HGTV Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

HGTV runs all original programming, and it is expertly scheduled to seamlessly lead viewers through the night and the week. A lot of change came to the HGTV line-up this February, for a network that typically makes slow and gradual shifts to the schedule, and more change is on its way.  HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the key component of primetime, but have been floated around the schedule. Now they are tethered to 10 and 10:30 from Monday to Saturday.

Each night of the week is being set up for a different stack from 8 to 10. Mondays were promoted as a signature night last year, but this year Tuesday will host the penultimate signature series, HGTV DESIGN STAR, with spin-offs set to follow in the timeslot. Wednesdays are host to “The Guys of Wednesday Night,” featuring KITCHEN COUSINS, PROPERTY BROTHERS and INCOME PROPERTY, and a new program SCORING THE DEAL slated to launch in late 2012 or early 2013. Thursdays feature power real estate brokers of SELLING NY and LA with LONDON coming in the summer. Fridays were HHI stacks, but are now a rotating mix of specials and encores. Design Time Saturday remains a bastion for design programming and Sunday nights features Mike Holmes’ programming, which attracts a 50/50 male/female audience.

Half hour programs are still paired to create one-hour blocks, but hour-long shows are becoming more common on the line-up.

FEBRUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

W18-49

W25-54

Monday 8-11pm

   4%

   16%

 22%

Tuesday 8-11pm

  5%

    0%

 8%

Wednesday 8-11pm

  -3%

   18%

16%

Thursday 8-11pm

  -7%

    0%

-6%

Friday 8-11pm

 -15%

   -18%

-16%

Saturday 8-11pm

 -4%

   -9%

-14%

Sunday 8-11pm

 -7%

    -6%

-10%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-3%

    0%

 0%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FEBRUARY 2012: Sometimes it takes a lot of work to stay in the same place. This was a month for treading water at HGTV. While the network made several adjustments to its typically staid line-up this February, the changes did not spur enough growth to move the bottom line. Core women 25-54 primetime ratings were at exactly the same level last year. Men continue to grow in importance to HGTV, although the growth is slow; while men 25-54 ratings increased by 8% vs. last year, men comprise just 35% of the adult 25-54 audience.

As always, the programs with the biggest effect on the network are HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. Poised with over 200 new episodes ready to air this year, the programs were moved to a permanent 10PM and 10:30PM strip from Monday through Saturday, displacing a few shows in the process. New episodes began debuting on Monday, February 6 and are slated to air through June. Monday nights felt the most benefit from the new episodes, gaining nearly 20% better ratings across the demo board. Core women 25-54 program average ratings grew 7% for HOUSE HUNTERS and 18% for HH INTERNATIONAL vs. last year. The programs rose back up to the top of the ratings charts for households and women, although HOLMES INSPECTION still surpasses them for men and adult ratings.

Despite an increased order for new episodes in 2012, HGTV is learning to be less reliant on the iconic series, airing nearly 20% fewer primetime telecasts this year vs. last. LOVE IT OR LIST IT starts out Monday night and fits well in its time slot, giving a slight twist to the HOUSE HUNTERS concept and actually drawing a better share than its lead-out HOUSE HUNTERS telecast at 9PM. The net is also making way for newer programs that target men and families as well as older women. “The Guys of Wednesday Night,” has been built around the success of PROPERTY BROTHERS, and Wednesdays show the best growth of the week for both men and women vs. last year.

Thursday nights featured SELLING NY and SELLING LA, which underperformed the network average. Friday night’s switch from a HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL stack to a variety of specials and rotating programs was devasating to the bottom line. The best performer of the mix (outside of HH and HHI) was MILLION DOLLAR ROOMS.

Despite the fact that the Saturday night design programming remains fresh (CANDICE TELLS ALL, DEAR GENEVIEVE and INTERIORS INC. came back to the schedule this month), ratings continue to slide. Saturday night’s ratings were up from last month, but still down by 14% vs. last year. The biggest year over year program ratings declines were all Saturday night’s “Design Time” shows – GENEVIEVE and CANDICE dropped nearly a fifth of their W2554 ratings, while COLOR SPLASH dropped nearly one-tenth.

Under the Mike Holmes umbrella, Sunday nights remain strong with HOLMES ON HOLMES and HOLMES INSPECTION drawing an even male/female skew, the best adult ratings of the week and a bigger male skew and higher male ratings than the Wednesday night Guys line-up.

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