Networks Wear Their Sunday Best in Primetime


USA Network launched its much-hyped series
Political Animals this past Sunday (July 15) with hopes
that it entered a ratings winner into a crowded field
of popular candidates.

With high households using television (HUT) levels
and a penchant
for del iver ing
must-see television
shows, network
said that primetime
on Sundays
represents valuable
real estate for launching and scheduling highprofile programming.

“Sundays seem to feature the buzz-worthy shows
and the shows that people are crazy addicted to,” Bill
McGoldrick, USA Network’s executive vice president
of original scripted programming, said.

Through the first five weeks of the summer, Sunday
programs are averaging a 58% HUT level, behind
only Monday and Tuesday nights.

Several new cable shows are sizzling on Sundays.
A&E’s modern Western Longmire drew a networkrecord
4.1 million viewers for its June 4 bow — the
third-highest debut for a new scripted series this summer,
behind TNT’s Dallas and Perception, according
to Nielsen. Longmire remains hot, drawing 4 million
viewers on July 8.

HBO’s Aaron Sorkin-produced drama The Newsroom
debuted June 24 to 2.1 million viewers. The
drew a series-high 2.2 million watchers
for the third episode, on July 8.

Susan Ennis, executive vice president of programming
planning and original programming strategy
at HBO, said Sunday traditionally has been a great
night for the premium channel to debut shows
that eventually build viewership during the week
through repeat views, DVR viewing and online sampling
via viewer-authenticated HBO Go.

Falling Skies, the Noah Wyle-starrer about humans
fighting back following an alien invasion
was renewed by TNT last Wednesday (July 12) for a
10-episode third season.

Political Animals
is a six-episode “limited series” starring
Sigourney Weaver as a divorced former first lady
and current secretary of state. Ted Linhart, USA’s senior
vice president of research, said USA’s had success on Sunday
nights in the past with such shows as The 4400, Dead
and, more recently, In Plain Sight and Law & Order.

With a cast that also also includes Ellen Burstyn,
Ciarán Hinds, and Carla Gugino, Linhart said the show
should generate a lot of buzz among viewers to compete
well with other shows already on the air, although he
would not project how well the show would perform.

“A lot of shows compete on Sunday because the viewing
levels are pretty high, and you can find a lot of people
to watch a show since they’re not working — you can
put 20 shows on and 15 can do well enough,” Linhart
said. “We find that as an opportunity because by now,
people have given up on something. We’re not competing
for the same marketing attention as the shows that
have already launched.”


Passionate fans end their
weekends in front of the TV
— so networks schedule their
most buzzworthy shows for
Sunday night.