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Quartet of cable networks battle for prime-time ratings positioning


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Quartet of cable networks battle for prime-time ratings positioning

While FOX News Channel (US) and MSNBC (US) continued to set the prime-time pace, there was a tight battle for audience bragging rights in the second half of basic cable’s top 10 during the first week of August.

FOX News Channel led the way, averaging 2.19 million viewers in prime time from July 31 through Aug. 6 and holding a 400,000-plus viewer advantage over MSNBC’s 1.76 million watchers, according to a Walt Disney Co. analysis of data from Nielsen Holdings.

USA (US), which benefited from its presentation of WWE grappling fare and the debut of limited series "The Sinner," was third with 1.49 million viewers on average, a total edging HGTV (US)’s 1.47 million in the period. TBS (US) was fifth with 1.21 million.

From there it was a tight battle. History (US) tallied 1.08 million viewers on average, securing sixth place ahead of CNN (US)’s 1.04 million. A&E (US) and Investigation Discovery (US) nipped at the news network’s heels, garnering 1.02 million and 1.0 million watchers, respectively.

FX Network (US) claimed the 10th spot with an average of 899,000 viewers. Food Network (US), whose menu drew 897,000 viewers; Disney Channel (US), counting 886,000 viewers; and Discovery Channel (US), which swam without its "Shark Week" programming stunt from the week before and notched 878,000 watchers, finished just outside the top 10 during the first week of August.

Three of the top 5 basic cable networks in prime time also made their mark in the total-programming day. FOX News was first here, too, with 1.34 million watchers on average, while Nickelodeon/Nick At Nite (US) placed second with 1.21 million viewers.

MSNBC was third in this measure with 986,000 watchers. HGTV, matching its fourth-place finish in prime time, came next with 828,000 watchers, just 2,000 ahead of fifth-place Disney Channel.

As for the shows themselves, the fourth episode of the penultimate season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" reigned during the week with nearly 10.2 million viewers Aug. 6.

USA pinned the second- (3.28 million watchers from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 31), fourth- (3.20 million in the 8 p.m. hour that night) and fifth- (3.03 million from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.) most-watched shows, with NBCSN (US)’s three-hour presentation of the NASCAR race from Watkins Glen ranking third with 3.25 million viewers on the afternoon of Aug. 6

MSNBC’s "The Rachel Maddow Show" on July 31 was sixth, followed by a trio of installments of "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on FOX News. The cable news leader also claimed the 10th spot with "Hannity" on July 31.

The Aug. 2 premiere episode of limited series "The Sinner," in which Jessica Biel plays a mother whose circuitry disconnects and commits a seemingly unprovoked, heinous murder, averaged 1.63 million, surpassing USA’s prime-time average of 1.49 million viewers for the week.

The rankings reflect Nielsen live+7 viewing, blended with live+3 from July 24 through Aug. 3, and live+ same day from Aug. 4 through Aug. 6.