(Updated as of May 20, 2009)
APRIL 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:
GANGLAND, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, THE UNIVERSE, HISTORY SUNDAY, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, PATTON 360,
Vestiges of the MODERN MARVELS strip still run at 8pm on several nights. Premiere series tend to run at 9pm, with 10pm reserved for encore plays and/or established inventory series. Thematic evenings take over on the weekend. Network tends to run two hour event docs on Saturday. Sundays have become the home for the umbrella theme "American Originals", including ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and AX MEN. Specials can be inserted on Sunday evenings without breaking the flow of the regular schedule. Stability has been the hallmark of the schedule. Multiple episode series and very few changes give the viewer several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing.
MARCH to APRIL:
Monday - BATTLES BC drops out at 9pm in favor of an inventory mix
Tuesday - LIFE AFTER PEOPLE premieres at 10pm
Thursday - MODERN MARVELS takes a break at 8pm, replaced by inventory repeats
Friday - all new line-up; repeats at 8pm and 10pm sandwich the debut of PATTON 360 at 9pm
Sunday - BATTLES BC repeats fill in at 10pm
** April 10 - PATTON 360
** April 21 - LIFE AFTER PEOPLE
MAY AND BEYOND
** May 25 - THE LINK
** May 31 - ICE ROAD TRUCKERS (Season 3)
** May 31 - EXPEDITION AFRICA: STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE
** July 7 - THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE
** July 20 - MOONSHOT
** July 26 - PAWN STARS
** July 31 - LOCK N' LOAD
YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
The annual spring drop kicked into high gear in April. Not to be too alarmed though. We've seen the same drop the last three Aprils as daylight hours go long and broadcast picks up the pace. That said, annual comparisons do have mixed results. Overall, the network is slightly down from last year. Target men are off 2-4% with most of it traced to a second season fade of AX MEN. For the M25-54 break, this is the 5th consecutive month with slippage for year ago numbers. While the dips are slight, it's the trend that makes us nervous.
Looking to the next couple months, May has traditionally been quiet as the network awaits the end of sweeps. With zero new series, this year looks like it's on the same path. June is usually when things pick up as summer series are introduced. Hit series ICE ROAD TRUCKERS 3rd season debut kicks off the summer. Looks like the boys up north will be carrying ratings expectations along with their usual cargo this year.
APRIL 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Across the week, Tuesdays were the leader, Saturdays were way below the bottom, and everything else was within shouting distance of the network averages. As we've seen in prior months, there's not a lot of variance amongst programs. Steady continues to be the name of the game.
Two new series premiered this month. LIFE AFTER PEOPLE debuted on the last Tuesday so we only got a quick peek at its potential and so far it looks pretty good. Not only was it the highest rated telecast of the month, it landed the top spot in the key male demos. With HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE and THE UNIVERSE anchoring Tuesdays, and the addition of LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, the network's done a very nice job of building a night of science/history programming here. A second night of original programming can't be too far behind.
The second debut series is a sequel of sorts, PATTON 360. Using last year's BATTLE 360 as a template, this one takes a fresh look at General George Patton and his exploits across Africa and Europe during WWII. As with BATTLE 360, PATTON uses a generous mix of CGI and interviews to advance the story. Lest anything think that it's appeal is for the 65+ generation, think again. PATTON improved its MODERN MARVELS lead-in and outdrew the lead-out series in both key male demos all three weeks in April.
AX MEN hasn't fared as well in its second month of premieres. The American Original offering's male audience is down more than 20% from last month's opening, and 25-30% compared to last year. AX MEN is still slightly above the schedule's average male delivery, but it's clear the network had higher expectations after a solid first season. The shift to Monday might be some of the reason. More likely is oversaturation of the topic on cable. Looking at just Discovery and TLC, we count four other series on logging out there. That's a lot of tree cutting for any viewer!
HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE is a keeper. The 9pm anchor on the rising "science" night, the geology based series is delivering when it comes to the male audiences. A little better with the 25-54 crowd than the 18-49's, but solid in both demo breaks.
Once again, we find MONSTERQUEST doing well when it's in premieres, but having a tougher time on the repeats. Lead-out series UFO HUNTERS results were mixed, even on premiere episodes. Might explain the announced renewal of MONSTERQUEST in the net's upfront presentations, but no mention of UFO HUNTERS coming back.
GANGLAND keeps rolling along. Not really the highest of profiles, but it delivers every month. Premieres and repeats.
WARRIORS opened last month with a strong numbers and then fell off with subsequent episodes. This month the results were more steady. No big standouts and no miserable failures. It's pulling men at or above network averages, but the total viewers are very low. In fact, they're the lowest on the schedule. End result is a high concentration of men, something advertisers tend to flock towards.
One special of note aired this month, a look at the Bernie Madoff scandal. The timely nature was nice, but not enough to draw an audience. Bernie was way below net averages. Maybe viewers had their fill on the news networks.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS (5/09), AX MEN, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, THE UNIVERSE, MONSTERQUEST, ANCIENT DISCOVERIES, MODERN MARVELS
ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:
DECODING THE PAST, MEGA MOVERS, DOGFIGHTS, ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE, BONEYARD