Summer cable shows: 'Rizzoli and Isles' catches on quick with viewers; fans still sweet on 'The Closer'

ratingsImage Credit: Justin Stephens/USA Network; Marc Hom/TNT; Discovery Channel; Eric Ogden/TNTUPDATED, 9/8: Ad-supported cable networks like TNT and USA benefited (yet again) from fed-up TV fans who didn’t want a nightly diet of reality shows from NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox this summer. New scripted shows like Rizzoli and Isles and returning hits like The Closer attracted lots of drama-hungry viewers who weren’t getting their fill from D.O.A. series like ABC’s The Gates and Scoundrels. Granted, the balance of power should shift come Sept. 20 when the official Nielsen TV season gets underway (and new dramas like Fox’s Lone Star and NBC’s The Event will theoretically lure everyone back to scripted fare on the broadcast nets). Over the last three months, however, basic cable served up enough watchable, buzz-worthy series that should have had you asking, “Do I really care to watch Minute to Win It or Bachelor Pad, instead?

Here are the top 25 most-watched shows on the ad-supported cable networks from May 31 to Aug. 22, the latest numbers available (kiddie programs were excluded):

Rizzoli and Isles (TNT): 8.44 million
The Closer
(TNT): 8.20 million
Royal Pains
(USA): 7.154 million
Burn Notice
(USA): 7.151 million
Covert Affairs
(USA): 6.74 million
Pawn Stars
(History): 6.33 million
Jersey Shore
(MTV): 6.07 million
Deadliest Catch
(Discovery): 5.92 million
White Collar
(USA): 5.28 million
American Pickers
(History): 4.98 million
In Plain Sight
(USA): 4.93 million
(USA): 4.87 million
Memphis Beat
(TNT): 4.59 million
(TNT): 4.328 million
Army Wives
(Lifetime): 4.327 million
After the Catch
(Discovery): 4.29 million
Hot in Cleveland
(TV Land): 4.27 million
Next Foot Network Star (Food): 4.02 million
Project Runway (Lifetime): 4.01 million
The Glades (A&E): 3.88 million
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family): 3.25 million
American Chopper: Senior (TLC): 2.78 million
Are We There Yet? (TBS): 2.72 million
Haven (SyFy): 2.51 million
Top Shot (History): 2.47 million

Comments (152 total) Add your comment
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  • hannah

    sad to hear Angle Harmon has a hit and it beats the closer. she annoys me for some reason.

    • LOL

      This list shows that people will watch anything.

      • donknottz

        Pawn Stars beat Jersey Shore, you would never know it by the press

      • Tarc

        Nah, insipid reality TV like The Bachelor, Survivor, and Jersey Shore show that a significant portion of the viewing audience is brain dead. Rizzoli & Isles is inoffensive, mildly entertaining fluff in comparison.

    • Tina

      She doesn’t annoy me, but the fact that the show (which I watch) is at the top of the list annoys me. It’s not that good, and often makes me cringe. I watch it mostly because it’s on and it’s on opposite nothing (similarly, why I watch Rookie Blue), and because it’s on after The Closer. It’s not horrible, but it can’t hold a candle to White Collar or most of the other cable summer shows.

      • Mari

        I watch R & I but I am not fond of it. Rizzoli is suppose to be this detective and yet she sometimes acts and reacts like an immature teen. Her character isn’t a newbie in the police force but she acts and behaves like one. Her character annoys me. TPTB should tweak it a bit.

      • jason.

        White Collar is awesome, but if you don’t like the show, you should catch up on worthy TV on DVD or something. Watch “the Wire” or “the Shield”, “Dexter”, and on and on and on…

      • Kay

        Stop watching shows just because nothing else is on. That’s how bad shows keep getting renewed (and beating out GOOD shows in the ratings.) If you don’t like it don’t watch. Put in a DVD or turn the TV off.

      • Michelle

        LOVE Rookie Blue and Warehouse 13 – The Glades is AWEFUL!!! Top Shot is a little weird, a whole show of people target shooting, hmm.

      • llevinso

        I don’t understand all these people that seem to be watching these shows simply because “nothing else is on.” Have they never heard of books? Turning OFF the tv? If a show doesn’t appeal to me I change the channel or turn off the tv entirely and find something else to do with my time.

      • Tina

        @Kay, as I said it’s not terrible. If it were terrible, I wouldn’t watch it. It is, as someone upthread said, entertaining, inoffensive fluff. What I was saying, in the context of the top 20 list, was that it didn’t deserve to lead the top 20. That’s shocking. It’s just not that good! But it is by no means ‘turn the TV off’ bad.

      • Doc

        You know Tina, you’re right !! it’s not a bad show but for some reason when I watch it, I start to get irritated and I cringe a bit myself….sad part is, I don’t even know why.

      • Sally

        I agree with Tina. I find Rizzoli especially irritating (and I think Angie Harmon is normally fabulous). But the character is irritating enough that I have dropped the show. I’m surprised to see it as #1 on this list.

    • Jules

      her show is doing well, because it has the Closer as the lead-in…

      • Anna C.

        yet it’s doing better than The Closer which is sad. It’s a much more inferior show. Though it doesn’t surprise me.

    • Butterscotch

      The consistent grumpiness of Angie Harmon’s character on the show is annoying for me, but I’m guessing that it’s meant to foil the peppy optimism of the other lead character (the medical examiner).

      • MDC

        She is grumpy although in the last couple of episodes she has actually had moments where she wasn’t so bad. Pretty much the way the show is – very uneven. I swear sometimes you can actually see the cast relax at points and they actually improve their performance. It isn’t by any means as good as The Closer or Memphis Beat. I also liked Angie Harmon’s character on Women’s Murder Club better. Right now, I just feel like she is Abby Carmichael as detective instead of ADA. That character was tough on everyone.

    • Mojo Jojo

      For the longest time I thought Angie Harmon was Mariska Hargitay’s sister. I’m glad to see she’s on a hit again finally! I’m happy to see Royal Pains so high up on the list, they had a great season! But no love for Eureka? WTF?

  • t.t

    yay rizzoli and isles is so great
    good to see covert affairs, white collar and psych up there too

  • Nerdista

    I would love to love Rizzoli & Isles but that woman who is not Angie Harmon has had a nose job and I find it very distracting. Her nose might be “perfect” now but it’s also razor sharp. Same reason I can’t watch In Plain Sight. Girls lips are out of control.

    • Anna C.

      I watch inspite of Piper Perabo. I’m loving the feel of the show.

      • Eek

        Piper Perabo is on Covert Affairs not In Plain Sight.

  • Elizabeth

    Yeah!! I love Rizzoli & Isles, I have read all of Tess Gerritsen’s books and they did a great job with the characters. Glad to see that people are watching good, well-written shows.

  • janey

    Well, sure. Throw some lesbian subtext in and the lezbots will jump all over a show. And boy is Rizzoli and Isles gay. In the best sort of way. It’s totally my guilty pleasure show.

    • Tina

      Ha! Yes, I do believe you’re right. And just how many times can she sleep over in one season? ;)

    • Hmm

      I never got that. I must not have good gaydar for fictional characters.

  • Lorie

    I like everyone on Rizzoli & Isles, except for Isles (a.k.a. Ms. Google). She’s so annoying.

    Memphis Beat is a nice little show for the summer.

    I really like The Glades, primarily b/c of Matt Passmore. He is too, too fine! I hope his show gets renewed.

    The Closer is still my favorite summer show. I was so happy for Kyra when she finally won her Emmy.

    • llevinso

      The Closer and Burn Notice are my favorites, although BN kind of fell off a bit this season. I’m hoping it will get back on track though.

      But yes, I was very happy for Kyra too!

  • jbrown84

    Where are the AMC shows on this list??

    • Traci

      I guess they didn’t make the top 20

    • i think mad men is around 1.8 million or so, give or take

  • Shannon


    • Traci

      This is the top 20 only

      • side3

        Haven beats Eureka?!

    • idgie

      I never really enjoyed Eureka till this season. It was always the wackadoo sceince experiment gone wrong every week. This season the show had an interesting arc, the time travel experience. It had a profound effect on everything and everyone this season, completely changing their realities. Haven although darker than Eureka is guilty of Eueka’s same previous problem, a wackdoo person with a strange “gift” causing problems each week. It really needs to ground itself more in the the mythology of the strange history of the main character. Another greatly improved show was HawthoRNe. I really thought it was pretty bad last season, but this season actaully proved that Jada can act and was much grittier set in the new location. I actually hope it returns for another season.

  • Kathryn

    So sad to see HawthoRNe not make top 20. It was great this summer

  • bamalam

    Hello! What about Drop Dead Diva?

    • Traci

      not in the top 20

      • Katja

        LOL Traci… I’m enjoying your increasingly terse responses to the people who either don’t understand what this list is or are mildly outraged that their favorite shows didn’t make it. (Honestly, I’d be mildly outraged if Psych didn’t make the list, so I’m not faulting anyone!)

      • bamalam

        it’s not that I don’t understand the list…I just don’t understand why people aren’t watching the show, thus putting it on the list.

      • idgie

        Why does everyone keep saying the top 20…it was the top 25. It said that at in the article and count the number of shows on the list…25. But I agree…why is no one watching Drop Dead Diva. Brooke Elliot is brillant as the dual character and this season was the best so far. By the way, Royal pains is a “fun” show but really lacks any depth. In Plain Sight for me is my favorite cable show. Mary McCormack is superb as the profoudly damaged marshall and her partner marshall Marshall is excellent as her centered and spiritual counterpart. Not to mention head over heals in love with her. They would make a great couple, he could offer her the nuturing and balance she so desperately needs. Open you eyes Mary!

      • Tina

        Idgie, they added 5 and changed the ratings numbers for some shows after they were called out for having erroneous data. Revisionist history!

  • Anna

    Eureka consistently gets more viewers than Haven. That should surely be on the list before Haven.

    • Nicole

      I was wondering where Eureka was on the list!

      • Katyo

        Same here, I LOVE that show, and I think this season has been phenomenal. So different from any other show out there!

    • kerri

      also, dont the adds for Warehouse 13 say it is the most watched at 3 mil a show, so did it drop that bad this season?

      • idgie

        The cable stations are quilty of “false claims”. They often say that a program is the top cable show…when in truth “it is the top rated show on their network”. Also, I did not even notice Leverage was not on the list. It is not ususally the kind of show I watch “the caper of the week”, but I love the gang and the characters are developing and growing. Plus it is always fascinating and fun at the end of the episode when they reveal what transpired that we did not originally see, that successfully completed the caper. A genuinely fun show with some interesting characters…unlike the featherweight Royal Pains.

    • remidog

      Yes, first thing I noticed was that my fave Eureka was missing. Also, where is Warehouse 13?

  • Vikki Sixx

    What about Warehouse 13? I’m not a fan but didn’t they have new episodes for the summer?

    And it’s a shame Scoundrels didn’t do better. That was actually a really good show.

    • Megan

      You should try watching the original Scoundrels.. It’s a show from New Zealand called Outrageous Fortune. So much better than Scoundrels.. It’s in the middle of it’s 6th and last season right now.
      And yay! I love Rizzoli and Isles, my new favorite winter show (it’s winter here in NZ) aside for yesterday’s episode I’ve been counting down until each ep starts.. Earthquakes and millions of bloody aftershocks kinda make you forget about TV shows..

  • Flyer

    I’m disappointed that Leverage apparently isn’t doing as well as these other cable shows. It has a great cast, and some really cool Ocean’s 11-type twists to the stories.

    • Shannon

      Agreed. I’m shocked Leverage isn’t on this list.

      • Tina

        Leverage has been growing on me; it wasn’t something I tuned in to see last year. It is surprising that it’s not here. I’m really surprised that Pawn Stars and American Pickers are edging out some of what I would consider to be stronger shows.

    • AMF

      I’m quite disappointed by the rating’s lack of love for Leverage.

      I’m loving it!

    • Sapphire

      I’m with you. Leverage is one of the must see shows in our house- the whole family watches! We love the characters and the twists and turns in each episode. I’m excited for its return in December and really hope more people tune in!

  • jmcg

    What about Leverage, Eureka, and Warehouse 13? Surely they rate higher than are we there yet.

    • Traci

      I guess not since they are not in the top 20

      • jmcg

        According to, as of July 31, leverage averaged 4.1 mill viewers per week and was renewed for a 4th season. I don’t think leverage’s viewership has dropped very much in a month’s time. I think this EW list is flawed; or at the very least, needs to be researched more thoroughly.

      • JJ has Leverage averaging 4.5 million viewers. That put’s it ahead of at least seven other shows on that list. So TRACI…it *is* in the top 20. EW got it wrong and we are pointing out their mistake.

    • tiggerr0

      I do think the list is flowed because I have seen where Leverage average 3 -4 million viewers per episode. So they should be on this list.

    • Josh

      That’s weird. Why release a top 20 list that isn’t right? I know Leverage was high rated. And Eureka is a sci-fi hit.

      • idgie

        Again “top 25”, but I agree with all of you that are questioning the validity of this list. I too believe it is wrong. Not because my some of my favorites shows are not on the list, but because other sites contradict these rating numbers.

  • Kylie

    Pretty Little Liars is my favourite summer show. So addicting and such a good cast.

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