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 premiered the sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS three nights a week in Prime.
In addition they have recently invested in Theatrical acquisitions with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.
OCTOBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /October 2011 vs. October 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
New Monday to Wednesday strip KING OF QUEENS under-delivered two of the three series it displaced from 8-9pm in October. This performance may account for the reason that KING OF QUEENS was no longer on the Prime pine-up after Week 3 of the survey, and ended up as the 9th highest-rated series in October. Following a third quarter that saw a turn-around of Spike's fortunes with the first year-to-year ratings uptick in 18 months, October saw young men fall faster than HH; the first significant year-to-year losses in 4 months.
This top-line average, though, masks an even more significant problem: eight of Spike's top 20 telecasts came from UFC-related series and specials. Along with all other UFC-related fare, ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED will be leaving Spike for Fox and FX in January, and Spike must scramble to replace its men demos.
The network was down from September in the mid-teen percentages.
Spike returned to "on-the-clock" scheduling this summer, a strategy which remained almost every night in October. Comparing the first Monday of the survey, where a stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE ran off the clock with a similar stack on the final Monday, we find demo ratings were 35% higher on the "on-the-clock" night vs. those scheduled in a more random fashion.
Monday's usual stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE was interrupted by the launch of KING OF QUEENS from 8-9pm on weeks 2 & 3 of the survey. The new series generally equaled 1000 WAYS TO DIE'S HH and demo ratings. The night was down in the 30% range from last month, as well as being down modestly for RM18-49 from last year. A double-feature of the KILL BILL Movies was the ratings highlight for Monday.
On Tuesday, 8-9pm KING OF QUEENS and 10-11pm REPO MEN replaced two hours of the previous AUCTION HUNTERS three hour block for weeks 2 and 3, under-delivering the time period average. Demos were down in the 1/3 range compared to last year and last month.
Wednesday's DEADLIEST WARRIOR was replaced by an uneasy combination of KING OF QUEENS and UFC-related fare, which led to sharp losses from last year, although delivery was up modestly month-to-month.
The return of JAIL 8-9pm on Thursday the last three weeks of the survey combined with IMPACT WRESTLING to bring slight growth over last month. Numbers were down modestly from October 2010. IMPACT's HH and demo ratings sharply increase its lead-in at 9pm.
Year-to-year HH and demo delivery grew sharply on Fridays, with blocks of GANGLAND evincing more M18-49-appeal than that shown by last year's block of CSI and ENTOURAGE. Delivery was up slightly over last month.
Saturday's DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON double -feature of RUNDOWN and WALKING TALL was the top weekend offering by far, with series blocks, movies and UFC specials filling most of the other time periods.