Vh1 Analysis - December 2010

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DECEMBER 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. DAISY OF LOVE featuring a former ROCK 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 the last year.

Music-oriented fare continues to make its presence felt on VH1, with survey-oriented specials (100 GREATEST...) joining occasional new episodes of the venerable BEHIND THE MUSIC series, along with concert specials and documentaries. Urban-appeal theatrical films, many with strong musical components, are also delivering above-average ratings to the Network

DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

P18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-59%

-60%

Tuesday 8-11pm

0%

-8%

Wednesday 8-11pm

15%

23%

Thursday 8-11pm

-16%

-11%

Friday 8-11pm

-3%

28%

Saturday 8-11pm

-13%

-10%

Sunday 8-11pm

-6%

-5%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-17%

-14%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

VH1's stretch of year-to-year losses is showing signs of a turnaround, as December 2010's HH and A18-49 Ratings were down by only modest double-digits, compared to those from the same month last year. December's delivery was up sharply from last month, further evidence of the network's potential return from a year-long decline.
A comparison of the average ratings for the top four series from December 2009 to this month's average shows only a 16% drop in HH rating from last year, compared to the 60% drop noted last month.

Despite the slowing of  this stretch of year-to-year losses, December's numbers give evidence of the continued ageing of VH1 as the Prime Median Age jumped 15% compared to last year, continuing a seven-month streak of double-digit increases in Median Age since June 2010.

December continued the return to a relatively stable schedule, with five consistently scheduled time periods. This is a notable shift from the freewheeling scheduling practices of recent months where the same series was rarely scheduled in the same time period for an entire survey.

Monday suffered the only significant losses of the month, as none of 2010's series could come close to the drawing power that BRANDY & RAY J and I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY exhibited in December 2009.  9pm MY BIG FRIGGIN' WEDDING was the weak sister on this night, unable to hold its lead-in and under-delivering its lead-out. Despite this, the night was up slightly over November in both HH and demos.

Tuesday night as a whole was essentially flat compared to last year for HH and demos, and grew sharply over last month in HH and demos, drawn principally by the movies 8 MILE, BABY BOY and FREEDOM WRITERS.

Wednesday's highlight was the performance of fresh CELBRITY REHAB 4 episodes at 10pm , which nearly doubled the monthly average HH rating, leading to the strongest year-to year growth for the month. Demo delivery essentially double from last month.

The block of hour-long episodes of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE  that settled in on Thursday in November seem to be paling in appeal, as this night showed the poorest performance compared to last month, albeit only down slightly.

Friday grew by virtually 1/3 compared to December 2009's P18-49 ratings, and nearly doubled the demo delivery from last month. A one-night block of sister network MTV's JERSEY SHORE and another run of the movie 8 MILE were highlights.

Another run of JERSEY SHORE and a couple of CELEBRITY REHAB 4 couldn't offset a the poor ratings for a block of the off-HBO series ENTOURAGE, leaving Saturday modestly down with last year and essentially flat with last month.

Fresh episodes of BASKETBALL WIVES, FOOTBALL WIVES, and BRANDY & RAY J 2 rotated in a variety of patterns on Sunday nights, leading to a slight drop from last year's numbers, but more than doubling November's demo delivery.

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. Flavor Unit is also producing VH1's first scripted drama, based on the same characters as the M.O.W.

Important:

VH1's Celebreality hits have received a lot of attention and ratings success in the past. 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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