UPDATED: TBS will snap USA’s seven-year winning streak among 18- to 49-year-old viewers for 2013, though USA will hang on to its title as the most-watched ad-supported basic cable network for an unprecedented eighth year. Nielsen stats say that with days to go in the calendar year, USA also has maintained its lead with viewers 25-54 viewers for the year, and TBS will edge USA to claim its second yearly win with 18- to 34-year-olds.
That said, neither network can boast a single original prime time series in the Basic Cable Top-10 Ratings Hit Parade — in any of these metrics. AMC’s The Walking Dead and A&E’s Duck Dynasty were the prettiest dresses in the basic-cable shop in 2013. Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty are the No. 1 and No. 2 original primetime series for the year, respectively, in total viewers, 25-54, 18-49, 18-34, and 12-34. Overall, The Walking Dead averaged 16.16 million viewers in 2013, with Duck Dynasty at 13.37 million, followed closely by History’s The Bible at 13.2 million.
USA has one of the biggest crops of original scripted series, the best of which clock in the 5 million-6 million range, including Burn Notice (5.68 million), Royal Pains (5.3 million) and Suits (5.3 million) — not forgetting Monday’s WWE Raw (4.6 million). It also owes a debt of thanks to off-net drama NCIS and Law & Order: SVU. TBS, meanwhile, thanks its lucky stars for The Big Bang Theory, which remains basic cable’s No. 1 off-net series for a third year. “They run it continuously in their prime block; every night it’s on, it’s going to be No. 1 [with younger viewers] — unless The Walking Dead is on,” noted one industry number cruncher.
— 9 of the year’s Top 10 telecasts among 25- to 54-year-olds: The Walking Dead.
— 9 of the year’s Top 10 telecasts among 18-49: The Walking Dead.
— 10 of the year’s Top 10 telecasts among 18-34: The Walking Dead.
“It’s lightning in a bottle,” one industry insider said. “Everyone is jealous, jealous, jealous.”
Click images below for Top 10 slideshow + ratings numbers: