TNT Analysis - October 2010

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OCTOBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Sunday through Wednesday is TNT's primary focus, where the network has attempted to run original series throughout the year. BONES and LAW & ORDER have become a big part of the schedule, trying to hold up those Monday through Wednesday originals.  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.

OCTOBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-15%

0%

-8%

Tuesday 8-11pm

78%

104%

84%

Wednesday 8-11pm

41%

61%

57%

Thursday 8-11pm

1%

12%

2%

Friday 8-11pm

30%

23%

31%

Saturday 8-11pm

-14%

-20%

-16%

Sunday 8-11pm

-19%

-32%

-27%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

9%

13%

10%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

OCTOBER 2010: October is not about regular programming for TNT. It is about sports - a new season of NBA, MLB division final spill-overs from TBS, and even some primetime PGA (Grand Slam of Golf). It is NOT about signature original dramas; THE CLOSER in repeats was the only original on the air.

As a result, October audiences are younger and smaller (especially among women) than September. Compared to last October when the schedule was similar, bottom-line ratings are holding up among women and are markedly better among men.

Most of that increase has to do with sporting events. Last year's regular season NBA felt substantial audience drop-off among women and even more so among men. Happily, the audience seems to be coming back this year. The season opener on Tuesday, October 26 was the most watched regular season game ever on cable (according to TNT). With their extended contract with the NBA, TNT is hoping to continue that trend through the 2010/11 season.

Beyond sports, regular on-air programming consisted of THE CLOSER repeats, BONES, LAW & ORDER and CSI:NY.  Each of these programs does best with women 25-54. BONES was the top performer of the group, even with a 19% loss on women 25-54 vs. last year. A BONES special ran one Sunday in place of the usual movie. It performed better than movies and better than the weekly strip.  THE CLOSER was back with more repeats. While most viewers are turning away (household ratings down 21% vs. last year), core women 25-54 are sticking with Brenda, and are down just 5%. LAW & ORDER has been on and off the schedule this year with a varying presence each month. This month it was on the air an average of twice a week, with a 16% drop in women 25-54 vs. last month. Last up, CSI:NY was back. While core ratings held up vs. last October when it was also on the air, it was at the bottom of the rankers.

Beyond sports, movies were the big player with men this October. A Halloween weekend BOND FILM FESTIVAL did well with men 18-49, as did Gladiator, Walking Tall, Bourne Supremacy and Tombstone.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

TNT is letting NBA drive the network this fall, as new original programming is shelved until December. Movies and off-net procedurals are on board, but the competitive movie after-market is taking its toll, and the procedurals are weighing down the network with aging audiences and declining viewership. 

Things could easily turn around in the winter. New episodes of LEVERAGE, new seasons of MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE and SOUTHLAND and the launch of FRANKLIN & BASH should all help to bring younger audiences and men to the network. If they could figure out how to carry the NBA audience into the rest of the week, TNT would be golden.

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