DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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 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, however, retooling its original-series strategy. Spike will be 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.
DECEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2009 vs. December 2008 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Spike's decline in HH delivery on 4 of 5 weeknights was mitigated by the fact that ratings for M18-49 grew each weeknight. Spike is still shedding older viewers, as the Median Age fell 13% from last December.
Losses in female demos every night, with the exception of Wednesdays, contributed to the continuing decline in HH. With Thursday's two-hour TNA IMPACT the only consistently scheduled weeknight series Spike depended on specials, scheduling stunts and Movies to populate the December lineup.
While Monday nights were driven by UFC-related fare during previous months, in 4th Quarter 2009 this night was dominated by Movies, with perennial favorite FORREST GUMP leading in ratings, for the third month in a row. Facing the powerhouse demo competition of Monday Night Football, this night continued to be the softest weeknight for RM18-49.
Tuesday saw a mixed bag of series and specials anchored by multiple runs of UFC-related material, which dominated the night for HH and demos. A block of MANSWERS and 1000 WAYS TO DIE also scored well during Xmas week.
UFC-oriented fare also dominated Wednesday night, leading to the steepest annual demo growth for any weeknight in November. On two nights, UFC programming led into blocks of MASWERS and 1000 WAYS TO DIE, which held of increased their strong lead-in. Two of the STAR WARS films (Episodes I & II, another strong Spike Movie franchise,) scored above average for HH and demos as well.
Wrestling continued to drive Thursday nights, although 9p TNA IMPACT was down slightly month-to month, as was its UFC lead-in. A Xmas Eve block featuring two of the original STAR WARS Movies (Episodes IV & V) did not perform as well as the previous night's combo.
Friday continued to offer a mixed bag of scheduling blocks, with a UFC: BEST OF 2009 leading the way, as the night improved the core demo by nearly 1/3 from last year.
Saturday benefited from the season finale of ULTIMATE FIGHTER, with that episode out-distancing the Network's average delivery for M18-49 by 440%.
While CSI earned decent HH numbers on Sunday, the series' weakness among younger men leads it to deliver barely 50% of this month's Prime average for M18-49.
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 s 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.