TNT Analysis - November 2011

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Sunday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. BONES and LAW & ORDER are dominant on the schedule, trying to hold up the Monday through Wednesday originals.  NBA runs on Thursdays, when it's the season (or when there IS a 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.

MOVEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

   -10%

   -25%

  -20%

Tuesday 8-11pm

 - 33%

   -33%

  -34%

Wednesday 8-11pm

   -17%

   -38%

   -29%

Thursday 8-11pm

  -32%

    -67%

   -56%

Friday 8-11pm

  -24%

   -9%

  -15%

Saturday 8-11pm

   -21%

    -24%

    -20%

Sunday 8-11pm

  -15%

    8%

    0%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

 -22%

  -29%

  -25%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2011: The NBA lock-out continued into November, and continued to deliver serious blows to TNT’s bottom line. Ratings were up ever-so-slightly after last month’s record lows, but were down severely vs. last year. Bottom-line, TNT lost nearly one-third of its male viewers and one-quarter of its female viewers compared to November 2010.

Every  night except Sunday took double digit declines on households and demos vs. last year, and November is never a particularly strong month for TNT to start with. When the broadcast nets are in full swing, such as sweep months or the beginning of the new seasons, TNT benches its best shows, saving them for when they can shine. TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies executive vice president and head of programming Michael Wright said the Turner services typically hold their new and returning series premieres until December and early January to avoid the marketplace clutter. “I’m not that anxious to get into that September to early November period — not that I don’t believe in our programming, but it’s just too crowded a field,” he said. “With all the broadcast premieres and the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to market all of that, it’s not a place where you want to take a newborn and try to have it thrive. I will let others charge that hill for now.” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS) For TNT that strategy is usually given an assist by NBA. In the bridge months of fall and spring NBA tends to take the lead, but this month there was no NBA.

TNT programmers must find live sports events to be a double-edged sword. The high-profile games bring in big audiences, but the young male basketball viewers do not overlap with the older female audience that is TNT’s bread and butter. TNT has had some success converting basketball viewers into TNT movie viewers, but has been less successful at converting them into TNT crime drama viewers. Despite big cross-promotion campaigns, for the most part basketball viewers are there for the basketball, and NBA serves to interrupt the schedule and the program flow.  With this year’s lock-out, programmers were presented with the rare chance to actually program Thursday nights; a night that could help transition audiences from TNT’s weekday crime dramas to TNT’s weekend movies.

So what did TNT’s programmers choose to do with this opportunity? More off-net crime. They created three-hour blocks of CSI:NY. In addition to CSI:NY, TNT was running three other off-net crime dramas: LAW & ORDER; THE MENTALIST and BONES. Together they accounted for 45% of the primetime line-up. THE CLOSER was also in the mix, running four repeat telecasts. Each of these programs was also running last month. L&O showed the best gains, with a 9% jump on women 25-54 ratings, and CSI:NY gained 5% on that demo. BONES and THE MENTALIST showed modest declines and THE CLOSER held steady. But compared to last year THE CLOSER and BONES took 21% and 34% declines, while L&O grew by just 2%.

A single run of LEVERAGE was a strong demo performer, but the best rated telecasts on demo were movies. Best rated titles for men 18-49 were Transformers, Forrest Gump, Shooter and Gran Torino, while the best titles for women 25-54 were Transformers, Forrest Gump and Hitch.

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