Spike TV Analysis - April 2010

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APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER and other UFC-related series and specials pop up a lot in different days/time slots, occupying at least 1/3 of the Prime grid, and figuring prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. Sports entertainment series TNA IMPACT which generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month is moving to Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head, and will be offering live action every other week. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.

Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy.  Spike has been focusing its development slate on comedy as well as drama, in addition to their library of action movies and stunts.   Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network movie product as they have beefed up their acquisition purchases with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.

APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2010 vs. April 2009  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-10%

-16%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-15%

-21%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-13%

-5%

Thursday 8-11pm

-47%

-53%

Friday 8-11pm

-25%

-34%

Saturday 8-11pm

-30%

-28%

Sunday 8-11pm

-25%

-22%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-24%

-25%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where declines in HH delivery in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, for the third month in a row Spike dropped in that demo, this time losing one fourth of younger men compared to the same month in 2009.  HH and RM18-49 declined in April on all 7 nights, but were up slightly over last month. It should be noted that NBA and NHL playoffs began in April, as did Major League Baseball, all of which compete for Spike's demo.

Spike is still shedding older viewers, as the Median Age fell 8% from last April, and 10% from March 2010.

Losses in female demos every night in April also contributed to the continuing annual decline in HH. With only one consistently scheduled weeknight series Spike depended on specials, scheduling stunts and Movies to populate the April lineup.

Spike modified TNA IMPACT's move to Monday last month by moving it to an 8p start the second week of the survey. This allows it to start one hour before USA's similar-appeal juggernaut WWE Entertainment. Ratings for TNT IMPACT improved with the move to 8p, with the demo up 44% from week 1 to week 4 in April. New series JAIL  premiered at 10p and benefited from the TNA IMACT lead-in to become Spike's second highest-rated non-sports series for the demo, behind DEADLIEST WARRIOR. Overall, Monday experienced modest monthly and annual losses.

Big changes on Tuesday, as the new season of DEADLIEST WARRIOR premiered, replacing the second run of ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLIMITED at 9p and BLUE MT. STATE/ PLAYERS from 10-11p. While Tuesday was down modestly from last year, these changes earned growth in the 35 - 50% range for HH and demos over March.

Wednesdays feature a variety of UFC- related fare, with 10p THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER leading the way to HH growth of 1/3 over last month, while M18-49 grew nearly 75%.

Movies combine with repeats of TNA Wrestling  on Thursday nights. Thursdays have tumbled from Spike's highest rated night, to second-lowest for the demo. Both HH and M18-49 were down by 1/3 from March.

Fridays in April featured 8p CSI, followed by a block of 1000 WAYS TO DIE from 9-11p. This resulted in the month's second-steepest demo losses vs. last year, but earned modest month-to-month growth for M18-49, up against 9-11p CSI episodes from March.

Both Saturday and Sunday declined sharply from last year and last month. Repeats of DEADLIEST WARRIOR were the top weekend offering, as none of the Movies stood out this month.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Spike is making a bigger play for its target 18-49 male audience with an increased output of original scripted comedies, focusing on shows with sports themes. January 2010's premiere of BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE  is a good example.

Spike sees itself as an entertainment-driven factual Network aimed solidly at younger men. Much of their Prime line-up is dedicated to physical competition, whether from its Sports division (UFC) or Original Entertainment (DEADLIEST WARRIOR.)

Movies also occupy a significant amount of the schedule, but the concentration is on Theatricals, rather than original M.O.W.'s. In its quest to differentiate itself from its competition, Spike looks to take on traditional genres, but with a twist. Specials about historical warriors have appeared on History, Discovery and National Geographic (all of which Spike counts among their competitors,) but in Spike's DEADLIEST WARRIORS, two different eras and cultures are pitted against each other in a tournament format that puts each unique style to the test. Producers should keep this imperative in mind when developing projects aimed at this Network.

Comedic elements, where germane to the project, are also favored by the Network. One sub-genre that Spike is currently staying away from is Disaster-related fare.

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