JULY 2011 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, although they no longer occupy the 1/3 of the Prime grid, at least, that they did earlier in 2010. They still figure prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. With their imminent departure to Fox Networks in 2012, Spike will be trying to replace their strong demos with new fare.
Sports entertainment series IMPACT WRESTLING (formerly TNA IMPACT) which generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month has returned to Thursday nights from a several-month-long sojourn on Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.
Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy, having recently introduced reality game show REPO GAMES, sitcom BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE and reality series SCRAPPERS and AUCTION HUNTERS. Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network product. Starting October 2011, Spike TV will broadcast two back-to-back episodes of the sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS in prime time twice a week.
In addition they have recently invested in Theatrical acquisitions with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.
JULY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / July 2011 vs. July 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
In July, HH and M18-49 grew for the first time in 18 months, when compared to the previous year, spurred by a week-long STAR WARS stunt, as well as the return of 1000 WAYS TO DIE and DEADLIEST WARRIORS with new episodes. The news is not all good, however, as Friday night's 50% demo growth was largely due to ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED, which will move to competitor FX in January 2012, as part of the overall UFC- Fox deal.
Spike's Median Age grew 4% over last year for the second month in a row - quite a recovery from May's 17% increase over the same period last year. AUCTION HUNTER-dominated Tuesday night's average viewer was 33% older in 2011, compared to a lineup dominated by DEADLIEST WARRIOR in 2010.
July saw a return to "on-the-clock" scheduling halfway through the survey. This strategy better lends itself to schedules dependent on stacking similar length series back-to-back, as Spike now does four nights per week.
Monday's top performers were another repeat of the film WALKING TALL and a stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE, which ran the final three Mondays of the survey. 1000 WAYS TO DIE generally grows from 8-11pm, and the night was up over 12% in the demo from last month, while growing by 1/3 from last year.
On Tuesday, the AUCTION HUNTERS three hour block was interrupted by STAR WARS Week in week 1 and a block of REPO GAMES in week 3. HH and demos were up modestly from last year, and demo delivery was up sharply compared with June.
The return of DEADLIEST WARRIOR was the highlight on Wednesday. The night was up 19% over JAIL-fueled June, but was down the same percentage from last year's MMA-centric lineup.
Thursday's combination of JAIL and IMPACT WRESTLING was up modestly from last year's HH delivery, and June's HH and demo delivery. IMPACT's HH and demo ratings sharply increase its JAIL lead-in at 9pm.
Year-to-year demo delivery in July grew sharply on Fridays, with 33% of the slots filled by ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED. Overall demo delivery was also augmented by the fashion special HOOTERS SWIMSUIT PAGEANT as well as a run of GANGLAND. Numbers were flat with June.
Saturday's UFC 132 PRELIMS was the top Weekend offering, but the movies which ran the rest of the survey under-delivered last year's Saturday offerings, which included THE TRANSPORTER and a much fresher STAR WARS library.
On Sunday, a block of AUCTION HUNTERS led into new series BAR RESCUE the last three weeks of the survey. While BAR RESCUE struggled to hold its lead-in, the new series grew 28% in RM18-49 from week 1 to week 3, despite no growth in the lead-in. The night overall grew in the 15-20% range over last year, when CSI dominated Sunday's line-up.
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.) They are facing the challenge of needing to replace their UFC-related series and specials when the package moves to the Fox networks, including direct competitor FX, in January.
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.