Comedy Central Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Comedy Central is adept at mixing original series with acquisitions such as ITS ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and SCRUBS to deliver consistent young adult audiences. Their strategy of using established lead-ins such as SOUTH PARK to introduce new hits such as TOSH.0 has paid off: top-rated TOSH.0 is now being used in a similar fashion to introduce new series. The latest debut to benefit from a TOSH.0 lead-in, WORKAHOLICS, was renewed for a second season after only four episodes.

With over 200 episodes still in rotation, SOUTH PARK, the traditional go-to series to fill problem time periods, has been joined by FUTURAMA and TOSH.0 in that role. Repeat episodes of original series  have joined Friday night's traditional Stand-Up specials, with movies and more Stand-Up  dominating the rest of the Weekend.

Comedy Central's schedule stands out in nonfiction cable (excluding news/sports networks) because two of its highest-profile franchises, THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART and THE COLBERT REPORT, are weekday live-to-tape productions. Comedy Central's programs are arranged on a grid rare for its dependably predictable pattern -- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, even year-to-year. These folks surely have some of the strongest appointment viewing numbers in the business. Their audience is also unusually, enviably younger, hovering, on average, around thirty-one years old. That it also skews male should make you imagine the sound of money being printed.

MARCH 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)

 

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-17%

-20%

-17%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-21%

-18%

-22%

Wednesday 8-11pm

5%

14%

4%

Thursday 8-11pm

-9%

2%

-8%

Friday 8-11pm

-28%

-27%

-34%

Saturday 8-11pm

-24%

-2%

-14%

Sunday 8-11pm

-14%

15%

-16%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-14%

-10%

-15%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Household and RM18-49 losses in March were double those of February, while the 15% drop for RW18-49 equaled that suffered last month. This is mostly due to year-to-year losses for key series IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA  and TOSH.0, which dominate the first two nights of the week. Delivery was flat with last month in HH and key demos.

There were only four Stand-Up specials in March; the  usual complement replaced by Movies and series episodes on Friday and Saturday.

New sketch series KEY & PEELE  continued to benefit from following new episodes of TOSH.0, and its four premiere telecasts joined those of its lead-in among the Top 20 individual telecasts of the month for Comedy Central. Overall, it remained the number three series for the network.

The first two episodes of Season 2 of UGLY AMERICANS did not fare as well, failing to hold 50% of it's SOUTH PARK Season 16 premieres' HH or demo lead-in.

Monday's declines for HH and RM18-49 grew steeper from February, with 9-11p IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, compared to the same block from 2011. Delivery was down slightly from last month.

KEY & PEELE's premiere continued on Tuesday at 1030, following a two hour block of TOSH.0. The new series consistently held 75% of  10pm TOSH.0 premiere lead-in, similar to WORKAHOLICS, which benefited from a similar launch strategy. Household and demo delivery was  down in the 20% range from last year,  and in the mid-teens from February.

For its monthly Prime average, TOSH.0  is down 20- 25% for HH and key demos from March 2011.

Wednesday's modest growth over last year points to the continuing audience appeal of SOUTH PARK, which enjoyed the premiere of its 16th season this month. However, compared to the first two episodes of Season 1 in May 2011, Season 16 lost 20% of its HH rating and 8% of its RM18-49.  For all Prime telecasts overall, SOUTH PARK is up slightly for  HH and younger men delivery compared to March 2011.

8-9pm CHAPPELLE'S SHOW returned t Wednesday 8-9p from a February stint on Thursday, swapping time periods with FUTURAMA, and equaling its RM18-49.

Thursday losses over the past few months lessened considerably in March with the return of FUTURAMA 8-10pm. Delivery for the night was up slightly over February.

With repeats of original series mostly replacing Friday's stand-up-centric offerings, the night suffered the sharpest declines versus last year and last month. A repeat of the COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST of Larry The cable Guy was the top offering for Fridays in March.  Repeats of Stand-Up specials from Jeff Dunham and Ralphie May were the top offerings on the Weekend.

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