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.

Two returning shows, DALLAS and SOUTHLAND, plus two new shows (medical drama MONDAY MORNINGS and unscripted series BOSTON'S FINEST) will premiere in January and February. Which doesn't sound that extraordinary until you consider that TNT’s long-standing strategy was to run high profile original series 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 typically benches its best shows, saving them for when they can stand out. The net is now aiming to schedule through-out most of the year in 2013.

In addition to the longer programming cycle, there will be 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.

OCTOBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

  HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

     56%

   27%

   38%

Tuesday 8-11pm

       7%

   -33%

  -21%

Wednesday 8-11pm

     20%

    29%

    26%

Thursday 8-11pm

      -5%

    37%

    17%

Friday 8-11pm

    -17%

      5%

    -4%

Saturday 8-11pm

    -30%

    -26%

   -27%

Sunday 8-11pm

     27%

    27%

    37%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

     8%

     5%

   7%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

OCTOBER 2012:  TNT was able to improve its audience over last year, pulling up core adult 25-54 ratings by 7% over 2011 and 9% among women 25-54. The schedule was jam-packed with specials and pre-emptions, visiting programs from other networks, NBA exhibition games and post-season MLB spill-over games from TBS. But in the end it was a strong showing of movies plus the scheduling of a scripted original drama in the fall (MAJOR CRIMES) that made the difference.

By this time last year, TNT had run out of new episodes, and was holding onto the second half of the seasons until December. Last October, Monday nights consisted of LAW & ORDER and another run of the third season of THE CLOSER. This year, new episodes of MAJOR CRIMES are running at 9PM. Although the program dropped audience vs. the less competitive backdrop of the summer premiere, it is outperforming THE CLOSER repeats from last year, and helped pull Monday nights up to the best rated night of the week, 53% ahead of last year’s performance.

Tuesday’s RIZZOLI & ISLES encores did well vs. last month and grew audience from THE MENTALIST lead-in. Core women 25-54 fell by just 5% for the evening vs. last year.

CASTLE (running new episodes of season 5 on ABC) and an MLB game helped push Wednesdays up by double digits over last year. TNT has the rights to air seasons 1-4 of CASTLE and it is settling into the schedule, delivering women 25-54 on par with THE MENTALIST and RIZZOLI encores. It also delivers some of the highest household ratings on the line-up, indicating an older audience.

CASTLE wasn’t the only series that was double timing on TNT. HARDCORE PAWN jumped the cable box from truTV, landing on TNT on Thursday, 10/11 before an MLB division series game. The program underperformed both TNT’s average primetime ratings and tru’s typical average program ratings, particularly among men. A couple of other Thursday nights were prepped for NBA with exhibition games. Coming off the big strike last year, there is nowhere to go but up for NBA on TNT on Thursday nights.

For the most part, Friday through Sunday were filled with theatricals. Overall the movies did well this month, particularly on Sundays. Sherlock Holmes and The Dark Knight helped pulled up the night by nearly 30% for households, men and adults, while Double Jeopardy scored with women on Saturday.

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