THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER and other UFC-related series and specials pop up a lot in different days/time slots, although they no longer occupy the 1/3 of the Prime grid, at least, that they did in 2010. They still figure prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. With their imminent departure to Fox Networks later this year, Spike will be trying to replace their strong demos with new fare.
Sports entertainment series IMPACT WRESTLING (formerly TNA IMPACT) generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.
Spike is retooling its original-series strategy, since AUCTION HUNTERS and FLIP MEN have proven to have more appeal than reality game show REPO GAMES or sitcom BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE. Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network product, although the sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS was pulled from Prime a few weeks after premiering three nights a week in Prime in October 2011.
In addition they have recently invested in theatrical acquisitions with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.
DECEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /December 2011 vs. December 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
In December, AUCTION HUNTERS and 1000 WAYS TO DIE accounted for exactly half of Spike's Prime hours. With both series down sharply from their delivery in 2010, Spike suffered significant HH and/or demo losses on five of seven nights.
There were no significant schedule shifts from November, leaving delivery flat overall with last month.
Monday's stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE lost 1/3 of last year's RM18-49 demo, which was delivered by a mixed bag of series and specials in 2010. The block generally declines from 8-11pm, indicating that the series, in its fifth season, may need a rest. In addition, the key demo was down 20% from the same lineup last month.
On Tuesday, 10pm AUCTION HUNTERS was replaced by a second run of FLIP MEN. The hour of FLIP MEN generally held its demo lead-in, but the night showed the steepest annual declines of any night in December. This is especially troubling as last year's Tuesday lineup was also dominated by AUCTION HUNTERS. Demos for the night were down modestly compared to last month.
Wednesday's UFC-related fare earned the highest ratings for the night, but couldn't prevent losses from last year, when a stronger 1000 WAYS TO DIE dominated the evening. Numbers were flat with November.
Thursday's JAIL/ IMPACT WRESTLING audience was essentially flat with last year and last month.
GANGLAND'S consistent delivery was assisted by the top demo vehicle on Friday, STAR WARS EPISODE II, as the night finished slightly up in the demo.
UFC specials earned top Weekend honors, with a pair of STAR WARS films also doing well in the demo on Sunday, especially compared to 2010's CSI-heavy lineup.