USA Network was the top-rated basic-cable network with viewers 18-49 for the third quarter, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research numbers that blended Nielsen Live +7 numbers with live-plus-same-day numbers. In fact, the top four networks in Q3 2008 mirrored those from last year.
USA benefited from summer series Burn Notice and In Plain Sight, as well as Friday detective shows Monk and Psych. USA averaged 1.26 million viewers 18-49, with 2.83 million total viewers.
The top 10 in 18-49 ranked like this, with average millions of primetime viewers in parentheses: USA (1.26 million), ESPN (1.12 million), TBS (1 million), TNT (944,000), A&E Network (720,000), FX (676,000), Sci Fi Channel (639,000), Lifetime (638,000), Discovery Channel (614,000) and Nick at Nite (594,000).
In Nielsen rankings of the top 10 programs clustered by Persons 2+, 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54, sports-events dominated. The only scripted dramas to break through were episodes of TNT's The Closer and Raising the Bar, and MTV's The Hills.