AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
HGTV sets its foundation with a Monday through Friday 8-9PM strip of first time homebuyer programming: PROPERTY VIRGINS, MY FIRST PLACE and newcomer, MY FIRST SALE. From 10 to 11 the network revisits the home purchasing process, with ratings grabbers HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL.
The 9 to 10 slot is where new programming runs, and there were several new shows added at that time this spring, some successful (SELLING NEW YORK), some not (HOME RULES).. Saturday is typically home-design focused, while Sunday features specials and top-rated programs.
It's worth studying this network's primetime grid. While it looks simple, it works very nicely in both directions - across the week, so viewers get a feel for what to expect at any time of night... and vertically, to provide flow, so they'll stay around, even build, through the night. As a result, we typically don't see drastic swings in audience from night to night, or program to program. The network's formulaic programming, with its neat stories wrapped up in 30 minutes is a safe, lulling haven for aspirational home designers, fixers and purchasers.
AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2010 vs. August 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
AUGUST 2010: HGTV scored the second highest rated month of 2010, topped only by January, but the network continues to lag behind its 2009 numbers. The moderate successes of DESIGN STAR and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL were not enough to pull the network back up to its highs of the summer of '09.
Core women 25-54 ratings rose vs. last month on every night but design-time Saturday, for a bottom-line growth of 13%. Thursdays and Sundays actually enjoyed about a 25% improvement, a significant jump for modestly moving HGTV. But, as you can see in the chart above, compared to last August those core ratings fell every night except Tuesday.
The top performing program this month was DESIGN STAR V. which built on July's ratings with a 64% improvement on women 25-54. However, even with that growth, ratings for the show were down 13% vs. last August. A similar but less volatile story emerges with the HOUSE HUNTERS franchise...up 10% vs. last month, down 16% vs. last year.
As HOUSE HUNTERS goes, so goes HGTV. This month is a perfect example of how HOUSE HUNTERS sets the stage for the network. Even with a full slate of over 15 different programs airing each week, HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL account for over one-third of the primetime real estate and over one-half of the women 25-54 audience.
But there are always exceptions to the rule. After struggling a bit, the first-time homeowners' programming, PROPERTY VIRGINS, MY FIRST PLACE and MY FIRST SALE are showing above average growth vs. last month, and bucked the year-ago trend with modest single-digit growth. Notably, ratings jumped on Thursday nights when PROPERTY VIRGINS moved in this month to replace SELLING NEW YORK and BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Perhaps this is an area for expansion.
With this year's run of DESIGN STAR over, HGTV has a new Sunday night hit, ALL AMERICAN HANDYMAN for viewers, plus special programming for the lucrative October/November/December holiday triumvirate of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
HGTV is built on safe and lulling fare, exemplified by HOUSE HUNTERS. Happy homeowners go through a painless process of purchasing and decorating their homes, without any real-life issues getting in their way. This year the network decided to rise above the market's ebbs and flows, and introduced programs with big personalities, and then brought in Mark Burnett to put his signature on their signature series, HGTV DESIGN STAR.
Results of this have been mixed, but mostly positive, with some successes rising above the fray. We see home-grown stars Genevieve, Mike Holmes and Vern Yip getting more and more airtime. In the future we expect to see even more personality driven programs that embrace the drama of home-ownership.