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April 2012 Cable Ratings Guide

I'm back with another monthly look at the cable TV landscape! As always, I'll note that I mostly traffic in adults 18-49 ratings below. (That's always what I mean by "demo.") However, these should be taken with some grain of salt. I use A18-49 ratings because of availability and because they're a reasonable way of making comparisons across networks, but be advised that it is not necessarily the be-all-end-all number it is on broadcast. Not all of these networks target that demographic specifically. In this edition, all these numbers are up to date through Friday, May 4.

It was kind of a slow month, so I'm covering 29 shows on 12 networks this time. This is far from a complete look at cable originals, so let me know if you have a favorite you'd like on this list. Here we go!

For more, check out the previous cable guides here at SpoilerTV: September/October | November | December | January | February | March

Breakout Kings (A&E): Overall, it was not much of a breakout second season for Kings, as the show ended up steadying right around a 0.6 demo down the stretch of its season. The season as a whole averaged a 0.64 demo, which was down by 17% from the full season one average. That put it a little behind A&E's other notable original scripted show, The Glades. Its fate is still to be determined.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager (ABC Family): It looks like one of the iconic ABC Family shows is officially on the downswing, as Secret Life premiered down almost 20% on March 26 and is down by 15% vs. the first six episodes of last spring. The demo average is 0.79, still a good number for ABC Family, but the show is now noticeably weaker than fellow network tentpole Pretty Little Liars and more in line with Switched at Birth.  

Make It Or Break It (ABC Family): This spring's run has been a pretty weak one ratings-wise for Make It Or Break It, whose 0.49 demo average is down 25% from last season's first six. That average is identical to that of Jane By Design from back in the winter (and they also had almost identical lead-ins), so ABC Family decided to cancel Make It Or Break It and give the younger Jane another shot.

Mad Men (AMC): As I said last week, Mad Men is pretty much a legitimate cable hit program now, even if lots of people enjoy making the comparison to enormous The Walking Dead so they can perpetuate the "nobody watches" narrative. The show has dropped a good bit from the 1.2 demo of its March 25 premiere, but the 1.01 demo average through seven hours is still up a whooping 34% from the first seven of 2010's season four.  

The Killing (AMC): But while it's been a positive spring for Mad Men, its lead-in The Killing has gone in completely the other direction. It's averaging a 0.53 demo through six episodes, which is down by 21% from the first six of its first season. AMC can do worse (see previous Mad Men companion Rubicon), but it'll be interesting to see what they do with this show now that the critics have mostly abandoned it.

The Game (BET): BET has picked up the exiled CW sitcom for what'll be its third season on the network, although the trend has not been great for The Game this season. It's averaging a 1.50 demo, down by 35% from the previous season's average, and it's stabilized at more like a 1.1 demo in recent weeks. It's still a cable hit, but it's a long way from where it was just a year ago.

Let's Stay Together (BET): The story with this show is the same as it's been for months: like lead-in The Game, it's down, but it's also down quite a bit less than The Game. Its 1.03 average to date (more like a 0.8 or 0.9 lately) is down by 15% from last season's average.

Tosh.0 (Comedy Central): Tosh.0 remains Comedy Central's strongest program in 18-49, as its ten-episode spring run averaged a 1.57 demo. But that was down by 16% from the spring run last year.  

South Park (Comedy Central): It looked like the beginning of a soft spring run for South Park when it premiered to a 1.5 demo in March (down a bunch from the 1.8 of its spring 2011 premiere), but the show ended up getting back to that 1.5 mark on a couple future occasions. The seven-episode spring run averaged a 1.40 demo, down a healthy 3% year-to-year.

Justified (FX): Since last we spoke, Justified had a big spike to a 1.05 demo in its season three finale. That was up by double digits on the previous two finales for the show. Overall, season three averaged a 0.90 demo, down by just 3% from last season.

Game of Thrones (HBO): The clear choice for Breakout Show of the Month has gotta be HBO's Game of Thrones. Its 2.0 demo premiere on April 1 more than doubled the year-ago series premiere. Since then, the show hasn't taken off into the True Blood stratosphere, but it has stabilized quite nicely near that number. The season is averaging a 1.89 demo through five episodes, which is up a staggering 79% on the first five of season one.  

Veep (HBO): Unlike on broadcast TV, where comedies usually lead into dramas, the pay cable networks like airing the big dramas earlier and the comedies later. But the huge Game of Thrones lead-in has not exactly made Veep a smash. The show premiered to 1.38 million viewers and a 0.58 demo on April 22, then dropped to 1.15 million and a 0.50 in week two. But season two is secured!  

Girls (HBO): HBO has also not gotten any real ratings juice out of Lena Dunham's Girls, which premiered to a 0.41 demo on April 15. If there's a silver lining, it's that it hasn't dropped much and is now averaging a 0.39 through three episodes. Season two is secured!

Army Wives (Lifetime): Lifetime's signature scripted show continues to do pretty decent business, averaging a 0.98 demo through ten episodes. But that's down 16% from the first ten of last season.  

The Client List (Lifetime): The better news for Lifetime is it looks like they may have finally found an heir apparent scripted program that'll keep them in the game once Army Wives is gone. It only took 'em five years! The Client List premiered to a 0.9 demo on April 8, then grew demographically in week two and again in week three. It dropped back a bit in week four, but the average is still a rock solid 0.98 demo through four episodes. It recently got a second season renewal.

Shameless (Showtime): We had everything but the finale for Showtime's Sunday lineup last week, so I'll be quick. Shameless had an amazing season two, averaging a 0.71 demo. That was up 52% year-to-year.  

House of Lies (Showtime): House of Lies posted a 0.42 demo in its finale to cap off a season that averaged... a 0.42 demo.  

Californication (Showtime): As became common during the back half of the season, Californication actually built slightly out of its House of Lies lead-in on finale night. The season as a whole was a bit weaker than House of Lies, averaging a 0.39 demo. But that was up an amazing 57% from the previous season.

Being Human: The second season of Syfy's American attempt at Being Human kinda limped to the finish, posting just a 0.5 and 0.6 in its last couple episodes. Those were down from the last episodes of season one. But the season as a whole posted a nice 0.66 average, up by 11% from season one.  

Eureka: Since Being Human's finale, Syfy has plugged in the final season of their long-running drama Eureka and gotten fairly similar numbers. It's averaging a 0.58 demo through three episodes, down by 17% from the first three of the previous season.  

Lost Girl: Syfy immediately started airing season two of Canadian import Lost Girl after they finished with season one. The show has pulled almost exactly the same ratings after Eureka as after Being Human. The 0.46 average through three episodes is almost identical to the 0.45 average for the whole of season one.  

WWE Friday Night Smackdown!: Syfy's wrestling franchise averaged around a 0.8 demo in the month of April, which was a bit down from its level in March. It's down about a tick from the 0.9 level or so it had back in April 2011.  

Merlin: We had everything but the finale in last month's edition. The finale got a 0.53 demo, its highest number since the first few episodes of the season. That left the season average at 0.49, up by an impressive 23% from the previous season. There hasn't been an official confirmation that season five (already greenlit by the BBC) will air on Syfy, but it seems pretty certain it will happen.

Hot in Cleveland (TV Land): The ratings for TV Land's signature sitcom have been bouncing around a lot lately. Since there's not a comparable spring run, I'll just note that the show has averaged a 0.29 demo over the last four episodes and a 0.34 since its premiere all the way back in November. (It has not taken a large break since that time.)  

Happily Divorced (TV Land): TV Land seems to be putting a pretty high priority on Happily Divorced, as they bumped Retired at 35 and continued to air Happily alongside Hot in Cleveland this spring. The show's 0.30 demo average is down a whooping 29%, but it's hard to know what to make of that considering how hugely down Hot In Cleveland is as well. It continues to exhibit better retention of Cleveland's ratings than pretty much anything else they've tried.

WWE Raw: The USA Network wrestling program continues to widen its gap over the rest of the USA originals. Its five weeks in April (including a three-hour edition on April 23) averaged a 1.73 demo. That's pretty similar to its 1.76 March average but down from the approximately 1.9 average at this time a year ago.  

Psych: The last couple episodes of Psych's first spring run each got right around a 0.9 demo, leaving the spring average at a 0.90 demo. That's weaker than the show was back in the fall (when it averaged 1.03), but the show worked well enough as a full-time regular season player to score another renewal.

 Fairly Legal: Even for typically solid USA Network, Friday night kinda sucks. Season two of Fairly Legal has averaged just a 0.62 demo, down by 33% from the first eight of season one. Not sure if that's good enough, since we don't know USA's Friday standards these days. Starting this week, it will lead into new buddy cop show Common Law.  

In Plain Sight: Friday night was also pretty rough on the final season of In Plain Sight, which in the end didn't end up doing that much better than Fairly Legal. The 0.66 demo average was down 29% from its last run on Sunday night. The 0.68 demo for its series finale last Friday was only a small bump over the last couple results.

For more in-depth TV ratings coverage every day, check out my blog at SpottedRatings.com or follow me on Twitter: @spotupj.

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