- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2008

USA is king of cable

USA Network has regained its crown as the year’s most-watched basic-cable channel, while football and election coverage dominated the top of the programming chart.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, USA has averaged 2.8 million viewers year-to-date in prime time, edging out last year’s winner, Disney Channel, by about 463,000 viewers.

USA, the 2006 champ, was boosted by shows such as the veteran series “Monk,” which averaged 7.6 million viewers per first-run episode, while Disney boasted hits that included the TV movie “Camp Rock” with 10.1 million viewers, which ranks as the year’s most-watched cable-entertainment program.

Election coverage helped boost Fox News Channel to the No. 4 berth this year after landing at No. 7 last year. TNT remained at No. 3, while ESPN fell to No. 5. Falling out of the top five was TBS, which dropped a spot to No. 6, THR says.

Ranking as the year’s most-watched basic-cable telecast was ESPN’s Monday-night coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys NFL game Sept. 15 (18.6 million). In fact, NFL games on ESPN accounted for 13 of the year’s top 20 telecasts.

Meanwhile, USA also reigned in the pivotal demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, averaging 1.3 million in prime time. Following were TBS (1.1 million), ESPN (1.02 million), TNT (1 million) and FX (712,000). That’s nearly the same as last year, with the exception of TNT and ESPN swapping places.

In the younger demographics, Disney won in prime time among youngsters ages 2 to 11 (1.3 million), youngsters between 6 and 11 (1 million) and tweens ages 9 to 14 (842,000) while Nickelodeon won in total day (1.2 million, 674,000 and 498,000, respectively).

Stay-at-home spouses

Fox Reality Channel has ordered nine hourlong episodes of “Househusbands of Hollywood,” a gender-reversing take on the trophy-spouse genre, says TVGuide.com, citing a story from the Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, the show will follow several stay-at-home spouses of successful Los Angeles women.

Among the “househusbands” to be featured: Darryl M. Bell, formerly of “A Different World” and the husband of Tempestt Bledsoe (“The Cosby Show)”; former Los Angeles Dodger Billy Ashley, married to celebrity makeup artist Lisa Ashley; and Grant Reynolds, husband of Jillian Barberie (“FOX NFL Sunday” and “Good Day LA.”).

The series is set to premiere in August.

Holiday watch

On tap this weekend:

Friday

Wolfgang Puck: Meals on Wheels Celebrity Chef Dinner (10:30 a.m., Fine Living Network) - What a nice idea for the holiday season. Mr. Puck and five chefs prepare the ultimate meal for his favorite charity, Meals on Wheels. Joining him are Nobu Matsuhisa, Joachim Splichal, Charlie Palmer, Lydia Shire and Francois Payard. Mr. Puck prepares white corn agnolotti and Catalonian fire-roasted lamb rack.

Saturday

The Golden Compass (9 p.m., HBO) - A young girl undertakes a perilous Arctic journey in this mystical adventure film based on the popular British book series. Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliott, Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig and Eva Green star.

Sunday

The 12 Dogs of Christmas (9 a.m., Showtime) - Abandoned by her family, a young girl stands up to her narrow-minded town during the Great Depression and challenges its ban on dog ownership by casting several adorable pooches in a Christmas pageant. Jordan-Claire Green, Adam Hicks, Richard Riehle, Susan Wood and John Billingsley star.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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