The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8 or 9 with original programming / encores filling the remaining hour. Premiere night for new series is Tuesday. The practice of scattering encores throughout the week has been curbed in recent months, giving movies a dominant, if not prominent role. Sunday night is a mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.
FEBRUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2012 vs. February 2011 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
FEBRUARY 2012: BET held the bottom-line this month as total primetime ratings were nearly identical to February 2011 ratings. The line-up for both years was nearly identical as well, with THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER into the second month of their new seasons, THE BET HONORS headlining the ratings charts, and movies continuing to anchor the network.
Of course there was a lot of change both behind and in front of the screen, and night-to-night ratings shifts were significant. With the success of original programming in 2011, BET has stepped up its development plans and will branch out into reality programming and scripted drama, as well as expanding its original comedy roster. But for now, BET retains its triple-pronged primetime programming strategy – original series on Tuesday nights, annual specials to add ratings spikes and/or social relevance to the mix, and movies to hold the bottom line.
Starting with THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER, the two original comedies again received BET-style treatment with just three new episodes premiering this month, and a total of 21 and 15 telecasts respectively. As much as BET’s scheduling strategies have been refined, running a program multiple times throughout the week is still a prominent play in the repertoire. Core women 18-49 ratings for THE GAME fell by 20% vs. last year and by 45% from January’s season premiere month. Within February ratings dropped with each successive week. And while Tuesday nights remain the best-rated night of the week, they tumbled 18% vs. last month and 28% vs. last year. Still, the program generates super-strong young female comps (in fact, women 18-49 ratings often out-pace household ratings), and its premiere episodes consistently rank among the top-rated cable programs (source: Futon Critic ratings). In another strong sign, BET has ordered a full 22-episode season for THE GAME, unlike most cable nets who hedge their bets with original programming by ordering shortened seasons. LET’S STAY TOGETHER is enjoying the ride furnished by THE GAME, delivering ratings well above the BET average. Core women 18-49 ratings are about 30% lower than THE GAME, but it has dropped just 7% of its audience from last year.
Specials helped deliver some nice ratings spikes to BET this month. In fact, BET’s annual specials have been enjoying consistently strong improvement. THE BET HONORS were no exception as the premiere telecast on Monday, February 13th doubled its ratings from last year. Subsequent encore telecasts also performed well. An unexpected primetime special was BET REMEMBERS WHITNEY, which aired after a day of coverage of the legendary singer’s funeral, pulling exceptional numbers for a Saturday night. Primetime specials that were planned as part of BET’S Black History Month celebration included SOUL MATES: DR. MAYA ANGELOU AND COMMON and BET TAKES HOLLYWOOD, BET's first Oscar special featuring each of the major African-American nominees of 2012. These two programs carried a strong message, but not strong ratings.
Despite the strong ratings and publicity surrounding BET’s original comedies and high-profile specials, movies are still the bulk of the primetime line-up. Featured titles this month included The Express, Dreamgirls, 35 and Ticking, Ali, and John Q. top rated primetime titles were 35 and Ticking and Phat Girlz. Overall, adult 18-49 ratings for movies fell by 11% vs. last year.