JANUARY 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 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.
JANUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2010 vs. January 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Spike's decline in HH delivery on 4 of 5 weeknights was mitigated by the fact that ratings for M18-49 grew each weeknight. Spike is still shedding older viewers, as the Median Age fell 5% from last January.
Losses in female demos every night contributed to the continuing decline in HH. With only two consistently scheduled weeknight series Spike depended on specials, scheduling stunts and Movies to populate the January lineup.
The big move of the month was the premiere of Spike's #1 series TNA IMPACT on a Monday, where it will permanently relocate in March, squaring off against its main 'rasslin' rival WWE RAW on USA at 9p. January's episode featured long-time fan favorite Hulk Hogan, and earned the highest ratings in the history of the TNA franchise.
Tuesday saw the premiere of the off-HBO ensemble series ENTOURAGE, with a double-run 9-10p. This led into a double run of the premiering original Spike sit-com BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE. Both dropped following their premiere week, and averaged 36% below the Prime average for HH and 20% below for RM18-49.
January's schedule makeover continued on Wednesdays, where the Network's #1 entertainment series 1000 WAYS TO DIE now enjoys a 5-stack from 8-1030p, leading into MANSWERS to round out the lineup. This strategy yielded the second-highest annual increase for M18-49, behind Monday, but fell of sharply from last month's UFC-centric offerings. MANSWERS generally holds most of its 1000 WAYS lead-in.
UFC-oriented fare combined with TNA Wrestling to drive Thursday nights. Thursdays are Spike's highest rated night , so the impact of the imminent move of the TNA franchise to Monday will be a significant challenge.
Friday continued to offer a mixed bag of scheduling blocks, with a tandem offering of DIE HARD movies leading the way, as the night improved the core demo by over 20% from last year.
Saturday benefited from a variety of UFC oriented specials and series episodes, but was done in by poorly performing Movies (the next-night repeat of the two DIE HARD titles) and a block of CSI on one night.
While Sunday suffered the steepest year-to-year demo declines, the night was saved from worse by the performance of two new films: the Spike premiere of THE KEEPER, followed by the Stephen Segal starring DRIVEN TO KILL. Together, they doubled the month's average HH rating; demos were up as well, although less dramatically.
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.