[07/02/03 - 12:00 AM]
Cable Originals Battling for the Spotlight
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- With the June ratings period (May 26-June 29) officially a wrap, some basic cable networks are finding their original offerings are fighting an uphill battle to attract viewers.

Here's a breakdown of the latest rumblings:

-- FX is probably having the toughest time out of all of the basic cable networks. Its two latest originals: "Lucky" and "The Orlando Jones Show" have not been the ratings grabbers the network had hoped. Particularly disappointing has been "Lucky" which many expected to rebound this past month with the broadcast networks having wrapped their regular season. That hasn't been the case as the comedy saw its adults 18-49 average drop to a 0.55 rating during the period, lowering its season-to-date average to a 0.77 rating. The same bad news applies to "Jones," as the late-night talk show fell more than 60% from its opening week numbers by the end of June in the key demographic (0.24 vs. 0.60 rating). The series only saving grace has been its performance among African-American viewers where it scores a 0.66 rating among the 18-49 demographic.

-- USA on the other hand has had better, albeit mixed, results thanks to its original series "Monk." The second season bow of the drama was the most-watched episode of the series to date, securing a 4.1 household rating. Nevertheless, week two of its new season saw its viewership fall by 1.4 million total viewers (4.0 million vs. 5.4 million). Further complicating matters is the lack of another fresh installment of the series until July 11 due to the national holiday this Friday. Despite such dark clouds, "Monk" remains a key component to USA's original series strategy. A new drama, "Peacemakers," kicks off on July 30 and "The Dead Zone" returns for seven new episodes this Sunday.

-- MTV's June offerings also garnered a mixed bag of results. New Sunday series "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle" and "Who's Got Game" scored respectable numbers, topping the network's previous time slot average by 30%. Returning series "The Real World" and "The Osbournes" however weren't so lucky as both were off from year-to-year comparisions. Nevertheless, MTV's new late-night series "The New Tom Green Show" has been a surprise hit for the network, posting a strong 1.1 rating among MTV's target demographic of persons 12-34.

-- Game Show Network has seen its aggressive Sunday night lineup fail to meet expectations. After two weeks, neither "Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned" nor its lead-out, "Funny Money," topped the network's projected 0.8 household rating for the series.

-- TNT, which doesn't carry original series, has pulled lukewarm responses for its latest batch of original telefilms. This past weekend, the network's mini-series "Caesar" averaged 3.36 million total viewers, 1,553,000 of which were among the coveted adults 18-49 demographic. That's up 23% from TNT's primetime average as of late with Sunday's installment bringing in 3.6 million viewers (1.6 million in adults 18-49) and 3.1 million viewers (1.4 million in adults 18-49) for its conclusion on Monday.

  [july 2003]  


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