AUGUST 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER and other UFC-related series and specials pop up a lot in different days/time slots, although they no longer occupy the 1/3 of the Prime grid, at least, that they did earlier in 2010. They still figure prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. With their imminent departure to Fox Networks in 2012, Spike will be trying to replace their strong demos with new fare.
Sports entertainment series IMPACT WRESTLING (formerly TNA IMPACT) which generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month has returned to Thursday nights from a several-month-long sojourn on Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.
Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy, having recently introduced reality game show REPO GAMES, sitcom BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE and reality series SCRAPPERS and AUCTION HUNTERS. Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network product. Starting October 2011, Spike TV will broadcast two back-to-back episodes of the sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS in prime time twice a week.
In addition they have recently invested in Theatrical acquisitions with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.
AUGUST2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2011 vs. August2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Following its first year-to-year Ratings uptick in 18 months this past July, HH and M18-49 were essentially flat in August. This top-line average, though, masks a significant problem: not only did every night other than Friday decline versus August 2010 (which was down in turn from August 2009,) but Friday night's considerable growth in August stems from Spike's replacing female skewing CSI and under-performing ENTOURAGE from last year with ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED. Along with all other UFC-related fare, this series will be leaving Spike for Fox and FX in January, and Spike must scramble to replace the declining men demos it still delivers.
Spike's Median Age dropped 2% from last year - quite a recovery from May's 17% increase over the same period last year. AUCTION HUNTER-dominated Tuesday night's average viewer was 22% older in 2011, compared to a lineup dominated by DEADLIEST WARRIOR in 2010.
July saw a return to "on-the-clock" scheduling halfway through the survey. This strategy, which remained six nights per week in August, better lends itself to schedules dependent on stacking similar length series back-to-back, as Spike now does four nights per week.
Monday's stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE grew from 8-1030pm, with demo delivery dropping in the last half hour. The night was flat in HH and the demo from last month and last year.
On Tuesday, the AUCTION HUNTERS three hour block evinced an older Male appeal, as M25-54 grew 13% over August 201, while RM18-49 was off by 2%. From week 1 to week 4 of the survey HH and demos grew in the 30% range. Both were up modestly from last month.
DEADLIEST WARRIOR was flat month-to-month on Wednesday, while declining modestly in young men from August 2010.
Thursday's combination of JAIL and IMPACT WRESTLING was down modestly from last year's and July's HH and demo delivery. IMPACT's HH and demo ratings sharply increase its JAIL lead-in at 9pm.
Year-to-year demo delivery in August grew sharply on Fridays, with 66% of the slots filled by ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED, following GANGLAND at 8pm. Compared to the lack of M18-49-appeal shown by last year's block of CSI and ENTOURAGE GANGLAND, this night more than doubled its demo delivery.
Saturday's UFC 133 PRELIMS was the top Weekend offering, with THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK the top movie for RM18-49.
On Sunday, a block of AUCTION HUNTERS led into new series BAR RESCUE , which held or improved its lead-in at 1030pm. BAR RESCUE also continued to grow week to week, up 27% for HH M18-49 Ratings from week 1 to week 4 of the survey. Delivery was down slightly from 2010's Movie-centric lineup.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
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.) They are facing the challenge of needing to replace their UFC-related series and specials when the package moves to the Fox networks, including direct competitor FX, in January.
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.