AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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, now has come to expect high quality entertainment scripted shows Unscripted shows, however, hasve always been a challenge for them because it's not part of their brand expectation. So to air one of the top competition reality shows like RUNWAY on cable not only gives them a great series, but also gives them a beachhead in that space and allows them to launch new shows.
AUGUST 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2010 vs. August 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Compared to August 2009, Lifetime's overall primetime averages were up. Share was up +29% and delivery was up +18%, respectively. Women 18-49 were also up +19% in delivery overall. As new original series were added to the Tuesday and Thursday night line-ups, the ratings spiked. DROP DEAD DIVA was up +47% share, ARMY WIVES was up +46% and PROJECT RUNWAY was up +45% from one year ago.
Lifetime's primetime monthly average for ratings, share and demo delivery were up this month compared to last month. Overall share was up +14% and delivery was up +15%, respectively. REBA continued this month as the lead-in to primetime movies. REBA was up +18% share overall. Prime MOVIES were down this month. And even though there was a solid mix of theatricals and MOW's, originals were the name of the game this month and just the right antedocte to bring the ratings back up for this network. After moving the original movies to Monday nights, Lifetime created a 90-minute version of PROJECT RUNWAY. PROJECT RUNWAY season #8 premiered on Thursday, July 29th, and the Women 18-49 ratings have been up +3% and +7% among Women 25-54 in the third quarter, making the first increases for the show in two years on Lifetime. Newcomer ON THE ROAD WITH AUSTIN & SANTINO premiered July 29th as well, following RUNWAY and already looks like a winner.
Tuesday nights stack of WIFE SWAP and CHEERLEADER NATION brought the demos back for that night. Even though they did not retain the lead-in numbers from REBA, nor does it perform as well a prime MOVIE, it does open up another destination night for originals. We'll have to give this one some more time.
DROP DEAD DIVA was up +47% share this month. ARMY WIVES was up +23%. ARMY WIVES season #4 finale delivered the drama's most-watched episode of the year across multiple demos. Sunday night programming has traditionally been some of the strongest competition between the broadcast and cable networks. Lifetime seems to be back strong on its way to becoming more contemporary and competitive. Once the highest rated female targeted cable network out there, it already looks like they are inching their way back. A year after it was absorbed by Arts & Entertainment Television Networks, Lifetime seems to be showing a bit more life. Scheduling changes have boosted ratings, and new programming is being developed.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Lifetime has committed to a four hour movie "Marry Me" fom SONY Pictures Television which is set to premiere around the holidays this year. Lifetime aired the two-part movie "Maneater" last year and is continuing its commitment to multinight pics.
Production is underway for three Lifetime drama pilots: Against the Wall, Exit 19 and an untitled Josh Berman project starring Sherry Stringfield and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Lifetime also has six non-scripted shows in the works and is considering original programming for daytime as well.
Nancy Dubuc, Lifetime's new GM has every intention of bringing back the brand to number one in the ratings - lots of research and investing in originals. Women are the biggest consumer group in the country, and the network has built a brand reaching the average woman.
In the network's first creative package of this kind, Lifetime is serving up a customized sponsorship for Outback in support of the restaurant chain's "15 meals for under $15" campaign and its movie nights. The "Live Adventurous, Love Adventurous" vignettes highlight the custom, co-branded package in which Outback will sponsor Lifetime's airing of theatricals. Lifetime along with other cable networks are doing more and more on-air sponsorships with customized content for both brands.
Lifetime's long-term strategy is to evolve the Lifetime brand to a more contemporary, energetic, relevant place. Lifetime exec Wong indicated that PROJECT RUNWAY was "exactly the shot in the arm" for this kind of programming. However, the declining ratings of RUNWAY has some people wondering. However the decision to air the show against the heart of the broadcasters' fall launches has made it tougher to compete. Lifetime has also commented that they cannot judge the series on a short-term basis. RUNWAY will be a long-term strategic play for them. Reality in general is not part of the brand expectation for Lifetime. Every time they tried to launch a reality show in the past, it was an island on the schedule.
A network mainly known for movies and a brand that has been associated with it forever has now branched out to new new original series not onl scripted but now unscripted which has always been a challenge for them in the past. Unscripted programming will bring Lifetime into a new arena and will be a challenge for them to explore.
They are also looking for more series like DIVA, shows that have a sense of humor, and programming fare that has a lighter, escapist attitude.
At Lifetime's recent upfront for 2009-2010, they have put together a slate of development for movies, scripted and unscripted series that reflects their commitment to growing and evolving the Lifetime brand. Lifetime will ramp up their drama development, comedy and original movies, by producing 12 new original movies for next year.
Lifetime's mission, according to the network's tag line is to "celebrate, entertain and support women." JoAnn Alfano, the network's executive vice president of entertainment, said Lifetime Networks' task is serve a "broad palette" of women with a robust slate of new scripted and unscripted programming and tent-pole movie events on Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network. At Lifetime, with a lot of original programming and varied constituencies to serve, the trick is to remain the "destination for women" while bringing new, younger viewers into the tent.
Lifetime's programming strategy is now all about women having choices. To be able to lose themselves in sitcoms or find themselves via dramas. It's now all about women being portrayed as women whom they can connect with. 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; new artists, writers, hosts, reality & scripted show pitches and digital/new media content. They are also looking for more series like DIVA, shows that have a sense of humor, and programming fare that has a lighter, escapist attitude.