FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
TLC, which has seldom done topical specials got fantastic numbers with two recently - one about the amazing, all-souls-saved Hudson River crash landing and the other about Tiger Woods' scandalous private life in the wake of his Thanksgiving auto accident. It's hard to imagine that on the heels of these successes execs at TLC aren't talking about getting more into the pipeline. The schedule tends toward stacking by theme or editorial sensibility, rather than by title alone. They do not strip. Only one night is reliably themed: Turbo Thursdays are very male - AMERICAN CHOPPER and BBQ PITMASTERS dominate there, at the moment. Weekends carry mostly one-off hours, off-network newsmagazine reversions and, most recently a few specials.
JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2010 vs. January 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
March can't come soon enough for TLC after a lackluster February. Month-to-month the network was down in all categories: HH - 13%, M18-24 -8%, M25-54 - 17%, F18-24 - 7% and F25-54 -13 %. Yearly comparisons were all positive. Households rose 5%, men in both age groups were up 4% and younger and older women were up 6% and 7%, respectively.
19 KIDS AND COUNTING again delivered the network's best series numbers. The Duggar family delivered about 50% above average Households, driven almost exclusively by women. Men watched in roughly average numbers.
The next-closest series title, TODDLERS & TIARAS, performed by Households almost twenty percent below 19 KIDS AND COUNTING. That's a big spread between #1 and #2 and it derives largely from the loss of men, who were off the network average by nearly 40%. Still, it was 20% above network average in Households.
LA INK found itself very nearly tied with TODDLERS & TIARAS by by a different route. Men watched at nearly twice their normal averages and younger and older women by around +40% and +20%, respectively. Producers, this contraxt raises a useful cocktail party question for your favorite executive: Would he or she prefer better numbers based only on growing their target demo, or would they care to bring some different people into the tent? Answers will vary from network to network, even year to year, but they'll be important to how you focus your new business efforts.
LITTLE COUPLE, with 10 telecasts was only a few points behind LA INK. It was considerably more popular with women than men. Five series titles clustered in-between HH average and ten percent above (# of telecasts in parentheses): FOUR WEDDINGS (1), CAKE BOSS (14), ULTIMATE CAKE-OFF (3), SAY YES TO THE DRESS (6) and DATELINE: REAL LIFE MYSTERIES (3). Two other well know titles, WHAT NOT TO WEAR (11) and AMERICAN CHOPPER (4), delivered somewhat below average HH's.
If it was a disappointing month at TLC, a troubling trend noted in last month's report took a turn in the right direction. The median viewer age was down almost four years to 40.6. That's roughly a year below the average over the previous 18-months, and a year and a half below the average over the last six months. For context, the youngest nights in February were Mondays (33.2 years), with a CAKE BOSS/ULTIMATE CAKE-OFF combinations and the oldest nights were Fridays (46.7 years), with WHAT NOT TO WEAR.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
If this network has had a very, very wild ride in the last 12 months, it's only stronger for it. They rode the JON & KATE PLUS 8 bucking bronco for all it was worth - and as measured by ratings alone, it was worth a lot. While the schedule was an unpredictable mess for a while (it sometimes felt like Jon & Kate & Whatever Else We Have Lying Around), it turns out some solid series were developing or coming into themselves at the same time. 18 KIDS AND COUNTING, LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD and CAKE BOSS. Character-driven family and ensemble casts are in favor here. You'll notice many series are structured to work without a narrator, but this does not suggest lazy production. Good episodes of any of TLC's successful series are driven by very solid, logical, emotional storytelling. An executive with highly respected scheduling skills and development instincts joined upper management here recently. Executives at this network will know what they want, and have a well above average ability to articulate this. Seek them out. Trust what they say. Watch their air carefully. Better still, follow them closely, right here!