MAY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
Monday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted 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. This May LAW & ORDER was back, giving BONES some lead-in relief. 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.
With NBA playoffs dominating, pre-empting and interrupting the schedule again this month, scheduling strategies were more about how to schedule regular programming around the play-offs while converting the younger male ratings spikes to the rest of the TNT line-up.
MAY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2010 vs. May 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MAY 2010: With 24 NBA playoff games running on TNT this May, there wasn't a lot of room left for TNT's programming fare. In the five weeks of May, there were just four eps. of LAW & ORDER, one telecast of original SAVING GRACE, eight hours of BONES and 21 different theatricals on the air. The rest was playoffs, pre-game shows and post-game shows.
Regular season NBA was down this year vs. last, and the post-season followed suit. TNT's primetime games earned men 18-49 ratings that were 16% lower than the 2009 post-season performance. This is not good news all around, but a less obvious blow is the fact that TNT uses these games to promote its upcoming summer originals.
Not surprisingly, what was left of TNT's line-up was also down in the ratings. Movies were basically flat, but compared to last year, LAW & ORDER was off by 24% and BONES was down by 37% among core adult 25-54 audiences. NBA games improved vs. last month, as the bracket narrowed and finals loomed closer, but BONES still dropped 30% of its adult ratings vs. April. GRACE's single telecast was down on households but even on demo vs. last month.
In June NBA will be a memory as TNT launches new seasons of LEVERAGE (on a new night) and HAWTHORNE and introduces new program MEMPHIS BEAT. Hopefully the downward ratings trend will be a distant memory as well.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
TNT continues to chase the broadcast networks, claiming its reach, production quality and quantity are on par. The development slate is full of the biggest names in television, and no original program makes it to air without major star power behind it.
TNT has hung its hat on original dramas, yet it is struggling in the field it helped to create. We were promised three nights of original programming year-round, but TNT has not been able to deliver. The net is saving its originals for summer with five returning and two new original dramas programmed from Sunday to Wednesday. Looking at the line-up, THE CLOSER is aging, GRACE is finished, and DARK BLUE and HAWTHRONE were marginal hits last summer. LEVERAGE holds the most potential, but can it stand alone on Sunday nights? MEMPHIS BEAT and RIZZOLI & ISLES are the two new dramas from TNT this summer. At least one of them needs to succeed to keep TNT strong.