Comedy Central Analysis - December 2010

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DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Comedy Central is adept at mixing original series with acquistions such as ITS ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and SCRUBS to deliver consistent young adult audiences. Their strategy of using established lead-ins such as SOUTH PARK to introduce new hits such as TOSH.0 has paid off - top-rated TOSH.0 will now be used in a similar fashion to lead in to new series ONION SPORTSDOME in 2011.

With over 200 episodes still in rotation, SOUTH PARK, the traditional go-to series to fill problem time periods, has been joined lately by FUTURAMA and TOSH.0 in that role. Friday nights are devoted to Stand-Up specials, with movies and more Stand-Up  dominating the rest of the Weekend.

Comedy Central's schedule stands out in nonfiction cable (excluding news/sports networks) because two of its highest-profile franchises, THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART and THE COLBERT REPORT, are weekday live-to-tape productions. Comedy Central's programs are arranged on a grid rare for its dependably predictable pattern -- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, even year-to-year. These folks surely have some of the strongest appointment viewing numbers in the business. Their audience is also unusually, enviably young - hovering, on average, around thirty-one years old. That it also skews male should make you imagine the sound of money being printed.

DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M18-49

W18-49

Monday 8-11pm

23%

26%

55%

Tuesday 8-11pm

3%

9%

13%

Wednesday 8-11pm

6%

16%

-7%

Thursday 8-11pm

13%

16%

17%

Friday 8-11pm

-28%

-25%

-22%

Saturday 8-11pm

-17%

-16%

-18%

Sunday 8-11pm

-5%

-2%

-16%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-3%

4%

3%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Sticking with the most of the changes instituted in October, December's ratings were essentially flat with November, as well as last year, across HH and all demos. A recent decline in the network's Median Age accelerated from -3% in October to -5% in November and now -7% in December.

On Mondays in December, an early-Prime movie led into reliable standby SOUTH PARK, which generally grew from 9-11pm. SOUTH PARK replaced the movie halfway through the survey from 8-9p, improving demo delivery for the hour, and leading to the sharpest year-to-year growth for any night in December..

Tuesdays saw the 8-10pm block of #1 series TOSH.0 expand to a full three hours, earning modest annual and monthly HH and demo growth as it replaced NICK SWARDSON'S PRETEND TIME and SOUTH PARK from 10-11pm.

Wednesday benefited from a block of FUTURAMA on Week 3, but a similar NICK SWARDSON block the following week significantly underdelivered the time period. For the night as a whole demos were up modestly over last year, but down significantly from November.

Thursdays are now fully animated featuring an 830-10pm block of FUTURAMA, bracketed on either side by repeats of UGLY AMERICANS, with the ubiquitous SOUTH PARK closing out the block at 1030pm. The three-hour block generally builds early to a consistent 9-11pm plateau.

The real stars for Thursday in December were top-rated JEFF DUNHAM specials and a run  of the movie WEDDING CRASHERS. As a result, the night was up significantly from December 2009, as well as last month.

Stand-up specials from Katt Williams and Gabriel Iglesias and the movie JACKASS 2 provided the weekend's scant high points; with Friday down sharply form last year and last month. The remainder of the weekend also underdelivered in both comparisons, albeit more modestly.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Comedy ranks among the top 10 cablers for the 18-34 demographic, and mainly with a mix of their original series, stand-up and sketch, not off-net acquisitions like most of the other cable networks.

Originals are sketch, stand-up, reality.

Comedy over the past year or so has actively been buying movie packages from many of the big studio distributors and it doesn't look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

Important:

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth. Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals. Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

Comedy Central knows what's funny. One of the many growing networks, they are one of the most successful for on-air, online and on-the-go mobile technology.According to network honcho Michele Ganeless: " Our strategy is to provide our audience with the tools they need to become evangelists for the shows and talent they love. If we give them the right tools and materials, social media allows them to spread the word on their own, with a voice of authenticity that can only come from the fans."

They give their viewers access to the cutting-edge original programming, stand-up and sketch comedy, plus offbeat comedy TV series and movies. Their strategy of attracting the young male demographic continues to grow month to month whether their strategy be one off originals or stunt/holiday programming.

Comedy continues to acquire a variety of original stand-up comedy programs and specials. There are three outlets currently for talent that the network features stand-up shows: COMEDY CENTRAL PRESENTS, LIVE AT GOTHAM, as well as one-hour specials filmed exclusively for COMEDY CENTRAL.

Comedy, which like TBS, keeps its entire focus on the Comedy genre, has new seasons of several original series in production for 2010-11, including Futurama, South Park and Tosh.0  Cable networks in record numbers are launching their own comedies out of sheer necessity because there are so few comedies being scheduled by the broadcast networks. Since the late 1990s, reality shows have steadily displaced comedies on the broadcast side, and many broadcast comedy writers have shifted to cable.

Comedy's strategy of having young male demographics as their primary audience has helped them for potential growth.  Comedy is on a roll and focusing on the future by securing top talent and development deals.  Projects in development run the gamut from short-form and sketch/variety to scripted narrative and animation starring a cross-section of top comedic talent. Sketch comedies and animation are on tap for Comedy as part of its new slate of original pilots.

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