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TNT Analysis - March 2010 - Broadcasting & Cable

TNT Analysis - March 2010

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MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Monday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has vowed to run original series throughout the year. BONES has become a big part of the schedule, trying to hold up those Monday through Wednesday originals. NBA usually runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday through Sunday.

MARCH 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2010 vs. March 2009  (% Change)

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-10%

12%

-9%

Tuesday 8-11pm

30%

11%

10%

Wednesday 8-11pm

37%

11%

13%

Thursday 8-11pm

-21%

-26%

-26%

Friday 8-11pm

22%

9%

7%

Saturday 8-11pm

12%

4%

-3%

Sunday 8-11pm

5%

-10%

-10%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

7%

-2%

-4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

March 2010 was another month with mixed results for TNT. Last month TNT featured the NBA All Star Weekend event programming and the finales of MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE and LEVERAGE.  March 2009 saw the finales of THE CLOSER and LEVERAGE, new episodes of SAVING GRACE and TRUST ME plus encores of STAR WARS THE CLONE WARS. This month's only tent pole event was the premiere of season two of SOUTHLAND (creating a situation without a good platform for cross-promotion, a key element in successful launches). Not surprisingly, bottom-line target adult 25-54 ratings are down; 20% lower vs. last month and 4% lower than last year.

Most of the decline is coming from NBA coverage and theatricals. NBA game ratings are down one-third vs. last month and one-fourth vs. last year. TNT just signed a big NCAA deal...basketball is not about the ratings. (Unless they are up).

There are chick flicks and then there are guy movies. Very few movies have broad appeal to both men and women, and TNT is held hostage to this classic theatrical gender battle. Last year Mission Impossible III was the big debut. This year it is Dreamgirls and Why Did I Get Married. And so we see Friday through Sunday up in the double-digit percentages among women and down in the double-digit percentages among men. You win some, you lose some in the basic cable movie game.

But Monday through Wednesday is where all the programming action lies. At least it was supposed to. TNT promised originals on each of these nights throughout the year. Instead, we get one or two hours of off-net procedural BONES leading into each night's feature. This month it was THE CLOSER repeats from season 5 on Mondays, a new season of SOUTHLAND (taken over from NBC) on Tuesdays and a movie on Wednesdays.

BONES is actually TNT's top-rated program on households, and is a close second on women 25-54, behind SOUTHLAND. Which tells us that BONES skews older and more female than most other TNT programs. Not the best scenario for a lead-in.

In repeats, THE CLOSER is pulling in some of its lowest numbers in recent history, down 20% from the March 2009 run. It is actually underdelivering the network average on households and core women 25-54 ratings.

SOUTHLAND premiered to solid numbers on March 2nd, but numbers settled down quickly, and the program is proving to have an older female skew, delivering numbers well below other TNT originals. On the bright side, it is double last year's (cancelled) Tuesday night original TRUST ME, and DVR usage is reportedly spiking audiences by 50% (The Wrap).  The program finale was on April 20th. According to TNT, during its second season it averaged 2.7 million total viewers; 1.4 million A18-49 viewers and A25-54 viewers. After the series ran its course, TNT renewed it, asking for 10 new episodes scheduled to start January 2011.

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