HGTV Analysis - April 2011

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APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

HGTV briefly disrupted its 8-9P first-time home buyers block with HOUSE HUNTERS, but all is back to normal this April with PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE back at 8 and 8:30PM. On Fridays, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL still runs all the way from 8 to 11.

The 9 to 10 slot is primarily filled with the HOUSE HUNTERS, with SELLING NEW YORK adding some spice on Thursdays. The 10 to 11 slot remains dedicated to HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL all week, with the lone exception of HOLMES INSPECTION on Wednesday nights at 10:30PM.

Saturday is home-design focused, and Sunday features specials and Mike Holmes' programming, thereby drawing more men to Sunday nights.

APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2011 vs April 2010  (% Change)

HH

W18-49

W25-54

Monday 8-11pm

9%

0%

9%

Tuesday 8-11pm

22%

16%

29%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-12%

-21%

-11%

Thursday 8-11pm

-1%

-5%

0%

Friday 8-11pm

0%

16%

15%

Saturday 8-11pm

-1%

8%

8%

Sunday 8-11pm

-7%

-9%

-7%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

0%

0%

4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

APRIL 2011:  HGTV didn't show much bottom-line movement this April. The network took a slight 4% downturn vs. last month, while pacing 4% ahead of last year on core women 25-54. Springtime is historically slow for HGTV; the network tends to wait for the summer months for new programs and big initiatives.

The biggest thing to happen in April was the restoration of the first-time homeowners hour at 8 PM, and the return of HOUSE HUNTERS to 9PM. HGTV briefly experimented with moving the top-rated HOUSE HUNTERS into the 8PM slot, displacing PROPERTY VIRGINS or MY FIRST PLACE into the 9PM slot. The move made sense - start off the night with the highest rated program, thereby launching the evening with a bigger base. However, the move seemed to cause more viewers to switch off at 9 than to tune in at 8. This month it's back to the first time homeowner's block at 8 and HOUSE HUNTERS at 9. Fridays retained HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL for the entire night.

HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL continue to dominate the network and set the pace for the entire line-up. They are the two top-rated programs, and together they took up 82 hours of primetime, or nearly half of the schedule. HOUSE HUNTERS got a small bump with its return to 9PM, but for the most part both programs are performing the same as both last year and last month, particularly on core older women.

There was some movement on the ratings front, but most of it was in the wrong direction. MY FIRST PLACE dropped 20% of its audience vs. last year and last month. Losing its Tuesday night slot this month, SELLING NEW YORK had a rare off-month, losing 15% of its 2010 audience and 13% of its March audience. New episodes kicked in at the end of April, which helped move ratings in the right direction, but the show is still not where it was. Thursday nights are competitive this year"¦is that the best place for HGTV's rising star?

Recession-era INCOME PROPERTY was back with new episodes this month, but the program performed in the bottom half of the line-up. Saturday night's Design Time had mixed success, and most of the programs (CASH & CARI, ANTONIO, SECRETS FROM A STYLIST) perform below the network average. HOUSE HUNTERS at 10 and 10:30 saves the night. The best-rated design program this month was CURB APPEAL: THE BLOCK.

HOLMES INSPECTION is the only program outside of the HOUSE HUNTERS programs to pull ratings above the network average and in the top HH telecast ranking. The program has the added bonus of attracting men to the network, something HGTV has yet to capitalize on.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

There is a wave of lux / glam / over-the-top home programming coming from networks like Bravo. We saw TOP CHEF and the slew of cupcake programming redefine the reality food genre, giving HGTV's sister FOOD NETWORK a wake-up call. HGTV is working with Bravo's ex-real housewife Dina Manzo on a new weekly party planning series slated to launch in September. Will mild-mannered HGTV change its ways before it loses at the game it created?

HGTV is taking small steps to evolve its programming. According to HGTV, it's time to move on from recession-minded programming and the housing slump blues. Americans are ready to reinvest even more in their homes, general manager Kathleen Finch told Multichannel News, "and HGTV viewers come to us for ideas because they love their homes and want to make them better." The network is making a move towards luxury --  HOUSE HUNTERS ON VACATION, SELLING LA and MILLION DOLLAR ROOMS are coming. FOR RENT and BANG FOR YOUR BUCK are gone from primetime. Wish fulfillment is an overriding theme, led by MY YARD GOES DISNEY, followed with ROOM CRASHERS and RUN MY MAKEOVER. Personalities remain an essential programming element, as evidenced by new showcase program HGTV'd. And in a telling statement, HGTV announced that they will "add more than a dozen personalities in 2011," not a dozen shows.

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