Stephen Battaglio

Dynamite Numbers TNT scores this summer with The Closer and Into the West

The Closer

So what are you watching when Dancing with the Stars isn't on? Probably TNT. The cable network topped rerun-laden broadcasters UPN and WB in viewers aged 18 to 49 during the month of June. Overall, TNT was the most-watched cable network for the month with all viewers, averaging 3.3 million, and with the coveted 18-to-49 crowd.

Monday-night cop drama The Closer, which stars Kyra Sedgwick, is now the most-watched original series on cable. Steven Spielberg's Into the West ranks next, just edging USA's sci-fi hit The 4400.

Here's a look at what's hot and what's not on cable this summer:

Rescue Me: Game 6 of the NBA finals dinged the second-season opener of the FX firehouse drama. It scored 2.9 million, down 21 percent from its premiere of 4 million last summer, but the audience level was on par with what the show was doing throughout last season.

The Closer: The TNT hit has settled in at 5.4 million view read more

Yay! The Biz

Cable business channel CNBC has been getting bashed lately for having ratings lower than dot-com stock values, but that hasn't stopped it from doing some award-winning journalism. This past year CNBC's original documentary team won a Peabody Award for The Age of Wal-Mart, an insightful look at the retailing behemoth.

The same crew is back again on June 29 at 8 pm with The eBay Effect — Inside a Worldwide Obsession. Veteran CNBC correspondent David Faber looks at how the Internet auction company grew into a Wall Street juggernaut, a pop-culture touchstone and a means of livelihood for thousands.

Inside the company's network operations center, we learn how eBay's online traffic dips when American Idol is on. There's also a fascinating fly-on-the wall look at a meeting of the company's "Rules, Trust and Safety Team," which decides what kind of items should be sold on the site. ("I'm kind of uncomfortable with the notion of people renting out th read more

Dance Fever Dancing with the Stars gives ABC a summer-ratings sizzle.

Dancing with the Stars

This could be another one of those "Who knew?" TV summers.

Ballroom dancing? Evander Holyfield? Seinfeld's J. Peterman? Trista Sutter! It's an unlikely mix that helped make Dancing with the Stars last week's No. 1 show, with 15 million viewers. It also led the competition in viewers 18 to 49.

If you've missed it, here's the premise: Each week a celebrity (and that term is used loosely) performs with a professional ballroom dancer who has helped train them in the rumba, cha-cha and other steps that haven't been seen on the networks since the advent of color TV. Then viewers and a panel of experts judge the pairs and award the winners a trophy. That's right, a trophy.

Dancing with the Stars has given ABC its best summer ratings for an original episode of an entertainment show since Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was still on fire in 2000. Despite its unlikely format, the show has been a huge hit in the U.K. (as S read more

Nightline Lives On
Don't count the ABC News show out after Koppel's gone

Ted Koppel

When longtime Nightline anchor Ted Koppel announced last week that he'll leave ABC News in December, there was heavy speculation that it meant the end of his late night news program. While ABC News execs plan to revamp Nightline, the thinking is that Disney won't be able to resist the temptation to bring in more advertising dollars with a late-night entertainment show. But Koppel — who has every reason to be skeptical of company promises since Nightline's near-death experience a few years ago — believes the show will still be on the air two years from now.

"I do," he told the Biz last week. "I think that it's not as easy as people think to create an entirely new broadcast that has any kind of legs. I'm old enough and have been around ABC long enough to remember how many times the network tried to put on a program at 11:30 at night that failed. When you finally have a broadcast that's survived for 25 years, I think you need to expend all the energy read more

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