Lifetime Analysis - August 2011



* 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, 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.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2011 vs. August 2010  (% Change)





Monday 8-11pm





Tuesday 8-11pm





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MTWTFSS 8-11pm





Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Another month, another dive in ratings.  Aside from a few bright spots here and there, August adhered to Lifetime’s recent negative trend.  PROJECT RUNWAY and DROP DEAD DIVA were certainly the closest thing the network came to affirmative numbers.

RUNWAY, which premiered new episodes on Thursday nights, grabbed the top four telecast spots for the month.  The show, now in its ninth season, continues to dependably strike a chord with audiences.  Furthermore, it was the only show – aside from AMERICAN PICKERS – to attract a substantial male audience.  The show’s dominance helped make Thursday nights the biggest night among women aged 18-49 and 25-54.

DROP DEAD DIVA, meanwhile, was Lifetime’s most popular show overall.  DIVA’s August numbers exceeded July’s; bumping Sunday night’s household numbers to the top of the week.  DIVA’s core audience remains 25-54 but viewership from the 18-49 demo was only a hair below.

DIVA’s strong numbers offered a welcome lead-in for new show AGAINST THE WALL.  While WALL’s ratings have hardly been groundbreaking, they have remained impressively consistent.  The show has found a niche among women aged 25-54 but has also captured some appeal among younger women.

Following these three shows, the rest of the network’s ratings fall steeply.  AMERICAN PICKERS had pull among men as usual but failed to establish a firm female audience.  Still, there was some consolation in the fact that PICKERS experienced week-to-week growth throughout the month.

Similar show PICKER SISTERS – essentially AMERICAN PICKERS geared towards a female audience – put up decent numbers, trailing PICKERS by a slim margin.  Considering the show just premiered on the 2nd of the month, there is still room for the new show to gain traction.

PAWN STARS – similar to fellow History Channel acquisition AMERICAN PICKERS – was strong among men but flopped with women.  Despite this, STARS still managed to bob somewhere in the middle of the pack.  This was much more than could be said about trifecta of failure THE PROTECTOR, REBA, and ROSEANNE’S NUTS.

THE PROTECTOR muddled through August in a quietly dismal way, seeping viewers with each passing week.  And while REBA was also lackluster, nothing compared to the sheer nonentity that is ROSEANNE’S NUTS. All indications suggest that the Rosanne Barr vehicle will not be renewed.


Lifetime is aggressively expanding its drama series development plate bringing scripted strategy to the forefront.  Lifetime intends on ordering additional pilots and scripted series programs.

Exec Nancy Dubuc is putting her stamp on Lifetime's scripted programming lineup, ordering two character-based detective dramas - EXIT 19 and AGAINST THE WALL the first scripted skein ordered by Dubuc since she took over the cabler last year, doubling Lifetime's series slate to four.  This is in addition to Lifetime's commitment for 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.

Dubuc has stated, "Over the last several months, we have been working tirelessly on a new development slate of scripted dramas, nonfiction series and original movies at Lifetime. Continuing our legacy of great scripted dramas is critical to our success. The relationships and environments so brilliantly created in both of these dramas are unique to today's landscape and promise to deliver the high quality auspices and great emotional storytelling you can expect from Lifetime in the future."