Quack attack! After three days' worth of DVR usage was included, the A&E hit's season premiere on Aug. 14 drew a whopping 16.3 million viewers. "This show reaches a big swath of America," says David McKillop, A&E's executive vice president of programming. "This is not a boutique or niche show."
The AMC series isn't treading lightly in its final eight episodes. In fact, it's drawing its largest audiences ever. The drama's return on Aug. 11 reached 8 million viewers after seven days of DVR use. "I can almost taste the meth," star Aaron Paul tweeted before the first show.
Under the Dome
The Stephen King-Steven Spielberg thriller hooked an average of 14.4 million viewers (including a week's worth of DVR playback). CBS has renewed Dome and also picked up Extant, a new 13-episode sci-fi series from Spielberg, for next summer.
Lifetime's primetime soap is the network's fastest-growing drama ever and attracts an audience that is 18 percent Hispanic, almost double what Lifetime normally draws for that demographic. The serial, which Rob Sharenow, Lifetime's executive vice president and general manager, calls "one of the most daring series on television," has been renewed for a second season.
Hollywood Game Night
In a summer lacking many original unscripted hits, Game Night defied the odds. The NBC show, hosted by Jane Lynch, has won its time slot among the broadcast networks with adults 18 to 49 and was renewed for a second season.
You have to marvel at how quickly Paula Deen was dropped by Food Network, QVC and her many endorsement partners after a lawsuit revealed that she used a racial slur. The fallout from the suit, which was ultimately dismissed, will cut deep into the estimated $17 million per year she reportedly earned from her empire.
Chris Hayes, who was hand-picked by Rachel Maddow to be her lead-in, has lost nearly half the audience that his predecessor, Ed Schultz, pulled in at 8pm. As a result, the network's entire primetime lineup is hurting, down 25 percent compared to last summer, when the Olympics and the presidential election helped it become the No. 2 network in cable news.
Hillary Clinton Movies
An NBC miniseries that was to star Diane Lane as the likely presidential candidate will probably be a no-go: Reports of the TV movie's creation led the Republican National Committee to threaten to keep its 2016 candidate debates off of NBC and MSNBC, as well as CNN (which is planning a Clinton documentary). NBC now describes its project as being "in development."
The good news for CBS's reality staple is that its audience grew this year, averaging 7.2 million viewers (including seven days' DVR use). But the ratings growth was tainted by outrage over racist and homophobic comments made by contestants, which forced the network to run a disclaimer for the first time: "At times, houseguests may reveal prejudices and other beliefs that CBS does not condone."