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, giving movies a dominant, if not prominent role. Sunday night is an ever-changing mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.
APRIL 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2012 vs. April 2011 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2012: BET continues into second quarter without much change to its line-up. The network that used to mix things up on a weekly basis is now extraordinarily consistent with its programming strategies and its primetime schedule. “Less is More” might be the network’s motto, as only a small handful of programming makes it onto the primetime line-up each month. Again this month viewers were offered a solid base of movies, new seasons of THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER (including a plethora of encores), a new annual special and encores of old annual specials. And less IS proving to be more; ratings were up for BET this month, with target women 18-49 growing 10% vs. last year and 5% vs. last month.
Movies are the foundation of the network, playing a dominant role on the schedule every night except Tuesdays, and sometimes Sundays. Fortunately, the theatricals continue to hold viewers, improving adult 18-49 ratings by 4% vs. last month and keeping pace with last month. Movie selections have become more female focused, with titles such as Dream Girls and Madeas Family Reunion this month, and women’s ratings have followed suit. At one time BET movies had a strong male skew, but men comprised just 33% of the movie audience this April . Which works out well; the female skew fits better with the rest of the line-up, making the network more cohesive.
THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER are still running with new episodes each week; BET ordered a broadcast-sized 22 episode season for the programs. By this time last year the programs were in repeats, and so BET was able to grow Tuesday night’s core women 18-49 ratings by 11% vs. year ago on the backs of the new telecasts. LETS STAY TOGETHER has been holding this season, however, ratings for THE GAME have been sliding, and women 18-49 ratings are off by 19% vs. March. Both the main actor and actress of THE GAME have officially parted with the show, but BET plans to move forward, reworking the casting and the storyline for season six.
The highlight of April was the annual special, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL. While the show did not pull in ratings as big as the premiere telecasts of THE GAME or even LET’S STAY TOGETHER, it did manage to more than double the primetime average. It also helped to pull up Sunday nights by 18% vs. last year and 68% vs. last month.
Typically, BET’s social and political specials underperform, but this month’s special about the politically and socially charged Trayvon Martin shooting, SHOOT FIRST, was an exception. Airing on a Friday night, the program managed to outperform the primetime average by 19%.
And that’s it for BET for April. Looking forward, BET will bring back original scripted series THE GAME, LET’S STAY TOGETHER and REED BETWEEN THE LINES, as well as the gospel competition show SUNDAY BEST. New initiatives include a couple of comedies and a reality program, plus another foray into latenight, and a new initiative with some original made-for-TV movies.