HGTV Analysis - September 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


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.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2011 vs September 2010  (% 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

SEPTEMBER 2011:  Despite a deep programming slate this September, HGTV’s core women 25-54 ratings dropped by more than 10% vs. both last year and last month. The network was able to grow ratings vs. last year on only one night (Mondays), and ratings slipped on every night vs. last month. September is the second-lowest rated month of 2011 to date, behind April.

There were six returning programs from last year, and while MY FIRST PLACE and INCOME PROPERTY saw modest gains (+4% and +7%), the remaining programs took  losses between 15% and 29%. Out of 15 returning programs from August, only DESIGN STAR 6 improved ratings.

HGTV has been making great effort to refresh its programming. Last year the net was reliant on the HOUSE HUNTERS franchise and the first-time homeowners block of PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE. Together those two franchises accounted for 50 hours of programming, which translates to nearly three-fourths of the primetime line-up. This year those same programs accounted for 40 hours of primetime programming, or about half the line-up. In their place we have seen a parade of programming coming through --  DINA’S PARTY, DONNA DECORATES DALLAS, FOR RENT, HGTV’D, HIGH LOW PROJECT, HOME BY NOVOGRATZ, INTERIORS INC., MOM CAVES and SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN were all introduced this year, and were all on the September line-up. And as watchable and lulling as HGTV makes its nightly line-ups, that’s a lot of programming for viewers to keep up with.

HGTV will continue on this path. “Building on the success of new series such as DINA’S PARTY, DONNA DECORATES DALLAS and HOME BY NOVOGRATZ, HGTV will expand its core categories of real estate and makeover programming. Production is underway for more than thirty new series and specials,” the network said in a press release. Interesting, as we see DINA and NOVOGRATZ performing below the primetime average and taking 12% and 20% losses on women 25-54 vs. August’s publicity-filled premieres.

As HGTV focuses on “character-driven series, design reality competitions and entertaining specials with voyeuristic appeal” (same press release), we notice MIKE HOLMES taking a back seat. Last year his programming was one of the few growth areas on the net, and his Sunday and Wednesday night  shows brought a lot of new male viewers to the net. This year his programming is gone from Wednesday nights, while Sundays do not get nearly as much attention from HGTV’s publicity department as Showcase Mondays and Design Time Saturday.