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TBS Analysis - March 2011 - Broadcasting & Cable

TBS Analysis - March 2011

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MARCH 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Monday night starts the week with a strong FAMILY GUY block. After months of fading ratings. Tuesdays are once again where THE OFFICE can be found, but without a FAMILY GUY lead-in this time around. Wednesday is the female skewing night, with Tyler Perry programming and ARE WE THERE YET? bringing women and African-American viewers to the network. Thursday and Friday are mostly about movies, with FAMILY GUY occasionally leading in or out. Weekend prime is also all about movies, but can also house network specials.

MARCH 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

LIVE PRIMETIME RATINGS COMPARISON March 2011 vs. March 2010 (% Change)

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-13%

-5%

-23%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-16%

-14%

-14%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-32%

-8%

-43%

Thursday 8-11pm

46%

124%

-17%

Friday 8-11pm

12%

19%

-14%

Saturday 8-11pm

19%

12%

16%

Sunday 8-11pm

2%

-15%

15%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

1%

9%

-15%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

MARCH 2011: TBS' bottom-line ratings were strong this March. February produced the worst numbers TBS has seen in nearly five years, but March was right back up at top-tier numbers. What happened? We can tell you in four letters: N-C-A-A. College basketball championships ran on six different nights on TBS, and helped push men 18-49 bottom-line numbers up to levels the network sees only when MLB play-offs are airing.

Unfortunately, the strong viewing didn't carry over to women. Women 18-49 numbers were up slightly vs. February, giving March the SECOND worst women 18-49 numbers TBS has seen in nearly five years.

Starting with Mondays, FAMILY GUY is holding its core, with men 18-49 up slightly vs. last month and down slightly vs. last year. FAMILY GUY continues as the single highest rated program offered by TBS. This month it was number one among women, a spot usually held by one of the Wednesday night programs.

After a brief hiatus, Tuesdays are in their second month of a back-to-back run of THE OFFICE. The program is important for keeping younger male viewers tuning in to the net, but it is not doing its job as well as it once was; THE OFFICE is off by just over 10% vs. both last month and last year. Again, we see that the program is strong among men, but not strong enough to hold up a whole primetime block on its own.

TBS' women fell dramatically vs. last year, but the bad news is that the biggest drops cannot be blamed on basketball, which ran on Thursday through Sunday. Women 18-49 took a 23% drop on Mondays, and a devastating 43% drop on Wednesdays. The worst hit of Wednesday night's female-skewing programming triumvirate was HOUSE OF PAYNE, which took a 49% hit vs. last year.

Confusing FAMILY GUY with duct tape, TBS sent FAMILY GUY to Wednesday nights, hoping the raunchy male-skewing cartoon would stop the leaking and patch up its night of female, African American skewing sitcoms. FAMILY GUY ran from 8 to 9PM the last two weeks of the month, which brought more men, less women and one confused analyst (that would be me) to the night.

FAMILY GUY also came into play on Thursdays where it started the night and led into male-skewing movies. Not surprisingly, this worked better than the FAMILY GUY / female-skewing DINNER & A MOVIE combo the net has been running on Fridays. When college basketball wasn't on the air, the rest of the week was devoted to movies. The best-rated titles of the month were FORREST GUMP, THE HOUSE BUNNY, and WEDDING CRASHERS, but they took a backseat to FAMILY GUY and NCAA Championships.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

TBS primetime is heading downhill. Is there anything out there that can turn things around? As the network tries FAMILY GUY on nearly every night of the week, it's increasingly obvious that TBS needs another hit program, and quickly. A female-skewing comedy might be the missing link that the network is lacking.

TBS' strategy is for Conan O'Brien to become the comedic voice of the network with the rest of the programming rallying around his latenight show. Unfortunately, comedy is one of the toughest genres to get right. Hitting the right tone, particularly in the one-hour format TBS is going for, is not a high percentage game. But that is the gameplan for now.  THE WEDDING BAND, IN SECURITY and HOUND DOG have all gone to pilot, and will play in the next round. Will TBS find its winning formula? So far it has had a lot more success with acquired programming.

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