MAY 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
The BET Monday - Friday schedule typically features a movie each night at 8 or 9 with original programming / encores filling the remaining hour. 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.
MAY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2011 vs. May 2010 (% Change)
*Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
MAY 2011: 2011 was propelled to a stellar start with THE GAME, BET's biggest hit ever. However, the program finished up its run in April, and May produced BET's lowest ratings of 2011 to date. In fact, target women 18-49 ratings are at their lowest level since December 2009. Bottom line primetime ratings were down on households by 16% vs. last year and 13% vs. last month. The important women 18-49 ratings were off by 19% vs. last year and 21% vs. last month. Compared to last month, ratings tumbled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and compared to last year ratings were down by more than 15% every night except Saturdays.
TOYA: A FAMILY AFFAIR on Tuesdays and THE FAMILY CREWS 2 on Sundays were BET's featured original programs for May. BET tried running encores of both shows in the first week of the month, but ratings were low, and after that first week encores ran only on the same night as the premiere telecast. Once again we see that reality programs don't hold up in repeats as well as dramas.
TOYA is the top rated program of the month on women 18-49, but it is not as strong a leader for Tuesday nights as others have been. It lost almost one-third of its women 18-49 audience from last month when it premiered, causing Tuesday nights to drop 45% from last month and 20% from last year. Last year's version of the show, TINY & TOYA 2 aired 37 times over the course of May 2010. Even with the limited amount of encores this year, TOYA's total program average was 5% lower on core women 18-49 than TINY & TOYA. Tuesday's ratings fell enough so that it is now tied with Saturday and Sunday for the best-rated night of the week.
THE FAMILY CREWS 2 finished up its 11-episode run this month, losing 26% of women 18-49 ratings from last month for the program average. The season finale did not spike, but pulled in the second lowest premiere episode rating for the series' whole run.
With original programming fading, movies took on more importance this month. Movies are a quiet yet crucial part of BET's primetime, airing nearly every night, and serving to provide a solid base for the network. Even with a 15% drop in ratings vs. both last month and last year, this month's movies managed to top the rankers, with Notorious, Daddy's Little Girls and Stomp the Yard pulling the highest rated women 18-49, men 18-49 and household telecasts of the month.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
The muscle behind BET's ratings spikes is its ability to extend a successful program across the entire line-up, i.e. THE BET AWARDS, THE GAME, etc. When there is no marquee program strong enough to run throughout primetime, the bottom line tumbles, as it did this month. The strategy tends to burn out even the most successful programs fast, and so BET is always on the look out for new programming.
With the successful launch of THE GAME this January, BET says it is ready to bulk up its scripted originals in 2011, particularly comedies, hoping to build on its success. But in the 2011 upfront presentation to advertisers, only one new sitcom was announced.
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.