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Cable Ratings Guide: August/September 2013

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 networks. Not all of these networks target that demographic specifically.

This time, we're wrapping up the summer in cable and introducing a few early fall entries. All numbers are up to date through Thursday, September 26 (with last Sunday's Breaking Bad finale also included). In the parenthesses for each show: the 18-49 average, then the +/- number is how it compares to last year's ratings, then the number of episodes counted (there's only an episode count if the season isn't complete yet).

Switched at Birth (0.74, +4%)

The Fosters (0.66): The impressive ABC Family newbie ended its season with a series high 0.80 on August 5. Along with Twisted, it's scored a back order.

Pretty Little Liars (1.10, +8%)

Twisted (0.53)

Melissa & Joey (0.46, -22%): It was a surprisingly soft summer for ABC Family's Wednesday comedy lineup, but both will return next year, and they finished on a good note. M&J spiked to a season high 0.63 for the September 4 finale, while Baby Daddy had its own season high 0.57.

Baby Daddy (0.42, -33%)

The Glades (0.60, -17%): A&E's veteran drama struggled in its move to Monday and was cancelled after four seasons. It had a significant spike to a season high 0.86 for the series finale on August 26, even though the cancellation hadn't yet been announced at the time. Its Monday teammate Longmire lives on into next season.

Longmire (0.73, -4%)


The Killing (0.45, -7%): Though much of the critical favor returned for The Killing's third season revival, the ratings trickled down a bit more, and AMC announced the second cancellation a few weeks ago.

Breaking Bad (3.05, +139%): Once home of a huge ratings hit (The Walking Dead) and a bunch of lower-rated critical faves, AMC saw one of those critical faves absolutely explode this summer. The 2.87 premiere on August 11 nearly doubled the previous series high, and it continued to skyrocket in the last three weeks. The 10.7 million viewers and 5.3 demo rating for Sunday's finale were both the highest for a basic cable series finale ever.

Hell on Wheels (0.43, -26%, 8 episodes): The older-skewing Western drama has held up OK in its transition to low-viewed Saturday night, nearly matching the other two low-rated dramas (one of which had the huge Breaking Bad lead-in).

Low Winter Sun (0.53, 7 episodes): Once upon a time, Breaking Bad was a show that pulled 0.4's and 0.5's. This summer, as it exploded to ratings dominance, it led into a show that pulled Breaking Bad season one-esque ratings. An AMC exec expressed happiness about Low Winter Sun's viewership levels, but it's hard to imagine he was being truthful given the upper-2's Breaking Bad has pulled before it.

The Game (1.18, -15%): The Game had been rapidly losing audience since the explosive start of its AMC run, but airing the second half of this season in the summer really seemed to help. After averaging only about a 1.0 in the spring, it consistently hit a 1.2+ in the summer and grew all the way to a whooping 1.88 for the September 3 finale.

Comedy Central
Futurama (0.71, +9%): The animated show's umpteenth final season saw quite the uptick at the end, growing from its typical 0.7ish level all the way to a 1.17 for the September 4 finale.

South Park (1.75, +69%, 1 episode): A few weeks after sending off Futurama in strong fashion, Comedy Central saw South Park return with its highest-rated episode in about two and a half years.

The Bridge (0.63, 12 episodes): Like the winter's The Americans, The Bridge has been another relatively soft-rated critical fave for FX. But like The Americans, it didn't completely bomb, so it's coming back for season two. 

Anger Management (0.39 in August/September)

Wilfred (0.30, -46%): No word yet on the fate of Wilfred, which had an absolutely awful season three in the ratings.

Sons of Anarchy (2.73, +15%, 3 episodes)

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (0.39, -49%, 4 episodes): FX splintered its scripted department with the launch of new network FXX, and their combo of Sunny and The League were the highest-profile shows to make the move. Both started out rather well, pulling 0.5ishes that were only a little bit down from their prior seasons' premieres. But the ratings have fallen off considerably since then. To The League's credit, it's actually managed to outrate Sunny on a couple occasions, which was rarely the case in prior seasons.

The League (0.40, -29%, 4 episodes)

True Blood (2.32, -12%): True Blood remained a huge cable option this summer, but 2013 still brought the show's first significant ratings downturn. HBO announced that the 2014 season will be its last.
The Newsroom (0.78, -8%): Though it's not completely official, Jeff Daniels has announced that The Newsroom is coming back for season three.

Boardwalk Empire (0.84, -17%, 3 episodes)

Drop Dead Diva (0.68, -7%, 8 episodes)
Devious Maids (0.89): The busted ABC pilot had a slow start on Lifetime, picked up some huge steam in the month of July, then tapered off a bit in August before hitting a series high 1.14 for the September 22 finale. It's been renewed for season two.

Dexter (1.11, -2%): Dexter couldn't find Breaking Bad-style momentum in its final episodes, but it still turned in one last very strong season for Showtime. The series finale built to a season high 1.28.

Ray Donovan (0.51): Dexter's lead-out Ray Donovan ended up doing just a bit better than season one of Homeland (0.47). Showtime will hope for Homeland-style growth out of season two, though it seems unlikely to draw as many awards.

Friday Night Smackdown! (0.77 in August/September, -10%)

Continuum (0.36, +20%)

Haven (0.44, +2%, 2 episodes)

Sullivan & Son (0.82, -9%): TBS renewed both of its multi-camera sitcoms (this and Men At Work) for 2014. Sullivan, the less hyped show when they debuted in 2012, actually had slightly higher ratings than Men at Work (0.75) this year.

Major Crimes (0.83, -6%)

King & Maxwell (0.49): The Rebecca Romjin procedural was a solid total viewers draw but proved too old-skewing for TNT, which cancelled it after one season.

Rizzoli & Isles (1.15, +6%)

Perception (0.71, -6%): Perception snagged a renewal after dropping only a bit in season two (but it got a big assist from an upgraded lead-in in Rizzoli & Isles).

Franklin & Bash (0.60, -23%): That leaves the last of TNT's bubble shows, Wednesday lawyer dramedy Franklin & Bash. Its ratings took a hit from moving away from Rizzoli & Isles. Unlike the other TNT dramas, its fate is still up in the air.

Falling Skies (1.20, -8%)

TV Land
Hot in Cleveland (0.34, +1%)

The Exes (0.30, +7%)

WWE Raw (1.46 in August/September, -5%ish)

Covert Affairs (0.69, -20%)

Suits (1.00, -19%)

Royal Pains (0.79, -21%)

Necessary Roughness (0.63, -11%): Roughness is the only USA show listed here whose fate beyond this summer is still up in the air. It's always been one of the net's lowest-rated shows, but it actually didn't drop as much as most USA shows this summer.

Burn Notice (1.03, -17%): The final season started pretty well (with a couple 1.2 demos) and ended pretty well (with a 1.2 & 1.3) but had only around a 1.0 for most of the mid-section. It still held off Suits to rate highest among USA dramas for one last time.

Graceland (0.73): The new drama was certainly not the breakout that USA could really use right now, but it did OK second tier-level numbers for the network, so it's coming back for season two.

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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