TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - August 2009

Author:
Updated:
Original:

PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of September 22, 2009)

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMS: BONES (DRAMA)
Procedural drama in which a highly skilled female anthropologist and her forensics team solve a series of "unsolvable" FBI case files, finding clues in victims'(Tm) bones. (Off FOX)
Status: On air. Produced by: 20th Century Fox Television

THE CLOSER
(DRAMA)
Drama featuring a quirky female police chief (Kyra Sedgwick) who comes to Los Angeles to head up a special unit of the LAPD that focuses on high profile murder cases.
Status: First half of 5th season 6/8/09 - 8/24/09. 15 x 60. Produced by: Warner Brothers Television / Shephard Robin

COLD CASE (DRAMA)
Police / crime drama featuring a lone female detective in the Philadelphia homicide squad who finds her calling when she's assigned to crimes that have never been solved. (Off CBS)
Status: Last on air in May. Produced by: Warner Brothers Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Films & Television / CBS TV Studios

DARK BLUE (DRAMA)
Follows a secret division of undercover LA police officers who walk the line between doing their job and being seduced by easy money.
Status: Premiered July 15 2009. 13 x 60. Produced by Warner Brothers Television / Bruckheimer Films & Television.

HAWTHORNE (DRAMA)
A woman and single mother is also the head of nursing at a hospital in North Carolina.
Status: 1st season June 16 - August 17, 2009.  10 x 60. Produced by Sony Pictures TV.

LAW & ORDER
(DRAMA)
Police/crime drama that focuses both on the crime as well as the legal proceedings of a case. (Off NBC)
Status: On air. Produced by: Universal Media Studios / Wolf Films

LEVERAGE
(DRAMA)
A team of thieves, hackers and grifters act as modern-day Robin Hoods, taking revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others.
Status: First half of second season premiered 7/15/09. 15 x 60. Produced by: Electric Entertainment

RAISING THE BAR
(DRAMA)
Legal drama from Stephen Bocchco that looks at courtroom battles as well as the relationships among the people on different sides of the somewhat broken criminal justice system.
Status: First half of second season 6/8/09 - 8/24/09. 15 x 60. Produced by: ABC Studios / Steven Bochco Productions

SAVING GRACE
(DRAMA)
An unconventional angel visits a cynical, hard-living police detective (Holly Hunter), setting off a drama series that deals with police cases and spiritual issues.
Status: First half of third season 6/16/09 - 8/17/09. 18 x 60. Produced by: Fox Television Studios / Grand Productions Inc. / Nancy Miller Productions.

AUGUST 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

THE CLOSER, RAISING THE BAR, HAWTHORNE, SAVING GRACE, LEVERAGE, DARK BLUE


SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

This summer it's all about original scripted dramas on TNT. They run Monday through Wednesday.  NBA usually runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, otherwise it's an off-net crime drama and a movie. Blockbuster theatricals dominate Friday through Sunday.

TNT has announced a big move toward originals in primetime. They plan to have three full nights (Monday - Wednesday) of original programming throughout the year by 2010. This summer is the test run.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

** MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE debut December '09
** THE CLOSER returns with original eps in December

RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: 
August 2009 vs. August 2008(% Change)

HH

A18-49

A25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-13%

-12%

-17%

Tuesday 8-11pm

29%

48%

43%

Wednesday 8-11pm

26%

38%

51%

Thursday 8-11pm

-20%

-8%

-8%

Friday 8-11pm

-7%

-13%

-5%

Saturday 8-11pm

12%

17%

12%

Sunday 8-11pm

-3%

-2%

3%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

1%

6%

6%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

This is the summer TNT has been waiting for.  The summer of drama on the network that knows drama. Three nights and six hours of original series. Tried and true franchises helping to launch new ones. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood. No Olympics, no presidential election coverage and no new scripted fare from the broadcast networks to compete with.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Bottom line (Monday - Sunday average), not much. Ratings are at the higher end of the non-NBA playoff TNT spectrum, but the network is not breaking its own records. TNT has achieved this audience level before, and with far fewer originals on the air. Primetime ratings vs. last year and last month didn't move very much - core Adult 25-54 ratings were off by one percent vs. last month and up six percent vs. last year (when movies tanked against the Olympics). In fact, movies are the biggest drag on the bottom line, not the new dramas. There were precipitous increases for the new nights of drama (Tuesday and Wednesday) vs. last year, and we have seen most of the programs pick up steam vs. last month. To date, we have one renewal (HAWTHORNE) one cancellation (SAVING GRACE) and one failed genre (reality - WEDDING DAY was a bust). 

Mondays start out the week with a repeat of THE CLOSER at 8PM, followed by a new episode of THE CLOSER at 9PM. THE CLOSER is still the lead program on TNT, and is going strong -- it picked up more than 20% extra adult 25-54 viewers compared to both last month and last year. RAISING THE BAR gets the enviable lead-out timeslot at 10PM, putting it at the #2 ratings slot on households. However, it is having some trouble holding onto the audience, particularly the demo audience. It loses 48% of the 9PM CLOSER's household audience and 55% of the core women 25-54 audience, falling to the #4 ratings slot on both men and women 25-54. To add to the demo picture, THE CLOSER is not a strong demo performer to start with. Monday nights draw the oldest audience of the week, and for the record, it is up just 4% on adult 25-54 ratings vs. July.

Tuesday in August was a consistent BONES / HAWTHORNE / SAVING GRACE line up through 8/18 when HAWTHORNE and GRACE finished up their summer runs.  Despite a sharp 20% increase in male ratings, the night leans strongly female (65/35 female/male). HAWTHORNE is TNT's second-best show on women 25-54, followed closely by GRACE. Compared to last month, both shows picked up viewers, with new eps of HAWTHORNE gaining 14% more adults 25-54, and GRACE gaining 12% more. Despite the slight differences between the two shows, HAWTHORNE has been renewed, while GRACE has been cancelled (the second half of this season will run next summer). We should note that GRACE has lost over a quarter of its core viewers since last year when it had THE CLOSER as its lead-in.

On Wednesdays, TNT brings us the third night of drama; LEVERAGE and DARK BLUE hold court from 9PM to 11PM. While still skewing female, Wednesdays have the highest male ratings among the three nights of drama. Even with one encore thrown in the mix, LEVERAGE showed the biggest growth vs. July -- +20% on households, +31% among women, and +14% among men. DARK BLUE counter-balanced that growth with demo ratings, dropping by about 10%. At the end of the month, Wednesdays grew by high teen percentages on demo.

While billed as the new 8PM strip, CSI: NY made its TNT debut last month and still resides only on Thursdays and Fridays, and is usually followed by a movie. Even with a 7% increase in adult 25-54 ratings from its TNT premiere month, it sits at the bottom of the network's ratings stack.

We Are Marshall, Time to Kill and multiple runs of Shooter plus the PGA coverage were the bright spots on the weekend. But they weren't enough to save the day (or the weekend!). Saturday and Sunday fell sharply vs. last month, and even took some hits vs. last year, when the Olympics shrunk movie ratings. At the end of the month, Thursday through Sunday movies were a big enough drag on the ratings to pull the weekly average down, and dim the story of the TNT summer of drama.


PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

Turner Broadcasting bought a TV-exclusive 13-title movie package from Warner Bros. in May 2009. Titles include Terminator Salvation (for TNT), Watchmen, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Gran Torino, The Hangover, The Informant and Sherlock Holmes. Each movie will air about 30 months after their theatrical releases, putting the first start date at the end of 2011.

A Lionsgate deal was announced in April 2009, that will give TNT and TBS first network TV rights to The Bank Job, Transporter 3 and Crank: High Voltage (plus Tyler Perry movies Madea Goes to Jail and The Family That Preys) in 2010 / 2011. Second-window rights were purchased for Disaster Movie and My Best Friend's Girl.

A 2008 prebuy deal with New Line and Picturehouse will bring The Women, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Zac Efron vehicle 17 Again and the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases to the network.

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.

Also in 2008, 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:

HAWTHORNE renewed for a second season.

LEVERAGE renewed for a third season.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

SAVING GRACE will add three new episodes to its third and final season..

Related