STORAGE WARS continues to dominate the schedule for A&E. The month saw stacked episodes of the hit series 4 nights of the week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. (The show also made appearances on Saturdays as well.) DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER remains in the primetime lineup, anchoring Wednesdays. Monday nights continue to skew more female with HOARDERS and INTERVENTION. THE FIRST 48 anchors the Thursday night lineup.
MARCH PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
A&E's schedule continues to be all about STORAGE WARS, and it's easy to see why. Dominating the schedule on 4 nights of the week, the show brings in huge numbers for the network - in some cases, doubling average - and has skyrocketed Tuesday nights to an increase of 74% in overall viewers compared to a year ago. The show had 84 airings in March (between STORAGE WARS and STORAGE WARS: TEXAS) and pulled in above average numbers in the majority of airings. All 20 of the top 20 telecasts for A&E in March were either episodes of STORAGE WARS or STORAGE WARS: TEXAS - it's no wonder that A&E of late has been so reliant on the show. Viewers are clearly responding well.
On nights when STORAGE isn't on the menu, numbers simply don't reach those stellar heights. Monday nights, which continue to be anchored by the more female-skewing HOARDERS and INTERVENTION, saw a slight 1% increase year-to-year, but numbers in the key demographics are down. Tired episodes and an inundation of female-skewing "shock" programming (think MY STRANGE ADDICTION, MY 600-LB LIFE) are likely to blame. However, among the female-skewing networks on Monday nights, A&E's numbers are among the strongest - some solid news for the network.
Wednesday nights saw the premier of DUCK DYNASTY on March 21. Numbers in the premiere were above average but fell slightly in the second half hour. Will A&E successfully launch yet another Lousiana-themed series? The night was up a modest 1%, but down in the key younger demographics.
Thursday's primetime lineup of THE FIRST 48 had a few above-average airings, but overall the night was down 7% compared to last year. Still, the show is continuing to bring in viewers and was actually up 7% compared to last year, and also across all the key demographics. Despite the heavy reliance on storage, crime is clearly a genre that A&E can do, and do well. What will be their new, fresh take on the genre?
Saturdays in March featured a variety of stacked programs and themes. STORAGE WARS was the top scorer throughout the month. PARKING WARS, BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR and DUCK DYNASTY fared less well, bringing in numbers that were below average.
Sundays saw the return of BREAKOUT KINGS to the A&E lineup. The scripted series saw a strong return at the beginning of March, but numbers fell throughout the month. Down 19% overall from last year, it seems that the A&E viewers might not be quite ready to embrace the scripted side of A&E.