...the results are skewed by last year being an election year with last year's ratings fueled by election coverage. Even with that, the numbers weren't down much. From Broadcasting & Cable:
Cable's latest attempt for a fall land grab from the broadcast networks has so far come up fruitless. A Horizon Media analysis of broadcast premiere-week ratings (beginning Sept. 14) showed that primetime viewership of ad-supported cable networks as a whole declined year-over-year from 53.1 million viewers in 2008 to 49.9 million in 2009. While that drop is skewed because of the strong ratings generated by last year's coverage of the election and the economic crash, cable is still basically flat from last year.
The corresponding week in 2008 came during the heart of the presidential campaign and fresh off the announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee. When you account for the unusually high viewing numbers for MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and CNBC during 2008's premiere week (6.8 million viewers), viewing levels for ad-supported cable are about even from last year.
Some networks did see gains though, to see some examples, read the full story on B&C.