A&E Analysis - August 2010

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AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

The network's scheduling approach appears to break the week into two parts:  Monday-Thursday, and the weekend.  In both instances, it's all about stacking themes or singular series throughout the night.

Monday-Thursday is dominated by reality based series, mostly within the crime and justice category.  Signature series INTERVENTION, DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, and FIRST 48 anchor the evenings, more often than not, in the form of two hour blocks.  The 10pm timeslots feature a rotating mix of real life and reality series that include the human condition, crime, pop culture, celeb-reality, and paranormal.  Many of the series tend to be half hours scheduled back to back to fill the slot.

Friday and Saturday feature three hour stacks of CRIMINAL MINDS.  Sunday nights have been switching every few months between CSI: MIAMI/CRIMINALMINDS and reality series, with dramas the current mainstay.

AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

8%

0%

-4%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-8%

-16%

-13%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-21%

-22%

-24%

Thursday 8-11pm

9%

19%

15%

Friday 8-11pm

-19%

-23%

-23%

Saturday 8-11pm

-32%

-39%

-31%

Sunday 8-11pm

7%

-4%

-3%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-7%

-10%

-10%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

August brings snippets of good news.  Total viewers are up slightly over last year.  Target adults in both key demos rise mid-single digits.  Median is age is the youngest we've seen in just over a year.

Looking inside the numbers, most of the regular series are off from last year.  So what's generating the increase?  That would be Sunday night, specifically Sunday night at 10pm.  A&E's latest foray in the scripted world appears to be paying off.  THE GLADES was the top rated series on the schedule for the month.  All five Sunday premieres landed in the net's Top 10 list in August, including the highest rated individual telecast of the month.

The newest entrant on the schedule is SQUAD: PRISON POLICE.   Its debut on the first Thursday of the month was fine.  What's interesting is that the numbers increased over the next three weeks.   Unusual to see that with a new series, especially during the summer.  Demo figures were well above average for 18-49 and 25-54.  While it skewed female, it was closer to a 50/50 gender than the usual series on the schedule.

INTERVENTION highlighted Mondays with a month of premieres at 9pm, all of them well above average.  8pm repeats were behind the premieres, but still well above net averages for the month.  As usual, the series went heavily female, but still draws enough men to keep it near the powerhouse category.

Coming out of INTERVENTION, OBSESSION simply couldn't keep it going at 10pm.  The series was yanked in early August in favor of repeats of HOARDERS.   HOARDERS held the timeslot steady for the remainder of the month.

We found a similar story on Thursday.  Premieres of FIRST 48 at 9pm anchor the high with some very nice demo numbers.  Repeats at 8pm aren't quite as strong, but pull their weight.

BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR wrapped its season with a grand finale.  It was the highest rated telecast on network schedule for August within the target demo, and the highest rated unscripted telecast period.

CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK took over the Wednesday 10pm slot from BILLY, but struggled to stay near the net averages for the month.  An OK premiere was followed by a rollercoaster for the remaining episodes in August.  Ratings were down 35% in target demos compared to last August.  This one may have run its course.

DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER followed the pattern of solid premieres, not so solid on repeats.  Demo numbers were own single digits from last year.

GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS (our personal favorite) continues to pull strong numbers for A25-54 for premiere episodes.  Repeats are a bit weaker.  Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said of newcomer GROWING UP TWISTED.  Following the family life and times of rock musician Dee Snider, the series just fell flat.  A little JERSEY SHORE, a little GROWING UP GOTTI, and a little celebreality formulaic, we're not expecting it back for a second season.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

A&E made a lot of drastic program content changes in recent years, going more mainstream in reality and moving away from such staple doc series as BIOGRAPHY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS, and AMERICAN JUSTICE.   Properties like STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMEN, THE FIRST 48 and MANHUNTERS still maintain the network's roots in crime/investigation, while reality shows like DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, INTERVENTION, HOARDERS, and GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS define the network today.  DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER and GROWING UP GOTTI helped bring A&E into the world of general entertainment, by taking its tradition of crime into reality programming. After growing in popularity with younger demos, A&E was able to branch out even more with shows like INKED, KING OF CARS, and DRIVING FORCE.  All of these programs had compelling, quirky and/or unique characters, along with something edgy in their lifestyle.  The genre has grown to include the human condition and the paranormal. 

In early 2007, the network announced its first development slate of drama series in years.  The first project to come out of that slate, THE CLEANER starring Benjamin Bratt, premiered in July, 2008.  A second season soon followed.  THE BEAST, starring the late Patrick Swayze, solidified the network's foothold in the genre, building on their acquired dramas, particularly CRIMINAL MINDS, and the successful real life franchises. The newest addition, THE GLADES, hit the schedule this summer and more pilots are in the production hopper now.

A&E tries to be just edgy enough to fuel publicity and appeal to a younger audience. Strong characters, as in DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER and BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR, mixed in select celeb-reality offerings sit across the week.  The human condition has formed the basis for their Monday nights over the last year with INTERVENTION, OBSESSED, and HOARDERS. 

IMPORTANT: The network doesn't refer to itself as a "women's" channel, but the gender skew leans almost 60% female.  Something to keep in mind when developing a program pitch.

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