USA Network made a clean sweep of the 2009 ratings race, marking the fourth consecutive win for the NBC Universal powerhouse. Per Nielsen ratings data (a blend of live-plus-seven-day and two weeks of live-plus-same-day numbers), USA drew a record 3.27 million viewers in primetime, a 14% improvement over its year-ago delivery.
For the period spanning Dec. 29, 2008, through Dec. 27, 2009, USA swept ad-supported cable's three top TV demos, averaging 1.49 million adults 25-54, an increase of 11% versus 2008, while serving up 1.32 million viewers 18-49 (up 5%). The network also held off TBS to take the younger set, drawing 616,000 viewers 18-34.
USA effectively shattered the records it set in 2008, when it averaged 2.86 million total viewers, 1.34 million adults 25-54 and 1.32 million viewers 18-49.
(When factoring in all basic-cable nets, this year marks USA's second straight win among total viewers. In 2007, non-ad-supported Disney Channel topped the total cable universe with 2.7 million total viewers, edging USA's 2.68 million in the same period.)
On the year, USA boasted cable's two most-watched new series in Royal Pains (7.47 million viewers per week) and White Collar (5.68 million). Both programs also ran away with their target demos, as "Pains" served up 3.56 million adults 25-54 and 3.15 million viewers 18-49, while "Collar" averaged 2.29 million 25-54s and 2.04 million 18-49s.
USA also accounted for half of cable's top 10 returning series. With an average delivery of 7.19 million viewers, Burn Notice closed out the year second only to TNT's The Closer. That said, the wry spy drama topped the demos, averaging 3.61 million adults 25-54 and 3.27 million viewers 18-49.
Other big earners for USA were: Monk, which ended its eight-season run on Dec. 4 in front of a crowd of 9.44 million viewers; Psych, which averaged 5.21 million viewers in the first half of its third season; and "In Plain Sight," which scared up 5 million viewers in its sophomore effort.
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Read more: USA Tops 2009 Cable Ratings