HGTV Analysis - July 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


HGTV sets its foundation with a Monday through Friday 8-9PM strip of first time home-buyer 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.


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




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JULY 2010: HGTV's bottom-line primetime ratings have not shown much movement vs. last year or last month. Household and core women ratings were basically down 2% vs. last month and 5% vs. last year. Despite a slew of new programming and a new emphasis on personalities and hosts, the top primetime programs for July on HGTV don't look too different from June 2010 or July 2009 on HGTV. DESIGN STAR, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL and HOUSE HUNTERS dominated the line-up and the top telecast list; the only other program to hit the list was DESIGN STAR IV.

The highest profile show on the air this month was DESIGN STAR V, which is now produced by Mark Burnett. Devotees of the program lament that the program has shifted from showing viewers how to design to focusing on the judging process and creating suspense, which is basically Marc Burnett's signature. The truth is in the pudding, or in our case, the Nielsens. Which version do viewers really prefer? DESIGN STAR V was the top rated program on HGTV's air this month. A quick comparison between the July 2010 average and July 2009 shows 2009 well out in front, across the board. But, if we take away encore episodes a different story emerges. Looking just at premiere telecasts, household ratings are ten percent lower this year than last, while core women ratings are up 20%. More good news lies in the week-to-week comparison; DESIGN STAR V is actually growing audience with each successive week.

Which is all a long way of saying HGTV has now seen the benefits of adding suspense and drama to programming, rather than the lulling predictability that marks most of their line-up. Future programs are sure to follow in the Mark Burnett style.

Saturday night's design block continues to do well, pulling in better women ratings, particularly among the younger 18-49 set (+18% for the night vs. last month and +25% vs. last year),

Other good news at HGTV was the successful new episodes of HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL, which, along with HOUSE HUNTERS, continues to dominate HGTV's line-up and ratings.

On the negative side, MY FIRST PLACE and INCOME PROPERTY show double digit declines vs. last year, and HOUSE HUNTERS lost 12% of core women 25-54 ratings vs. 2009.


HGTV has made its name with 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, and viewers flocked to see it. With the ups and downs of the home market, HGTV rode the wave and then tried to ride out the crash, developing shows that capitalized on the need to nest. This year the network decided to rise above the market's ebbs and flows, and produced 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.