A&E Analysis - September 2010

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SEPTEMBER 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.

SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

1%

-4%

0%

Tuesday 8-11pm

11%

26%

17%

Wednesday 8-11pm

22%

18%

26%

Thursday 8-11pm

39%

59%

64%

Friday 8-11pm

-35%

-36%

-36%

Saturday 8-11pm

-45%

-25%

-30%

Sunday 8-11pm

-50%

-39%

-39%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-16%

-4%

-4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

A decent August gives way to a weakened September.  Both key demos are down 10% from last year, split fairly evenly between men and women.  Total audiences were down as well, but median age held steady.  Last September, CRIMINAL MINDS hit prime time with stellar numbers on Friday and Sunday that couldn't be matched 12 months later.

Highlight of the month is HOARDERS.  The third season debut on Labor Day hit an all-time series high per the network's own press, drawing nearly 4M viewers for the back to back episodes.  It's the highest rated single telecast this year for the channel.  Unfortunately, the next two weeks dropped significantly, leaving the series down year on year from last September. 

CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK wrapped another season on Wednesdays.  The artist pulled above average with the younger viewers, but well below on the 25-54 demo.  Figures were also down from last September by a large margin.

SQUAD PRISON POLICE followed a strong start in August with a very good September.  The Thursday 10pm offering was above average for 18-49 and 25-54 demos.  More good news.  The 10:30 airings held a large portion of the 10pm episodes, a sure sign of a steady performer.  Expect a second season to be picked up.

THE GLADES drew strong numbers on Sunday night.  The original drama established itself as a keeper in the early episodes, and has continued to do well in subsquent weeks.  Saturday repeats didn't fare so well.  Might be best to keep this one to premieres.

Three other anchor series in repeat mode fell off from last year.  THE FIRST 48 was down slightly.  INTERVENTION was off by 25% in key demos, although with just a handful of airings.  Big loser for the month was DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER.  A heavy batch of repeats on Wednesdays was off 20-25% in the key demos. 

Finally, the aforementioned CRIMINAL MINDS.  The off network drama holds down Tuesday, Friday, and two hours on Sunday.  Much like CSI MIAMI before it, sustaining the high numbers for months on end can be tough.  MINDS was down as much as 25% in the target demos.  Given that it makes up more than 1/3 off the entire prime schedule, it's no secret what the biggest culprit is in the September dip. 

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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