TNT Analysis - September 2010

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SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Monday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. With the June addition of LEVERAGE, Sunday night features original programming as well. 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/or a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday through Sunday.

SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

80%

65%

68%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-10%

-24%

-16%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-2%

-20%

-17%

Thursday 8-11pm

9%

-24%

-6%

Friday 8-11pm

-4%

2%

2%

Saturday 8-11pm

20%

12%

16%

Sunday 8-11pm

-1%

-14%

-12%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

17%

-2%

5%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

SEPTEMBER 2010: TNT wound down its summer schedule this September and began to gear up for winter. September is a tricky month --- do you go up against the broadcast nets' new seasons, or do you program around the hoopla? Two Septembers ago, the Writers' Strike forced TNT to launch RAISING THE BAR in September, with some new CLOSER episodes for support. Results were mostly good. Last September, TNT reran many of its summer originals in September. Results were mostly bad. This September, four programs finished up their summer runs in the middle of the month, avoiding the broadcast nets' premieres. Results were...mixed.

Compared to last year bottom-line numbers were up, although household increases (+17%) far outpaced the demo gains. Core women 25-54 rose 12%, primarily on the strength of Monday nights' originals, but men were slightly down, despite some strong movie showings.

THE CLOSER and RIZZOLI AND ISLES raised the bar on Monday nights with big ratings, particularly among older women. The final three episodes of each program comprised the top six telecasts of the month among women and households. Monday is leading TNT's climb towards an older audience as well, with a median age that is approaching 60. Without Monday nights, TNT would have seen significant decline this month.

DARK BLUE finished up on Wednesdays, doubling up in the last couple of weeks, and thereby avoiding broadcast network competition. When there were new programs running back to back, ratings improved markedly. Which supports the companion programming theory we put forth here last month - TNT's dramas improve when they are running together with other dramas.

Which brings us to LEVERAGE, running between movies on Sunday nights. LEVERAGE ended its run this month as well, with solid improvements over last month for its mid-season finale. LEVERAGE is one of TNT's top rated programs, and has a more balanced male/female skew than the Monday night fare. Even so, its Sunday night run was a mixed success - it's not easy to run between movies on a Sunday night. Movies can be male or female skewing, with an older or younger appeal, depending upon what is on the docket. Not an ideal environment for consistent lead-in / lead-out stickiness.

BONES and LAW & ORDER continue as the placeholder programs, filling in holes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays wherever movies and originals are not on the air. Both programs are showing some wear-out among core women 25-54, particularly BONES with a 12% drop from last month and a 27% drop vs. last year.

With no basketball, the last component of TNT's line-up is movies. 10,000 BC and I am Legend were new this month, helping to pull up men 18-49 ratings. A couple of runs of reliable Lord of the Rings and Shooter helped as well.

And so we see the schedule reverting back to the dichotomous older women at the beginning of the week, younger men at the end. October and November will be low-key for TNT as it gears up for part two of its originals season, launching in December.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

This summer, TNT seemed to be treading water rather than pulling ahead. Despite finding success with most of its originals, the aging audience and the weight of its off-network procedurals pulled the network down. The competitive movie after-market is taking its toll on weekends as well.

But things could easily turn around in the winter. New episodes of LEVERAGE, new seasons of MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE and SOUTHLAND and the launch of FRANKLIN & BASH should all help to bring younger audiences and men to the network. If they could figure out how to carry the NBA audience into the rest of the week, TNT would be golden.

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