TNT Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT’s signature original series run Sunday through Wednesday. An ever-rotating mix of BONES, LAW & ORDER and THE MENTALIST are dominant on the schedule, leading into the originals, or airing as three-hour stacks.  Action dramas that can draw male viewers such as SOUTHALND and LEVERAGE have been getting movies as lead-ins. NBA runs on Thursdays, when it’s the 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,” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS).

APRIL 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2012 vs April 2011  (% Change)

  HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

    -39%

   -70%

  -61%

Tuesday 8-11pm

   -34%

   -41%

   -40%

Wednesday 8-11pm

    -21%

  -58%

  -46%

Thursday 8-11pm

     -3%

    3%

   -7%

Friday 8-11pm

      9%

    -5%

   -2%

Saturday 8-11pm

      1%

   -13%

  -8%

Sunday 8-11pm

    -35%

   -37%

  -35%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

  -22%

  -33%

  -31%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2012: April means NBA for TNT as the season comes to a head and playoffs loom. The net is almost solely focused on basketball, and holds off on running other high profile, original or high-cost programming. The thing is, this time last year NBA was already in the midst of playoff season. April 2012 featured one night of playoffs on TNT. April 2011 featured five. And so, while regular season basketball held up vs. last year, there was nothing on the air this April that could come close to making up for four fewer nights of playoffs.

Which explains a lot of the 30%+ losses we see in TNT’s primetime performance in the ratings chart above. But it does not explain all of it.

Looking at time shifted viewing, TNT was one of the lowest DVRed networks among the analyzed CableU 30 networks, probably because there wasn’t much DVR-worthy programming on the air. There was not one new episode of an original program running on TNT this month. The bulk of the schedule was filled with off net detective shows and acquired theatricals.

THE CLOSER is still in place on Monday nights, and in its umpteenth rerun it has lost 29% of its core women 25-54 audience from last year.

In this year’s upfront presentation, TNT discussed its strategy of using BONES and THE MENTALIST to drive viewers to its original dramas. Which puts a more meaningful light on BONES’ loss of 23% of its adult 25-54 ratings vs. last year. THE MENTALIST was not on the air last April for comparisons, but it was airing in March with ratings that were about 20% higher than they were this month.

Movies held up, particularly among men. Unfortunately, TNT’s original MYSTERY MOVIE NIGHT did not fare well. Originally touted as a Tuesday night tradition, it was given the graveyard Saturday night shift. It pulled some of the lowest ratings of the month.

TNT didn’t talk about any of this in its upfront presentation. Instead, the network is looking ahead to its new strategy of “evolving from linear television networks into a branded video destination.” This entails “cementing the network's foundation with popular, high-profile acquisitions; expanding our lineup of scripted and unscripted original series to a year-round model; and maximizing multi-screen opportunities” as Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks was quoted as saying in the Turner press release.

In the short term, TNT has nine original series set for this summer, which is more than any other time in the network's history. Among the new series are the remake of DALLAS and TNT's first attempt at a reality-competition show, THE GREAT ESCAPE. In more familiar detective territory, MAJOR CRIMES, spin-off to THE CLOSER and PERCEPTION will also launch this summer, in addition to five returning dramas.

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