TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - August 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of September 27, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54

AUGUST 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

THE CLOSER, SAVING GRACE

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

There are usually stacks of female-skewing crime dramas Monday through Wednesday, NBA on Thursdays, when it's the season, and blockbuster, mostly-male-oriented theatricals Friday to Sunday. Premiere night of original dramas, when they are running, has been relegated to Mondays for now. LAW & ORDER is the glue that fills in the holes.

In the future, TNT has announced a big move toward originals in primetime. They plan to have three nights of original programming (Monday-Wednesday) throughout the year by 2010.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

JULY - AUGUST:

BONES is gone from Tuesdays again after a week, More encores of THE CLOSER ran this month than last (16 total telecasts vs. 4). And at the end of the month there were six straight nights of three-hour blocks of LAW & ORDER, programmed against USA's US OPEN coverage.

AUGUST:
PREMIERES:
** None this monthFINALES:
** August 25: SAVING GRACE

SEPTEMBER & BEYOND:
PREMIERES:

** Sept 1, 2008 @ 10PM: Series premiere of RAISING THE BAR
** December 2008: LEVERAGE
** January 2009: TRUST ME

FINALES:
** September 15: THE CLOSER

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

TNT had big plans this time last year. After the successful Summer of '07 they announced three nights of original programming, but one year and a long development slate later, not much has changed ...THE CLOSER and SAVING GRACE remain the only dominant players. In both August '07 and August '08 the top rated telecasts were each of the premieres of THE CLOSER and next on the list was each of the premieres of SAVING GRACE. LAW & ORDER ran fairly steadily from Tuesday through Thursday, and movies ran Friday through Sunday both years. TNT decided to wait until after the summer to debut RAISING THE BAR, its only new drama in a year. LEVERAGE is set to launch in December, and TRUST ME in January. But until then, we will be seeing more of the same.

TNT's share is down 10% or so, while ratings are off by just 5% this August vs. last. In the climate of the highly viewed Olympics, this isn't so bad. What held up the numbers?

Looking at the ratings leaders on the network, SAVING GRACE lost -14% of household ratings vs. last year, but only -4% of core women 25-54 viewers. Men haven't warmed up to the show, but they haven't left either. Star performer THE CLOSER had a similar story. The program's five premieres this month were off by -9% on household ratings and -5% on core women 25-54 viewers vs. last year's four premieres. Unlike GRACE, the show did slightly better with men 18-49 this year.

Movies were down this year vs. last; as we have seen with other networks, encores of repeat theatricals do not perform well against the Olympics.

So it wasn't the original dramas or movies holding up the bottom-line. It was the LAW & ORDER stunt the last week of the month. TNT ran three-hour blocks of LAW & ORDER Tuesday through Sunday, counter-programming USA's primetime US OPEN TENNIS coverage, and it worked like a charm. Next year USA's tennis coverage goes away. Let's hope those new originals work out.

AUGUST 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Mondays are by far TNT's best-rated night. On households and women 25-54 it pulls in more than double the ratings of any other night. Of course this is the night of THE CLOSER and SAVING GRACE, the network's, and two of cable's top rated programs. The programs both fell a bit from their season premieres last month, but the night held up overall, increasing ratings by 15% for households 20% for women 25-54 and 5% for men.

Tuesday was pretty much a wash vs. last month. The network ran a three-hour block of THE CLOSER repeats during the two Olympics weeks. The show performed about the same as LAW & ORDER and BONES when there are no Olympics to contend with.

Wednesday's LAW & ORDER blocks also saw only slight changes - down a bit on households and women, up a bit for men.

Thursday night was flat for households and women, but lost about one-fifth of its male ratings. Movies are the main culprit here...did we mention they don't do well against The Olympics?

Which leads us to TNT's weekend. Friday and Sunday were relatively flat vs. last month, but Saturday lost half its audience without NASCAR. The only movie to break the top 20 this month was Lord of the Rings.

And that's your TNT for the month. It didn't set the world on fire, like last year's "sizzling summer," and it didn't crash and burn in the face of the Olympic torch. Let's just say it was on a slow simmer.

ADDITIONAL RATINGS INFORMATION:

According to TNT, SAVING THE BAR's commercial-free Labor Day premiere pulled in 7.7 million viewers and 5.7 million households. That puts the new Stephen Bocchco drama as the #1 ad-supported cable new series launch of all time. (USA's IN PLAIN SIGHT launched earlier this year with 5.2 million viewers.)

THE CLOSER finale on September 15th pulled in 7.6 million viewers and 2.4 million adults 18-49.

ACQUISITIONS:

TNT and sister network TBS are joining the crowds on signing up for theatrical prebuys, locking up the cable-TV rights to four high-visibility movies set for release by New Line and Picturehouse later this year: The Women, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Zac Efron vehicle 17 Again and the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases.

TBS, TNT and their Cartoon Network also signed a 12-title blockbuster deal with Warner Bros. that will funnel 10,000 B.C., The Dark Knight, Get Smart and three other prebuys to their primetime schedules throughout 2010 and 2011.

The Clone Wars, the CGI Animated film debuted August 15th 2008 was slated to become a weekly series on both Cartoon Network and TNT this fall, but so far only Cartoon Network has the program on its schedule.

A $12 million Lionsgate movie package was sold to TNT and sister network TBS, and includes titles such as Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married and Daddy's Little Girls, Bernie Mac's Pride and Bill Engvall's Delta Force.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

RAISING THE BAR, SAVING GRACE, THE CLOSER


PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING

Programs filling out the rest of the day are primarily off-net one-hour dramas, otherwise known as "Primetime in the Daytime," and include ANGEL, CHARMED, ER, LAS VEGAS and WITHOUT A TRACE.

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