Spike TV Analysis - May 2010

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MAY 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.

MAY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

M18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-32%

-41%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-20%

-15%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-14%

12%

Thursday 8-11pm

-24%

-32%

Friday 8-11pm

-48%

-56%

Saturday 8-11pm

58%

67%

Sunday 8-11pm

-9%

-15%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-17%

-14%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where declines in HH delivery in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, this key demo has now dropped  for the fourth month in a row, along with continuing HH losses from the corresponding month in 2009. RM18-49 declined in May on 5 of 7 nights, and were also down slightly from last month. It should be noted that NBA and NHL playoffs continued in May, as did Major League Baseball, all of which compete for Spike's demo.

Spike is still shedding older viewers, with the Median Age falling 6% from last May, and 2% from April 2010.

Losses in female demos every weeknight in May also contributed to the continuing annual decline in HH ratings.

Where only one time period was consistently programmed in April, Spike sported five regularly scheduled time-slots in May, including the recently relocated TNA IMPACT. It appears that the network's resolve to compete head-to-head with USA's dominant WWE on Mondays has withered in the face of TNA IMPACT's declining ratings, and Spike has replaced it with movies and series episodes. In addition to considerable losses versus May 2009, the night was down by modest double digits in HH and demos from last month.

Still to be determined is the ultimate effect on viewership of moving TNA IMPACT from Thursday at 9pm to Monday at 9pm to Monday at 8pm, and then back to Thursday at 9pm - all within the space of three months. Compared this month's numbers to Feb 2010 (the last month that the series ran uninterrupted Thursdays at 9pm) TNA IMPACT has lost one third of HH and M18-49.

DEA replaced ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED at 8pm on Tuesdays. The night was down overall by modest double-digits compared to last year and last month, and is still led by new episodes of DEADLIEST WARRIOR at 10pm..

Wednesdays feature a variety of UFC- related fare, with 10pm THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER leading the way to modest growth for M18-49, although the block was down from last month.

Movies combine with the return of TNA Wrestling  premieres on Thursday nights, as Spike seeks to reclaim the formerly strong viewership the latter vehicle drove on this night. While down sharply from last year, the night grew significantly over April

Fridays in May featured 8p CSI, followed by a block of 1000 WAYS TO DIE and ENTOURAGE from 9-11p. This resulted in the month's steepest demo losses vs. last year and last month.

Saturday's sharp increases over last year and last month were fueled by four Star Wars movies, as well as a live UFC event. Sunday declined modestly from last year and last month, with the exception of older men. RM25-54 was up 25% over April, with two runs of the original Star Wars films proving the top draw for that demo.

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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