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 curtailed (for the most part), 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.
FEBRUARY 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2013 vs. February 2012 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
This February BET’s success was hinged on REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD and SECOND GENERATION WAYANS. In addition to their Tuesday night premieres, encores of the two programs were scheduled all over the line-up, often providing the only relief for movies. While they did top key BET benchmarks of the Monday – Sunday primetime average and the movie average, they lost significant audience from last month’s debut and were not able to compete with last year’s THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER.
The result is a precipitous decline in bottom-line ratings. Women 18-49 dropped by nearly a third vs. last year, down 29%. Men dropped to a lesser degree, but they remain a small (but increasing) segment of the primetime audience, and adult 18-49 ratings were down by 21% vs. last year. Declines were less steep, but still there vs. last month; down 14% among women 18-49, 8% among men 18-49 and 13% among adults 18-49.
For the last few years male audiences were largely ignored in BET's primetime as programming veered toward female skewing sitcoms and reality shows. Even BET’s traditional urban and violent movies went more female, with comedy and romance titles taking over. But 2013 is showing a return to a more balanced male/female appeal. Shows like COMICVIEW bring men to the table. This month’s theatricals have a 50/50 male/female split, while February 2012’s theatrical audience was 40% male / 60% female. The two featured programs of the month, HUSBANDS and WAYANS, skewed about 45% male / 55% female. Last year’s THE GAME and LET’S STAY TOGETHER audiences were about 70% female. This is all reflected in the bottom line audience, which is now 40% male.
The annual awards show, BET HONORS was the top rated program / telecast of the month. However, it is all relative – ratings for the premiere and the encores were much higher last year, about 50% better than the 2013 performance. Still, awards programming remains a staple for BET, providing a spike to the ratings and buzz for the network.
Originally a gag on the BET AWARDS, REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD is now a full-fledged scripted reality series loosely based on Bravo’s iconic REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise. The program average sits well above all other BET programs this month, and the four original episodes are the four top rated telecasts of the month, across the board (with the exception of the premiere of BET HONORS). However, as mentioned up top, the program could not hold up to last year’s GAME ratings and it could not hold up the bottom line. The program dropped 24% of its women 18-49 ratings and 17% of adults 18-49 compared to its premiere month performance in January. Ratings fell with each consecutive week, indicating that viewing has not yet hit bottom.
Companion program SECOND GENERATION WAYANS followed the same path. Women 18-49 ratings were off by 40% vs. last month, while adult 18-49 ratings were down 37%. The premiere episodes topped all programs other than HUSBANDS and BET HONORS.
New program APOLLO is gone from Thursday nights this February, but COMICVIEW: ONE MIC STAND remains in place on Fridays, although movies have taken over part of the night. The program retained its adult ratings from last month, but it continues to underperform the bottomline average.
THE GAME is scheduled to premeire on March 26th with a new cast in place. Will it be able to rally the network behind it?