FEBRUARY 2010 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 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.
FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2010 vs. February 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Where Spike's declines in HH delivery in recent months were mitigated by growth for their key RM18-49, February saw a significant decline in that demo on 3 of 7 nights, with the month overall down by nearly 1/5 from last year. Ratings were down 10-15% across the board from last month, as well.
Spike is still shedding older viewers, as the Median Age fell 10% from last February and 6% from last month.
Losses in female demos on 6 of 7 nights also contributed to the continuing decline in HH. With only three consistently scheduled weeknight series Spike depended on specials, scheduling stunts and Movies to populate the February lineup.
Several episodes of CSI were slotted on Mondays this month, weakening the younger male delivery for this night overall. A run of ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED leading into the World premiere Movie FACING ALI provided Spike with its strongest performance of the month for this night.
Tuesday saw the just-premiered off-HBO series ENTOURAGE replaced by a variety of UFC-related programs and a run of DEADLIEST WARRIOR. This led into a double run of the premiering original Spike sit-com BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE at 10p, which remained at its January below-average level for HH and demos, despite its improved (+ 34% over January) 9-10p lead-in.
On Wednesdays the Network's #1 entertainment series 1000 WAYS TO DIE now enjoys a 5-stack from 8-1030p, leading into MANSWERS to round out the lineup. This strategy yielded the highest annual increase for HH and M18-49, and grew slightly over the same block last month. MANSWERS is having an increasingly difficult time holding its 1000 WAYS lead-in, though, and bears watching.
UFC-oriented fare combined with TNA Wrestling to drive Thursday nights. Thursdays are Spike's highest rated night (although Wednesday is catching up) , so the impact of the imminent move of the TNA franchise to Monday in March will be a significant challenge.
Fridays in February offered a more consistent MMA appeal, with the advent of THE BEST OF PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS from 9-11p. These episodes generally improved on their UFC-related lead-in for HH and demos, but were still down considerably from last months mix of series, specials and movies on this night.
Saturday benefited from a couple of UFC oriented specials and series episodes, but was done in by poorly performing Movies and repeats of 1000 WAYS TO DIE and BLUE MT. STATE, leading to the steepest year-to-year demo declines of the month.
Sunday was hurt by blocks of CSI as well as the relocated ENTOURAGE, although it was essentially flat with last month in the demo.
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.