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HGTV Analysis - Broadcasting & Cable

HGTV Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

HGTV runs all original programming, almost all in half-hour formats. The half-hour programs are usually scheduled back to back, creating one-hour blocks with a natural break in between. The programming is safe and lulling, as is the schedule, which subtly leads viewers through the night and the week with little disruption.

Mondays have become an HGTV showcase night, with new signature programming, while on Fridays, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL runs all the way from 8 to 11.

Tuesday through Thursday mixes it up with real estate and property-improvement programming.
features the “First Time Homeowners” block from 8 to 9PM, HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL run each night, but at different times each night.

Saturday is home-design focused, and Sunday features specials and Mike Holmes’ programming, thereby drawing more men to Sunday nights.

HGTV has become adept at providing viewers with “sneak peaks,” premiering one or two episodes in advance of new programs’ scheduled releases.  This serves to create buzz around new programming while giving viewers an impression of intimacy with the network.

JANUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

W18-49

W25-54

Monday 8-11pm

 -10%

 -7%

 -2%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-7%

 -9%

 -5%

Wednesday 8-11pm

 4%

  8%

4%

Thursday 8-11pm

-15%

-13%

-9%

Friday 8-11pm

 -13%

  0%

4%

Saturday 8-11pm

-25%

-27%

-27%

Sunday 8-11pm

 -15%

 -9%

-11%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-12%

-9%

 -7%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JANUARY 2012: January was HGTV’s best-rated month of the year in both 2010 and 2011. The net likes to start things off strong, kicking off with the Tournament of Roses coverage, annual specials such as HGTV DREAM HOME, and sneak peaks of up and coming programming. However, if January 2012 is to be the net’s best-rated month, HGTV is in for a tough year.

Ratings certainly improved over December, with the core women 25-54 primetime average jumping 18%. However, December was 2011’s lowest-rated month of the year. Compared to last January, those core ratings are down on five nights out of seven, for a bottom-line decline of 7%. Not a drastic number, but the big picture points to viewer erosion. The chief culprit is the ever-present HOUSE HUNTERS, which has been slowly fading this past year, bringing the net down with it. Its ratings are down by about 10% vs. last year.

No matter how you look at it, HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL still dominate HGTV. Together they accounted for 82 telecasts, 41 hours or 40% of the primetime schedule. This month the only programs to match or beat their average women 25-54 ratings were PROPERTY VIRGINS, HOLMES INSPECTION, and SELLING NY.

HGTV has not closed its eyes to the HOUSE HUNTERS problem, and has been actively developing and growing programming franchises for the next era in HGTV programming. The big question is, where is the next HOUSE HUNTERS?

HGTV will roll out more than a dozen new original series and 20 specials in 2012. New efforts run the gamut from tag sales to white rooms to auctions, from renovation to competition to design to real estate. Hosts can be family-focused, celebrity charged or professional icons, but property focused programming is the genre that most consistently strikes a ratings chord. SELLING NY has moved into LA, and LONDON is next. PROPERTY BROTHERS and KITCHEN COUSINS were stand-outs in 2011.

Monday nights are the first place to look for new hits, as they were branded a signature night in 2011, with new programming including top-rated DESIGN STAR headlining the night throughout the year. This month’s new program LOVE IT OR LIST IT led into a block of HOUSE HUNTERS. LOVE IT is showing positive signs, growing core women 25-54 ratings by 29% vs. December, and achieving better shares than the 8:30 run of HOUSE HUNTERS.

Other programs that are new to the line-up were not as successful. MY HOUSE YOUR MONEY was gone after a couple of outings.  PRICE THIS PLACE started strong on Thursday nights but dropped audience with each successive week.

Successful specials were EXTREME HOMES, HOUSE HUNTERS HOUSEBOATS, and another run of SELLING SPELLING MANOR. Less successful specials were HOLLYWOOD AT HOME and URBAN OASIS GIVEAWAY.

One area that will never carry the network is the design-focused programming that runs on Saturday night. Despite the plethora of new programming ideas and semi-celebrity hosts, that genre continues to lose audience, consistently delivering the worst program ratings on the line-up and the lowest rated night of the week. Saturday night did show growth over low-rated December, but lost a quarter of its audience vs. January 2011, which was the biggest nightly decline vs. year ago. With that said, the exception that makes the rule could possibly have come with INTERIORS INC. In its first outing the competition / VIP makeover show rose above the rest of the Design Time pack.

Counter-programmed against football, Sunday nights focus on Mike Holmes’ programming. His shows draw more men than any other HGTV program, and consistently deliver top-tier ratings for women. In fact, HOLMES ON HOLMES and HOLMES INSPECTION were the only returning programs from last year to show growth on men or women. (HOLMES INSPECTION up 10% on adults 25-54, HOLMES ON HOLMES up 4%).

The year started out slow in the ratings for HGTV, but it should prove to be an interesting year to watch as the search for the next HOUSE HUNTERS unfolds. The next HOUSE HUNTERS could come from anywhere…one of the many programs in development, a popular special turned into a regular program or maybe a franchise that is already in HGTV’s own backyard (MIKE HOLMES, PROPERTY BROTHERS or SELLING NY).

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