In a close competition, USA Network and Disney Channel tied for the No. 1 spot last year in terms of primetime ratings, but USA attracted the most households, by a whisker.
USA and Disney both registered 2.2 household ratings for 2006, placing them first among cable networks, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data released Wednesday.
But USA averaged more actual primetime households — 57,000 more than Disney, with 1.983 million compared with 1.926 million.
USA — enjoying a boost from WWE Monday Night Raw and strong original series like Monk and Psych — hasn’t been No. 1 in the primetime ratings since 2000. Its primetime ratings were up 10% last year versus 2005, while Disney — which isn’t ad-supported — saw a 16% gain.
Disney hit ratings gold last year with three of the year’s top-five-watched original movies — The Cheetah Girls 2, Return to Halloweentown and cultural phenomenon High School Musical —as well as original series Hannah Montana.
Former No. 1 primetime champ TNT placed third in the ratings last year with a 2.0, a 9% dip from its 2.2 in 2005.
ESPN put in a notable primetime performance in 2006, placing fourth with a 1.8, up 13% from 2005’s 1.6.
Lifetime Television and TBS each posted 1.4 primetime ratings. The women’s network was down 13% from its 1.6 in 2005. TBS was flat compared with 2005.
Cartoon Network and Nick at Nite each saw 1.3 primetime ratings last year, which represented a 13% drop for Cartoon and a 24% decline for NAN.
Fox News Channel and Hallmark Channel rounded out the top 10 networks with 1.2 primetime ratings. The all-news channel was down 25% from the prior year, while Hallmark was up 20%.
FX ranked 11th with a 1.1 rating, up 10% year-to-year.