TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - January 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of February 21, 2009)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54

JANUARY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

BONES, LEVERAGE, NBA

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT serves up stacks of female-skewing crime dramas Monday through Wednesday, NBA on Thursdays, when it's the season, and blockbuster, mostly-male-oriented theatricals Friday to Sunday. Premiere night of original dramas, when they are running, is usually relegated to Mondays , sometimes Tuesdays (as in this month). LAW & ORDER is the glue that fills in the holes.

In the future, TNT has announced a big move toward originals in primetime. They plan to have three nights (Monday - Wednesday) of original programming, including dramas and non-scripted fare, throughout the year by 2010.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

DECEMBER - JANUARY:

Business as usual with a couple of twists this month, with Tuesday night hosting the original primetime drama (LEVERAGE), a Sunday night special (SAG AWARDS) and NBA airing on one Mondays and just two Thursdays.

PREMIERES:

** January 26, 2009 @ 9PM: THE CLOSER     
** January 26 2009 @ 10PM: TRUST ME (fka TRUTH IN ADVERTISING)

FINALES:

** None announced.

FEBRUARY & BEYOND:

PREMIERES:

** February 13-15 2009: NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND
** February 14 2009 @ 11PM: STAR WARS CLONE WARS makes its premiere on TNT (it ran on Cartoon Network this Fall).
** February 18, 2009 @10 & 10:30PM: STAR WARS CLONE WARS time-period debut
** March 2009: SAVING GRACE

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

TNT's household and male audiences were flat to slightly down this January vs. last, while viewing among women increased by ten percent or more.

There were many forces driving the increase in female ratings this month. There was a big surge in women tuning into NBA games (a trend we have been seeing all season), illustrated by a +66% ratings increase among the 18-49 women. Of course female skewing weekend movies (The Wedding Date, Fun With Dick and Jane) drove female ratings up. And LEVERAGE and BONES, the top-rated programs among women this month were not on the line-up last year.

Viewing among men was slightly down (-4%), primarily due to the female skewing movies on Fridays and Sundays.
Not to be missed in the big TNT picture, LAW AND ORDER experienced serious declines vs. last year. It pulled down the numbers for all demos. On average, this month's 20 episodes took -30% to -40% hits across the board.  For now, LAW AND ORDER is a key component to TNT's Monday to Wednesday strategy, filling in holes and providing lead-in to originals.

JANUARY 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Without THE CLOSER or NBA PLAY-OFFS to pull up the numbers, TNT put in a decent month, its best since September. An exciting NBA game, a surprisingly well-watched block of BONES, a strong (but slipping) original - LEVERAGE, and a solid movie line-up helped out the network this January. Compared to December, household and demo ratings are all up between +7% and +15%. 

Monday nights got huge boosts, but it was mostly due to a rogue week of NBA on Monday (instead of Thursday). A Lakers/Cavaliers game that went into OT on the 19th pulled in the strongest household and male numbers of the month. On the other Mondays, LAW AND ORDER was holding its own among households and women, placing five telecasts in the top twenty. While the program is showing serious slippage vs. last year, it is actually slightly up on demo vs. December, primarily due to the strong Monday night performance.

The focus on Tuesdays is LEVERAGE, the first drama to break out of Mondays and the shadow of THE CLOSER. The program remains a strong performer, coming out as the number two rated program for both men and women this month. It continues to garner critical acclaim and buzz.  The program launched with big numbers in December, and received a quick renewal order. However, just like TNT's original RAISING THE BAR, audience fall-off has been a factor. From the beginning of January to the end of January ratings dropped by -20% to -30%. Compared to last month's five telecasts, ratings are flat to slightly up among women but down more than -15% among men, And so this month the program has a slight female skew, while in its premiere month it skewed male. Perhaps lead-ins with a better fit than LAW & ORDER and movies like Cast Away would help boost the program to its full potential. (Last month's lead-ins included the more fitting Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible). With TNT's vast array of movie titles, there should be something there to help the audience flow.

Wednesdays were a mix of movies and LAW AND ORDER this month. Movie titles were mostly male skewing (Private Ryan, Walking Tall, The Rookie), and audience increased nicely vs. last month, up about 10%.

Thursdays were without NBA for half the month, and audience levels rose across the board vs. December. On New Year's Day a three-hour block of BONES hit it out of the ballpark (I know, wrong sport, but you get the idea), and came in as the top-rated program among women and households and #3 among men. Those three telecasts all placed in the top five household ratings ranking. As a whole, NBA was strong this month, topping December's performance by +82% among core men 18-49. As discussed above, women are watching NBA in bigger numbers this year, although they remain a small portion of the viewers (about 25%).

The weekend was all movies all the time this month, with the notable exception of the live telecast (simulcast with TBS) of the SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS. For the most part, weekend numbers were up versus last month, with a lot of strong titles making their way onto the schedule, including Fast/Furious, The DaVinci Code, Independence Day and Time to Kill for the men, and The Wedding Date, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Monster-In-Law for the women.

ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:

TRUST ME made its debut on Monday, January 26th, with 3.4 million viewers. In its second outing, the show, which stars Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh, scored just 1.9 million viewers, losing about 65% of the lead-in audience from TNT power-house THE CLOSER. (numbers from Variety)

Reviews for TRUST ME have been mixed, with the New York Post quipping: "The series isn't bad. It just isn't all that good."

NBA ALL STAR GAME on February 14th posted single to double-digit viewer growth results from the previous year in various demos: +10% with A18-34 at 2.5 million; +6% among A18-49 at 4.0 million; and +12% with A25-54 at 3.4 million. The broadcast also averaged 6.8 million total viewers. (from TNT)

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

A 2008 prebuy deal with New Line and Picturehouse will bring The Women, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Zac Efron vehicle 17 Again and the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases to the network.

TBS, TNT and their Cartoon Network also signed a 12-title blockbuster deal with Warner Bros. that will funnel 10,000 B.C., The Dark Knight, Get Smart and three other prebuys to their primetime schedules throughout 2010 and 2011.

A $12 million Lionsgate movie package was sold to TNT and sister network TBS, and includes titles such as Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married and Daddy's Little Girls, Bernie Mac's Pride and Bill Engvall's Delta Force.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

LEVERAGE, RAISING THE BAR, SAVING GRACE, THE CLOSER

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING

Programs filling out the rest of the day are primarily off-net one-hour dramas, otherwise known as "Primetime in the Daytime," and include ANGEL, CHARMED, ER, JUDGING AMY, LAS VEGAS and WITHOUT A TRACE.

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