Spike TV Analysis - July 2010

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JULY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

JULY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-30%

-49%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-19%

-19%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-22%

-22%

Thursday 8-11pm

--20%

-28%

Friday 8-11pm

-40%

-41%

Saturday 8-11pm

29%

13%

Sunday 8-11pm

-22%

-40%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-20%

-28%

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 dropped for the sixth month in a row, along with continuing HH losses from the corresponding month in 2009. RM18-49 declined significantly in July every night of the week, except for Saturday.

Spike, which had been shedding older viewers in 2010, experienced an abrupt increase in its Median Age in June - up 9% versus June 2009, and a whopping 15% compared to May 2010. This aging trend abated somewhat in July, with the Spike up only 4% in Median Age compared to last year. 
Monday's repeat of WW II-set BAND OF BROTHER and Sunday's CSI block added the lion's share to the aging process, up 28% and 21%, respectively, in Median Age over last year.

Mondays were down in the demo by half from last year, and by nearly 1/5 from an already weak June. Seven runs of off-HBO ENTOURAGE, consistently under-delivered its lead-in and lead-out, bringing down the night as a whole. RM18-49 for ENTOURAGE was 45% below Spike's Prime average for the month. 

DEADLIEST WARRIOR dominates Tuesday's schedule, with delivery down slightly from last year while flat with last month.

Wednesdays feature a variety of UFC- related fare, with 10pm ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED the top offering. Poorer performance from older episodes of the series earlier in the evening led to significant declines from June and last year.

TNA Wrestling grew sharply in the demo, in its second month since Spike's top franchise returned to Thursday nights, and sharply increases its lead-in at 9pm. TNA's RM18-49 was up 29% from June, when the series returned to Thursday after an ill-fated foray to take on USA's WWE franchise on Mondays earlier this year. Despite this month-to-month growth, demo and HH losses from last year continued on Thursdays.

Fridays in July featured blocks of KNOCKOUT SPORTSWORLD as a July stunt. Under-delivering Spike's monthly average for M18-49 by 32%, the series still led to modest grwoth in the demo over June.

Saturday's increases over last year and last month were fueled by the HOOTERS SWIMSUIT PAGEANT, as well as a live UFC event, which was the #2 demo earner for the month.

Sundays mixed bag of series episodes and specials declined sharply from last year and modestly from last month. The premiere of the latest RAMBO title was Spike's #1 offering for July in HH and demos; two vintage STAR WARS titles also performed well on Sunday. A block of CSI episodes the last two weeks of the month undercut their momentum, however, leading to the aforementioned declines.

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.

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