A&E Analysis - May 2010

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MAY 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.

MAY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-8%

-12%

-16%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-7%

-21%

-19%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-1%

-11%

2%

Thursday 8-11pm

3%

18%

22%

Friday 8-11pm

10%

22%

32%

Saturday 8-11pm

55%

33%

35%

Sunday 8-11pm

-33%

-5%

-4%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

0%

0%

6%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Following the pattern we've seen in previous years, May falls off from April, roughly 2-10% depending on the specific demo.  Year ago numbers tell a mixed story.  Total audience was flat, men were down, women were up.  Net result was flat on the 18-49 demo and up about 6% on the 25-54 gang.

In simple percentages, Monday and Tuesday were the drag on the schedule, each falling off close to 20% from year ago.  However, Tuesday was the real problem underneath those percentages.  It's the weakest night by far on the schedule.  CRIMINAL MINDS is steady, but can't grab the younger audiences.  A special on the Late Night Wars was the lowest rated show of the month, pulling down the night, the week, and ultimately, the month.

Mondays may have been troubled on the percentages, but the raw numbers are still pretty good.  INTERVENTION garnered above average numbers for five weeks, with the 9pm airing well above average.  10pm follow up, HOARDERS, also holds it on, again.  New seasons of both are coming soon.  Expect things to pick up as we've seen in the past.

BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR brought three weeks of premiere episodes to the table and overdelivered net averages.  Couple of weeks of repeats to end the month fell off, but remained on par with those same averages.  The sleeper series did dip considerably from April, more than it probably should with the falling HUT's.  Need some more premieres.

FIRST 48 had a month of new episodes in the Thursday 9pm slot, all of which drew solid numbers.  So solid in fact, that it tops the list of highest rated series of the month.  Year on year numbers in the target demo are up a massive 35-45%. Further, it was the only property to break through the CRIMINAL MINDS dominance on the month's Top 15.  8pm inventory repeats underdelivered the premieres as one would expect.

FUGITIVE CHRONICLES follows FIRST 48 on Thursdays, but that's about all they have in common.  Audiences left in droves at 10pm, leaving FUGITIVE  well behind for the month.  Total viewers were off 15-20% from April. 

Speaking of CRIMINAL MINDS, the off net drama loaded up on Fridays and Saturdays this month with the usual results. Strong overall audiences, below average for the younger target demos.

Sunday night's celebreality pair finished up with mixed results. KIRSTIE ALLEY lost momentum in its 2nd week and never really recovered.  GENE SIMMONS (full disclosure: one of our favorites) continues to pull nicely on premieres, weaker on the repeats.  Expect Kirstie to be one and done.  We hope Gene comes back.

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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