TruTV Analysis - June 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


Original series dominate TruTV's primetime schedule.  The only acquired program is COPS.  There are no thematic evenings distinct from one another, rather a relatively even distribution of original series.  A heavy reliance on OPERATION REPO, comedic video clip properties, and a handful of other series dominate the schedule.

As new series are introduced to the schedule, the network created a few generic slots across the week for repeats.  The additional exhibitions in short bursts of 2-4 weeks give their new titles a chance to gain recognition with the casual viewer.  When a series does break out, like OPERATION REPO, they have moved it into a regular timeslot.

With the transition of the network to TruTv at the beginning of 2008, the crime and investigation focus was replaced with a broader, non-fiction/reality mix of programs.  While a small base of crime series continues, new programming explores topics as diverse as oil wildcatters, poolside waitresses in Las Vegas, and repo men.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison June 2011 vs. June 2010 (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11p




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

If you could look at truTV's progress with a wide-angle lense, two divergent stats would become apparent: as the network's viewership increases, the age of its average viewer continues to fall.  This very healthy overall trend was not on display for the month of June, however.

With the exclusion of Tuesday and Wednesday nights, year-to-year ratings were down across the board.  On the other hand, the live+7 numbers (live ratings plus seven days of DVR ratings) paint a softer picture.  When these ratings are taken into account, men and women in the 18-49 range were up 8 and 10% respectively.

The big news for truTV this month was the premiere of STORAGE HUNTERS on the 21st.  Thematically, the show is remarkably similar to the blue-collar (repossession, pawning, etc) reality shows that have elevated the network in recent years.  It appears that truTV's refusal to deviate from the same basic formula is a shrewd tactic: STORAGE HUNTERS was the top rated program of the month.  The new show performed very well among men but also had pull with young women viewers.  Overall, HUNTERS helped give Tuesday the biggest night among men as well as the greatest year-to-year increase.

Tuesdays were also an important night for established favorite HARDCORE PAWN.  The show launched its fourth season in late June and secured the most-viewed telecast of the month for the second hour of its double episode premiere.  Based on these impressive returns, truTV execs have already ordered a new run of episodes to be aired on the heels of the current season. Based on the rabid consumption of PAWN, it's become the network's practice to air a season finale and a new season premiere within a month of one another (or even a single week apart, as was the case with seasons two and three.) The second episode of the premiere was also the biggest draw for women aged 18-49.

Wednesdays were all about OPERATION REPO; each night was packed with a marathon of rerun episodes along with a new, eighth-season episode.  The show was the third strongest for the network, and earned a place among the top five basic cable programs in primetime among men aged 18-49.  Year-to-year change for Wednesdays was flat - but, considering truTV's success last year, this is no cause for alarm.

Thursdays were the second best night of the week and featured the second highest rated show: WORLD'S DUMBEST.  While all the network's programs are male-skewing, WORLD'S DUMBEST stands out as a show that can attract both men and women across a wide age range.  The "countdown" format and guest commentators separate the show stylistically from the network's typical brand of dirt under the fingernail reality drama.  Still, there is clearly a place for countdown clip shows in the network's schedule.

Mondays were a weak night on the schedule, comprised of BAIT CAR and ALL WORKED UP.  Year-to-year numbers were down 38% among men and the night was the second weakest beside Sundays.

Sundays were preoccupied with back-to-back airings of COPS that earned a lukewarm response.  The rest of the schedule lacked any highlights - IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I LAUGH, LAS VEGAS JAILHOUSE, and LIZARD LICK TOWING all did unremarkably.


The focus is on first-person access to real-life stories.  Tagline says it all: Not Reality.  Actuality.  The network describes itself as the home of true real-life programming, not the manufactured reality found elsewhere on the dial.

The following information comes directly from the network:

truTV's programming can be characterized by "The Four C's":

- Characters: We're all about outrageous people with unique and exciting jobs, families, and lives. The more surprising and unexpected the better. We want likeable characters that we can develop into widely recognizable faces for the network. Qualities to keep in mind are: visually arresting, loud, raw, quick with a retort, full of funny sayings, and tough but fair.

- Conflict: Our viewers love the thrill and suspense of watching confrontations. We want shows filled with situations that are driven by interpersonal conflict, particularly conflict with an authority figure, and we want to identify other areas outside of law enforcement where that dynamic can be captured (good examples would be the agents in Operation Repo and the hotel staff at Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock).

- Comic Relief: Our programs reveal the humor in everyday, real-life situations. Many of our shows poke fun at outrageous personalities caught in unbelievable circumstances.

- Consequences: Our viewers come to us for storylines that are filled with risk and escalating suspense. Whether it's an intensely personal mission like Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, or the threat of real danger on the job like Southern Fried Stings, our characters have something on the line and the stakes are always high.

What Are We Looking For Now?

- More ideas that are "out there" - nothing's off limits as we continue to look for high-profile, high-concept shows (particularly those with unpredictable or unexpected outcomes) that will define the brand, and continue to push viewers' expectations of the types of programming they will find on truTV.

- Companion series to Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura that feature driven characters on challenging real-life missions that are filled with conflict.

- Concepts that feature people getting into good, clean trouble, particularly at big parties or events like in our show Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock.

- Programs that are set in or feature personalities from the world of sports that we can air around March Madness, which is coming to truTV in March 2011.

- Shows with surprise story twists and interesting reactions caught on tape, like our series Bait Car.

- Archetypal, identifiable characters featured in concepts that highlight interesting aspects of American culture (rural, urban, etc.)

We do not want traditional crime and justice shows, programs that tell past-tense stories with heavy recreation, or overly contrived formats.

As a result of all the attention garnered from the broadcast of NCAA championship games, truTV has recently signed on a total of eight new unscripted shows.  As its viewership expands, truTV continues to pick up new programming it feels will mesh with its audience.  It should come as now surprise, then, that more repo shows are slated to air in the near future. The upcoming titles include: SOUTH BEACH TOW, BEAR SWAM RECOVERY, HOLLYWOOD TAXI, WIPEOUT, MOTOCLASH, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, IMPRACTICAL JOKERS, and CHILL.  Executive VP and general manager of truTV explains that these shows make for, "high-stakes, high-impact television," adding: "We have tremendous momentum as a network, driven by our strength in original programming and our ongoing growth in brand awareness.


Men are making up roughly 56% of the 18-49 and 25-54 audiences.  If you're pitching new concepts, targeting that younger male audience is advisable.

With fresh concepts like BLACK GOLD and SMOKING GUN taking to the air, mainstay series like FORENSIC FILES and others have been relegated to supporting roles.  The household numbers aren't enough to keep them front and center anymore, as the network moves towards a demographic play. Humor, comic relief, and fast paced video clip based ideas are finding a home.  Witness the success of SMOKING GUN and IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I LAUGH .

Pay attention to SOUTHERN FRIED STINGS.  A cop/reality series in the best tradition of the network.  The genre remains very strong in the schedule.