Sunday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. BONES and LAW & ORDER are dominant on the schedule, trying to hold up the Monday through Wednesday originals. NBA runs on Thursdays, when it's the season (or when there IS a season), otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and/or a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday and Saturday, plus Sundays when originals are not running.
TNT’s high profile original series tend to run in the summer months and in December, when the broadcast nets are in hiatus or repeat mode. When the broadcast nets are in full swing, such as sweep months or the beginning of the new seasons, TNT benches its best shows, saving them for when they can shine. TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies executive vice president and head of programming Michael Wright said the Turner services typically hold their new and returning series premieres until December and early January to avoid the marketplace clutter. “I’m not that anxious to get into that September to early November period — not that I don’t believe in our programming, but it’s just too crowded a field,” he said. “With all the broadcast premieres and the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to market all of that, it’s not a place where you want to take a newborn and try to have it thrive. I will let others charge that hill for now.” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS).
DECEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2011 vs December 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
DECEMBER 2011: NBA basketball returned on Christmas Day giving TNT a much-needed gift after the extended lock-out. The match-up between The Knicks and The Celtics was cable's highest NBA Dec. 25 delivery ever and fourth best in the medium's history for a regular-season telecast. Ratings for successive games were also strong. But there was a lot of December to get through before NBA returned, and TNT did not play a great waiting game. Bottom-line primetime audiences fell dramatically at the drama network this month….year over year ratings paced 40% behind on men and 20% behind on women.
Monday nights were a bright spot on TNT, with new episodes of THE CLOSER and RIZZOLI & ISLES boosting the night’s audiences across all demos (particularly the older ones).
Tuesdays brought TNT’s newest effort, the weekly TNT MYSTERY MOVIE NIGHT. Reviving an old genre, TNT brings best-selling mystery novels to the small screen backed with big name talent. Unfortunately, the old genre seems to be attracting older audiences. Tuesday nights’ audience was 18% older than last year’s, when BONES and a movie were on the air. While household ratings dropped just 8% vs. last year, 18-49 and 25-54 demos lost about 50%. On the bright side, the program seems to be catching on with women 25-54. Ratings grew among that demo week to week, performing strongest when RIZZOLI repeats were the lead-in.
Tuesday’s MYSTERY MOVIE NIGHT movies aired on two Wednesdays, which no doubt confused the Tuesday branding efforts as well as viewers. The silver lining on Wednesdays was THE MENTALIST, which in its third month on TNT seems to be catching on, as indicated by the growth vs. last month of 36% among adults 18-49 and 19% among adults 25-54.
Of course Thursday nights, without NBA ON TNT took the biggest year over year declines. The young/male skewing games were replaced with older/female skewing CSI:NY. Basketball in general doesn’t do much to help TNT’s programming flow, or provide significant cross-over viewing into the older female audience that is TNT’s bread and butter. But CSI:NY came in near the bottom of the program rankers.
The weekend took double digit declines vs. last year, but did show signs of growth vs. last month. Movies were stronger as TNT was able to tie in to the holiday theme, putting out favorites such as The Wizard of Oz, Four Christmases, Forrest Gump, A Christmas Carol and Fred Claus.
LEVERAGE was back with new episodes on Sunday nights, but the program found itself wedged between two movies at 9PM. It fared a lot better over the summer when it had FALLING SKIES as a companion.