TNT Analysis - July 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


Sunday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. BONES and (usually) LAW & ORDER have become a big part of the schedule, trying to hold up the Monday through Wednesday originals.  NBA runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and/or a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday and Saturday, plus Sundays when originals are not running.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / June 2011 vs.June 2010  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

2011 is not proving to be TNT's year. Despite numerous program launches and acquisitions, core women 25-54 audiences are leaving TNT. July and August are typically the best-rated months of TNT's year, but this July's primetime demo ratings were lower than the 2010 annual average. The only thing really working for TNT this year has been NBA playoffs. Other than April and May when playoffs dominated primetime, core year over year ratings have been off by double digits, ranging from an 11% drop in February to a 24% drop in June. This July, when TNT is running on all of its scripted original cylinders, women 25-54 ratings are down by 18% from July 2010.

Wednesdays and Sundays were the only nights to show year over year improvements. Wednesday night lost women viewers, but picked up some men vs. last year. Wednesdays were helped by newly acquired THE MENTALIST, which started slow last month but improved by more than 20% on demo this month, and is now pacing ahead of LAW & ORDER. Wednesday nights were also host to FRANKLIN AND BASH, TNT's new legal dramedy that delivered below the network average and the now cancelled MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE.

Sunday's performance was as good as it got at TNT this July. Not only did Sunday actually grow vs. last year, it delivered the best ratings of the week for men and adults. With LEVERAGE and FALLING SKIES leading the way, Sunday night was even with last month and improved by 18% on men 25-54 and 10% on adults 25-54 vs. last year. LEVERAGE has shown good signs of growth from last year, when it was running without a companion program. FALLING SKIES sits at the top of the men and adult ratings rankers despite double digit declines from last month, Both shows have received renewal orders.

The rest of the week brought disappointing numbers. Monday nights were dominated by THE CLOSER and RIZZOLI & ISLES, which both bring a lot of older women to TNT. They are both down significantly from last year. Still, Monday is TNT's best-rated night for women.

Tuesday features MEMPHIS BEAT and HAWTHORNE. Both of these programs improved from last month but saw severe losses from last year.

Even BONES and LAW & ORDER, the solid foundation for TNT's dramas saw double digit demo declines this month.

NASCAR races on Saturday nights helped the weekend, but movies fell dramatically. With all of the losses on core women 25-54, TNT's bottom line now holds an even male/female skew.


TNT is struggling as its audiences fade away. This year's onslaught of competitive scripted originals is taking its toll. The Monday through Wednesday female skewing dramas are struggling. The programs that are working best and gaining momentum are the male-skewing action dramas, which tie in nicely with the acquired movie library and sports programming. Will TNT change course and begin a bigger focus on men, or will it contine to target women? Active programming in-development goes both ways - a period western for men, DALLAS, the next generation for women and a crime-solving drama for both.

It is worth noting that TNT tends to order short seasons (10 eps. is average) for its originals. Series that need momentum to build to acceptable heights are at high risk of running out of time.