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December 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. For the regular readers, shows that just began a season in this edition are in blue.

December was pretty slow, mostly just wrapping up a few stray fall seasons, so this is a relatively light edition. Lots of new stuff to come next month! Please let me know if there are any shows of interest that I'm missing out on!

Monday Night Football (ESPN): As the NFL season winds down, so do the NFL ratings, and ESPN's Monday Night Football was no exception. The MNF average also took a hit from having to air its last game on Saturday (since what would've been its final Monday was Christmas Eve). So it ended up with a 5.09 average, which was actually behind The Walking Dead in the cable supremacy race. That average was down 5% from last year.

American Horror Story: After a sizzling start to the American Horror Story season, it's ended up settling at a level well below last season down the stretch, including a pretty mediocre 1.2 demo in its return from hiatus on January 2. Its 1.46 average through ten episodes is down 9% from last year's first ten.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: It's Always Sunny really struggled in its last few weeks, dropping to a 0.6 demo in late November and then to a 0.5 for the December 13 season finale. That left the season average at a 0.68, down 33% from last year.

The League: The League also struggled down the stretch of the season, posting a few 0.4 demos in its last few episodes. It averaged a 0.53 demo in its 10:30 airings, down by 21% from last year.

Jersey Shore (MTV): The crumbling of Jersey Shore continued down the stretch of its final season, as it managed just a 1.3, 1.3 and 1.2 in the three weeks leading into the finale before rallying to a still underwhelming 1.8 for the series finale. It left the final season as a whole at sixty percent below the year-ago season with just a 1.57 average. Kudos to MTV on anticipating this and ending the show before things got really ugly.

Thursday Night Football (NFL Network): The longer run of Thursday Night Football appeared to pay off in a big way early in the season, when breaking a 3.0 every week appeared realistic. But a low-2's level was more typical down the stretch, and the season ended up with a 2.61 demo average, up by just 5% year-to-year.

Dexter (Showtime): Dexter finished its season on a really good note, nearing a season high for its penultimate episode on December 9 (1.27 demo) before hitting the high note on finale night (1.37). The finale was up nearly 40% from last year, and the season as a whole was up 23% (averaging a 1.13 overall).

Homeland (Showtime): Homeland also took off down the stretch, hitting its first 1.0 demo on December 2 and maintaining it the next week in the penultimate episode. With many threads wrapped up in the penultimate week, I guess a few people bailed for the finale, as it came down a hair (to 0.93), but it was still a sensational season for the Emmy winner. It averaged a 0.83 demo, up by 78% from season one!

WWE Smackdown! (Syfy): 0.7's and 0.8's have remained the norm for Smackdown! on Friday, though in its special Tuesday airing on USA Network on December 18 it spiked to a 1.2. Overall, Smackdown! is down about 18% from its fall 18-49 ratings.

Haven (Syfy): The scheduling was messed up somewhat for Haven when Syfy yanked one of its episodes due to the shootings in Newtown. So through 11 episodes, it's averaging a 0.44 demo, down about 16% from last year (nearly the same amount as its Smackdown! lead-in). The season's last two episodes will air on Thursday, January 17, and it's returning for season four.

Wedding Band (TBS): TBS' hour-long Saturday night show has averaged a 0.57 demo through seven episodes, and the ratings have bounced around quite a bit. I'm assuming this is because it's had a variety of different lead-ins, and it does best when aired after The Big Bang Theory. Either way, I'm sticking with my opinion on the show from the beginning, which is that the way TBS scheduled it suggests they don't like it enough to bring it back.

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT): In the end, the five episodes of Rizzoli & Isles at the end of 2012 consistently hovered right around a 0.8 demo. They averaged a 0.79, down by 16% from the five-episode run at the end of 2011.

Leverage (TNT): Leverage also had a five-episode run at the end of the year, and we eventually learned they would be the show's last five episodes. But Leverage went out on an OK note. After getting pretty ugly 0.5's in its first three weeks, it grew to a 0.6 on December 18 and then a 0.7 for the series finale on Christmas evening. The five episodes averaged a 0.62, down by 17% from last year's winter run.

Hot in Cleveland (TV Land): The return of Hot in Cleveland looked pretty solid by that show's recent standards, pulling in 1.7 million viewers and a 0.39 demo, numbers that were ahead of last year's averages. But as things have settled down, 0.3 or lower has become the new normal for Hot in Cleveland. Through six episodes, it's averaging just a 0.30, down by 19% on last year's first six.

Happily Divorced (TV Land): Happily Divorced also had a decent start before settling down at a much lower level, in this case right around a 0.25. It's averaging a 0.26 through six episodes, which is down by 15% year-to-year.

WWE Raw (USA): The holidays weren't that good to USA's wrestling franchise, as the show averaged just a 1.21 demo in December. That's down nearly a quarter from where it was at this time a year ago.

Burn Notice (USA): Long-running Burn Notice was actually one of USA's more stable returning shows last summer, and that trend continued into the fall episodes. It was right in the 1.0 vicinity almost every week, and the full average ended up at a 1.02 demo. That was just 3% below the regular season run for Burn Notice last year.

Royal Pains (USA): USA made a smart move in airing Royal Pains almost entirely in the summer last season. The only regular season airing was the two-hour wedding special, which averaged a 0.8 demo on December 16. If that's indicative of what a regular season run would've gotten, good decision, because Royal Pains consistently got a 1.0 or a little better during the summer.

For more, check out the previous cable guides here at SpoilerTV:

November 2012 | Late Summer 2012 | Early Fall 2012

Check out the previous Cable Guides dating back to September 2011 on the Cable Guide label!

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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