Other smaller cable networks making gains included Biography, WE: Women’s Entertainment, Style Channel and Speed Channel. On the flip side, Sci-Fi Channel, TNT, Lifetime, Spike TV, AMC and Comedy Central were all down double digits in that key demo.
For Lifetime, first-quarter comparisons are expected to be tough as it was pulled off Echostar’s Dish Network during the month of January as network and carrier resolved a carriage disagreement. (While Lifetime was off, Oxygen managed to sneak in, although first-quarter ratings -- up 6% in viewers 18-to-49 -- don’t yet reflect the 11,942 new households gained through new carriage on Dish and other multichannel video providers.)
Wrestling and Flavor Flav
E!, up almost 30% in the advertiser-coveted demo, was bolstered by its strong Oscars coverage, while VH1 continued its increase, up almost 14%, thanks to some of its “celebreality” programming, such as “Flavor Flav’s Flavor of Love,” which won the network its highest ratings. FX’s hit “The Shield” premiered earlier in 2006 than the year before, which fueled ratings to a 26% increase in the demo, as did the introduction this fall of “That '70s Show” in syndication on the network. USA continues to see year-over-year gains -- 11% in 18-to-49s -- from the addition of WWE’s “Raw” and will likely enjoy the same comparisons through October, when WWE first moved to the network.
Spike, while losing 17% of viewers 18-to-49, has launched an aggressive programming slate that it hopes will help it gain more male viewers. AMC and Sci-Fi, meanwhile, face difficult comparisons, as 2004 and 2005 were breakout years for the networks. They’re down 16% and 19%, respectively.
The top carriage gainer between March 2005 and 2006 was Oxygen with almost 12,000 additional households. SoapNet added about 8,000, National Geographic added about 5,500, Fuse about 5,000 and G4 4,875. CMT gained 4,800 homes and Travel Channel gained 4,500.