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.
Historically a network rooted in scripted programming, Lifetime has struck a balance between traditional dramas and spunky reality shows. Lifetime parlayed the success of PROJECT RUNWAY into slate of unscripted programming to complement established hits such as ARMY WIVES and, more recently, THE CLIENT LIST.
DECEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Thanks to strong Lifetime Original Movies and the emergence of popular show THE CLIENT LIST, 2012 was a positive year for the network. While there were no enormous shifts in scheduling strategy, Lifetime made wise programming choices.
In December, Lifetime movies propelled the network to ratings gains from both a monthly and yearly standpoint.
While films are always a strong component of Lifetime’s schedule, it’s unique that the top five spots would all go to movies. This happenstance can be attributed to the holiday season. The top movie of the month was MERRY IN-LAWS. The Christmas themed film scored its largest audience among women 25 – 54.
This demo was also very receptive to the rest of Lifetime’s long list of holiday themed movies. All told, there were a total of 14 films within the network’s top 20 telecasts for the month – the vast majority of which were Christmas related.
Lifetime Original SHE MADE THEM DO IT was one of the few non-holiday themed films that aired in December. The film, which relates the true story of a murderer turned fugitive – was the third most watched movie (after IN-LAWS and THE REAL ST. NICK.)
Saturdays and Sundays – the days that Lifetime primarily airs high profile movies – where the network’s most popular night of the week.
In terms of shows, Lifetime’s biggest collective draw was HOARDERS. The program, which is an acquisition from parent channel A&E, aired a total of two telecasts and earned its largest audience amongst women 25 – 54.
While HOARDERS may technically have ranked higher in the ratings (due to a greater overall average), PROJECT RUNWAY actually had the more impressive month. RUNWAY was the only show to make significant inroads into the network’s top 20 telecasts besides the movies. Five RUNWAY episodes – all five December premieres – managed to make the cut. The show found its biggest audience among women 18 – 49.
ABBEY’S ULTIMATE DANCE COMPETITION enjoyed a steep rise in ratings as it closed out its first season this December. It appears the show gained some end of season momentum – it was up 30% among women 18 – 49 and 33% with women 25 – 54.
Likewise THE HOUSTON’S: ON OUR OWN also saved some of its best ratings for its final few episodes. In December, the show was up 60% (18 – 49) and 50% (25 – 54) with women compared to last month.
In 2013, Lifetime will pursue scripted drama series featuring strong female leads. One such series revolving around Renee Zellweger is currently in development.