TNT Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

AUGUST 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

  HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

    -6%

   -18%

   -16%

Tuesday 8-11pm

     6%

     6%

     4%

Wednesday 8-11pm

    -4%

      5%

    12%

Thursday 8-11pm

    -8%

    -35%

   -31%

Friday 8-11pm

    -1%

     -19%

   -14%

Saturday 8-11pm

    -5%

      -9%

    -7%

Sunday 8-11pm

   -26%

     -19%

   -18%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

   -7%

     -13%

   -12%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

AUGUST 2012:  With four nights of original programming TNT was running full throttle this month, trying to navigate through the increased competition from its cable rivals and around the “most-watched television event in U.S. history,” the 2012 Summer Olympics. Results were mixed, as the net was able to break several records of its own, while also hitting some serious hurdles. In the end bottom-line primetime ratings were down vs. both last year and last month.

But as much as any network, it is hard to judge TNT on its bottom line. With big-ticket sporting events coming in and out of the schedule and different target audiences and strategies for different nights of the week, average primetime ratings fail to give a good picture of how the network is doing.

Mondays are TNT’s night for capturing big ratings for older women. Seven seasons ago THE CLOSER started the scripted original drama success on TNT, and this August the program came to an official end. MAJOR CRIMES was all set to take its place, in the same time slot, with the same older skewing audience, and the same cast, minus Kyra Sedgwick.  According to TNT’s time-shifted viewing data, “the Aug. 13 finale grew to a final tally of 11,212,000 viewers, making it the most-watched series finale in basic cable history. On a household basis, the finale scored a 7.2 national HH rating, making it the highest-rated series finale in cable history. Meanwhile, the Aug. 13 premiere of TNT's new series Major Crimes climbed to 9,453,000 viewers, making it basic cable's biggest new series launch ever. In terms of household rating, The Closer now stands ahead of the series finales of The Sopranos (6.7 rating); Sex and the City (6.5) and Monk (6.1).”

Compared to last year, Monday night ratings were off 6% on households and 21% on women 25-54. When MAJOR CRIMES took over the regular 9PM timeslot the following week, its ratings hit below THE CLOSER’s benchmark, and lead-out program PERCEPTION delivered its lowest women 25-54 ratings to date, without The Olympics to compete with.

Tuesdays brought another good-news / bad-news night as RIZZOLI & ISLES and FRANKLIN & BASH helped push ratings vs. last year into the positive column, even as the night lost nearly one-third of its viewers vs. last month. Part of that certainly has to do with The Olympics in the first two weeks, and with the programs coming to an end and being replaced with BONES in the last week of August. Both programs did show improvements vs. last year, which is a considerable accomplishment in this landscape.

Wednesdays were all about DALLAS, which was running at 9PM, sandwiched between THE MENTALIST. The season finale on August 8th pulled strong numbers for DALLAS, and its two runs this month put it as TNT’s top-rated average program on women 25-54 (yes, ahead of THE CLOSER!). Imagine how it would have done with a stronger companion program on a non-Olympic night. The soap is scheduled to return in January for a new season, which is notable because TNT usually prefers non-competitive December for its mid-season. Obviously TNT feels DALLAS can hold its own against the competition.

Thursdays are strongly branded as NBA night on TNT, except when it is not the season. THE MENTALIST has been filling the spot, drawing some of the lowest ratings of the week. Friday and Saturday movies did not fare well either in the face of all the competition on the air.

Sunday brought more original programming with LEVERAGE, FALLING SKIES and THE GREAT ESCAPE. Compared to the rest of TNT’s line-up, Sunday brings a younger and more male audience to the net. LEVERAGE is holding strong, delivering very similar ratings to last year’s performance. FALLING SKIES is the clear leader for male and adult 18-49 ratings on TNT. However, THE GREAT ESCAPE, TNT’s big leap into reality competition, continues to sit at the bottom of the ratings heap, dropping about 20% of its audience vs. last month. Still, TNT says it is not disappointed with the ratings, and has announced some other reality programming in development. No announcements for another season though, while LEVERAGE and FALLING SKIES have both received their renewal orders.

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