TNT's programming line-up has never been particularly cohesive, with live sports programming appealing to young men, off-net procedurals and original dramas appealing to older women and action movies and westerns skewing male. Still, it all hangs together under the “Drama” banner, and careful scheduling usually lets viewers know when to tune in for the programs they want to see.
TNT’s signature original series run Sunday through Wednesday, when they are running. Off-network procedurals such as THE MENTALIST are dominant on the schedule, leading into the originals, or airing as three-hour stacks. 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 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, including the broadcast networks' peak seasons.
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 neatly scheduled to complement TNT’s movies and crime dramas.
APRIL 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2013 vs April 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2013: TNT had a lot going on this month as NBA playoffs went into action. Typically, TNT backs off from original fare when NBA is in the post-season, using the added audience to help promote marquee programming that launches when NBA is over. Last April the only original on the air was THE CLOSER, and it was in repeats. But this year four originals were on the air right up until playoffs began. AND, there was no filler program – THE MENTALIST, LAW & ORDER and BONES were all missing from the April line-up.
None of the four originals on the air this month were flat out hits. The most successful of the batch was undoubtedly DALLAS. Coming off last month’s highlight of JR’s funeral, the average monthly rating is actually up by 2% this month, helped by the well-received two-hour finale. However, the show is delivering well below its freshman season from the summer of 2012. The argument could be made that the serialized soap is better suited for summer, but for now, TNT has announced the show will return in early 2014.
Announcements have not yet been made for the three other originals. MONDAY MORNINGS, which incongruously follows DALLAS on Monday Evenings, looked like a flop at first but has been steadily gaining audience. It is the lowest performing program on the line-up among men, but it is the second best on women 25-54 (behind DALLAS). It still loses a big chunk of DALLAS’ audience, but it is a very different show, with a different mood, format and content.
On the other hand, the male-skewing, like-themed Wednesday night combo of BOSTON’S FINEST and SOUTHLAND is a great fit. Unfortunately, neither of them is thriving. BOSTON’S FINEST took deep ratings losses, down 31% on households and 20% on men 25-54 vs. its weak March premiere month performance. SOUTHLAND did perk up, gaining audience vs. March for the second month in a row (up 12% among men 25-54), but it is still below previous levels, and three of the four main actors have committed to other pilots.
CASTLE is the lone network acquisition running in TNT’s primetime this month, but with all the basketball on the air it was pre-empted more often than it ran. The eight telecasts that aired this month held core women 25-54 ratings vs. last month, when there were 17 telecasts, also disrupted by basketball.
Movies play a lesser role over at the drama network, and never more-so than when NBA takes over. The highest rated (adult 18-49) movie, 9 year-old National Treasure, came in at #21 among all TNT telecasts for the month.
Not to be set off course, TNT is in active development (and production) on a long slate of new series. Big announcements will most likely be held until the network’s upfront event, slated once again to run the same week as the broadcast nets, on May 15.