FEBRUARY 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. 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.
FEBRUARY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2011 vs. February 2010 (% 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, this key demo has now dropped for the twelfth month in a row. January saw only one night move into positive territory for HH ratings, and one for demo growth. HH and demo delivery were also down compared to last month, albeit more modestly.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT returned to 8pm on Mondays, leading into the 9p Movie, but dropped sharply from last year's combination of live events, including TNA Wrestling and UFC LIVE. A BRONX TALE was the top Movie offering on Monday. The night was essentially flat in the demo compared with last month.
Tuesday's original reality series AUCTION HUNTERS only ran for one week in January, with three weeks mostly filled with a block of the ubiquitous 1000 WAYS TO DIE. The night was up modestly in HH, but lost 1/3 of last year's M18-49 Rating. This may be of significant concern, as January 2010 featured multiple runs of failed series BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE and ENTOURAGE on Tuesday, neither of which connected with a significant audience on Spike. This may attest to overuse of the current episodes of 1000 WAYS TO DIE, as Season 4 premieres in February. New Tattoo series PERMANENT MARK premiered at 10 and 1030pm on January 18; while under-delivering its 9pm 1000 WAYS TO DIE lead-in, the 1030pm episode grew sharply from its 10pm lead-in.
Wednesday's year to year losses may also be the result of over-exposure for stalwart series 1000 WAYS TO DIE, whose 63 Prime runs in January represent 30% of Spike's total Prime schedule. The series is down overall by nearly 1/3 in delivery of HH and M18-49 from January 2010, continuing a trend which began in 4thQ 2010.
Thursday's combination of GANGLAND and TNA IMPACT were up slightly in the demo and essentially flat with last year's HH delivery, as well as that from December. TNA Wrestling's HH and demo ratings continued to sharply increase its GANGLAND lead-in at 9pm.
Fridays in December were hurt by four nights of a block of the declining 1000 WAYS TO DIE. The double-feature GRINDHOUSE earned the highest demos for the night in January.
Weekends featured UFC specials and Movie presentations, with Saturday led by top special UFC FIGHT FOR THE TROOPS and a telecast of the venerable THE EXORCIST. Sunday's demo drops were 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.