Cable television claimed its highest ever ratings this summer, strengthening calls for the sector to be given a greater share of ad dollars.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the cable sector achieved a combined rating of 29.0 between May 27 and August 25, well above the 20.4 aggregate score of the seven broadcast networks.

Despite the ratings lead, cable claims only around 18% of TV ad revenues – though broadcast executives are at pains to point out that cable’s ratings are spread across 40 networks.

The most-watched cable channel was Lifetime, which scored 2.1 (translating into 1.8 million households). Not far behind was TNT, where ratings surged 19% to 1.9 (1.6m households), with CNN, Fox News Channel, FX, Hallmark, Court TV and Food Network all posting gains too.

Data sourced from: (USA); additional content by WARC staff