TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - October 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of November 19, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54

OCTOBER 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

RAISING THE BAR, THE CLOSER, LAW & ORDER

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT usually serves up 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 (Monday - Wednesday) of original programming, including dramas and non-scripted fare,  throughout the year by 2010.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER:

TNT basically gave us the same line-up this month vs. last. Mondays led off with LAW & ORDER instead of THE CLOSER encores, and at 9PM THE CLOSER was all repeats, while last month had new episodes through the 15th at that time. LAW & ORDER and movies mixed it up a bit on Wednesdays and Thursdays, flip-flopping back and forth between the two. BONES and COLD CASE were off the line up entirely after appearing just one time each last month.

OCTOBER & BEYOND:
PREMIERES:

** December 7, 2008: LEVERAGE preview
** December 9, 2008 @ 10PM: LEVERAGE time period premiere
** January 26, 2009 @ 9PM: THE CLOSER     
** January 26 2009 @ 10PM: TRUST ME (fka TRUTH IN ADVERTISING)
** March 2009: SAVING GRACE

FINALES:
** November 3 @ 10PM: RAISING THE BAR

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
TNT didn't experience too much change vs. last year...household and female audiences were off by just 5%, while male audiences were up by 5%.

The best area of improvement was on Tuesdays among men, where they showed a definite preference for this year's LAW & ORDER block over last year's COLD CASE block. Male viewing on Tuesday nights improved by 40%. (Women audiences were up just 2% to 6% for the night.) With that said, LAW & ORDER is showing some wear-out. Total performance in October 2008 (21 telecasts) fell short of the 2007 numbers (24 telecasts); male audiences are down by about -15% and female audiences are down by about -12%.

TNT usually relegates Monday through Wednesday to female-oriented crime dramas and Thursday through Sunday to basketball and movies, a lot of them male-skewing. This month they put on a movie every Wednesday night, and brought up the men 18-49 audience by +30%, without turning away the other demos by too much.

Despite these two nights of substantial gains among men, the bottom-line Monday - Sunday numbers are up by just 5%. What sunk the men? Believe it or not, two theatricals, Poseidon and Titanic brought the men down with the ships. Women and children first? Whatever. All we know is Saturday night showed the biggest losses among men, and the lowest rated telecasts on Saturdays among men 18-34 were Poseidon and Titanic.

While the male audiences showed movement throughout the month, women were steady, with the exception of Sunday nights when the movie line-up failed to grab their attention. Female audiences were down by one-third on Sundays.

Other staples of the TNT schedule, THE CLOSER and NBA were on the line-up both years, but not in full force. THE CLOSER was in repeats both this year and last, and showed only small movement in both directions across the demo board. There were two NBA exhibition games both this year and last, and those games showed substantial growth, most notably a 46% increase in the men 18-49 audience.

OCTOBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
TNT dropped 28% of its households, 15% of its male audience and 30% of its female audience vs. last month. What happened here? Well, two big factors.

First, Monday night, the clear ratings leader of the line-up, fell down. THE CLOSER went into all repeats, dropping audience, and then RAISING THE BAR followed suit. Both signature programs were down between -45% and -56% vs. last month, with the biggest losses among core women 25-54 viewers. On the bright side for RAISING THE BAR, it consistently built demo audience from THE CLOSER lead-ins, particularly among men.

The second factor affecting TNT was from across the dial (okay, cable box). Sister network TBS was breaking records with its MLB play-off games throughout October. Whether TNT bowed out of the competition by not counter-programming, or the audiences naturally migrated to TNT's sister is not clear. What is clear is that as TBS' numbers soared, TNT's sunk (speaking of sinking, was it a coincidence that Poseidon and Titanic made so many appearances on TNT this month?). Similarly, when TNT is in the throes of NBA play-offs, TBS seems to back down.

Of course a third factor, affecting all of the CableU 30 is the new season of broadcast networks kicking into full swing. Nonetheless, let's look at the rest of TNT's October performance.

Tuesday night's LAW & ORDER block took ratings hits across the board, with the biggest declines coming from the strongest viewers. The women 25-54 audience was down by -22%. But the program is still showing signs of strength; its household ratings for some telecasts were right up there with THE CLOSER repeats and RAISING THE BAR premieres, and a Tuesday telecast of L&O was the top rated telecast of the month among women 25-54.

As discussed above, TNT mixed it up on Wednesdays and aired male-skewing movies on a night usually reserved for female-skewing LAW & ORDER. The three eps. of L&O that did air on Wednesdays were the ratings leaders for households and women 25-54, and the lowest rated for men 18-49. Mr. Deeds and Old School did best with the younger male demos, but not the older females. You can't please all the demos all the time. At the end of the month Wednesday night was down -34% among women 25-54 and up +27% among men 18-49. Median age was 15% lower. Is this a direction TNT would like to take, or was this a result of staying away from TBS' MLB coverage? Either way, it was the only bright spot on the month-to-month comparisons.

Thursday night also produced decreased audiences for the net, with the biggest declines among older women (-29%) and the smallest declines among younger men (-6%). Programming for the night was all over the place, with movies the first two weeks, L&O on the final two, and an NBA EXHIBITION game thrown in on week four.

Friday through Sunday's successes and failures were primarily based on the movie title selection. Sunday night is the highest rated among 18-49 demos, even with a 20% loss among men 18-49. Airing on Sunday the 12th, Final Destination 3 was the #2 rated telecast or movie of the month among men 25-54 and the #1 rated movie among households and all other demos...proving that once in a while you CAN please all the demos.

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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