APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
Sunday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. BONES and (usually) LAW & ORDER have become a big part of the schedule, trying to hold up those Monday through Wednesday originals. NBA runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and/or a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday through Sunday.
APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2011 vs. April 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APRIL 2011: With six regular season and twelve post-season NBA games hitting TNT's primetime this month, there wasn't much left beyond basketball. NBA was strong in April, as it has been all season, and TNT's ratings climbed to impressive heights. Bottom-line men 18-49 ratings were a full 18% better than last year, and the network's median age dropped 5%. Unfortunately, the formula for translating event audiences into regular viewing audiences still has not been found, and what was left of TNT's line-up was forgotten on the sidelines.
BONES was the other dominant player on TNT, with 32 primetime telecasts. Ratings were down by less than 10% vs. March, but they dropped an overwhelming 23% on adults 25-54 vs. last April. Right now, BONES is the foundation for all of TNT's originals and most of its movies. Fading ratings are a troublesome sign.
The three season-six encore telecasts of THE CLOSER airing this month produced the same average adult 25-54 rating as BONES. THE CLOSER is now a Monday night staple on TNT, running nearly all year long at 9 or 10PM. It still produces some of TNT's best ratings, but the numbers are slowly slipping.
Movies were the other programming element on TNT this April. Tuesday night was host to theatricals (when there was no NBA), prepping the night for the upcoming TNT Mystery Movies that are in development. In a good sign, movies were able to build on BONES' audience.
The big weekend feature movie this month was Get Smart. Perhaps more suited to TBS' comedy brand than TNT's drama brand, Get Smart underperformed the 16-movie average of the TNT BIG PICTURE MOVIES skein. And the BIG PICTURE MOVIES underperformed last year by about 20% and last month by 10%.
So, while NBA racked up the ratings for TNT, TNT's regular programming took a downturn. NBA playoffs continue through May, and then TNT starts to break out its long slate of originals plus a few new series. Hopefully audiences will come back to TNT when fresh programming is there for them. High profile sports events bring guaranteed audiences, but they also bring guaranteed interruptions in the programming cycle.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
For upfront season this year TNT once again introduced a long list of programming initiatives backed by an impressive slate of Hollywood talent. But TNT is broadening its scope -- science fiction, soap opera serials and reality / documentary are all part of the development mix this year. Original Tuesday night movies are a return to its roots, and the continuation of THE CLOSER via MAJOR CRIMES will feel familiar to audiences.
What is TNT going for? As Michael Wright, executive vp/head of programming at TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies put it, "great characters, intriguing stories, smart sense of humor and explosive action." He went on to say "We understand that exceptional programming comes from working with exceptional talent. We hire the best actors, actresses, writers, producers and directors in the business, give them a clear creative target and then try to get out of their way and let them make terrific television."