Lifetime's programming strategy is now all about women having choices. Once the cable channel best known for its women in peril flicks, Lifetime has taken the dive into edgy comedies and upcoming tele-novela style melodramas. They look for reality competition shows, game shows, scripted dramas geared to 25-54 demo.
PROJECT RUNWAY was a key asset for Lifetime. A network known for movies since the beginning, has come to expect high quality entertainment scripted shows. Unscripted shows however, have always been a challenge for them because it's not part of their brand expectation. RUNWAY, a top competition show, enabled them to branch out and acquire new reality shows and use RUNWAY as a launching pad for new programs.
MAY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2012 vs. May 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Both Lifetime’s monthly and yearly ratings were down this past May, primarily due to the underperformance of its top two April shows. The first, ARMY WIVES slipped 21% and 22% among women aged 18-49 and 25-54 respectively.
Despite ARMY WIVES’ ratings dip, the show remained Lifetime’s most viewed program of the month. WIVES earned its largest audience among women aged 25-54. Both the 18-49 and 25-54 demo tuned in on Sundays for the program, making it the highest rated night of the week. Though it was the most watched night by all key demos, primetime Sundays were still down: both 18-49 and 25-54 women declined 7%.
The other underperformer was THE CLIENT LIST, which also aired on Sunday nights. CLIENT debuted last month and received encouraging numbers. Upon entering May, those ratings have since declined (but not to an alarming degree.) The show has proven a hit among women aged 18-49 over any other group. Among this coveted demo, there was a very modest month-to-month decline of 2%. The 25-54 demo experienced a steeper decline of 13%.
The top six spots were shared by each of the two shows’ premiere episodes for the month. Ratings for WIVES and CLIENT both stayed fairly consistent, albeit lower than the month before.
Elsewhere on the schedule, Lifetime doubled down on murder themed films: MURDER ON THE 13th FLOOR and MURDER IN GREENWICH, along with four other morbid thrillers served as the most popular telecasts for the network following WIVES and CLIENT. These six similarly themed films (both Lifetime originals as well as acquired) garnered strong primetime weekend ratings.
Weeknights, unfortunately, did not fare nearly as well. For half the month, Mondays featured solid blocks of REBA. The acquired program did poorly with its intended audience – women aged 25-54. Likewise, Wednesdays – which typically featured a solid three hours of WIFE SWAP – posted unimpressive numbers.
New episodes of AMERICA’S MOST WANTED (which aired on Fridays) ended up in the middle of the ratings. Thanks to the long-running show’s revival on Lifetime, Friday viewership among men aged 18-49 and 25-54 have risen 50%.
Reruns of DANCE MOMS were the worst rated program of the month. Meanwhile, ratings for new episodes of spinoff DANCE MOMS: MIAMI were a far cry from the original at its peak.