USA refuses to admit when it’s beaten (The network, that is. Country remains unbeatable.)

After eight straight years as top dog in total viewers, USA is no longer America’s #1 cable network. ESPN stole the crown in 2014, growing its audience 6% compared to a 20% collapse by USA. Ouch!

What does USA have to say about this shocking turn of events?

USA NETWORK CONTINUES UNPRECEDENTED RATINGS STREAK WITH 9TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR AS #1 IN CABLE IN TOTAL VIEWERS

Um, awkward.

ESPN scored 2.28 million total viewers per night, compared to USA’s 2.18 million.

Undeterred, USA Network President Chris McCumber declared, “In an increasingly competitive landscape, maintaining our leadership position is a true feat and a testament to our quality programming.”

USA does not have any original programming among the top 20 cable shows in the demo and has only WWE Raw in top 20 among total audience (at #18). It continues to thrive on “acquired shows” (i.e., broadcast reruns).

And you thought politicians had a monopoly on spin.

Of course, who cares about overall viewers? After all, they might be old or some such shit. The demo is where it’s at. And this year’s new champion is…

Also ESPN!

The granddaddy of all sports networks “edged ahead of TBS in adults 18-49,” reports Variety.

What does TBS have to say about that?

TBS WINS 2014 AS BASIC CABLE’S #1 ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK WITH ADULTS 18-49

About that…

Actually, ESPN averaged 990,000 viewers-who-count each night, compared to 932,000 for TBS.

TBS has no original programming in the top 20 for total viewers or the demo, and the network shed 10% of its total audience last year.

In the age of Netflix, how much longer can networks built on reruns remain dominant? USA finally gets it and is making smart moves to try to catch up with TNT, FX, and AMC with newcomers Dig and Complications joining Graceland and Suits. We’ll see if it pays off.

As for TBS, it’s wheelhouse is comedy, and this is an absolutely brutal time for sitcoms. Cougar Town is starting its final season, not that anyone cares, and no one is watching Ground Floor either. It’s going to take a lot more creativity and guts than just picking up FOX castoff American Dad to bring America back around.

And now, here’s Variety’s list of the top 20 original cable shows for 2014 (adults 18-49), measured by rating (which is the percentage of TVs tuned into the show):

1.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 10.0 [19.81 million total viewers, if you’re curious]
2.  NFL Monday Night Football (ESPN), 4.9 [13.23 million total]
3.  Game of Thrones* (HBO), 4.8 [8.98 million total]
4.  Sons of Anarchy (FX), 4.1 [7.77 million total]
5.  American Horror Story (FX), 3.7 [7.16 million total]
6.  Talking Dead (AMC), 3.3
7.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 3.2
8.  True Blood* (HBO), 2.7
9.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 2.4
10.  Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), 2.2
11.  Teen Mom II (MTV), 2.1
12.  Gold Rush (Discovery), 2.0
12.  Love & Hip-Hop (VH1), 2.0
14.  The Vikings (History), 1.9
14.  The Strain (FX), 1.9
14.  Bates Motel (A&E), 1.9
17.  Being Mary Jane (BET), 1.8
17.  The Last Ship (TNT), 1.8
19.  South Park (Comedy), 1.7
19.  Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood (VH1), 1.7
19.  The Game (BET), 1.7

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  • sousaphone93

    TBS is shit out of luck now that Netflix has the entire series of Friends. They better think quick.

  • BlueBrownie

    Wow, I must be out of touch, I actively avoid watching about 90% of the shows on that list!