Spike TV Analysis - August 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER and other UFC-related series and specials pop up a lot in different days/time slots, occupying at least 1/3 of the Prime grid, and figuring prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. Sports entertainment series TNA IMPACT which generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month is moving to Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head, and will be offering live action every other week. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.

Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy.  Spike has been focusing its development slate on comedy as well as drama, in addition to their library of action movies and stunts.   Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network movie product as they have beefed up their acquisition purchases with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2010 vs. August 2009  (% Change)



Monday 8-11pm



Tuesday 8-11pm



Wednesday 8-11pm



Thursday 8-11pm



Friday 8-11pm



Saturday 8-11pm



Sunday 8-11pm



MTWTFSS 8-11pm



Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where losses in HH delivery experienced in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, in 2010 this key demo has now dropped for the seventh month in a row. HH and RM18-49 declined in August every night of the week, except for Sunday.

Spike, which had been shedding older viewers in early 2010, has experienced the opposite over the past few months, with August up 8% in Median Age compared to last year, as well as last month. This could explain why M18-49 are falling faster than overall HH delivery. Spike's movies and CSI, both of which skew more A25-54 than A18-49, seem to be the main culprits in the aging process this month.

Monday's high points were runs of RAMBO and BLADE:TRINITY under the Spike TV Movie umbrella. Repeats of DEADLIEST WARRIOR replaced the off-HBO ENTOURAGE at 8pm, providing a compatible lead-in for the action flicks at 9pm. With more scheduling synergy, Monday boasted the greatest weeknight growth over July in HH and key demos.

The premiere of original reality series SCRAPPERS at 10 and 1030pm was the big news  on Tuesday.While SCRAPPERS overall demo delivery was only 17% under the network average for the month, on Tuesdays from Week 1 to Week 4, RM18-49 fell 35%.  Overall, the night improved slightly over last month, while declining a similar percentage from last year.

On Wednesdays, Season 5 of PROS VS JOES replaced  a variety of UFC- related fare at 10pm, leading out of a batch of  ULTIMATE KNOCKOUT Specials at 9pm. PROS VS JOES earned the #2 series position for RM18-49, behind perennial leader TNA IMPACT. All five of the ULTIMATE KNOCKOUTS specials ranked in the top 20 for August. Despite this, the night was down sharply from last year, and modestly from July.

TNA Wrestling grew 10% in RM18-49 in its third month since Spike's top franchise returned to Thursday nights, and sharply increases its lead-in at 9pm. Due to this month-to-month growth, the year-to-year demo and HH losses from previous surveys have nearly reversed themselves, as the night posted modest growth over July, overall.

Fridays in August were dominated by CSI and ENTOURAGE, series which have failed in the past to gain much traction with Spike's core demo. This pairing led to the steepest year-to-year and month-to-month demo losses of any night in August. Median Age also climbed the most on Fridays compared to both 2009 and July.

Despite the success of Movies such as A DANGEROUS MAN, DRIVEN TO KILL and two of the classic STAR WARS offerings, Saturday was undone by a marathon of the old series JOE SCHMO one night and a GANGLAND/ SCRAPPERS block on another; both underdelivered the Prime average, leaving the night as a whole in negative territory compared to last year and last month.

Sunday's increases over last year and last month were fueled by more runs of the RAMBO and STAR WARS franchises.


Spike is making a bigger play for its target 18-49 male audience with an increased output of original scripted comedies, focusing on shows with sports themes. January 2010's premiere of BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE  is a good example.

Spike sees itself as an entertainment-driven factual Network aimed solidly at younger men. Much of their Prime line-up is dedicated to physical competition, whether from its Sports division (UFC) or Original Entertainment (DEADLIEST WARRIOR.)

Movies also occupy a significant amount of the schedule, but the concentration is on Theatricals, rather than original M.O.W.'s. In its quest to differentiate itself from its competition, Spike looks to take on traditional genres, but with a twist. Specials about historical warriors have appeared on History, Discovery and National Geographic (all of which Spike counts among their competitors,) but in Spike's DEADLIEST WARRIORS, two different eras and cultures are pitted against each other in a tournament format that puts each unique style to the test. Producers should keep this imperative in mind when developing projects aimed at this Network.

Comedic elements, where germane to the project, are also favored by the Network. One sub-genre that Spike is currently staying away from is Disaster-related fare.