MARCH 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
In a relatively dramatic shuffle for the staid scheduler, HGTV moved HOUSE HUNTERS into the Monday - Thursday 8PM strip in the last week of February, disrupting the long-standing homebuyers 8-9PM hour. Moving the top-rated program from 9PM to 8PM appears to be an attempt to get viewers hooked on HGTV's formulaic lull earlier in the line-up, providing a broader foundation from which to build audiences through the night. PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE remain in their 8:30 slots, with the lone exception of Friday nights, where HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL is now running as a solid three-hour block.
The 9 to 10 slot is primarily filled with the HOUSE HUNTERS and some displaced PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE, with SELLING NEW YORK adding some spice on Tuesdays and Thursdays.. The weekday 10 to 11 slot remains dedicated to HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL, with the lone exception of HOLMES INSPECTION on Wednesday nights at 10:30PM.
Saturday is typically home-design focused, and Sunday features specials and Mike Holmes' programming, thereby drawing more men to Sunday nights.
MARCH 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2011 vs March 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MARCH 2011: HGTV rebounded from a harsh February, but is not up to the peaks it achieved in January. The network is pacing even with last year on core women 25-54, yet is lagging behind on households and younger women.
Despite some talk of a new direction and new programming, HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the name of the game at HGTV. In fact, they have a bigger presence this year than last. The two programs virtually ARE the network, comprising over half the primetime inventory. HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL either starts or ends each block of primetime. Some nights start AND end with them. And yet, they continue to deliver. They comprise 22 of the top 25 telecasts ranked on women 25-54, and new episodes of HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL consistently popped the numbers this month on Thursdays and Sundays, driving up those nights to double-digit increases.
First-time homebuyers programming MY FIRST PLACE and PROPERTY VIRGINS were bumped from the 8PM slot, and are holding their own with slight core demo ratings increases vs. both last year and last month.
Mike Holmes has three programs with HOLMES ON HOLMES in a thirty-minute and a sixty-minute version, plus HOLMES INSPECTION, which debuted in December. HOLMES ON HOLMES was the only program to pull double-digit increases vs. last year. As the only programs to draw more men than women, the franchise brings new viewers to the network as well. And, HOLMES INSPECTION was the only program besides the HOUSE HUNTERS to make the top rated HH telecast list. HGTV promotes Mike Holmes as homeowners' knight in shining armor, but be has certainly come to the rescue of HGTV's ratings as well.
SELLING NEW YORK is another break-out on the network. Back for a second season, the program now receives three runs per week. Women 25-54 ratings grew nearly 30% vs. last month, and the program will soon have its own spin-off with SELLING LA. The program presents the big personalities and high-end real estate that viewers crave.
Design-time Saturday nights' CASH & CARI, DEAR GENEVIEVE, ANTONIO TREATMENT and SECRETS FROM A STYLIST are not faring as well. They are HGTV's four lowest rated primetime programs. With the exception of HOLMES, these are the only primetime programs that do not center on home purchasing. While the hosts all bring distinct personalities to the shows, the content is relatively mild and has a niche appeal. And added to the mix is the fact that they air on one of the least-watched night of the week. Will HGTV continue to hold a place for mild-mannered design shows on a Saturday night?
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
According to HGTV, it's time to move on from recession-minded programming and the housing slump blues. Americans are ready to reinvest even more in their homes, general manager Kathleen Finch told Multichannel News, "and HGTV viewers come to us for ideas because they love their homes and want to make them better." The network is making a move towards luxury -- HOUSE HUNTERS ON VACATION, SELLING LA and MILLION DOLLAR ROOMS are coming. FOR RENT and BANG FOR YOUR BUCK are gone from primetime. Wish fulfillment is an overriding theme, with ROOM CRASHERS and RUN MY MAKEOVER slated for summer, and MY YARD GOES DISNEY in development. Personalities remain an essential programming element, as evidenced by new showcase program HGTV'd. And in a telling statement, HGTV announced that they will "add more than a dozen personalities in 2011," not a dozen shows.
But is it enough to compete with the wave of lux / glam / over-the-top home programming coming from networks like Bravo? Bravo continues to step into the style and home related programming with MILLION DOLLAR LISTING, TOP DESIGN, 9 BY DESIGN, and the newest entrant, MILLION DOLLAR DECORATORS. That show highlights the pressures of the design industry where the wealthy and famous are the clients, and the designers are minor celebrities. This sounds a long way away from HGTV's typical design-time Saturday night programming. We saw TOP CHEF and the slew of cupcake programming redefine the reality food genre, giving HGTV's sister FOOD NETWORK a wake-up call. Apparently HGTV was paying attention to what was going on down the dial. HGTV is working with Bravo's ex-real housewife Dina Manzo on a new weekly party planning series slated to launch in September. Hopefully this and other programs in development will help HGTV step it up before it loses at the game it created.