JUNE 2011 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, 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.
JUNE 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / June 2011 vs. June 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Women were down roughly 30% for Lifetime in July, continuing an unsettling trend for the network. Lifetime's new scripted drama, AGAINST THE WALL, also stumbled upon arrival - compounding the channel's woes. While WALL - with its single, premiere telecast - was Lifetime's top program for the month, the opening episode did not live up to network expectations. WALL's ratings were comparable to last month's THE PROTECTOR - a show that has since fallen precipitously. Yet unlike PROTECTOR, WALL has managed to rise in recent weeks - a cautiously good omen for the hobbling network.
WALL fared best with women aged 25-54, while also attracting viewers among the younger demo. WALL also helped boost Sunday, giving the night relatively high viewership compared to the overall lows that plagued the majority of the week. Yet while WALL's lone telecast bumped Sunday's numbers, the night was truly saved by DROP DEAD DIVAS. While DIVA was far from transcendent, its four July episodes did quite well with women.
Saturdays, replete with both Lifetime Originals and acquired films, also performed satisfactorily for the network. Lifetime Originals GONE and BORN BAD both did especially well.
While weekends were solidly dependable, the rest of the week only enjoyed occasional high ratings. One of the rare shows that delivered was History acquisition PAWN STARS. The show helped prop Wednesdays up and also produced uncharacteristically strong male ratings for Lifetime. In fact, PAWN STARS made up over half of the network's top 20 telecasts for the month.
Similar to PAWN, AMERICAN PICKERS drew in a male-skewing audience with its Tuesday primetime slot. Thanks to the two programs, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were through the roof: PAWN was up a full 200% among men aged 18-49 and 25-54. Meanwhile, Wednesdays skyrocketed 120% among the male 18-49 demo and 140% among the older make demo.
Despite these gains, every main demographic for the month was down from last year with the sole exclusion of men aged 18-49 - which experienced no change. But amid these disappointing numbers was a bright spot in the form of PROJECT RUNWAY. RUNWAY (which premiered its 9th season on July 28th) had the biggest single telecast ratings by a wide margin. If this strong start can continue throughout August, Lifetime may finally experience a reprieve from the ratings doldrums.
The rest of Lifetime's schedule failed to catch the attention of audiences. Specifically, new show ROSANNE'S NUTS gave an underwhelming performance despite a fair bit of hype.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
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."