USA maintained its status as basic cable's top summer network in key demos, but TNT emerged as the clear scripted leader -- getting a boost from hot newcomer "The Last Ship."

The Turner net, which aired an unprecedented nine original firstrun dramas at one point or another this summer, won the warm-weather period in total viewers, handing USA a rare setback by this measure. And it did it by ruling the original-series program rankings.

According to Nielsen preliminary "most current" summer estimates from May 26-Aug. 24, TNT could claim four of basic cable's top 20 original series in adults 18-49 ("The Last Ship," "Rizzoli & Isles," "Falling Skies" and "Major Crimes") -- more than any other network and twice as many as it had last year. Bravo, Discovery, MTV and VH1 all had two apiece.

And the net was even more dominant in adults 25-54, with four of the top five scripted basic cable series, and in total viewers, with six of the top 10.

TNT was one of numerous top-tier cable networks down by double-digits from last year, with most of its declines attributed to stronger NBA conference finals numbers in 2013. The net notes that its original summer series averaged 5.6 million viewers this year, up 23% from last year. They have also performed 9% better in adults 18-49 and 13% in adults 25-54.

Cable's top two original scripted series in adults 18-49 this summer -- FX's "The Strain" and "The Last Ship" (pictured) -- were newcomers. Both shows, whose final averages should rise with more recent DVR data, lagged NBC's "The Night Shift," which was summer's top new show overall.

"Strain" was also the top new cable series (scripted or unscripted) in adults 18-34, while "Last Ship" was the top-rated among adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Joining "The Strain" among the top 10 cable series of the summer in 18-49 were two other FX shows, "Fargo" and "Tyrant."

The top two summer cable programs of any genre in adults 18-49 were returning reality series -- A&E's "Duck Dynasty," which finished on top despite a roughly 50% year-over-year falloff, and VH1's "Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta," which was up vs. last year.

The highest-rated new unscripted series of the summer in adults 18-49 were Bravo's "Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi's Wedding," E!'s "Botched" and TLC's "Return to Amish." In adults 25-54 and total viewers, the other reality show among the top 10 new summer cable series was History's "Pawnography."

Among the younger 12-34 crowd, summer's biggest new shows were Disney Channel's "Girl Meets World" (1.72 million), MTV's "Finding Carter" (1.36 million), FX's "The Strain" (1.21 million), MTV's "Faking It" (1.18 million) and Adult Swim's "Black Jesus" (1.17 million).

SUMMER'S TOP BASIC CABLE NETWORKS
(Most current through Aug. 24)

Adults 18-49
USA 919,000
TBS 826,000
TNT 738,000
Adult Swim 704,000
FX 657,000