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).
MAY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2012 vs May 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MAY 2012: If it’s May on TNT it must be NBA. The network had a heavy schedule of playoffs this month, with most nights devoted to basketball. Conference finals gave TNT a record-setting, column-busting 1611% growth on men 18-49 ratings vs. April for Monday nights. We know it has nothing to do with program scheduling and everything to do with The Lakers v Oklahoma, but 1611%? That cannot be ignored.
Bringing us back to earth, bottom-line ratings vs. last year were virtually identical; 2% lower among households, 1% lower among adults 18-49 and 6% lower among adults 25-54.
With all the basketball being played, only 9 of 28 nights were left for regular programming. Only Fridays were basketball-free. The rest of the week was wall to wall basketball. Which does not leave much room for TNT’s programmers. Outside of NBA PLAYOFF CONFERENCE FINALS, NBA PLAYOFFS ROUNDS 1 and 2, and pre and post-game shows, TNT put up movies, BONES and LAW & ORDER.
The featured movie of the month was Edge of Darkness, the Mel Gibson conspiracy theory thriller from Warner Brothers. It pulled average ratings for a new release. The rest of the shortened movie line-up was off its game; down by nearly one-third across the board vs. both last month and last year. Big titles were not rolled out this month. Exceptions were 2 Fast 2 Furious and Inglorious Bastards.
BONES ran a total of 10 times in all of May. Typically it is on TNT’s primetime air more like 10 times a week. Despite the reduced airtime the program boosted its adult 25-54 ratings over last month by 14%. However, it underperformed last year by about the same amount. LAW & ORDER (airing just four times) did not hold up at all, dropping 11% of adult 25-54 ratings vs. last month and 36% vs. last year.
As we said, May is for NBA on TNT. The upside is the huge promotional launch-pad all of those playoff games create. The network was busy pre-promoting its big summer line-up, and NBA helped to launch a new round of programming and the record-setting premieres of DALLAS and FALLING SKIES in June.