Spike TV Analysis - November 2010

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NOVEMBER 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 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 sit-com 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.

NOVEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-22%

-31%

Tuesday 8-11pm

16%

-15%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-30%

-33%

Thursday 8-11pm

-8%

-6%

Friday 8-11pm

-29%

-40%

Saturday 8-11pm

-13%

-19%

Sunday 8-11pm

6%

19%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-10%

-21%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where losses in HH delivery experienced in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, in 2010 this key demo has now dropped for the tenth month in a row. While October saw three nights move into positive territory for HH ratings, with two of those enjoying demo growth as well, November's numbers were only up across-the-board on CSI-driven Sunday. Delivery was essentially flat with last month.

After shedding older viewers in early 2010, Spike  experienced the opposite over the past few months, although with  October up only +1% and November +2% in Median Age compared to last year, the aging trend may be slowing.

This overall aging tendency, though, could explain why RM18-49 continued to fall faster than overall HH ratings in November.

Monday's mix of movies and CSI and consistently earned the lowest HH and demo ratings compared to this month's average Prime delivery for Spike. The night was down slightly from October in the demo, when UFC FIGHT NIGHT filled the 8-9pm slot.

Debuting at 10 and 1030 on Tuesday was original reality series AUCTION HUNTERS, which grew 14% in HH and the demo from its first to third week in the time period. The new series seems compatible with top non-Sports lead-in 1000 WAYS TO DIE, delivering more M25-54 with similar numbers for younger men on this night.

Wednesdays were hurt by two hours of DEA, which replaced the declining ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED on Thanksgiving night.  8-10pm ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED is itself down by 20% in HH and 25% in RM18-49 from November 2009, leading to similar losses for THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER at 10pm. Wednesday ratings were down in the 20% range from October, as well.

TNA Wrestling's HH and demo ratings dropped slightly from October and last year, while continuing to sharply increase its new GANGLAND lead-in at 9pm. GANGLAND itself was down 20% in the demo from its debut average last month.

Fridays in October were dominated by a 3 hour block of 1000 WAYS TO DIE, replacing the under-performing ENTOURAGE, leading to the month's steepest monthly growth, with year-to-year losses not nearly as severe as those from last month.

Weekends featured UFC specials and series blocks slotted around Movie presentations. Sunday's growth was spurred by blocks of  CSI and a couple of STAR WARS films.

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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