DECEMBER 2010 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, 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 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 sit-com 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.
DECEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% Change)
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 eleventh month in a row. December saw three nights move into positive territory for HH ratings, albeit with little demo growth. Delivery was essentially flat with last month.
Spike's recent trend of shedding younger viewers for older returned in December after two months of relative stability in Median Age. Compared to last year, December was up +6% in this category.
This overall aging tendency could explain why RM18-49 continued to fall faster than overall HH ratings in December.
UFC-related fare and two runs of the movie BAD SANTA led Monday's mix of movies and series offerings, although a night-long block of the series JAIL brought down the overall average, compared to last year. The night was up modestly from November in the demo
Tuesday's original reality series AUCTION HUNTERS grew by 1/3 in HH and the demo over its November 2010 premiere. Its delivery improved when run in a full three hour block the last two weeks of December, compared to the previous two weeks where 1000 WAYS TO DIE led in from 8-9pm. AUCTION HUNTERS is Spike's highest-rated non-sports offering.
Wednesday's year to year losses may be the result of over-exposure for stalwart series 1000 WAYS TO DIE, whose 56 Prime runs over the last two months represent over 12% of Spike's total Prime efforts. The series is down by nearly half in delivery of M18-49 from December 2009. 1030pm offering MANSWERS generally declined from the 1000 WAYS TO DIE lead-in, further compromising Wednesday.
Thursday's combination of GANGLAND and TNA IMPACT were up slightly in HH and essentially flat with last year's demo delivery, as well as that from November. TNA Wrestling's HH and demo ratings continued to sharply increase its new GANGLAND lead-in at 9pm.
Fridays in December were hurt by two nights of a block of the declining 1000 WAYS TO DIE, whose lower ratings were somewhat mitigated by a block of AUCTION HUNTERS the third Friday of the month HH and demos were up modestly from November.
Weekends featured UFC specials and series blocks slotted around Movie presentations. Sunday's HH growth was spurred by blocks of CSI.
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.)
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.