Lifetime's programming strategy is now all about women having choices. Once the cable channel best known for its women in peril flicks, Lifetime has taken the dive into edgy comedies and upcoming tele-novela style melodramas. They look for reality competition shows, game shows, scripted dramas geared to 25-54 demo.
Historically a network rooted in scripted programming, Lifetime has struck a balance between traditional dramas and spunky reality shows. Lifetime parlayed the success of PROJECT RUNWAY into slate of unscripted programming to complement established hits such as ARMY WIVES and, more recently, THE CLIENT LIST.
MARCH 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2013 vs. March 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
This March, Lifetime experienced a 7% month-to-month improvement among women 18 – 49 and 25 – 54. The year-to-year numbers fell the other way: women 18 – 49 and 25 – 54 were both down 6%.
The inverse ratings are partially the result of ARMY WIVES’ return: the show improved upon Lifetime’s overall February ratings but failed to match its own performance from March 2012.
Despite declining season-to-season viewership, WIVES’ did well within the context of the month. The show, which entered into its seventh season, was collectively the most watched program among women in both key age demographics. Sundays, which aired WIVES, were the second most watched night of the week behind Tuesdays and were up 120% from February.
Despite these positive numbers, WIVES suffered its worst premiere ratings and its subsequent March episodes fell below past season averages. Compared to last March, in which the network aired the sixth season’s opening episodes, WIVES was down 27% among women 18 – 49 and 25 – 54.
The most watched telecast among women belonged to DANCE MOMS and all five of the show’s premiere episodes landed within the network’s top ten telecasts. MOMS enjoyed a 14% month-to-month increase in viewership among women 18 – 49 and was flat with the 25 – 54 demo. The show posted no changed among the two age demos compared to a year ago. MOMS was responsible for making Tuesdays the network’s most popular night of the week.
New show PREACHERS’ DAUGHTERS also aired on Tuesday nights following MOM. The show did fairly well among women 18 – 49 but failed to draw in flashy numbers. Viewership for the second episode actually built upon the premiere but subsequent episodes have since dropped.
Following an impressive debut season, THE CLIENT LIST returned this March. Unfortunately, LIST was unable to match its average 2012 ratings. Despite this, the CLIENT remains one of the network’s most successful programs: all four of the show’s premiere episodes broke Lifetime’s top ten telecasts.
PROJECT RUNWAY, which continued its 11th season, was up 13% and 12% among women 18 – 49 and 25 – 54 respectively. Thursdays, which featured premiere episodes of RUNWAY were up 7% in both age demos.
Thursdays also featured DOUBLE DIVAS. DIVAS closed out its first season in March, ending on a relatively high note. While the finale did not match the season’s best ratings, the show was up 7% from the month before.
Of Lifetime’s March movies, Restless Virgins earned the largest audience, finding its high viewership among women 18 – 49.
In the near future, look for the network to expand its scripted comedy slate. DEVIOUS MAIDS – a dramedy originally developed for ABC – has found a home with Lifetime and will premiere on June 23rd.