APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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.
PROJECT RUNWAY was a key asset for Lifetime. A network known for movies since the beginning, now has come to expect high quality entertainment scripted shows Unscripted shows, however, hasve always been a challenge for them because it's not part of their brand expectation. So to air one of the top competition reality shows like RUNWAY on cable not only gives them a great series, but also gives them a beachhead in that space and allows them to launch new shows.
MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2010 vs. March 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Compared to April 2009, Lifetime's overall primetime averages were down. Share fell flat and and delivery was down -5%. Women 18-49 were also down -9% in delivery. However, Thursday nights again was the exception. Women 18-49 share was up +92%. Unfortunately, all other nights were down in all key demos. Clearly the double pump of PROJECT RUNWAY has been sustaining the ratings and demos for this key night from one year ago.
Lifetime's primetime monthly average for ratings, share and demo delivery were on par this month compared to last month. Overall share fell flat and delivery was up +1%. With the exception of movies PROJECT RUNWAY was up +92% share and +79% in delivery. Now in its seventh season, RUNWAY has finally found a place amongst the Lifetime viewers. Off-network acquisition GREY'S ANATOMY which was the 8pm prime lead-in to RUNWAY as well as weekday MOVIES were down this month. ANATOMY was down - 6% this month. The prime MOVIE, was also down -5%. The Saturday and Sunday prime MOVIES were down this month despite a few high profile premieres. On two consecutive Saturday nights in April were the premieres of Patricia Cornwall's two NY Times bestseller novels At Risk and The Front. The two dramas were the highest rated movies on the channel this month, and was a great addition for the kind of original movies that have made them a success. Even though Lifetime is curently in a ratings slump - Nancy Dubuc the new programming GM has high hopes to regain the title of the highest rated female targeted network out there. Part of her strategy she has been quoted on, was that Lifetime was built on on "great storytelling and meaningful characters", a tradition she plans on continuing in the future.
ARMY WIVES season #4 premiered on April 11th at 10pm. ARMY WIVES was the highest rated program on the network this month, and a much needed addition to the programing line-up on Sunday nights.
So Lifetime has its work cut out for itself. But with a new programming chief, and the plans to make it more contemporary and competitive, this long standing female targeted network doesn't have any plans on backing down - but rather to regain its position in the marketplace despite all of the competition out there. And we at CABLEU will be out there reporting on it every step of the way!
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Nancy Dubuc, Lifetime's new GM has every intention of bringing back the brand to number one in the ratings - lots of research and investing in originals. Women are the biggest consumer group in the country, and the network has built a brand reaching the average woman.
In the network's first creative package of this kind, Lifetime is serving up a customized sponsorship for Outback in support of the restaurant chain's "15 meals for under $15" campaign and its movie nights. The "Live Adventurous, Love Adventurous" vignettes highlight the custom, co-branded package in which Outback will sponsor Lifetime's airing of theatricals. Lifetime along with other cable networks are doing more and more on-air sponsorships with customized content for both brands.
Lifetime's long-term strategy is to evolve the Lifetime brand to a more contemporary, energetic, relevant place. Lifetime exec Wong indicated that PROJECT RUNWAY was "exactly the shot in the arm" for this kind of programming. However, the declining ratings of RUNWAY has some people wondering. However the decision to air the show against the heart of the broadcasters' fall launches has made it tougher to compete. Lifetime has also commented that they cannot judge the series on a short-term basis. RUNWAY will be a long-term strategic play for them. Reality in general is not part of the brand expectation for Lifetime. Every time they tried to launch a reality show in the past, it was an island on the schedule.
A network mainly known for movies and a brand that has been associated with it forever has now branched out to new new original series not onl scripted but now unscripted which has always been a challenge for them in the past. Unscripted programming will bring Lifetime into a new arena and will be a challenge for them to explore.
They are also looking for more series like DIVA, shows that have a sense of humor, and programming fare that has a lighter, escapist attitude.
At Lifetime's recent upfront for 2009-2010, they have put together a slate of development for movies, scripted and unscripted series that reflects their commitment to growing and evolving the Lifetime brand. Lifetime will ramp up their drama development, comedy and original movies, by producing 12 new original movies for next year.
Lifetime's mission, according to the network's tag line is to "celebrate, entertain and support women." JoAnn Alfano, the network's executive vice president of entertainment, said Lifetime Networks' task is serve a "broad palette" of women with a robust slate of new scripted and unscripted programming and tent-pole movie events on Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network. At Lifetime, with a lot of original programming and varied constituencies to serve, the trick is to remain the "destination for women" while bringing new, younger viewers into the tent.
Lifetime's programming strategy is now all about women having choices. To be able to lose themselves in sitcoms or find themselves via dramas. It's now all about women being portrayed as women whom they can connect with. 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; new artists, writers, hosts, reality & scripted show pitches and digital/new media content. They are also looking for more series like DIVA, shows that have a sense of humor, and programming fare that has a lighter, escapist attitude.