SEPTEMBER 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. With their imminent departure to Fox Networks in 2012, Spike will be trying to replace their strong demos with new fare.
Sports entertainment series IMPACT WRESTLING (formerly 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 reality game show REPO GAMES, sitcom 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.
SEPTEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2011 vs. September 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Third quarter saw a turn-around to Spike's fortunes with the first year-to-year Ratings uptick in 18 months this past July, an essentially flat performance in August, and now a small improvement in September. This top-line average, though, masks a significant problem: most of Spike's growth in September comes from replacing female skewing CSI and under-performing ENTOURAGE from last year with ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED and a second full night of AUCTION HUNTERS. Along with all other UFC-related fare, ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED will be leaving Spike for Fox and FX in January, and Spike must scramble to replace its men demos.
Spike's Median Age dropped 4% from last year - quite a recovery from the rapid aging seen earlier in the year.
Spike returned to "on-the-clock" scheduling this summer, a strategy which remained six nights per week in August. While this strategy better lends itself to schedules dependent on stacking similar length series back-to-back, as Spike now does six nights per week, September saw the occasional reversion to "off-the-clock" scheduling on Monday and Tuesday. In each case, ratings were higher on the "on-the-clock" nights vs. those scheduled in a more random fashion.
Monday's stack of 1000 WAYS TO DIE grew from 8-1030pm, with demo delivery dropping in the last half hour. The night was flat in HH and the demo from last month, up slightly in HH from last year. A night of perennial favorite STAR WARS movies were the ratings highlight for Monday, along with the one Monday where the 1000 WAYS TO DIE block started on the hour and half-hour.
On Tuesday, the AUCTION HUNTERS three hour block (which also had its worst week when it was scheduled off the clock) was up modestly from last month and last year.
New episodes of Wednesday's DEADLIEST WARRIOR led to sharp month-to-month growth while declining across the board from the UFC-centric lineup back in September 2010.
Thursday's combination of ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLIMITED and IMPACT WRESTLING was up modestly from last year's and August's HH and demo delivery. IMPACT's HH and demo ratings sharply increase its lead-in at 9pm.
Year-to-year demo delivery in August grew sharply on Fridays, with UFC-related fare mixed with blocks of GANGLAND evincing more M18-49-appeal than that of shown by last year's block of CSI and ENTOURAGE.
Saturday's UFC specials were the top Weekend offering, with two classic STAR WARS titles repping the week's top Movie offerings.
On Sunday, a block of AUCTION HUNTERS led into new series BAR RESCUE , which held or improved its lead-in at 1030pm. Demo Delivery was up significantly from 2010's CSI-centric lineup.