[08/21/03 - 12:00 AM]
'Man Show,' 'Red Water' Hot for Cable
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The ups and downs of cable's originals continued this week as MTV's "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" and Comedy Central's revamped "The Man Show" joined the fray:

COMEDY CENTRAL - Sunday's fifth season premiere of "The Man Show," featuring new hosts Joe Rogan and Doug Stanhope, scored the series' best numbers in over four years. 1,738,000 viewers viewers watched the opener, 1,092,000 of which were from the key 18-49 demograhic. Overall the series was up 16% in total viewers, 22% in men 18-49 and 29% in men 18-34 from last season's bow. The opener even jumped a whopping 63% from its lead-in, which was a best-of-old-"Man Show" marathon and grew from the first half of the half-hour to the second half.

BRAVO - "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" once again went in the record books as Tuesday's episode scored the network's best numbers in total viewers (2.932 milion), adults 18-49 (2.2 million) and adults 25-54 (2.2 million) in its 22-year history. The latter two demo scores were the top numbers for the night on basic cable. Overall "Queer" finished with a 2.8 household rating. Such a stellar performance spilled over into Bravo's repeats of "The West Wing" as Tuesday's 11:00/10:00c installment marked its best scores since joining the network last week. "Queer's" lead-in "Boy Meets Boy" also saw a slight lift, attracting a 1.2 household rating and 1.3 million viewers.

FX - Original drama "Nip/Tuck" held strong for its fifth week, beating Bravo's "Queer Eye" by a slim 27,000 viewers. Overall the series averaged a 2.9 household rating and 2,959,000 viewers, on par with last week's rating (2.9 household rating) but off by 391,000 viewers.

A&E - The British spy drama "MI-5" continues to struggle as Tuesday's installment scored a 0.9 household rating and 1 million viewers, down significantly from the 1.6 household rating and 1.8 million viewers for its premiere.

TBS - The network's original movie "Red Water" grabbed a stunning 5.0 household rating and 6.9 million viewers for its Sunday premiere. "Water" was not only the most watched original movie this year on basic cable, but it also took the crown in all the key demographics: adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54. Such a performance helped propel TBS to the top spot for the week of August 11-17 in primetime. The network also saw solid numbers for its theatricals "Men in Black" (3.81 million viewers) and "Deep Blue Sea" (3.80 million).

In an interesting twist, despite such stellar news TBS announced today it is phasing out its original movie development. Turner topper Steve Koonin hopes to shift those dollars to developing "light entertainment" and reality-based shows such as the upcoming "House Rules." While such a move might seem crazy (TBS also had last year's top telefilm: "Atomic Twister," which scored a 5.9 household rating), Koonin pulled a similar move when he ditched TNT's successful World Championship Wrestling coverage a few years ago. Since the move, TNT has been one of cable's top draws thanks to its popular "Law & Order" repeats.

LIFETIME - The cable channel's new Saturday lineup saw drops once again this week as both "1-800-Missing" and "Wild Card" each fell to 1.6 household ratings. In just three weeks, both shows have fallen a full rating point, a huge blow for cable series. Such a dip hasn't affected the network's established dramas as "Strong Medicine" and "The Division" scored 2.8 and 2.4 household ratings respectively on Sunday.

USA - "Peacemakers" slid again this past week as its August 13 installment managed a 2.4 household rating, off 14% from last week (2.8 household rating) and 40% from its opener (4.0 household rating). "Monk" however stayed consistent with its summer numbers, pulling in a 3.2 household rating for Friday's episode. The network's other original, "The Dead Zone," failed to make the top 50 on basic cable this past week.

MTV - The series premiere of the half-hour reality series "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" drew 2.48 million total viewers on Tuesday, winning its time period among viewers 12-34, MTV's target demographic. Overall the bow scored a 2.3 household rating.

TNT - The network's coverage of the Michigan 400 Nascar race took in a stellar 6.23 million viewers making it the second most watched program on basic cable this past week despite not even airing in primetime. The network's "Law & Order" repeats also continued to impress as Tuesday's installment scored a 3.0 household rating and 3.3 million viewers.

  [august 2003]  


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