DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8, with original programming or encores running at 10. Premiere night for new series is Tuesday, with plenty of encores scattered irregularly throughout the rest of the week. Saturdays are all movies and Sunday night is a mix of programming, including movies, original series, encores, news specials and encores of specials.
DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
DECEMBER 2010: BET pulled a strong month out of its ratings hat, improving numbers over last year by a solid 15% on adults 18-49 and 23% on women 18-49. 2009 was a watershed year for BET as the programming line-up was streamlined, event programming jumped to a new level and the new network programmers focused on their core women viewers. Without a deep bench of programming initiatives to follow up with, 2010 loomed as a difficult sophomore year. But, smart scheduling helped keep numbers up, and the average 2010 rating among those target women 18-49 fell by just .01 vs. the 2009 average.
Back to December. Numbers WERE solid, but regular programming was not at the heart of the success. A combination of SOUL TRAIN AWARDS encores and theatricals lifted BET this month. SOUL TRAIN AWARDS aired three more times this month, placing first, fifth and sixth among women 18-49. Movies accounted for five of the top ten women 18-49 telecasts and eleven of the top twenty-five. There were other standouts: another two telecasts of the Beyonce special; a FOOD FOR THOUGHT special; A VERY BET CHRISTMAS special. Regularly scheduled programming took a back seat this month. The highest rated regularly scheduled program was THE GAME, with a 15th place ranking.
This strategy is great for the short term. Getting a ratings spike at the end of the year definitely helps the bottom line, but it won't help carry audiences over into the ensuing months like regularly scheduled programming will. Fortunately, BET has addressed that issue with its first scripted original series in over a year. THE GAME and LET'S STAY TOGETHER debuted in January to record setting numbers. The first two episodes of the new season of THE GAME averaged 7.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched sitcom ever on cable television. That is just what the ratings doctor ordered, and should help BET to another successful year.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
With the successful launch of THE GAME, BET is finally ready to jump into the scripted originals game with both feet. Celebrity reality, musical competitions, awards programming and specials are each still an essential part of BET's overall strategy to stay young and current. Documentaries and specials with a social message are also a strong option at BET.