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January/February 2013 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.

All numbers are up to date through Thursday, February 7. This is an exciting edition with winter premieres aplenty, but please let me know if there are any shows of interest that I'm missing out on!

Switched at Birth : The second season of Switched at Birth had a rather slow start; its 0.70 demo on January 7 was down about 30% from last winter's premiere. But it's actually picked up in subsequent weeks, hitting an 0.8 in each of its last two outings. Through five episodes, it's averaging a 0.75 demo, down by 12% on the first five of last winter. If the last couple weeks are any indication, that year-to-year trend will keep getting better.

Bunheads: Switched's lead-out program Bunheads also had a slow start, with a 0.51 demo on January 7. But unlike Switched, it's made no recovery; that 0.51 remains the high point. Its 0.45 average is now down by 20% on the first five of its summer run.

Pretty Little Liars: PLL's status as the strongest original series on ABC Family remains completely unchallenged; it returned to the schedule on January 8 with an impressive 1.44 demo, up a tick from last year, and it has since steadied at around a 1.2. Its 1.23 average is up by 2% on the first five of last winter.

The Lying Game: Though The Lying Game seemed to benefit last season from its pairing with Pretty Little Liars, it has gotten a little weaker in the same pairing this winter. Its 0.59 average is down by 10% on last winter's first five.

Tosh.0 (Comedy Central): While Tosh.0 still looks like the strongest original on Comedy Central, it did get off to a slower start this winter. Its 1.5 premiere on February 6 was down 25% year-to-year.

Workaholics (Comedy Central): On a network where most of the big originals have been fading fast, third-year sitcom Workaholics is looking increasingly valuable. It premiered to a 1.1 on January 16 and is averaging a 0.93 through four episodes. That's dead even year-to-year.

Justified: The fourth season premiere of Justified was a real eye-opener; its 1.31 demo was the show's biggest number since the opening weeks of the series and up huge year-to-year. But the show took a major drop (to 0.89) in week two. Fortunately, it's basically steadied in that 0.9 vicinity, so it's remained slightly on the year-to-year upside. The 0.98 average through five episodes is up 6%.

American Horror Story: After a sizzling start to the American Horror Story season, it settled at a level well below last year in the second half. A 1.3ish demo was the norm most weeks. The season as a whole averaged a 1.44 demo, down 10% from season one, but its 1.30 finale was down more like 20%.

The Americans: FX got a really solid start out of new drama The Americans (1.24 demo on January 30). It wasn't quite as strong as Justified and American Horror Story's premieres, but it was well above some of their recent failures. However, a 32% drop in week two (to a 0.85) is cause for concern. While 0.85 would probably still be an acceptable level for FX (after all, that's about what Justified is doing), the show has definitely used up a large chunk of its premiere safety net.

Anger Management: It seems like long ago that we were talking about Charlie Sheen's Anger Management as a potential breakthrough sitcom for basic cable. It returned on January 17 with just a 0.71/0.79 demo for its two-episode premiere, which was bad enough (down about two-thirds from the series premiere in the summer). But it's also dropped every week since then, getting as low as a really ugly 0.46 on February 7. Its 0.65 average this winter is down 58% from the first five winter episodes. It probably won't remain down 58% (since last summer's early episodes were inflated), but it's still got to be a disappointment for FX, which still has 85 more episodes to run through.

Archer: Despite the struggles of its Anger Management lead-in, animated Archer has had a breakout season for FX. It premiered to a series high 1.01 demo on January 17 and built to another new high 1.06 in week two. It's dropped back a bit in subsequent weeks, but it's still up year-to-year to a large degree. The 0.99 average through four weeks is up a whooping 48% from last year's first four.

Legit: But the Archer emergence has been of no help to new comedy Legit, which was basically dead on arrival with a 0.36 demo on January 17. It actually managed to grow minimally for a couple weeks after that, but it dropped to a mere 0.24 on February 7. That was just 28% of its Archer lead-in's demo audience! It's now averaging a 0.35 through four episodes.

Girls (HBO): The media hype around Girls has been significant, but the ratings needle isn't following. Its 0.49 premiere on January 13 was up year-to-year, but in the subsequent weeks it's dropped back a bit. Its 0.39 average is now down by 3% from the first four of last year. Worth noting that this includes a 0.24 rating for an episode aired on a Saturday (to avoid the Super Bowl); it would probably be up year-to-year a bit if not for that. Fortunately for this show, HBO does not place ratings terribly high on its priority list, and all the buzz meant a third season was a sure thing; it scored the renewal on January 25.

Enlightened (HBO): The Girls lead-in and a spot on HBO's "main" night has not made that much of a difference for Enlightened, which is averaging just a 0.12 demo through four episodes this season.

Shameless (Showtime): Those leading Showtime dramas just can't seem to stop growing. Shameless is averaging a 0.93 demo through three episodes, up by a whooping 30% on last year's first three. And that's despite a particularly weak outing (0.72) against the AFC Championship Game on January 20.

House of Lies (Showtime): Of the three Sunday originals on Showtime, House of Lies took the smallest hit against the AFC Championship Game and thus is up the most year-to-year. Its 0.57 average through three eps is up by 35%.

Californication (Showtime): The last, least and oldest of the Showtime Sunday shows is sixth-year comedy Californication, but it too is riding the upswing in the first 90 minutes. Its 0.45 average through three episodes is up by 22%.

Continuum: Syfy acquired Canadian series Continuum to lead off its night of three Monday scripted originals. The premiere was a disaster: just 903,000 viewers and a 0.20 demo. But perhaps further exposure in repeats helped build an audience, as it nearly doubled its demo pull (to 0.37) in week two and has held pretty close to that in the last couple weeks. It's now averaging a 0.31 through four episodes. It was renewed for season two by its Canadian network, and I would guess we'll see those somewhere on Syfy too.

Being Human: The only homemade drama in Syfy's Monday lineup is Being Human. While it's stronger than the acquisitions sandwiching it, it's still having a pretty rough season. The 0.53 average is down by a whooping 32% on the first three of last winter. But it's still close to the same demos Warehouse 13 pulled this summer, though.

Lost Girl: Syfy rounds out Monday with another Canadian acquisition, the third season of Lost Girl. It's averaging a 0.40 demo, about 15% below what it got this summer.

WWE Smackdown!: Smackdown! has pulled around a 0.8 demo on average in 2013, which is about the same as (if not a little better than) its fall 2012 performance. It's down somewhat from the 0.9ish it was averaging at this time a year ago.

Merlin: Syfy returned the final season of British acquisition Merlin to the post-Smackdown! slot. It's averaging a 0.43 through five episodes, down by 17% from the first five of last year. That's virtually the same average as Haven had in the slot this fall.

Cougar Town (TBS): Cancelled ABC sitcom Cougar Town found new life on basic cable, where it's aired after high-rated repeats of The Big Bang Theory (which often pull mid-1's demos). By the BBT repeat standard, Cougar Town has arguably been disappointing; it premiered to a 1.06 demo on January 8, beginning its TBS run at about where it left off on ABC. Fortunately, it's held up decently since then, and it's now averaging a 1.00 through five episodes. Its ratings are pretty similar to those of TBS' summer launch Men at Work.

King of the Nerds (TBS): TBS tried to capitalize on its audience's Big Bang Theory obsession with similar-themed reality show King of the Nerds. It premiered at what's become the typical TBS premiere level (0.96), but it's dropped in each subsequent week and is now averaging a 0.82 through four episodes.

Wedding Band (TBS): TBS' hour-long Saturday night show finished with a 0.54 demo average. It seemed fairly obvious TBS wasn't all-in on this show when they put it on Saturday, and this average was not enough to overturn that opinion. It got cancelled last month.

Dallas (TNT): TNT's continuation of the classic CBS series Dallas suffered a blow when star Larry Hagman died of leukemia in November. And any hopes that might draw some short-term interest to the show haven't really panned out, either. The show averaged just a 0.81 demo in its two-hour return on January 28, and then it took an ugly week two drop to 0.61. Those three hours are down a whooping 48% from the first three of its summer run.

Monday Mornings (TNT): To cap off a rough Monday for TNT, new David E. Kelley medical drama Monday Mornings flopped out of the gate, averaging just 1.34 million viewers and a 0.31 demo in its February 4 premiere.

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, the general vicinity of 0.3 has been the norm. Its first eleven episodes are averaging a 0.29 demo, down 17% year-to-year, and the finale is this Wednesday.

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 0.25 through eleven episodes, which is down by 10% year-to-year.

WWE Raw: USA's wrestling franchise had a really good month, perhaps buoyed somewhat by the departure of its Monday Night Football competition. The last five weeks have averaged a 1.66 demo, down only a bit from what it was getting at this time a year ago and well ahead of its ratings for most of the rest of the season. (It averaged only a little over 1.3 in the fall.)

White Collar: Following an underwhelming summer run (in which it was down 19% from the previous summer), things may be getting even worse for White Collar. After an OK opening couple weeks (0.87 and 0.86), the show took a massive drop to 0.64 last week, meaning the 0.79 average is now down 26% from last winter. We'll see in the following weeks whether that 0.64 was just a blip.

Necessary Roughness: Probably the weakest show to score a renewal on USA was Necessary Roughness, and the drama is not exactly proving it deserved that renewal in its first regular season run. It premiered to a 0.63 demo, got as low as a 0.50 last week, and is now averaging a 0.58 demo through three weeks. That's 26% below its first three summer 2012 episodes.

Suits: Suits was one of the strongest shows on USA last summer, and it was also down the least year-to-year. And it's done pretty well in its own first crack at the regular season. It's been much stronger than USA's other dramas with a 1.08 demo average, just 10% below the opening weeks of its summer run.

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

December 2012 | 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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