVMovie Awards reversed years of annual ratings drops by drawing more than last year; and CNN's coverage of the Democratic presidential debate outdrew the prior four debates run on either Fox News or MSNBC.

Lifetime's Army averaged 3.47 million total viewers from 10 to 11 p.m., with 1.18 million of them females 18-49 and 1.2 million females 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's more than twice the network's primetime average in May - 1.29 million total viewers in prime during May - and put Lifetime back in the top-five most-viewed cable networks for the week. It also gave Lifetime the top-rated, ad-supported cable show with women 18-49 for the hour. Lifetime lead into Army with the premiere of the Kirstie Alley-starring original movie Write & Wrong, which averaged 2.62 million viewers and 723,000 women 18-49.

Army got a big marketing push as the first scripted drama fully developed under programming chief Susanne Daniels. That no doubt helped propel it ahead of the last two scripted series launched by the women's network - the hastily developed Angela's Eyes (which premiered to 2.65 million viewers and 680,000 females 18-49 in July, 2006) and the acquired drama Blood Ties (1.64 million total viewers and 507,000 women 18-49 for its March, 2007 premiere).

MTV's Movie Awards averaged 3.64 million total viewers with 2.56 million of them in the 12-34 demographic from 8 to 10 p.m. the same night. With a new host in Sarah Silverman and a format revamped to include more input from viewers, the show improved upon its performance last year - 3.23 million total viewers with 2.33 million in the 12-34 demo.

The show had fallen off in the years prior - 2004's Movie Awards averaged 5.88 million viewers with 4.4 million of them 12-34 and 2005's averaged 4.67 million with 3.19 million of them 12-34. The 2007 show drew nearly five times more viewers than did MTV's overall primetime programming in May - 774,000.

The 2007 Movie Awards also posted online gains. Since launching on April 9, Movie Awards content on MTV.com drew more 68.2% more unique visitors (1.6 million), 36% more page views (12.2 million) and 50% more streams (3.4 million) than it did in a similar period last year, the network says.

CNN averaged 2.78 million viewers, 1.09 million of them in news' target 25-54 demo, with its showing of the Democratic Presidential Debate from New Hampshire from 7 to 9 p.m. That was enough to edge out Fox News' May 15 showing of the Republican Presidential debate from South Carolina, which averaged 2.55 million total viewers with 720,000 of them in the 25-54 demo.

CNN, consistently second in prime to Fox News, had the advantage of a Democratic candidate pool full of media stars, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Republicans have a huge field of contenders, but collectively haven't garnered as much media attention as the Democrats. CNN will run the Republican Presidential debate from New Hampshire tonight (June 5) from 7 to 9 p.m. For comparison, MSNBC's showing of the April 26 South Carolina Democratic debate averaged 2.26 million viewers, while its showing of the May 3 South Carolina Republican debate averaged 1.76 million.

For the week that ended Sunday (June 3), TNT's Pistons/Cavaliers match-up helped the network beat top rival USA Network in prime, even with USA's strong premiere of its original limited series The Starter Wife. TNT averaged the most viewers with 3.28 million followed by USA with 3.15 million, Disney with 2.3 million, ESPN with 2.19 million and Lifetime with 1.66 million.

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