Comedy Central Analysis - December 2009

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DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Comedy Central recently replaced repeats of the previous night's THE DAILY SHOW at 8pm, followed by THE COLBERT REPORT at 8:30 PM with two episodes of SCRUBS. For the rest of the evening on most weekdays short-run series fill the last two hours, with premieres staggered throughout the year. With nearly 200 episodes still in rotation, SOUTH PARK, the traditional go-to series to fill problem time periods, has been joined lately by FUTURAMA in thaty role. Friday nights are devoted to Stand-Up specials, and movies tend to dominate 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 John Stewart and The Colbert Report, are weekday live 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 young - hovering, on average, around thirty-one years old. That it also skews male should make you imagine the sound of money being printed.

DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2009 vs. December 2008  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-27%

-17%

-29%

Tuesday 8-11pm

8%

37%

-11%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-27%

-31%

-21%

Thursday 8-11pm

-9%

-19%

-28%

Friday 8-11pm

-2%

21%

-11%

Saturday 8-11pm

-15%

-9%

-21%

Sunday 8-11pm

-15%

-9%

-21%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-13%

-7%

-19%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Much like the News networks, COMEDY CENTRAL has been facing the down-side of competing against last year's Presidential Campaign-inflated ratings in the latter half of 2009. The year-to year losses we've seen in previous months slowed down in December, as the Network is now competing against post-Election ratings from 2008. THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT which occupied nearly 20% of Prime last year, offering their unique perspectives on the previous day's campaign activities from 8-9p, Tuesday through Friday, have been replaced by a variety od series and specials.

Monday's year to year losses were exacerbated by a mixed bag of underperforming Movies and series episodes from 8-10p. Bright spots included stunt blocks of FUTURAMA and the JEFF DUNHAM SHOW. Utlized in multiple Prime slots in December, FUTURAMA  was up by modest double-digits in HH and demos over last month.

Tuesday's growth was fueled by a 2-hour stack of SOUTH PARK, which grew sharply above its SCRUBS lead-in. The block grew in HH and, especially, M18-49 as the evening wore on, with the strongest numbers at 10p and 1030p.

Wednesdays were hurt by underperforming Movies, as well as repeat episodes of SECRET GIRLFRIEND, which retained only 62% of 10p  SOUTH PARK'S HH lead-in. SCRUBS, which replaced last year's DAILY SHOW/COLBERT REPORT repeat tandem, earned barely half of  December 2009's numbers from 8-9p. 

Year-to-year losses continued on Thursdays, where THE JEFF DUNHAM SHOW proved the lone bright spot among series offered that night. Despite this performance, delivery for DUNHAM continued to drop sharply from its October debut, with the series Prime average down by 15% in HH and 21% for P18-49 from its already declining November 2009 numbers.

Friday's Stand-Up offerings were up significantly in young men from last year.  Specials featuring Ron White, Gabriel Iglesias and Bill Engvall stood out with HH and demo delivery somewhat above the nightly average.

Weekend Prime featured a mix Movies and Stand-Up specials. Both nights experienced sharp drops in young women from last year. For all of Comedy Central's reputation for hip fare,  a Jeff Dunham special led the pack on weekends, followed by Blue Collar Comedy Tour alumnus Bill Engvall. SCARY MOVIE 2 was the top Movie offering for the Weekend.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Comedy ranks among the top 10 cablers for the 18-34 demographic, and mainly with a mix of their original series, stand-up and sketch, not off-net acquisitions like most of the other cable networks.

Originals are sketch, stand-up, reality.

Comedy over the past year or so has actively been buying movie packages from many of the big studio distributors and it doesn't look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

Important:

COMEDY CENTRAL and Levity Entertainment have signed a multi-year, multi-platform output deal for a series of stand-up specials that will premiere on the channel in 2009 and 2010.  The deal includes six stand-up specials from Christopher Titus, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco, Jim Breuer, Mitch Fatel, Pete Correale that will air in 2009 and six additional stand-up specials that will shoot in 2009 to air in 2010.  At least eight of the upcoming stand-up specials will be released on DVD by COMEDY CENTRAL Home Entertainment.   Stand-up specials continue to be incredible success on the channel, and allows the development of comedians across all platforms.

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth. Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals. Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

Comedy Central knows what's funny. One of the many growing networks, they are one of the most successful for on-air, online and on-the-go mobile technology. They give their viewers access to the cutting-edge original programming, stand-up and sketch comedy, plus offbeat comedy TV series and movies. Their strategy of attracting the young male demographic continues to grow month to month whether their strategy be one off originals or stunt/holiday programming.

Comedy continues to acquire a variety of original stand-up comedy programs and specials. There are three outlets currently for talent that the network features stand-up shows: COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS, LIVE AT GOTHAM, as well as one-hour specials filmed exclusively for COMEDY CENTRAL.

Comedy, which like TBS, keeps its entire focus on comedy, has new seasons of several original series in production for 2010, including The Sarah Silverman Program,, Important Things With Demetri Martin.and Tosh.0  Cable networks in record numbers are launching their own comedies out of sheer necessity because there are so few comedies being scheduled by the broadcast networks. Since the late 1990s, reality shows have steadily displaced comedies on the broadcast side, and many broadcast comedy writers have shifted to cable.

Comedy Central and The New York Comedy Festival announced a multi-year partnership deal, giving the five-day comedy showcase a national television partner for its fifth iteration.  The festival will feature a variety of top-tier comedians including Frank Caliendo, Louis C.K., Craig Ferguson, Carlos Mencia, Joel McHale, B.J. Novak, Tracy Morgan, Brian Regan, Sarah Silverman and Katt Williams.  The multi-year national partnership will include producing an on-air special shot at the Festival which will premiere in early 2009, as well as digital media support and other content opportunities.

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth.  Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals.  Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

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