TNT Analysis



TNT’s signature original series run Sunday through Wednesday. Off-network procedurals such as 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 recently reversed course in an interview with REEL SCREEN, claiming he is aiming to schedule through-out most of the year by 2013.  The net is planning to do this with a bigger and more well-rounded slate of programming that features reality, competition and maybe even docu-soaps in addition to the usual dramatic scripted fare. The action-adventure reality competitions and crime and investigation formats TNT is going for can be nicely scheduled to complement TNT’s movies and crime dramas.


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




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JULY 2012: TNT certainly has good momentum this summer. Finally finished with the troubled NBA season of 2011/2012, the net was able to focus on its original programming in July. Many of its programs are the top performers in all of cable this summer. TNT continues to push out into new genres with a beefed up in-house programming department, plus a long list of projects that utilize brand name producers such as Steven Bochco, Dick Wolf and Matthew McConaughey. Programs in development sound promising, with a return to the military and global catastrophe themes that have always resonated for the network.

Bottom line ratings comparisons vs. last month are skewed, due to the 5 NBA finals games that aired in June. Compared to last year, total primetime ratings are basically flat.

Interestingly, Turner’s press release claimed “For the summer, TNT's primetime deliveries are up 13% among total viewers, 12% among adults 18-49 and 11% among adults 25-54, compared to the network's performance in summer 2011. Much of the growth is coming from the younger end of the spectrum, with adults 18-34 up 21%.” Our live plus same day numbers from Nielsen are detailed above, and as you can see, that is not the story we are finding. Also, despite claims of a younger audience, among all of the 30 networks that CableU tracks, TNT holds the oldest night with its Monday night audience.

Monday’s top draw this month is THE CLOSER, which debuted mid-month for its final season. (MAJOR CRIMES continues in its footsteps with the same cast, minus Kyra Sedgwick.) In its seventh season, it is still one of cable’s top performers. The program’s three premiere episodes topped the ratings charts on households, but were outpaced on demo. New drama PERCEPTION follows at 10, doing a good job of retaining much of THE CLOSER’s audience, and inheriting the older female skew.

Tuesday hosts RIZZOLI & ISLES plus FRANKLIN & BASH, which is back for a second season this summer. Compared to last year the night is enjoying 39% gains on core women 25-54, but RIZZOLI slipped on that demo while FRANKLIN held. FRANKLIN is topping RIZZOLI on male demos. Still, within the broader spectrum they are nailing it, puling in the top two slots among all of ad-supported cable. Again illustrating that in this crowded cable field, pulling flat to slightly improved numbers is a strong achievement.

On Wednesdays DALLAS ran strong through July, picking up a loyal following. With its season finale in August it also picked up a renewal, set to return in January. TNT claims it is cable’s top new drama based on adult demos, while PERCEPTION (with its older audience comps) is the top new drama based on total audience.

THE MENTALIST and movies ran most of the schedule from Thursday through Saturday, providing some balance. THE MENTALIST aired an impressive 28 times in primetime, effectively displacing LAW & ORDER and CSI: NY. THE MENTALIST draws a more even male/female skew than the other off-net programs, and movies draw a younger audience than most of the line-up.

Sundays are back in play for TNT this summer, as LEVERAGE, FALLING SKIES and THE GREAT ESCAPE fill the night. LEVERAGE and FALLING SKIES pull the best male ratings on the line-up, although they have both dropped audience vs. last year. New competition reality show THE GREAT ESCAPE is still near the bottom of the ratings rankers for TNT. Compared to its premiere month performance in June, it lost about a quarter of its male audience but held onto women.