(Updated as of August 2, 2009)
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:
HGTV $250,000 CHALLENGE, HOUSE HUNTERS INT'L, HOUSE HUNTERS, MY FIRST PLACE, FOR RENT, UNSELLABLES, COLOR SPLASH, INCOME PROPERTY, HGTV SHOWDOWN, PROPERTY VIRGINS.
HGTV's schedule is built entirely with half hour series, with one big exception in June: The hour-long HGTV $250,000 CHALLENGE, a high-profile series which closes primetime on Sundays. In June, only four titles appeared more than twice a week (HOUSE HUNTERS , HOUSE HUNTERS INT'L , PROPERTY VIRGINS , AND MY FIRST PLACE . Eight titles -- and remember, these are half hours -- appear only once in a week, and three titles appear only twice.
Imagine the challenges of scheduling a home improvement network through the last 12 months. HGTV responded quickly to the imploding real estate market with recession-responsive titles such as FOR RENT and BANG FOR YOUR BUCK.
What to do now, if the real estate market really has started moving up? June's two top titles may hold clues. Elimination elements in each, leading inexorably to a narrative payoff, probably help. And these elements may become central enough that they distract from the fact that at the moment, buying or fixing a place isn't possible for many of us. Watching these shows, there's a sensible, gentle entertainment quality that removes potential backlash in watching others do what you can't. Most of the people involved are sympathetic folks you can root for -- these shows are not in the LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS mold. And even if prices continue to rise, none of what's making these shows work will be any less attractive.
**HGTV DESIGN STAR (July 19)
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison:
June 2009 vs. June 2008 (% change)
HH M25-54 F25-54
Monday 8-11pm 10% 13% 0%
Tuesday 8-11pm 0% 21% -11%
Wednesday 8-11pm 10% 24% 4%
Thursday 8-11pm 6% 4% 3%
Friday 8-11pm 3% 5% -9%
Saturday 8-11pm 15% 21% 10%
Sunday 8-11pm -9% 0% -10%
MTWTFSS 8-11pm 5% 14% -2% Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Every day of the week saw growth over May and primetime was up overall by 18%.
Perhaps the highest profile program was the special limited series HGTV $250,000 CHALLENGE, four Sunday night hours in which five families from the same neighborhood competed against one another in judged home improvement projects. Each night, one family was eliminated. There's good news and bad news. The good news: The numbers were among the network's best for the month. The bad: Except for the finale of this four-Sundays elimination competition, it never built on its excellent lead-in, back-to-back HOUSE HUNTERS AND HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. Most nights it dropped only slightly. The finale surpassed its lead-in by an amount barely measurable.
It will be very interesting to see if they will try this again, or some other form of an elimination competition. Holding, or nearly holding a phenomenal lead-in -- at a home-improvement network in the middle of a recession -- is nothing to sneeze at.
Seventeen of the top twenty telecasts in June were either HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. The others: Two episodes of the HGTV $250,000 CHALLENGE (#6 and #14) and one entry from MY FIRST PLACE (#10). Despite very heavy use in and out of prime (HOUSE HUNTERS got 74 telecasts and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL played 65 times) they each bested their May numbers. They were up HH 14% and HH 19%, respectively.
Small adjustments to the schedule included two that made hourlong blocks of PROPERTY VIRGINS at 8pm, where last month only one episode had been paired with something else. This may have worn the title thin -- 22 primetime telecasts placed the series at #10 of 17 in this months schedule, with numbers much closer to the bottom performer than the top.
After a very rough May, STAGERS made only one appearance, at 10:30. Ditto for RENOVATION REALITIES. After a pretty good first month in May, FOR RENT didn't have much of a schedule presence in June -- just two outings per week. It fell significantly but not disastrously at the end of a HOUSE HUNTERS stack at 10:30 on Wednesdays, where it felt Scotch-taped into the schedule. On Sundays, with a decent lead from INCOME PROPERTY, it built slightly three nights and lost just a little on the other.
Overall, it was a good month for HGTV. Prime was up HH 18% without a single night losing ground. And year-to-year the network was up HH 5%.
ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:
HIDDEN POTENTIAL, INCOME PROPERTY, STAGERS, RENOVATION REALITIES.