TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - June 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of July 24, 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: 5th season premiere 6/8/09. 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

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: Second season premiere 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: Second season premiere 6/8/09. 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: Third season premiere 6/16/09. 15 x 60. Produced by: Fox Television Studios / Grand Productions Inc. / Nancy Miller Productions.

JUNE 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

THE CLOSER, HAWTHORNE, SAVING GRACE, RAISING THE BAR


SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT serves up stacks of female-skewing (mostly) crime dramas Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays are about to become male-skewing crime dramas. NBA usually runs on Thursdays, when it's the season, and blockbuster theatricals dominate Friday to Sunday. Premiere nights of original dramas, are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

** THE CLOSER (season 5) premiere June 8 @ 9PM
**  RAISING THE BAR (season 2) premiere June 8 @ 10PM  
** WEDDING DAY debut June 16 @ 8PM
**  HAWTHORNE debut June 16 @ 9PM
** SAVING GRACE (season 5) premiere June 16 @ 10PM
** LEVERAGE (season 2) premiere July 15 @ 9PM
** DARK BLUE debut July 15 @ 10PM
** MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE debut December '09


RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: 
June 2009 vs. June 2008(% Change)
HH      A18-49    A25-54
Monday 8-11pm                21%         6%        19%
Tuesday 8-11pm                -5%      -26%       -13%
Wednesday 8-11pm           -7%      -12%       -16%
Thursday 8-11pm             -41%      -41%       -41% 
Friday 8-11pm                    -6%      -16%       -14%
Saturday 8-11pm              -12%        -9%       -11%
Sunday 8-11pm                  -1%         0%         -4%
MTWTFSS 8-11pm            -6%       -15%       -11%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

* Please note NBA PLAY-OFFS were still running on TNT in June 2008, but in 2009 they finished up in May. Therefore, we will not use month-to-month or year-to-year comparisons in our analysis this month.

As Ted Turner used to quip, every dog has his fleas. Well, it appears TNT's fleas are reality programs. After failed attempts at the genre years ago, TNT launched WEDDING DAY this June, employing the proven talents of Mark Burnett. Unfortunately, the audience just wasn't there on premiere night Tuesday the 16th at 8PM, so the net aired an extra run on Friday the 19th with natural lead in, The Wedding Crashers, but it tanked again. Next it moved to Thursdays at 8PM on the 25th, where numbers were even lower, and then it was moved to Saturdays at 9AM (yes, AM) the following week. We don't have numbers for the Saturday run, but we're not very optimistic.

TNT has plenty of other stuff to talk about, There was certainly a tall order on the plate, as primetime made the switch from wall-to-wall NBA play-offs to female skewing crime dramas. The network put up four scripted original dramas this June and added two more in July to fulfill its promise of three nights of originals.

On Mondays, THE CLOSER began its fifth season on June 8th. How are Brenda's numbers holding up now that she is a married woman? Compared to Feb '09 when the program came back for the second half of its fourth season, ratings are down 20% on households, and 18-49s, and down 25% on 25-54s, The program's moniker has slipped in TNT's PR releases from "the #1 cable show" to "the #1 scripted series on Mondays" (and ABC Family counters that with its female ratings for SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER).  So the short answer is that THE CLOSER is still big, but not as big as it was.

Following THE CLOSER is a new season of RAISING THE BAR, the Stephen Bocchco show that launched last September. As you may recall, RAISING THE BAR took a lot of heat last year for dropping its audience after the debut. So, we thought the best comparison would be the November season 2 finale vs. this month's three-premiere episode average. The comparison says good things for the show its male ratings are about 13% better while core female ratings are 65% better. On the negative side for the legal show, there is significant drop-off from THE CLOSER.

Tuesday is the second night of original fare this month. As discussed above, WEDDING DAY gave the program block a bad start. Next up at 9PM was HAWTHORNE. The new TNT program put in a solid performance with with 3.83 million viewers overall (Variety). It ranked as TNT's second-highest rated program of the month behind THE CLOSER. Not surprisingly, HAWTHORNE'S audience also skews female. SAVING GRACE picked up the baton at 10PM Tuesday nights with its third season. Numbers are just slightly below lead-in HAWTHORNE. None of TNT's June premieres have hit it out of the ballpark, but WEDDING DAY seems to be the only strike-out.

Next up for TNT is Wednesdays, with the male-skewing line-up of LEVERAGE and DARK BLUE premiering in mid-July. But this month, Wednesday through Friday was a mix of LEVERAGE repeats from the first season, LAW & ORDER and BONES. Each of these filler programs had mixed results vs. last month / last year. LEVERAGE repeats picked up 20% higher male ratings this month over last.  Compared to last month, LAW & ORDER gained 10% on households and held demo audiences. But the program is definitely fading, as illustrated by the 20% drop-off from last year. BONES seems to be gaining traction, particularly among women. CSI:NY comes to TNT in July, which should mix things up in a good way.

Weekends got a boost from NASCAR and a HAWTHORNE preview. Movies are holding up, with top performing titles this month including The Pursuit of Happyness, Titanic, John Q and Saving Private Ryan.

This is probably not the news TNT was hoping for, but they had a tough transition period and a lot to handle this June. There are still two months of summer and a lot more programming left before any final judgment can be made.


PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

CSI: NY

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:

No recent announcements.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

No recent announcements

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