Lifetime Analysis - June 2011

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* 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 / May 2011 vs. May 2010  (% Change)





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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

May was a tale of two demographics for Lifetime: yearly growth among men was excellent while female viewership tanked.  The impressive male gains were identical in both the 18-49 and 25-54 age demos, demonstrating a widespread appeal.   This welcome audience boost can be rooted to a few factors.  Namely, the trifecta of ARMY WIVES, COMING HOME, and AMERICAN PICKERS have helped up the male appeal of the typically feminine network. And while Lifetime remains a drastically female-skewing channel, the network is pleased with its recent influx of crossover viewers.

Once again, ARMY WIVES took the number one spot by a wide margin.  Female viewership was stellar by any standard and the male audience was excellent considering the network.   WIVES premiered four new episodes each Sunday night and they collectively claimed the top four telecast spots.  As WIVES speeds to its series finale, the show continues to gain traction with viewers - the two most recent episodes were also the most highly rated.

Sunday airings of WIVES were complemented by similar-themed show COMING HOME.  Together, the two programs hoisted Sundays into the highest-rated night of the week.  While not nearly as strong as WIVES, HOME puts its popular lead-in to good use:  it was Lifetime's second best show in May and drew in significant male and female audiences. The four premiere episodes of COMING HOME picked up where WIVES left off and filled out the rest of the top eight telecast spots.

AMERICAN PICKERS rated a hair below WIVES among men and accounted for the incredible 167% Tuesday night surge.  PICKERS was the only show for the month that performed better with men than women, although it proved popular among both sexes.  PICKERS proves that Lifetime has room to expand and transform as a network.

May featured a handful of Lifetime original movies including REVIVING OPHELIA, THE PERFECT HUSBAND, OBSESSED, and WILLIAM & KATE.  As usual, Lifetime peppered its primetime schedule with solid blocks of movies to good effect.

May also saw the premiere of new show VANISHED WITH BETH HALLOWAY.  VANISHED features the mother of murder victim Natalee Halloway and explores unsolved crimes.  The show has been met with a decent reception - especially among women.  This new show is part of a larger initiative toward more crime-based materials.  Lifetime has two new scripted crime dramas on the horizon: AGAINST THE WALL and EXIT 19.   Lifetime hopes that these shows will be a springboard to launch a broader slate of scripted television.

The bottom-rated shows included re-runs of REBA and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER as well as drug docus METH: A COUNTRY IN CRISIS and METH'S DEADLY HIGH.


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."