A&E Analysis - August 2011

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AUGUST 2011 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 HOARDERS, BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR, STORAGE WARS, and FIRST 48 anchor the entire primetime linup.

Friday features three hour stacks of CRIMINAL MINDS, while Saturdays in September were a mix of programming ranging from 9/11 specials to marathons of STORAGE WARS.  Sunday nights have been switching every few months between CSI: MIAMI/CRIMINALMINDS and reality series, with dramas the current mainstay.

SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-26%

-36%

-30%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-21%

-3%

-5%

Wednesday 8-11pm

122%

104%

123%

Thursday 8-11pm

8%

22%

19%

Friday 8-11pm

-19%

5%

-12%

Saturday 8-11pm

31%

78%

66%

Sunday 8-11pm

-27%

-11%

-21%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

1%

15%

12%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Coming out of an extremely solid August, A&E struggled a bit to find its footing in the month of September.  Numbers were down across the board as network television came back with a vengeance.

STORAGE WARS continues to dominate the week for the network, with numbers doubling some of the net’s other nights.  19 of the 20 top telecasts for the month of September are telecasts of the program, though there was some drop off from numbers for the show from a month ago.

The 4th season of BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR continues to dominate the schedule on Tuesday nights but like just about every other night of the week, numbers are down from a month ago, and fell off toward the end of the month.  This A&E staple seems to be getting a little tired.

BEYOND SCARED STRAIGHT officially took over the Thursday at 10pm slot in September but numbers have fallen slightly from its premiere.  Still, it was the only program other than STORAGE WARS to crack into A&E’s top 20 telecast (just under the gun at #20), and we think there’s a strong future for this show.

INTERVENTION continued its roller-coaster ride this month.  Lead-in HOARDERS doesn’t provide much of a boost but numbers managed to improve since last year.  HOARDERS, however, is down from a month ago and from a year ago.  The audience might be getting a little tired of the brand.

THE GLADES was a strong performer with total viewers in August, but only on average for target A25-54.   Jim and friends could use a better lead-in than the older skewing CRIMINAL MINDS.  We're rootin' for it.

INTERVENTION had a bit of a rollercoast month, but when it was good, it was really good.  And that was enough to make it the second best series for target adults in August.  The lead-in from HOARDERS was consistent, drawing on par with last year's figures.

CRIMINAL MINDS on Friday was up from last month, but down on Sundays.  Overall, down from a year ago.  With several new scripted series in development, it might be time to start thinking of a good replacement.

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 GLADES, hit the schedule last summer and is now in its second season.  BREAKOUT KINGS debuted in 2011 and was picked up for a sophomore run.

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, HEAVY, 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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