MAY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
TLC, which has seldom done topical specials got fantastic numbers with two recently - one about the amazing, all-souls-saved Hudson River crash landing and the other about Tiger Woods' scandalous private life in the wake of his Thanksgiving auto accident. It's hard to imagine that on the heels of these successes execs at TLC aren't talking about getting more into the pipeline. The schedule tends toward stacking by theme or editorial sensibility, rather than by title alone. They do not strip. Only one night is reliably themed: Turbo Thursdays are very male - AMERICAN CHOPPER and BBQ PITMASTERS dominate there, at the moment. Weekends carry mostly one-off hours, off-network newsmagazine reversions and, most recently a few specials.
MAY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2010 vs.May 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
TLC has two things to look forward to: the new Summer program launches (and the Marketing campaign that supports it) and the return of Kate Gosselin and her 8 cuter-than-ever kids. Love-her or hate-her, she seems to keep audiences interested in what she's up to next.
May seemed to be a transitional month for TLC with many schedule slots switching out for various titles until new and returning series debut in June to take over their pre-determined timeslots.
Kate's return is great news because there are some huge year-to-year benchmarks that were set last year. Cake Boss has done a very good driving Monday nights but hasn't hit the huge numbers that the tabloid friendly Gosselin gang did. That translates to huge deficits year-on-year for Monday nights.
Overall (beyond Mondays), TLC only had modest declines in Households for Tuesdays and Sundays and only had slight declines in Women 18-49 and 25-54 on Tuesday nights. The averages pan out to declines versus last year but would actually show growth without the Monday night losses.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
If this network has had a very, very wild ride in the last 12 months, it's only stronger for it. They rode the JON & KATE PLUS 8 bucking bronco for all it was worth - and as measured by ratings alone, it was worth a lot. While the schedule was an unpredictable mess for a while (it sometimes felt like Jon & Kate & Whatever Else We Have Lying Around), it turns out some solid series were developing or coming into themselves at the same time. 18 KIDS AND COUNTING, LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD and CAKE BOSS. Character-driven family and ensemble casts are in favor here. You'll notice many series are structured to work without a narrator, but this does not suggest lazy production. Good episodes of any of TLC's successful series are driven by very solid, logical, emotional storytelling. An executive with highly respected scheduling skills and development instincts joined upper management here recently. Executives at this network will know what they want, and have a well above average ability to articulate this. Seek them out. Trust what they say. Watch their air carefully. Better still, follow them closely, right here!