The cable TV network also has removed from sales about 10% of its remaining available time in early fringe and prime time for the two quarters due to the same problem.
"Yes, we've had some ratings fallout due to some shows not working," said John Silvestri, exec VP-advertising for USA Network.
UNDERDELIVERY OF UP TO 25%
Network insiders said guaranteed ratings have been off by up to 15%. However, one agency executive said that "for one demographic, we found an underdelivery of about 25%."
The problem has affected USA's sister network, the Sci-Fi Channel, as well.
USA's problems surprised most agency executives, as the underdelivery comes at a time when cable TV ratings overall are booming, while most broadcast networks continue to lose audience.
The only other time USA had a major underdelivery problem was when it ran off-network reruns of "Major Dad" and "Wings" a few years ago, Mr. Silvestri said.
"This kind of thing happens from time to time, both at broadcast networks and cable networks," he said. "We plan on making all of our advertisers whole by the end of the broadcast year on Sept. 15."
One agency executive said that USA has been trying to be accommodating about the problem.
Mr. Silvestri said that sometimes programs just don't work, or don't work as well as thought.
HOPING FOR 'GOOD BUMP'
"As you know, 'Murder, She Wrote,' which has been such a good performer for us, has been off in its numbers, and we're hoping that when 'Walker, Texas Ranger' comes on later this year, we'll get a good bump," he said.
The underdelivery problem has not hurt USA in the upfront marketplace, said Mr. Silvestri and a number of agency media buyers.
The network has been averaging mid-single-digit cost-per-thousand increases, buyers said.
The future of the network is still up in the air. Most agency media managers still expect the network to eventually be wholly owned by Seagram Co.'s Universal Pictures Television.
Currently, Seagram co-owns USA and Sci-Fi with Viacom, but a recent court