A&E Analysis - January 2010

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JANUARY 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.

JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

31%

9%

18%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-2%

-9%

-2%

Wednesday 8-11pm

12%

21%

14%

Thursday 8-11pm

-14%

-15%

-14%

Friday 8-11pm

72%

92%

98%

Saturday 8-11pm

-17%

-5%

-4%

Sunday 8-11pm

7%

6%

13%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

11%

9%

13%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Following on a strong December, it's a good start to the new year for A&E.  Network's press touts it as the strongest January in its history for all of the key adult demos as well as total viewers.  Female demos were up 20% over last year, driven by new series and new episodes of returning series.

HOARDERS holds the #1 spot again this month, and by a wide margin.  A full slate of premieres on Monday garnered the strongest female demo ratings of the month, leading Mondays and the network to the aforementioned records. 

Of course, HOARDERS had a little help from the award winning INTERVENTION as its lead-in.  An all premiere line-up for the network veteran was up 13% over last year, landing the #2 spot for women this month. 

STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMEN lost some ground from last month's fantastic debut, but remained in the top tier of the schedule.  Our caution from last month remains.  It's the only regular series on the schedule to skew male.  Long term, that's a challenge on a female leaning network. 

THE FIRST 48 finally brought some new episodes to the table and reaped the rewards.  The 10th season premiere was the best ever according to network press.  For the month, premieres and repeats combined finished just above network averages and showed significant improvement from an all repeat schedule in December.

MANHUNTERS returned with a second season in January, drawing almost two million viewers per the network.  Series was well above average for the network in the younger demos, and measurably above for A25-54.  Year on year comparisons were favorable, with the new season jumping nearly 25% over last year for both key demos.

PARANORMAL STATE had a good slate of premiere episodes, but still fell off 15-25% from last year.  Shifting to Tuesday has meant no  lead-in from INTERVENTION, presumably leaving an impact.  PYSCHIC KIDS was off single digits from December.  As we predicted last monht, JACKSON: A FAMILY DYNASTY collapsed in January.  Appears the public's interest in the family just doesn't match up to that of Michael.

CRIMINAL MINDS filled about a third of the schedule this month.  Took a break most Saturdays, but added the 8pm Tuesday slot.  Total audience is larger than anything on the schedule not named HOARDERS.  The younger demos hover right around the network average for the month, even with the older skew for the series.  A18-49 were up slightly, whereas A25-54 were down a couple points.  Overall, a steady month for the off net property.

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.

A&E tries to be just edgy enough to fuel publicity and appeal to its new, younger audience. New program decisions are based on current successful blocks and formats; so whatever is working now, count on A&E wanting more of the same but new.

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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