While all the major free-to-air networks failed to get any of their new series off the ground, the cable networks continued to provide smart, escapist original series programming and the result has yielded strong dividends as the season draws to a close.
My personal favorite Summer series, USA’s “Burn Notice”, was one of the big winners this year with the first half of the third season pulling in an average of 5.24 million viewers on the day of airing and 7.68 million when DVR figures for the week are included. The show was the summer’s top-ranked program among adults 25-54 (3.72 million) and 18-49 (3.34 million).
The August 6th mid-season finale drew 9.1 million viewers, making it the most watched program in the network’s history.
USA’s “Royal Pains”, which airs directly after ‘Burn’, averaged 5.43 million viewers same day and 7.52 million with DVR additions. The duo ended up filling half of the Top 35 program deliveries on ad-supported cable this summer.
My other must-watch Summer series, TNT’s “The Closer”, remains the top drama series on cable as it finishes up its fifth season with an average of 7.85 million viewers on initial telecast.
HBO’s “True Blood” has done remarkably well this season with critical reviews and ratings getting better from episode-to-episode. The most recent episode of the vampire series drew 5.33 million viewers on its initial telecast, the largest audience HBO has drawn for a scripted series since April 2004.
Other series doing well were “Monk” (5.6 million), “In Plain Sight” (5.1 million), “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (4.6 million), “Psych” (4.4 million), “Leverage” (4.1 million), “Warehouse 13” (3.7 million), “Hung” (3.3 million) and “Entourage” (3.2 million).