HGTV runs all original programming, almost all in half-hour formats. The half-hour programs are usually scheduled back to back, creating one-hour blocks with a natural break in between. The programming is safe and lulling, as is the schedule, which subtly leads viewers through the night and the week with little disruption.
Mondays have become an HGTV showcase night, with new signature programming, while on Fridays, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL runs all the way from 8 to 11.
Tuesday through Thursday features the “First Time Homeowners” block from 8 to 9PM, with MY FIRST PLACE AND PROPERTY VIRGINS. The 9 to 10 slot mixes it up while the 10 to 11 slot remains dedicated to HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL all week, with occasional exceptions for specials.
Saturday is home-design focused, and Sunday features specials and Mike Holmes’ programming, thereby drawing more men to Sunday nights.
HGTV has become adept at providing viewers with “sneak peaks,” premiering one or two episodes in advance of new programs’ scheduled releases. This serves to create buzz around new programming while giving viewers an impression of intimacy with the network.
OCTOBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / October 2011 vs October 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
OCTOBER 2011: HGTV’s ratings hit their lowest level of the year this month, dropping approximately 10% of audience from last month’s less-than-stellar performance. Compared to last year’s performance, household ratings are off by 8% and men are down 16%. But HGTV keeps its eye on the prize, and core women 25-54 are down by just 2% vs. last October. Still, the audience attrition is disturbing. What’s behind the drop-off?
HGTV’s foundation programs HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL have been getting relief with new franchises and new programs entering the schedule, but they still comprise the bulk of the primetime inventory. Together they accounted for 43 hours of October’s primetime, or 40% of the programming. Compared to last month they dropped about 12% of their women 25-54 ratings. Compared to last year they lost 8% and 20% respectively.
Tuesdays and Saturdays took the biggest hits across the board, but most importantly, against women 25-54. The culprits on Tuesday nights were MY FIRST PLACE and PROPERTY VIRGINS, while Saturday’s new Design Time stars DINA and DONNA each dropped significant audience from last month.
Monday nights have been heavily promoted this summer, with showcase programming such as HGTV’D and HGTV DESIGN STAR. This month Monday nights were back to multiple runs of real estate programming HOUSE HUNTERS, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL and MY FIRST PLACE. About one-third of household and demo audiences turned away vs. last month.
HGTV saw you can’t please all the people all the time this month, as Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each lost about one-fifth of its male audience vs. last year, while seeing barely any movement among women. More men tuned in on Sundays when new Mike Holmes programming premiered, while women showed no movement for that night either. Programs like SELLING NEW YORK, SELLING LA and KITCHEN COUSINS cause men to turn the dial, while women stick around. For the first time this month we saw men turning away from PROPERTY BROTHERS, which probably had a lot to do with its new lead-ins of SELLING NEW YORK and KITCHEN COUSINS.
HGTV has taken strong steps toward decreasing its dependence on foundation programming HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL, introducing a broad slate of programming and strong personalities to its viewers. This is a vast change for HGTV, the network known for being staid and predictable. And while ratings are mixed, progress is definitely in evidence. An excellent example is with the top 20 telecast list. Last year HOUSE HUNTERS & HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL dominated the list, accounting for the top 4 slots plus 11 more, with room for just three other programs. This year the two programs grabbed only 8 slots, with the highest placed ranking coming in at number 4. But more importantly, eight other programs made this year’s ranker (PROPERTY BROTHERS, HOLMES INSPECTION, ALL-AMERICAN HANDYMAN, SELLING NEW YORK, HOLMES ON HOLMES, KITCHEN COUSINS, ENDLESS YARD SALE and INCOME PROPERTY).