CMT is turning Country Music into a lifestyle by developing reality shows based around rural-America and male-targeted themes (sports, rednecks, the South). While music remains the theme for movies and specials, the network has recently enjoyed success with original reality series such as MY BIG REDNECK VACATION and SWAMP PAWN.
The sitcom REBA is the network’s go-to acquisition and occupies the 8PM timeslot every weekday. The popularity of this sitcom helps draw viewers to original series repeats that air throughout the week.
Premiere episodes of these original series are dedicated to Friday and Saturday nights. Saturdays have been home to most of the rural-America themed series such as BAYOU BILLIONAIRES and REDNECK ISLAND while competition shows (DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS) air on Fridays.
CMT's 2013 upfront event announced several new projects that will hit the airways this year. As 2012 saw some of the network's highest ratings from rural-themed original programming like MY BIG REDNECK VACATION, the new year's lineup will attempt to continue with that success. DOG AND BETH: ON THE HUNT and GUNTUCKY will premiere in the spring. New series HILLBILLIES FOR HIRE and THE DIRTY SOUTH (from the producers of THE JERSEY SHORE) will launch in the summer and fall respectively. Acquired Fox series, COPS RELOADED, will join the lineup this spring.
An original animated series BOUNTY HUNTERS will expand the network's primetime arsenal. This first-ever animated series for CMT will be voiced by Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy and Lisa Lampanelli.
Country music won't be forgotten, and a new project starring a recent winner of THE VOICE, Cassadee Pope, is in the works for 2013. A "News & Docs" division will stay current with entertainment news telling in-depth stories through the CMT filter.
All of these programs will beef up their collection of original programming, spread them throughout the week, and surely draw new audiences to the network.
MARCH 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison /March 2013 vs. March 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Annual losses continued for the fourth month at CMT. Monthly differences averaged out to be about flat with last month, but the individual weeknights showed some fairly drastic gains and losses compared to February. Saturday nights were the only time viewers enjoyed original series premieres, and this month there weren’t all that many. Once SWAMP PAWN completed its first season, the only premieres the network had left to offer were of the slowly-losing-popularity MY BIG REDNECK VACATION. Based on recent press releases and announcements of new original programming and acquisitions, it feels like March is the calm before the storm at CMT.
With so few original series premieres, the primetime schedule was left mostly with COUNTRY MUSIC THEATER movies and comedy specials. A handful of these proved popular among men 25-54, and this demo saw a couple happy monthly gains.
This last statement was unfortunately not true for Mondays, which showed annual and monthly losses. With less original series encores and more movies (Karate Kid and Karate Kid II), Monday nights suffered some dramatic male demo losses. A similar schedule on Tuesday nights (REBA leading into movies) saw a tiny monthly gain among men 25-54. Rural country comedy movies like Dukes of Hazzard and Blue Collar Comedy Tour pulled some decent numbers from women 25-54, and this demo jumped up 18% from last year.
A similar schedule appeared again on Wednesday nights, but also included a few SWAMP PAWN encores. This night saw some very nice annual gains, but stayed about flat with last month. Thursday nights saw a healthy monthly gain among men 25-54, when a RON WHITE comedy special and the movie Clear and Present Danger drew some more male viewers than February. Women 25-54 saw a big annual gain thanks to some strongly rated REBA episodes, proving this acquisition continues to be popular among that demo.
RON WHITE struck again with men 25-54 on Friday nights, when RON WHITE SALUTE THE TROOPS on the 15th brought a big male audience and caused that demo to jump 63% over February.
Saturday nights are dedicated to original series premieres, and March rolled through with MY BIG REDNECK VACATION. The season finale of new original series SWAMP PAWN ended with a bang and was the highest rated individual telecast among households and men 25-54. It was the second highest individual telecast among women 25-54, making it’s popularity known and validating its second season renewal. Despite all this success, and despite Saturdays being the highest rated night of the week, March experienced losses across the board both monthly and annually. MY BIG REDNECK VACATION is losing a bit of popularity, and lost among men 25-54 by 26% this month.
Sunday’s schedule was varied, as usual, and following on the same track as the rest of March, the comedy specials rated the highest on this night. RON WHITE and JEFF DUNHAM helped bring strong viewers among both male and female demos. Both of these demos jumped up from February, but still showed annual loss.
Jayson Dinsmore, the EVP of Programming and Development, said during the recent CMT upfront presentation: “We’re ramping up for what promises to be a monster year for CMT”. New and returning original series are going to fill up the primetime schedule in the next few months, and hopefully bring CMT toward a needed upswing. In April, the highly anticipated DOG AND BETH: ON THE HUNT will premiere on Sunday the 21st along with GUNTUCKY. The Fox acquisition COPS RELOADED premiered at the end of March and will continue into April.