HGTV is one of the most consistent programmers on the cable spectrum, but the line-up went through some changes in the second half of 2012, and more change is hitting at the beginning of 2013.
HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the key component of primetime, tethered to 10 and 10:30 from Monday through Saturday.
LOVE IT OR LIST IT, which is basically HOUSE HUNTERS with a spin, is a much-needed scheduling staple, giving the HOUSE HUNTERS some relief. LOVE IT calls Monday home, but can fill in on other days of the week, and has replaced the iconic Design Time Saturday night. The design shows consistently under-performed real estate and construction programming, but seemed safe and somewhat under the radar on Saturday nights, where Design Stars and HGTV personalities were born and bred. The night has gone from the lowest rated to one of the top-rated of the week.
“The Guys of Wednesday Night” still reign, with the help of the PROPERTY BROTHERS and their spin-offs and the KITCHEN COUSINS and their spin-offs.
Thursdays were the power real estate brokers with SELLING NY, then LA, and LONDON. NATURAL BORN SELLERS joined the fray in August. But they are gone, and HGTV has been rotating repeats of Wednesday night fare and introducing new programming in an attempt to fill the hole and find the next hit.
Fridays are usually filled with a mix of seasonal specials, which have become a breeding ground for new programming.
And finally, Sundays were the long-standing home for Mike Holmes and his various programs…HOLMES ON HOMES, HOLMES INSPECTION and GREAT AMERICAN HANDYMAN. But the programming was fading and the dual male/female audience did not match the rest of the schedule. By the end of September Mike and his programs were gone. HOLMES MAKES IT RIGHT is airing on HGTV Canada, and the DIY network, but not on HGTV. In the meantime, Sunday has been acting as more of a marquee night, and the strategy seems to be catching on. In November HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION found a permanent home at 10PM. In first quarter aspirational/escapist programs (HAWAII LIFE and ISLAND HUNTERS) made an impact.
As the year progresses, HGTV plans to continue aggressively rolling new programming into the line-up, with everything from compelling real estate shows to engaging renovation series to follow docs, workplace docs and character-driven programs. The network has indicated a desire to go a bit more edgy than they have in the past. “Anything that fits across the spectrum of "home" - in a way that's never been presented before. Shows with a twist, a different POV, a bit of edge, and that are full of passion and imagination for an upscale audience is welcome fare. Our audiences crave high-energy experts and programs that are fun, informative, and most importantly, entertaining.” (HGTV)
MARCH 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Plus Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2013 vs. March 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MARCH 2013: Primetime ratings have leveled out from their January peak, but are still at the top of the HGTV ratings spectrum. There was no change in bottom-line primetime women 25-54 ratings vs. last month, and they are up 3% compared to last March (which was a strong ratings month).
HGTV has the unique advantage of having a strong base of steady performers on the line-up, allowing room to rotate in a relatively new programming with a decent margin for error. The network is also flexible enough to accommodate a break-out hit.
HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL are the steady base – airing Monday through Saturday from 10 to 11 the two programs receive the most real estate, and usually the highest ratings on the primetime line-up. While they both dropped 8% of women 25-54 ratings vs. last month, they retained ratings vs. last year and their place at the top of the ratings ranker.
Wednesday night’s PROPERTY BROTHERS and KITCHEN COUSINS have become a franchise for HGTV, with new programming spinning off the base. COUSINS ON CALL was on the line-up this month, but it was not met with a lot of ratings success. UNDERCOVER OVERHAUL, another program featuring the cousins, is slated to launch in October.
Break-outs that did draw good numbers, and subsequently a bigger presence on the line-up, include LOVE IT OR LIST IT, FLEA MARKET FLIP, HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION, SCORING THE DEAL and HAWAII LIFE. LOVE IT went from one run a week last year to 4 runs a week this year, bringing ratings success to both Monday and Saturday nights. FLEA MARKET FLIP was back for a second season this March, and despite its unenviable Friday night time slot, it rose to the top fifth of the monthly W25-54 ratings ranker. HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION has been in place on Sunday nights at 10, nicely filling in for its parent programs. SCORING THE DEAL and HAWAII LIFE have already received renewal orders. In fact, HAWAII LIFE launched in January, and has already received two orders for more episodes. The network attributes both programs’ success to their voyeuristic nature, a theme that has always resonated with HGTV’s audiences.
WEST END SALVAGE, YOU LIVE IN WHAT? and REHAB ADDICT are newer programs on the cusp of success. AUCTION AGENT debuted on Friday nights this month, and still needs time to percolate.
Tuesday night’s INCOME PROPERTY, BUYING AND SELLING and PROPERTY VIRGINS are older programs that are starting to show their age. Fortunately, the network is well set up to fill the gaps. Friday nights are a breeding ground for new programs. Specials are rotated in, and those that pop are often turned into series. EXTREME HOMES followed that model, and this month it was drawing strong numbers on Sunday nights.
It looks like HGTV is well set up for ratings growth. The once-staid network has learned to be nimble in the fast-changing marketplace, and has become a fertile breeding ground for successful franchises.