Spike TV Analysis - May 2011

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MAY 2011 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, 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. 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.

MAY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2011 vs. May 2010  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-2%

-22%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-4%

-16%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-28%

-34%

Thursday 8-11pm

28%

9%

Friday 8-11pm

39%

114%

Saturday 8-11pm

-17%

-25%

Sunday 8-11pm

-14%

-26%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-2%

-14%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

In May the key RM18-49 demo dropped for the sixteenth month in a row, when compared to the previous year.   GANGLAND's debut on Friday provided the only dramatic demo growth over May 2010, when Spike featured reruns of CSI  and ENTOURAGE on that night. There was also notable HH growth on Thursday, due to the growth of 8-9pm JAIL compared to THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER from May 2010.

Spike's Median Age grew a considerable 17% over last year, mostly due to new series AUCTION HUNTERS  and REPO GAMES on Tuesday. Tuesday night's average viewer was 57% older in 2011, compared to a lineup dominated by DEA  and DEADLIEST WARRIOR  in 2010,.

Monday's performance was a microcosm for much of the schedule, as demos continued to fall faster than HH, another indication of an aging network. None of the 9pm Movies could hold the JAIL  lead-in.  The night was down modestly from last month.

On Tuesday, 8-9pm REPO GAMES joined a two-hour block of AUCTION HUNTERS, reduced from three hours in April. HH and demos were off slightly from last month, and demo delivery could not compare with last year's DEA/DEADLIEST WARRIOR-driven Tuesday, however.

New 10pm Wednesday series  COAL from April was replaced by repeats of REPO GAMES and other series episodes, as the night declined modestly in the demo from last year, and was down sharply from April.  Year-to-year demo losses stemmed from the fact that the night is no longer a purely MMA offering, as it was in May 2010.

Thursday's combination of  JAIL and  IMPACT WRESTLING was up sharply from last year's HH delivery, and essentially flat with April. IMPACT's HH and demo ratings  sharply increased its  JAIL lead-in at 9pm.

Demo delivery in April grew sharply on Fridays, as a nightly block of GANGLAND  was augmented by a special run of the first two STAR WARS prequels. Numbers were up significantly over April, as well.

A live UFC event was the top Weekend offering, along with a run of the first STAR WARS prequel.

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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