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TNT Analysis - February 2011 - Broadcasting & Cable

TNT Analysis - February 2011

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FEBRUARY 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

FEBRUARY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2011 vs.February 2010  (% Change)

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-9%

-27%

-28%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-6%

13%

2%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-12%

-19%

-19%

Thursday 8-11pm

14%

22%

16%

Friday 8-11pm

-12%

-21%

-23%

Saturday 8-11pm

13%

16%

14%

Sunday 8-11pm

1%

12%

-2%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

0%

3%

-4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FEBRUARY 2011: TNT is holding ground this month, as bottom-line ratings moved ever so slightly vs. last year, with men nudging up, women moving slightly down and households remaining the same.

There was a lot of programming on TNT's line-up, but it was really all about the basketball. NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND dominated, and NBA overall continued its stellar performance. According to TNT, "the 2010-11 season of the NBA on TNT is the most watched season in Turner's 27 years of airing NBA coverage. Through 44 games, the NBA on TNT is averaging a 1.6 U.S. rating (+31% vs. 1.2 for last year's corresponding coverage); 2,446,000 total viewers (+35% vs. 1,814,000); and 1,821,000 households (+32% vs. 1,379,000). In addition, this season is up 30% in total viewers compared to Turner's next-best regular season audience (1,885,000 viewers for the 1995-96 season)." Not much to add to that, except of course to ask how TNT plans to keep up the momentum through next season and beyond.

Overall, the month was great for men, not so much for women. Monday was not great for anyone, particularly RIZZOLI & ISLES. Monday nights have become home to TNT originals, whether it be premiere or encore telecasts. BONES anchored the night with a back-to-back run from 8 to 10, but it was not holding up. Among its strongest audience, women 25-54, average program ratings were 18% lower vs. January and 16% lower vs. February 2010. At 10PM this month RIZZOLI was re-running its break-out first season, and the numbers were not supportive of that strategy. THE CLOSER has enough inventory and a big enough following to be strong in reruns; RIZZOLI does not. Its numbers were the lowest on the line-up for households, men and adults. It was stronger on women 25-54, but by the end of the month even older women were turning away, with a 43% drop from the BONES lead-in.

There was a bright spot on Tuesdays with the third season of SOUTHLAND showing good signs. The program's young-male skew is a good fit for the TNT line-up, and SOUTHLAND benefits from lead-ins from Turner's vast action-oriented movie inventory. This month Bourne and Four Brothers helped SOUTHLAND, and the show topped last February's first season run by 45%.  The program finished strong, with the season finale scoring its "season-best Live + Same Day delivery with well over 2.3 million viewers, the season's best numbers," (from TNT). A renewal order is predicted by all.

There wasn't much else to talk about for the rest of the week. BONES and basketball dominated both the inventory and the ratings. Theatricals have been a driving force on the network in recent months, but not in February. The stand out theatricals The Dark Knight and Shooter didn't stand out very far.  The average primetime movie performance was down significantly for both men and women vs. both last year and last month.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

NBA has saved TNT's bottom-line this year as original programming struggles to hold up. Their shortened cycles might not be giving audiences enough time to get used to tuning to TNT.  Whether these mini-seasons are due to limited inventory or a defensive anti-broadcast strategy, they appear to be giving both programs and audiences a disservice.

With an official end-date for THE CLOSER, a new era of programming is coming to TNT. Upcoming programs with the most buzz and ratings potential are generation two of DALLAS and FALLING SKIES, the Stephen King science fiction series, both of which are not your standard TNT drama.

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