Vh1 Analysis - August 2010 - Broadcasting & Cable

Vh1 Analysis - August 2010

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AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

VH1 continues to concentrate on home-grown series, often built around Reality "stars" from earlier series (e.g. NEW YORK GOES TO WORK featuring a former FLAVOR OF LOVE contestant.) VH1's primetime lineup is very fluid in nature, leading to a lot of "Various" programs on their schedule grid.

VH1 will occasionally stack night of programming and air episodes of the same show back-to-back-to-back.  This can prove extremely successful for them, especially when they use these mini-marathons to premiere the latest episodes of a successful original series. Episodes of new series tend to receive multiple Prime plays during the week each episode premieres. This fluid approach to scheduling, however can take its toll on viewer loyalty, as the lack of a discernible schedule on many nights seems to have harmed viewership in 2010.

Music-oriented fare continues to make its presence felt on VH1, with survey-oriented specials (100 GREATEST...) joining occasional new epsiodes of the venerable BEHIND THE MUSIC series, along with concert specials and documentaries.

AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

P18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-60%

-59%

Tuesday 8-11pm

 -24%

-27%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-52%

-42%

Thursday 8-11pm

-26%

-14%

Friday 8-11pm

-48%

-39%

Saturday 8-11pm

-21%

-26%

Sunday 8-11pm

-32%

-30%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-40%

-37%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

VH1's stretch of year-to-year losses continued for a ninth straight month, as August 2010's HH and A18-49 Rtgs delivered less than 2/3 compared the same month last year. August's delivery was also down by modest double-digits from July, with month-to-month losses on  all seven nights.

Every night experienced double-digit HH and demo losses from the same month last year, with Monday, Wednesday and Friday especially worrisome. In addition to this 9-month streak of year-to-year losses, August's numbers give evidence of the continued ageing of VH1 as the Prime Median Age jumped 13% compared to last year, continuing a three-month streak representing an ongoing average 13% increase in Median Age since May 2010.

Series shuffled in and out throughout the month, with none having five regularly scheduled telecasts in the same time slot in the August survey. In addition, only 3 of VH1's 21 Prime hour-long slots remained  consistent with July's schedule, possibly leading to further viewer confusion. ("Consistent" in this case meaning a series is afforded at least two runs in the same slot per month.) Virtually half of July's time-slots had no discernible regular schedule.

On Monday, MONEY HUNGRY replaced YOU'RE CUT OFF at 9pm, and SCREAM QUEENS returned for its second go-round at 10pm, replacing BEHIND THE MUSIC. This led to over half of last year's viewership dissappearing, while putting up modest double-digit losses in HH and all demos from last month.

Tuesday's only semblance of consistent scheduling was  OCHOCINCO: THE ULTIMATE CATCH  at 10pm for four of the survey's five weeks. The night as a whole was down by 1/4 from last year but grew modestly in female demos from last month.

Wednesday's combination of YOU'RE CUT OFF, DAD CAMP  and BRIDAL BOOTCAMP in July was replaced by more runs of SCREAM QUEENS 2 and MONEY HUNGRY at 9pm and 1030 pm, respectively, with seemingly random episodes from cancelled series and specials filling in many of the other time periods this night. Annual losses were in the 50% range for HH and demos, but RM18-49 grew 50% from July, helped by a strong showing for the movie JUICE on the last night of the survey.

THE OCD PROJECT, which was  the top offering on Thursday in July, was replaced by a variety of music-oriented survey mini-series (100 GREATEST HARD ROCK SONGS, etc.)  Losses from August 2009 were modest, compared to the rest of the week, and older women were up slightly compared to last month.

Friday suffered significant double-digit HH and demo losses from last year and last month, posting the weakest month-to-month performance of any night this month. Every Friday night offering was under VH1's steadily declining Prime average.

Two runs of the venerable Prince vehicle PURPLE RAIN topped Saturday's movie offerings as the night was down somewhat from last year and last month.

Similar annual and monthly losses dogged Sunday, despite fresh epsides of OCHOCINCO: THE ULTIMATE CATCH and THE T.O. SHOW, VH1's top two series for the month.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

VH1 has been extremely successful in the creation of an entirely new genre of programming.  Coining the phrase Celebreality, Vh1 has created several hit shows revolving around celebrities, past and present, and their "real" lives.

So now, the task at hand is to determine how they can expand beyond what's expected - and reach out to an even broader audience.  It's great to have programs that are celebrity-based, but anything that has amazing characters, tells a good story, and does it in a compelling way, is going to interest the net. Recently, VH1 has expanded into the original M.O.W. realm, with their first original feature being produced by Queen Latifah's production company, Favor Unit.

Important:

VH1's Celebreality hits have received a lot of attention and ratings success. The network, however, continues to expand upon their brand to bring unique documentaries and interesting pop culture and music-related series to air.

VH1 has said that they are actively looking for documentaries in their ROCK DOC block.  They are looking for "intimate stories," "iconic characters" (namely 60s and 70s icons), and intelligent documentaries that aren't afraid to take chances.  Think "big stories" told through a "small narrative," too.

In addition, they're looking to expand beyond just Celebreality.  TOOL ACADEMY and THE PICK-UP ARTIST were fairly big successes for the network and they're looking for the next version of those series.

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