TruTV Analysis - August 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


Original series dominate TruTV's primetime schedule.  The only acquired program is COPS.  There are no thematic evenings distinct from one another, rather a relatively even distribution of original series.  A heavy reliance on OPERATION REPO, comedic video clip properties, and a handful of other series dominate the schedule.

As new series are introduced to the schedule, the network created a few generic slots across the week for repeats.  The additional exhibitions in short bursts of 2-4 weeks give their new titles a chance to gain recognition with the casual viewer.  When a series does break out, like OPERATION REPO, they have moved it into a regular timeslot.

With the transition of the network to TruTv at the beginning of 2008, the crime and investigation focus was replaced with a broader, non-fiction/reality mix of programs.  While a small base of crime series continues, new programming explores topics as diverse as oil wildcatters, poolside waitresses in Las Vegas, and repo men.


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




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

A very good month for TruTV.  Best month in all of the key numbers in January.  Total audiences were up 7%.  Target men were up 9% and 11% in the two key age breaks.  Median age was also the lowest since the start of the year. 

HARDCORE PAWN's debut was fantastic by all measures.  Networks press said it was the highest rated series premiere in its history, beating out SOUTHERN FRIED STINGS from early this year.  Taking the Monday 10pm time slot guaranteed a strong lead-in from OPERATION REPO and it delivered.  PAWN was the highest rated series of the month for target men in both age groups.  Even a stack of repeats on a Tuesday night delivered strong male numbers.  The inevitable comparisons to History's mega hit PAWN STARS were found everywhere.  It didn't help that HARDCORE PAWN ran in the same Monday timeslot of course.  Still, we think that TruTV is more than happy with their own entry into the genre. 

ALL WORKED UP wrapped a second season on Mondays, opening up a spot for HARDCORE PAWN, and it was quite a finish.  Overall numbers were up 20-40% for target men from just a month ago.  Nice way to end a run.

OPERATION REPO had an off month, at least by its own standard.  Nevertheless, it still landed on the list of top series for the month in terms of raw numbers.  REPO was down significantly from year ago figure, and up slightly from last month.  Monday's two hour block remains very strong.  Only a couple of weaker repeats on Tuesday drew the overall averages down for the month. 

Tuesday night's BAIT CAR struggled with year ago comparisons, even with a weekly premiere in the 9pm slot.  However, it did show improvement versus July.  Ironically, repeats drew some of the stronger numbers, outdoing the premieres more often than not.

Wednesdays were up by a modest amount for target men, but way up for women.  Credit DISORDER IN THE COURT specials for the boost, especially a couple of the premieres.  Several episodes of DISORDER are scattered throughout the net's Top 20 list of highest rated telecasts.

20 MOST SHOCKING and SMOKING GUN had solid months, driving Thursday up heavily over last year.  SMOKING GUN was up 10% over last year.  SHOCKING's success was driven by a couple premiere airings in the 10pm spot.

LAS VEGAS JAILHOUSE was just about average on Sunday nights with target men.  Series was down slightly from last month.  Interesting note: JAILHOUSE runs almost 50/50 male female.  On a schedule that's skews heavily male, that makes it a tough fit.  Pairing it up on Sundays with COPS, another 50/50 skewed series, seems to make the most sense. 

FORENSIC FILES  was 10-20% versus last year in most of the key demos.  Saturday night was turned over to SMOKING GUN for a month full of mini-stacks.  The night was up 25-35% over last year.  Good move. 


The focus is on first-person access to real-life stories.  Tagline says it all: Not Reality.  Actuality.  The network describes itself as the home of true real-life programming, not the manufactured reality found elsewhere on the dial.


Men are making up almost 55% of the 18-49 and 25-54 audiences.  If you're pitching new concepts, targeting that younger male audience is advisable.

With fresh concepts like BLACK GOLD and SMOKING GUN taking to the air, mainstay series like FORENSIC FILES and others have been relegated to supporting roles.  The household numbers aren't enough to keep them front and center anymore, as the network moves towards a demographic play. Humor, comic relief, and fast paced video clip based ideas are finding a home.  Witness the success of SMOKING GUN and IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I LAUGH .

Pay attention to SOUTHERN FRIED STINGS.  A cop/reality series in the best tradition of the network.  The genre remains very strong in the schedule.