A&E Analysis - January 2011

Publish date:


* Bold denotes programming change


The network's scheduling approach appears to break the week into two parts:  Monday-Thursday, and the weekend.  In both instances, it's all about stacking themes or singular series throughout the night.

Monday-Thursday is dominated by reality based series, mostly within the crime and justice category.  Signature series INTERVENTION, DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, and FIRST 48 anchor the evenings, more often than not, in the form of two hour blocks.  The 10pm timeslots feature a rotating mix of real life and reality series that include the human condition, crime, pop culture, celeb-reality, and paranormal.  Many of the series tend to be half hours scheduled back to back to fill the slot

Friday and Saturday feature three hour stacks of CRIMINAL MINDS.  Sunday nights have been switching every few months between CSI: MIAMI/CRIMINALMINDS and reality series, with dramas the current mainstay.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /February 2011 vs. February 2010 (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

January usually means a rise in the numbers for A&E and this year is no exception.  Audience figures are up 20% over December in most of the key demos.  On a year to year basis, ratings are basically flat.  Slight decrease in total viewers.  Not necessarily a bad thing though.  Median age is down 6% so it would appear it's the older viewers (ie less desired by advertisers) that are disappearing.

Top performer for the month is also the new kid on the block.  BEYOND SCARED STRAIGHT debuted on Thursdays nights at 10pm, coming right out of the gate with big numbers.  Target adults consistently built from the 9pm FIRST 48 lead-in.  40-50% every week.  That's more than solid.  Even a Saturday repeat did well for the night.  Overall, the freshmen series outdelivered prime average by more than 50%.  Pretty easy renewal decision on this one.

HEAVY was the other new property to show up this month, premiering on Mondays at 10pm.  Appears to be a great addition to Monday's focus on the human condition. Open night came out strong.  Week 2 dropped a notch, but remains well above the schedule averages.

INTERVENTION hasn't lost much of its strength after all these seasons.  Premiere episodes on Mondays are still going strong, with repeats falling down from that.  Overall, the series is down just under 10% in the target demo from last year.

STORAGE WARS has found its place, or maybe we should say it's the viewers that have found STORAGE WARS.  Key demos are up almost 10% from last month with only a couple of premieres on the schedule.  Repeats are doing just as well and even better in some instances.  The Wednesday 10:30 spot featured some of the highest rated individual telecasts on the schedule for the entire month.

DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER had a few premieres, finishing down year on year for younger adults.  FIRST 48 is filling two nights.  Premieres are OK, repeats are down.  HOARDERS had another good month with new episodes on Mondays.  CRIMINAL MINDS holds down Fridays, but is slowing down.  Adults 25-54 are down 15% from last year.

Saturday and Sunday were min-stacks of various inventory series.  HOARDERS and STORAGE WARS were particularly strong.


A&E made a lot of drastic program content changes in recent years, going more mainstream in reality and moving away from such staple doc series as BIOGRAPHY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS, and AMERICAN JUSTICE.  Properties like STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMEN, THE FIRST 48 and MANHUNTERS still maintain the network's roots in crime/investigation, while reality shows like DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, INTERVENTION, HOARDERS, and GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS define the network today.  DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER and GROWING UP GOTTI helped bring A&E into the world of general entertainment, by taking its tradition of crime into reality programming. After growing in popularity with younger demos, A&E was able to branch out even more with shows like INKED, KING OF CARS, and DRIVING FORCE.  All of these programs had compelling, quirky and/or unique characters, along with something edgy in their lifestyle.  The genre has grown to include the human condition and the paranormal.

In early 2007, the network announced its first development slate of drama series in years.  The first project to come out of that slate, THE CLEANER starring Benjamin Bratt, premiered in July, 2008.  A second season soon followed.  THE BEAST, starring the late Patrick Swayze, solidified the network's foothold in the genre, building on their acquired dramas, particularly CRIMINAL MINDS, and the successful real life franchises. The newest addition, THE GLADES, hit the schedule this summer and more pilots are in the production hopper now.

A&E tries to be just edgy enough to fuel publicity and appeal to a younger audience. Strong characters, as in DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER and BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR, mixed in select celeb-reality offerings sit across the week.  The human condition has formed the basis for their Monday nights over the last year with INTERVENTION, OBSESSED, and HOARDERS.

IMPORTANT: The network doesn't refer to itself as a "women's" channel, but the gender skew leans almost 60% female.  Something to keep in mind when developing a program pitch.