MARCH 2011 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, have always been a challenge for them because it's not part of their brand expectation. RUNWAY a top competition show enabled them to branch out and acquire new reality shows and use RUNWAY as a launching pad for new programs.
MARCH 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2011 vs. March 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Similar to last month, Lifetime expanded its collection of unscripted material with the premiere of COMING HOME. The show, which features reunions of soldiers and their families, is not a thematic stretch for the network. The new show was well received by LIFETIME'S core demographic - it managed to win 13th place on March 20th for ad-sustained primetime cable programming. It was also Lifetime's third ranked show for the month - coming in behind established series ARMY WIVES AND AMERICAN PICKERS.
By telecast, HOME's four premiere episodes were second only to new episodes of WIVES. Together, the two shows made Sundays Lifetime's biggest night of the week and boosted the night 65% from last year.
Last year, Sundays were completely scheduled with movies - this year's shift in programming is an indication of the direction the network is moving.
ARMY WIVES continues to be, far and away, Lifetime's strongest show. The next biggest series - AMERICAN PICKERS had less than half the audience of WIVES. On the same night that COMING HOME made a splash in the ratings (March 20) WIVES came in at a very impressive third place among ad sustained primetime cable programs - following only NCAA tournament games on TNT.
While Lifetime's second place show - AMERICAN PICKERS - paled in comparison to WIVES, it did manage the highest male viewers of any of the network's shows. In fact, not only did the show click with men, the 18-49 male demo surpassed women viewers by a decent margin. The apparent universal appeal of the show helped make Tuesdays a successful night for the network.
As per usual, the network relied heavily on movies - both original and unoriginal - to fill out its schedule. The highest rated of the films aired were, respectively, HE LOVES ME, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and LONG LOST SON. While these films fared respectably, expect next month's topical premiere of WILLIAM AND KATE to make waves.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Lifetime is aggressively expanding its drama series development plate bringing scripted strategy to the forefront. Lifetime intends on ordering additional pilots and scripted series programs.
Exec Nancy Dubuc is putting her stamp on Lifetime's scripted programming lineup, ordering two character-based detective dramas - EXIT 19 and AGAINST THE WALL the first scripted skein ordered by Dubuc since she took over the cabler last year, doubling Lifetime's series slate to four. This is in addition to Lifetime's commitment for six non-scripted shows in the works and is considering original programming for daytime as well.
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.