A&E Performance/Schedule Analysis - March 2009 - Broadcasting & Cable

A&E Performance/Schedule Analysis - March 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of April 20, 2009)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Strongest demo is P25-54, with a female skew for most programs.

MARCH 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

INTERVENTION, DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, MANHUNTERS, THE FIRST 48, PARANORMAL STATE, THE EXTERMINATORS

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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 crime, pop culture, celeb-reality, and paranormal.  Most of the series tend to be half hours scheduled back to back to fill the slot. 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday have been all CSI: MIAMI, all the time for the last few months, with a few exceptions.  The traditional Friday home was expanded to Sundays as reality repeats faded out.  Saturdays had been real estate and DIY, then theatrical features, and finally more CSI: MIAMI with a SOPRANOS thrown in for good measure. 

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

FEBRUARY to MARCH:

Sunday - SOPRANOS takes a break at 10pm, replaced by another repeat of CSI: MIAMI

PREMIERES:

** None announced

MARCH AND BEYOND

PREMIERES:

** May 21 - CRIME 360 (Season 2)
** May 25 - INTERVENTION (Season 7)
** May 25 - OBSESSED
** May 27 - TATTOO HIGHWAY
** June 7 - GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS (Season 4)
** June 14 - HAMMERTIME
** June 23 - THE CLEANER (Season 2)

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

Network press touts the just ended 1Q09 as their "best quarter ever", driven by a very strong January.  Unfortunately, the good news ends there.  March was down 2-4% in the key adult demos compared to the same period last year. 

Normally, a small decrease wouldn't be too alarming.  However, last year at this time DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER was exiled from the network.  With DOG re-established as a cornerstone of the schedule, including premieres this month, we would have expected some real growth in March.  The loss comes entirely from women, concentrated heavily on Thursdays with THE BEAST.   Median age was at its highest point in 18 months, probably a result of the heavy rotation of CSI: MIAMI/SOPRANOS and loss of audience for the younger skewing reality. 

Last year, April and May dropped off significantly from March.  Even with zero new series announced for April, the network should have a good chance of matching last year's figures.

MARCH 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Across the week, Monday remains the anchor of the schedule.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are strong, although Thursday is falling back with THE BEAST at 10pm.  Weekends are weaker on the demos, with CSI MIAMI dominating the line-up. 

INTERVENTION continues to lead the pack, pulling more women that anything else on the schedule by far, making Monday the strongest night of the week.  Four of the five weeks featured premiere episodes this month.  Even so, this #1 series dropped slightly from February, as well as last March. 

PARANORMAL STATE had an outstanding month.  Four new episodes across the five weeks attracted the 2nd largest younger female audience, only trailing its lead-in INTERVENTION.  More good news:  the series was up 5-15% in women over last year.  Keep those premieres coming.

MANHUNTERS wrapped up its first season in solid fashion.  Three weeks of premieres drove the series to above average deliveries on key adult demos.  The series continues to skew male on a network that goes 57% female.  However, it holds the female lead-in from THE FIRST 48, while increasing the men most weeks, driving the overall delivery up.  That's the right direction.  No formal announcement yet, but we would expect a renewal on this one.

DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER was all premiere in its regular Wed, 10pm slot.  Audiences were more than strong.  Isolating just the premieres, DOG would probably be the top rated series of the month.  Might be time to consider easing up on the two hour block of repeats leading into the premieres.  Specifically, cut the 8pm block and leave the 9pm slot alone. 

EXTERMINATORS is quietly chuggling along.  It's not one of bigger names on the schedule, and appears to be buried at 10:30 on Wednesday, but it's doing the job.  The Louisiana based family is overdelivering on both adult demos, and doesn't fall into the "crime" genre to do so.  That's something the schedule needs more of.

FIRST 48 premieres on Thursday are solid.  Repeats spread throughout the week a little less so.  Still, even with repeats factored in, the series outperforms prime averages for the month.

THE BEAST is pretty much done.  After the initial fascination, viewers appear to have run away in droves.  The original drama was down 15% from February, and underdelivered prime averages in the target demographics by as much as 40%.  Along with THE SOPRANOS, it was the lowest rated series on the schedule by far.

CSI MIAMI is a scheduler's conundrum.  Across 37 airings in March, it was the highest rated series on the schedule.  However, in the all important demographic game, it can't keep up.  For both adult demos, it fell below every reality series on the schedule, only finishing ahead of scripted dramas THE BEAST and SOPRANOS. 


PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

CRIMINAL MINDS - acquired exclusive cable rights beginning 9/09; began airing weekly in May, 2008;

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

THE CLEANER (2009); CRIME 360 (5/09); INTERVENTION (5/09)

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:

SELL THIS HOUSE!, COLD CASE FILES, PRIVATE SESSIONS, AMERICAN JUSTICE, THE SOPRANOS, CROSSING JORDAN

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