APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8, with original programming or encores running at 10. Premiere nights for new series are usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays with plenty of encores scattered irregularly throughout the rest of the week. Saturdays are all movies and Sunday night is a mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.
APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2010 vs. April 2009 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Not too much movement on BET's bottom-line Monday through Sunday average this month, as ratings moved by 5% or less. Men 18-49 were up 5% vs. last year and down 5% vs. last month; women 18-49 were up 3% vs. both last year and last month. And after a brief flirtation with the 30+ crowd at the beginning of the year, median age is back down in the 20's.
Reality shows based on celebrities continue to churn through the line-up. Although each series has a short life, rarely going past two seasons, the encores have a lengthy shelf-life on BET's primetime air. For instance, FAMILY CREWS finished up its first season at the beginning of the month, and was followed by ten encore telecasts on seven different nights. THE MICHAEL VICK PROJECT ended its season last month, but was back with three more telecasts this month. Encore telecasts are seemingly random; they might appear as filler for movies or they might pop up as a marathon.
As MICHAEL VICK went into repeats, the second season of TINY & TOYA debuted this April, with new episodes running on Tuesday nights. Back to the multiple-encore theme, there were two new telecasts plus ten encores in the two weeks that it was on the air. That's a lot of TINY & TOYA! The new episodes pulled in the top ratings of the month among households and women, while all those encores pulled down the program average. The younger female comps on the show are incredibly strong. But, as we said, these reality shows have a short life, TINY & TOYA won't be back, although TOYA will strike it out on her own on BET's air in 2011.
On Friday, April 16th the annual SPRING BLING special ran. A few encores followed, and on average, it was the top rated program of the month for households, men and women. Recurring specials, and not just the awards shows, have nearly all shown improvement this past year. As a genre, specials have become a big part of BET's ratings spikes, and also their image and their buzz. Not surprisingly, more specials will be coming soon.
On Sundays the big news was the premiere of season three of SUNDAY BEST and the finale of THE FAMILY CREWS. SUNDAY BEST drew strong female audiences, particularly with older women. Sunday night pulled the oldest audience of the week, primarily because of SUNDAY BEST. The best news about the program was its build. It gained more women viewers with each successive week. FAMILY CREWS finished up its first season with strong numbers. According to BET it drew 1.2 million total viewers. It will be back with another season.
Movies are still the heart of BET's line-up, accounting for about two-thirds of the primetime real-estate. Total movie ratings improved vs. last year (+13% A18-49) but fell vs. last month (-13%). They were not as prominent on the ratings chart this month, and they were also more female-skewing than usual. Truth Hall and I Do I Did were top performers for women, down at numbers 10 and 17. Movies are more important for male viewers, even with the increased female skew; it is one of the few things left on the line-up that can draw more men than women. Six movies placed in the top 20 rated telecasts for the men 18-49 demo - The Nutty Professor, Waist Deep, Boyz N The Hood, ATL Movie and Lockdown.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
BET has declared that programming that centers on the family is their main focus. Citing internal research studies, particularly "African Americans Revealed," the net declared that the most relevant insight they found was the importance of family; 88% of those studied cited family as their top priority. This fits in nicely with the female direction BET primetime has been taking for the past year. (If not the latenight music videos).
After a failed attempt at scripted drama with HARLEM HEIGHTS in 2009, the network will jump back into that game with THE GAME and LET'S STAY TOGETHER in the 2010/2011 season. Specials continue to spike the numbers, and we can expect to see more of them next year. But the crux of the plans are heavy on celebrity / music / reality competition programming. Those programs tend to have a short shelf life; development needs to stay active to support that strategy.
BET continues to use its political and social voice in the form of on-air programming. The network has made a public commitment to Michelle Obama's childhood obesity effort Let's Move, and will incorporate the messaging into talk shows, news programming and specials.