TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - November 2008 - Broadcasting & Cable

TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - November 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of December 20, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54

NOVEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

RAISING THE BAR, THE CLOSER, LAW & ORDER,  NBA

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT usually 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, has been relegated to Mondays for now. 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:

OCTOBER - NOVEMBER:

TNT basically gave us the same line-up this month vs. last. On Mondays THE CLOSER (still in repeats) ran just one time as a lead-in to RAISING THE BAR before that program had its marathon and season finale on November 3rd. After that was over, Mondays were back-to-back runs of LAW & ORDER followed by a BONES. COLD CASE appeared one Wednesday night, and NBA was back on Thursdays (and one Tuesday).

NOVEMBER:
PREMIERES:
** NONE

FINALES:
** November 3 @ 10PM: RAISING THE BAR

DECEMBER & BEYOND:
PREMIERES:

** December 7, 2008: LEVERAGE preview
** December 9, 2008 @ 10PM: LEVERAGE time period premiere
** January 26, 2009 @ 9PM: THE CLOSER     
** January 26 2009 @ 10PM: TRUST ME (fka TRUTH IN ADVERTISING)
** March 2009: SAVING GRACE

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
TNT'S bottom-line Monday through Sunday prime barely moved this November vs. last, as household ratings fell just -1%, men 18-49 and 25-54 rose +3% and +4%, and women 18-49 and 25-54 showed no change.

The signature programming on the air this month was on Monday nights -THE CLOSER and RAISING THE BAR. Men are losing interest in THE CLOSER (in repeats), younger women are indifferent and older women are loyally tuning in more than ever, compared to last year's repeat run of the show. RAISING THE BAR wrapped up its first season, and it was clearly preferred over THE CLOSER's repeat lead-ins by men (by more than one-third). Women 18-49 ratings were about even for the two shows, and women 25-54 preferred THE CLOSER repeats by about 15%.

LAW & ORDER continues to show wear, losing about 10% of its ratings vs. last year. However, it was clearly preferred on Tuesday nights over last year's COLD CASE offerings (by about +20%).

NBA is back in season, and shows a slight drop in core men 18-49 (-7%), but gains among women 18-49 (+29%) vs. the opening month of last season.

Movies, stepped in, enjoying a better holiday spike than usual. They gained traction with men and were about even on women compared to last November.  This includes Wednesday's showing and the weekend Friday through Sunday runs. And so, it was the theatricals that helped the network keep its bottom line steady versus year ago.

NOVEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
TNT recovered nicely from a lackluster October, bringing up the bottom-line ratings by +15% for households, about +5% higher for women, +39% for men 18-49 and +35% for men 25-54.

Of course most of this increase comes to TNT with the start of the NBA season. NBA spiked the numbers, especially the male numbers, as the net aired 6 nights of basketball this month (Tuesday the 28th, tipping off the season, and every Thursday, including Thanksgiving).

Let's take a look at the night-by-night to see how programming fared this November.

On Mondays RAISING THE BAR ran the first two weeks. The program started strong with its Labor Day debut, breaking all kinds of TV and cable records, but by the time it ended on November 3rd, it lost quite a bit of that audience. In fact, comparing the finale to the debut, RAISING THE BAR lost -73% of its household audience, -60% of its male audience and -75% of its female audience. The program's finale was not THE lowest rated of the ten eps, but it was among the lowest.

The issue-at-hand is the lead-in. RAISING THE BAR started with new episodes of THE CLOSER as a lead-in, and it did really well. Then THE CLOSER went into repeats, and the program took a dive, although there were signs of life when occasionally the demo audiences (especially men) built off THE CLOSER. The finale's lead-in was a marathon of the whole series, so it led into itself. Audiences for the finale were lower than the week before when the lead-in was a CLOSER repeat. Which is a long way of asking: can TNT launch and maintain an original series without the strength of THE CLOSER behind it?

We're about to find out with LEVERAGE, TNT's December debut. That program launched with the strength of THE LIBRARIAN as a lead-in, but then goes out alone on Tuesdays. The network's future is literally at stake - how can it program three nights of originals with only one successful stand-alone?

After RAISING THE BAR ran its course, the net programmed back-to-back LAW & ORDERs and BONES. That line-up performed better than the original series. For the month, the night was off versus October - down -9% on household ratings, down -18% on people 18-49 and down -9% on people 25-54.

Tuesdays' three-hour blocks of LAW & ORDER were sandwiched with NBA at the beginning of the month and a back-to-back run of COLD CASE at the end of the month. NBA numbers skewed the night's numbers, performing well above L&O, but COLD CASE could not match the evergreen franchise. While L&O has shown about a ten percent decline vs. last year, it is flat to slightly up in the ratings vs. last month.

Wednesdays were a mix of LAW & ORDER and movies, both this month and last, but this month was up +9% on households and down as much as -21% on men 18-49. Median age increased by +15%. Movies were more to blame for this change than anything, with selections like Sahara leading the demo decline.

Once again, Friday through Sunday is all about the movies. While Wednesday's movies weren't big hits vs. last month, the weekend enjoyed incredible increases. Every demo on every night rose significantly, as high as +70% for men 25-54 on Sundays. Successful titles included Independence Day, The Da Vinci Code, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, The Guardian and Twister.

ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:

On Sunday, December 7th, telepic "The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice" produced winning numbers for the net. The third installment of the "Librarian" franchise, which stars Noah Wyle, drew 5.4 million viewers, according to Cable Fast Nationals.

And on the same night, LEVERAGE premiered with a 3.6 coverage household rating/3.1 national household rating. The series premiere was watched by 4,987,000 viewers; 3,516,000 households; 2,059,000 adults 25-54; and 2,641,000 adults 25-54. LEVERAGE scored TNT's best delivery ever of adults 18-49 for an original series telecast during the broadcast season, according to TNT.

ACQUISITIONS:

TNT and sister network TBS are joining the crowds on signing up for theatrical prebuys, locking up the cable-TV rights to four high-visibility movies set for release by New Line and Picturehouse later this year: The Women, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Zac Efron vehicle 17 Again and the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases.

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.

The Clone Wars, the CGI Animated film debuted August 15th 2008 was slated to become a weekly series on both Cartoon Network and TNT this fall, but so far only Cartoon Network has the program on its schedule.

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:

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, LAS VEGAS and WITHOUT A TRACE.

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