HGTV Analysis - November 2010

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NOVEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

NOVEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

W18-49

W25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-2%

-9%

-7%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-11%

-10%

-15%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-21%

-23%

-20%

Thursday 8-11pm

-6%

-21%

-17%

Friday 8-11pm

-10%

-17%

-13%

Saturday 8-11pm

-12%

-13%

-17%

Sunday 8-11pm

8%

-20%

-13%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-8%

-14%

-15%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2010: The good news for HGTV's ratings this month is that they held vs. October. The bad news is that October was the worst performing month of 2010, and the two months had the lowest women 25-54 ratings since December 2008. This November produced core women 25-54 ratings that were 15% below last year's levels, with ratings down in the double digits nearly every night of the week.

HGTV started the year strong, but with a heavy reliance on the HOUSE HUNTERS franchise, the network was susceptible to a ratings decline. And so, this month when HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL together aired 74 times and lost 17% of the audience they had last year, they took HGTV down with them.

Not that the rest of the fare was helping out. Design-time Saturday night has been fading as well, with DIVINE DESIGN, DEAR GENEVIEVE and COLOR SPLASH each dropping about 20% of their core ratings.

Mike Holmes continues to be a bright spot on the schedule. HOLMES ON HOLMES was the only returning program from last year to show growth on households (+18%) and not lose ground on women 25-54 (it held steady). The thirty-minute version of the show that aired twice this month was the top-rated program across the board.

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. And when HOUSE HUNTERS stumbles, as it did again this month, the rest of the line-up stumbles as well.

This year the network tried to pad out its line up with programs that emphasize strong personalities, but steps away from the real estate genre were generally missteps. The standouts of the year were Mike Holmes and SELLING NEW YORK.

While there is no set formula for success, programs that play well with network staple HOUSE HUNTERS, have a somewhat familiar feel and are hosted by personalities that are strong, but not obnoxious seem to play the best in HGTV's ever-growing yard.

As we have seen in years past, New Year's Day will be a big day for HGTV as the network previews new fare and new seasons.  In 2011 the focus will swing back to the high-end and luxury themes as well as some treasure hunting-type fare.

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