TNT Analysis - June 2010

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JUNE 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Monday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. With the June addition of back-to-back runs of LEVERAGE, Sunday night now features original programming as well. BONES has become a big part of the schedule, trying to hold up those Monday through Wednesday originals. This May LAW & ORDER was back, giving BONES some lead-in relief. NBA usually runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and/or a movie. Theatricals dominate Friday through Sunday.

JUNE 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-36%

-34%

-38%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-9%

-3%

-9%

Wednesday 8-11pm

27%

7%

10%

Thursday 8-11pm

10%

4%

7%

Friday 8-11pm

14%

30%

25%

Saturday 8-11pm

39%

48%

60%

Sunday 8-11pm

6%

-2%

8%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

1%

6%

5%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

JUNE 2010: TNT was off the basketball court and back in the drama game this month. There will be more scripted series on cable than ever this summer, and TNT is among the leaders, programming four nights of originals.

This June TNT launched one new series (MEMPHIS BEAT), finished up another (SAVING GRACE), and brought back two more for new seasons (LEVERAGE and HAWTHORNE). In terms of ratings the net is pacing even on households and women and up 17% on men. A quick look at the nightly numbers reveals that most of the growth stems from the blockbuster theatricals premiering this month...Transformers, War of the Worlds and I Am Legend.
But let's take a closer look at each night. On Mondays, a July start for THE CLOSER this year throws off the June-to-June comparisons. This June's GRACE and BONES were no match for last year's CLOSER and (canceled) RAISING THE BAR.  GRACE literally came to an anti-climactic ending as the series finale delivered fewer viewers than the previous week and the previous year.
Tuesday has become the most competitive night on cable. Tuesdays on TNT were all about BONES for the first three weeks of the month. BONES is still a solid performer. It recovered from its poor performance in NBA-May, and is pacing even with last year's ratings. But all eyes were on the last week of June as HAWTHORNE and MEMPHIS BEAT premiered. MEMPHIS BEAT topped HAWTHORNE, and HAWTHORNE delivered an adult 25-54 rating 6% below its debut month last June. Both programs delivered solid performances, putting their premiere telecasts ahead of LEVERAGE, and topped only by Transformers.
Performance by original scripted dramas was strong, but movies were stronger. Blockbuster summer theatricals overshadowed signature series. The top 15 telecasts for target demo adults 25-54 were:
Transformers  (6/12)
Transformers  (6/13)
Transformers  (6/27)
MEMPHIS BEAT
Transformers (6/18)
Transformers  (6/26)
HAWTHORNE
LEVERAGE  (6/27)
LEVERAGE  (6/27)
LEVERAGE (6/20)
War of the Worlds
LEVERAGE  (6/20)
Transformers  (6/19)
I am Legend  (6/4)
I am Legend  (6/4)

Wednesdays were all LAW & ORDER, which is showing nice growth vs. both last year and last month. Its female skew and demo ratings are similar to BONES, making them both solid lead-ins to female skewing dramas.

There was still one more thing to watch this month on TNT, and that was the third season of LEVERAGE, running back-to-back on its new night, Sundays.

According to TNT: Debuting in its new Sunday timeslot on Sunday, June 20, LEVERAGE scored big with its two-episode third-season premiere.  The first episode debuted strongly at 9 p.m. with 3,114,000 viewers, while the second episode at 10 p.m. delivered 2,949,000.  When compared to the first two episodes of season two, Sunday's two LEVERAGE episodes scored solid growth in key adult demos, with adults 18-34 up an extraordinary 48%, while adults 18-49 were up 6% and adults 25-54 were up 2%.

That said, LEVERAGE's strongest demo performance comes from men 25-54. In its second week, LEVERAGE improved ratings across the board, helped by the Transformers lead-in.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

TNT continues to chase the broadcast networks, claiming its reach, production quality and quantity are on par. The development slate is full of the biggest names in television, and no original program makes it to air without major star power behind it.

Summer has become all-important to TNT and its signature series strategy. It is off to a good start, despite the extra competition from both cable and broadcast nets this summer.

TNT's strategy is to keep the subject-matter light, to use established shows to launch new fare and to keep the programming consistent in look, feel and content.

Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) says, "The summer is about fun, so you want your TV to be entertaining and viewers want to have a good time, and I think this summer's shows reflect that." "We have a lot of audience flow coming to the network, so your own programming is typically your best marketing platform," Wright said. "There's a lot out there and a lot to break through, but we have THE CLOSER to lead into RIZZOLI & ISLES and HAWTHORNE as lead-in to MEMPHIS BEAT, so the combination of strong marketing and great platforms is helpful."

Sticking to a formula that works plus a signature feel is also a sound strategy, and TNT walks the tight line between successful formula and cookie cutter programming. Variety noted, "A law in the TV universe is that female crimesolvers on TNT will draw significant audiences."  TNT's line-up is heavy on crime-solvers in both its originals (THE CLOSER, MEMPHIS BEAT, DARK BLUE, SOUTHLAND, RIZZOLI & ISLES) and its off-net acquisitions (BONES, NUMB3RS, LAW & ORDER, CSI: NY).  But TNT is expanding its crime-solving brand with HAWTHORNE, MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE and arguably, LEVERAGE.

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