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August 2012 Cable Ratings Guide, Part 1

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 Thursday, August 30. I'm putting all shows that just started a season (in other words, weren't on last month's guide) in blue.

With so many shows in the summer editions, I'm splitting this into two parts to try to make it somewhat feasible to get through each part in one sitting. UPDATE: PART TWO IS NOW LIVE!

The Glades (A&E): A&E's always decently-rated procedural kept plugging away in its last couple episodes and ended the season with a 0.73 demo, down just 1% year-to-year. Unlike its lead-out (see below), it hasn’t been renewed yet, but I’m still pretty sure it will be.

Longmire (A&E): The new A&E Sunday drama picked up a bit in the last month or so of the season and finished its opening year with a 0.76 demo average. It scored a renewal for season two and had a marathon over Labor Day weekend.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Though Secret Life actually had a pretty big gain in its August 27 season finale (to a 0.8 demo), it was still a fairly disastrous season for the show once considered the face of ABC Family. The 0.67 average for the summer ended up down a whooping 43% year-to-year. It still has another run of episodes to play out (sometime in 2013), but it now seems quite possible that could be the last season.

Bunheads: Though Bunheads had a pretty underwhelming start back in June, it pretty much completely held onto that audience over the course of season one. It premiered to a 0.57 demo and finished the season with a 0.54 average, including an above-average 0.59 for the finale on August 20. It's not a big hit at this point, but considering how disappointing its Secret Life lead-in performed, those numbers were good enough to get Bunheads a back order. It should be back in early 2013.

Pretty Little Liars: With Secret Life on the speedy decline, that means Pretty Little Liars is now definitely the face of ABC Family’s original programming. It ended up having a pretty great summer, growing slightly year-to-year almost every week of the season and peaking with a 1.3 demo for the finale on August 28. The season as a whole averaged a 1.01 demo, which was up 4% from summer 2011. It'll be around for awhile, though its lead-out from earlier this summer Jane By Design has been cancelled.

Melissa & Joey: The big story on ABC Family this summer was the network's comedy renaissance, and that all started with huge gains at 8:00 with Melissa & Joey. The show was way up year-to-year throughout the summer, but the real highlight was the season finale on August 29, which hit 1.50 million viewers and a 0.75 demo. That was the highest viewership since early summer 2011 and the highest demo since early season one in 2010! The season as a whole ended up with a 0.58 average, up by 25% on last summer's ratings.

Baby Daddy: It had a couple hiccups around the middle of the season, but ultimately Baby Daddy got back to a very solid level in August, hitting 0.6 demos for three straight weeks prior to the finale and then perking up to a 0.7 for the finale. That left the show with a 0.62 average, building slightly on Melissa & Joey. ABC Family is rightfully touting it as one of their most successful comedies ever, and it got renewed for a full second season last month.

Breaking Bad (AMC): The story of the late summer has been the absolute breakout performance by the final season of Breaking Bad. This show only hit a 1.1 demo one time in its first four seasons. But in this summer's first half of season five, 1.1 has been the low point, and it's only gotten there once. The norm has been a 1.2 or 1.3, and the season's averaging an amazing 1.27 demo with Sunday's finale ratings still pending. That's up by an astounding 59% on the first seven eps of season four.

Hell on Wheels (AMC): But much like the Mad Men upswing didn't help The Killing earlier in the summer, the Breaking Bad breakout has done nothing for the sophomore run of Hell on Wheels. Through three episodes, the sophomore run is averaging a 0.60 demo, which is noticeably better than The Killing's run this spring/summer but still on the low end of where Hell on Wheels settled late in its first season. We'll see where it ends up with Breaking Bad out of the picture moving forward.

Futurama (Comedy Central): After struggling a bit against the Olympics, Futurama did rally to some extent in the second half of August. But it was still a season of steep declines for the veteran animated program, as its 0.65 average lost 19% year-to-year.

Anger Management: Last month, I said Anger Management had probably exceeded the ratings required to trigger this show's contractual 90-episode pickup and fast track to syndication. Since then, it's happened, and lead Charlie Sheen's father Martin Sheen will join as a regular for those 90 eps. The show was still arguably something of a ratings disappointment, settling with well fewer than half the viewers it had on its huge June 28 premiere night. The season as a whole averaged a 1.20 demo, though that was more like a 0.8 in the last month. Still, that's quite a lot better than the comedies that lead out of it.

Wilfred: Despite a seemingly better timeslot, it's been a pretty low-rated second season for Wilfred, as it's continued to plunge by at least half from its Anger Management lead-in most weeks. Through eleven episodes, it's now averaging a 0.59 demo, and that's down by a stout 24% year-to-year. But with its lead-out Louie already renewed, all indications are this show will return again next summer.

Louie: The third comedy in FX's Thursday lineup continues the downward momentum, as it's only holding about 75% of Wilfred in averaging a 0.45 through ten eps. But that's still down a lot less than Wilfred relative to last year (just 13%), and its renewal for next summer is secure.

True Blood (HBO): True Blood averaged a cable-topping 2.68 demo this summer, down just 2% from last year, and its ratings were incredibly consistent: never lower than 2.6, never higher than 2.9. So the ratings for True Blood were pretty boring this season, but HBO will take all those subscribers all the way to the bank. It's amazing how well the show is holding up at what's often a pretty advanced age for this kind of show.

The Newsroom (HBO): Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom premiered with a 1.0 demo, settled around a 0.8 for most of the rest of the season, then got as high as 1.0 again for the August 26 season finale. That 0.86 average marks a hold of less than a third of True Blood's 18-49 audience, though that's hardly the worst they've ever done in that situation. It'll be back for season two.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime): Drop Dead Diva had a pretty solid August, settling at around a 0.8 demo and adding a couple hundredths to its season average. It's now averaging a 0.75 demo, impressively up by 2% year-to-year. There's no renewal yet, but it seems quite likely to me.

Army Wives (Lifetime): Army Wives also had a good month, as it's settled above the 1.0 mark on a consistent basis for really the first time all season. It's upped its own season average to a 0.99, though that's still down by 16% vs. last year's much shorter season.

The Inbetweeners (MTV): MTV's latest stab at remaking a British series is The Inbetweeners, but it's not off to much of a start. The premiere on August managed just a 0.34 demo, and in week two it dropped to a 0.29.

Teen Wolf (MTV): The last couple episodes of Teen Wolf ticked up to a 0.70 and then a season-second-best 0.77, leaving the season average at 0.68. That's dead even with last year's average. It's scored a big season three renewal.

Awkward. (MTV): As expected, Awkward. has taken a ratings step backward in season two simply because it’s in a much worse timeslot than last summer, when it aired after the then-huge hit Teen Mom. But it's picked up a little steam as the season has developed, getting as high as a 1.02 demo on August 23. The season as a whole is now averaging a 0.81. That's down by 19% from last year, but it's certainly not truly that bad considering the timeslot. It's also gotten a big renewal for season three.

Warehouse 13: The post-Olympics dust has settled on Syfy's Powerful Mondays and, well... it's not that pretty. Warehouse 13 has been down over 25% year-to-year each of the last five weeks, leaving it at a measly 0.60 average. That's barely better than what Syfy was getting out of the last episodes of Eureka earlier in the summer. It's still the biggest Syfy scripted show, so I'm guessing it returns, but the ratings are not making it a no-brainer decision.

Alphas: Things have mostly been just as ugly for Alphas on Monday, as the show dropped for three straight weeks after its premiere to end up as low as a Lost Girl-esque 0.41 demo on August 13. But Syfy shrewdly realized that facing off with NBC's Grimm may have been part of the reason for that and moved the show to 8:00 the next week. Since then, two straight weeks of growth, to 0.48 and then 0.53. It actually did better than Warehouse 13 last week! Still, at just a 0.49 average and down 34% year-to-year, Alphas is far from what I'd consider a lock for renewal at this point.

WWE Friday Night Smackdown!: Syfy's wrestling franchise was down nearly a full tick in August, averaging a 0.74 in four airings so far. That's off of the 0.82 pace from both July 2012 and from August 2011.

Lost Girl: In mid-July, Syfy moved Lost Girl over to Friday night to make room for Alphas on Monday. Usually, that’d be a bad thing, but Lost Girl does have a much larger lead-in on Friday with Smackdown! So far, the smaller viewing levels and the bigger lead-in on Friday have basically been a wash, as Lost Girl has continued to average the same 0.42 demo through 19 episodes, still just a bit behind the season one average.

END PART ONE - Part two covering shows on TBS, TNT, TV Land and USA is live now!

For more, check out the previous cable guides here at SpoilerTV:
July part 1 | July part 2

September/October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June part 1 | June part 2

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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