JANUARY 2011 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.
JANUARY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2011 vs. January 2010 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
JANUARY 2011: This was one of BET's strongest months ever, beaten only by June 2009's performance when the network saw the ratings spike from its Michael Jackson coverage. Recent successes have all come from one-offs and repeated encores of annual specials and awards programs and short-lived celebrity/reality series, so the good news is that January's jump in ratings sprang from two new scripted original programs, THE GAME and LET'S STAY TOGETHER. The two programs helped move the bottom-line up 41% versus both year-ago and month-ago women 18-49 ratings.
BET has been running its three acquired seasons of THE GAME for years, but the network took over production of the series and debuted its fourth season on Tuesday, January 11 to record setting numbers. BET claims 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. A week later, LET'S STAY TOGETHER's debut with 4.4 million viewers (BET PR) made it the number two series in BET history.
"We are thrilled to see our audience respond so well,'" said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks. "It is clear these two shows are real game changers for the Network." More scripted original program announcements are expected in second quarter.
Even with 12 telecasts of the new season of THE GAME, 33 telecasts of the older seasons of THE GAME and 11 telecasts of LET'S STAY TOGETHER, there was some other programming on BET this month as well. THE CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL special was also a success, coming in as the sixth best rated women 18-49 telecast. Movies have been the top-rated program on BET lately. Although they performed about the same as always, they had to take a back seat to THE GAME and LET'S STAY TOGETHER this month.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
2009 was a watershed year for BET as the new network programmers streamlined the line-up, pushed event programming to a new level and 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 the numbers steady, and the average 2010 rating among those target women 18-49 fell by just .01 vs. the 2009 average. With the successful launch of THE GAME this January, BET is now ready to bulk up its scripted originals in 2011, hoping to keep its ratings moving upwards and onwards.
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.