A&E Analysis - November 2009

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AETV Primetime Schedule


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 featured CSI: MIAMI and CRIMINAL MINDS three hour stacks.  Sunday nights have been switching every few months between CSI: MIAMI/dramas and reality series.  Last couple of months have been the real life series with GENE SIMMONS and HAMMERTIME.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008  (% 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

Contininung on last month's trend, A&E had another solid month overall across key demos, with another slight increase on the female demos.  Median age remains flat from a month ago, but is still showing an increase since last year.

As in previous months, Monday through Thursday nights still remain somewhat of a strugle for the network.  HOARDERS and PARKING WARS are still showing signs of bringing in a slightly larger audience than some of the network's tired reruns.

Stacked episodes of DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER on Wednesday nights continue to perform about average, but the night remains one of the weakest for the network.  The same can be said of Thursday night's THE FIRST 48 marathons.

Friday, however, starts the weekend off with bang with CRIMINAL MINDS pulling in much larger-than-average audiences.  This continues throughout the weekend in primetime, with nearly every airing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday pulling in big audiences.  As a result, Saturdays and Sundays are showing major audience increases over last year - 85% and 33%, respectively.  While it's great that the network is seeing this short-term boost, it seems that a few more programs on the weekend schedule would be helpful before the honeymoon phase with CRIMINAL MINDS wears off.


Edgy, unique and buzzworthy slice-of-life reality series centered on celebrities, from A to C-list;  crime or social-issue oriented documentary series;


Leading off-network drama series.


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.   Series such as THE FIRST 48 and INTERVENTION still maintain the network's roots in crime/investigation, while reality shows like DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK, and GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS define the network today and are certainly priorities in terms of image.

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 have compelling, quirky and/or unique characters, along with something edgy in their lifestyle. Plus, they all have appeal to the upscale crime and investigation viewer while attracting the younger demos.

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.  The series has been renewed for a second season.  The launch of THE BEAST, starring Patrick Swayze, only solidifies the network's foothold in the genre, building on their acquired dramas, particularly CSI: MIAMI, and the successful real life franchises.

A&E can't be too extreme in its content but just edgy enough to fuel publicity and appeal to its new, younger audience. New program decisions are based on current successful blocks and formats; so whatever is working now, count on A&E wanting more of the same but new.

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.