A lot of change has come to HGTV this year, and more change is on the way.
HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the key component of primetime, but after being floated around the schedule they are now tethered to 10 and 10:30 from Monday through Saturday. Each night of the week offers a different mix of programming 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 feature 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, particularly in the 8:00 hour.
MARCH 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MARCH 2012: HGTV had a slow to start to the year, but made up for it this month. Adult 25-54 ratings climbed 13% vs. last month and 7% vs. last year and are now pacing even with first quarter 2011. The net continues to fine-tune its schedule and audiences are responding. Specifically, programmers have made it easier for viewers to find HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL by giving the programs a permanent time-slot, they have honed in on specific audiences on different nights of the week and they have expanded the programming slate.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that there are twice as many new episodes of top-rated HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL this year. Generally, as HOUSE HUNTERS goes, so goes HGTV, and this month they are going up. Average program ratings improved by 20% among women 25-54 vs. last year and by about 15% vs. last month. Together the two programs account for just under one-fourth of the primetime line-up, which is healthier than it has been in the past when over one-third of the line-up was comprised of HOUSE HUNTERS programming. Trouble arises when HGTV leans too heavily on the iconic shows. The net has been working hard to develop more franchises, and has found some success.
Monday is the best-rated night of the week. It is mostly about HOUSE HUNTERS, with an extra hour of the program at 9 and promising new companion program LOVE IT OR LIST IT at 8. LOVE IT OR LIST IT grew 16% on core women 25-54 ratings vs. last month and ranks third best among regularly scheduled programs on that demo.
MILLION DOLLAR ROOMS was added as a permanent program to Tuesdays this month, but the hour-long show did not thrive, pulling the lowest 8PM numbers of the week. Interior-design themed programming does not do well as a rule, as evidenced by the Saturday night line-up. When DESIGN STAR rolls into Tuesday nights audiences might stick around, but a second night of design isn’t likely to bring in big numbers.
Wednesday night moves its attention to men with PROPERTY BROTHERS and KITCHEN COUSINS. Men are a growing force in HGTV’s audience composition, with Mike Holmes blazing the trail on Sunday nights. Wednesdays are now officially dubbed “The Guys of Wednesday Night,” and male ratings grew 42% vs. last year, which was the best night of growth this month. However, it’s worth noting that there is room for improvement. The night still skews female, with a 63/37 ratio and both male and female ratings were below the primetime average.
Thursdays are turned over to real estate with PROPERTY VIRGINS and the successful SELLING… franchise. Both NY and LA were on the air again this month, growing audience vs. February. SELLING NY consistently fares better than LA, and we’ll see how LONDON does this summer.
The no-man’s land of Friday nights were turned over to various specials this month to great effect. YOU LIVE IN WHAT?, HOUSE HUNTERS RV and EXTREME HOMES were the three highest rated programs on the line-up, with HOUSEBOATS and CELEBRITY MOTOR HOMES close behind. Friday night’s women 25-54 ratings grew by 20% vs. last year when a three-hour block of HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL was on the air.
Saturday’s design programming serves its female niche, but each of the programs on the line-up continues to deliver ratings below the primetime average. The best-performing program this month was CANDICE TELLS ALL.
Sunday is the highest rated night of the week for men and adults 25-54. Mike Holmes’ programming HOLMES ON HOLMES and HOLMES INSPECTION leads the night to a 50/50 male/female skew. While men held vs. last year, women dropped by 17%, further entrenching the night among men.