TruTV Analysis - November 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 /November 2010 vs. November 2009 (% Change)




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MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

It's the second difficult month in a row for the network with audiences down across the board.  Men, women, younger, older.  All of them were off 10% and more from last year.  More challenging is that the decreases can't really be pinned down to a single series or night.  With a few exceptions, it's spread across the entire weekly schedule.

Usually we start with OPERATION REPO because it stands at the top of the list.  Not so fortunate this time around.  REPO was one of several series to fall off from last year, dropping 40-50% in the key male demos.  After serving as the schedule's workhorse for more than a year, it was finally given a well-deserved rest the third week of November.

FULL THROTTLE SALOON was the bright spot in the schedule as the second season debuted on Wednesdays at 10pm.  Series was on par with last year and outdistanced the rest of the schedule by a wide margin on the male demos.

The two "shocking" properties also clicked this month.  MOST SHOCKING and TOP 20 MOST SHOCKING featured a couple of premieres each, all of them above network averages.

SOUTHERN FRIED STINGS did better with M25-54 than the 18-49's, but dropped slightly from October.  BLACK GOLD wrapped up its 3rd season with reasonable male numbers, although it wasn't a blowout finale.

CONSPIRACY THEORY's Friday premieres were fine, the repeats not so much.  Tuesday's REHAB: PARTY AT THE HARD ROCK followed the same pattern.

Thursday night's comedy clip block drove the night to above average numbers.  SMOKING GUN PRESENTS and IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I LAUGH were fine, but still down from last year, particularly the latter.

A year after adjusting the Saturday schedule with great results, the comparison threshold has jumped. It's always tough to find that same boost the second time around.  Year on year numbers were down double digits for target men.

Sundays were down 10-15% for target men, with long running series COPS the culprit.  It was pulled from the schedule mid-month, although the replacement programming didn't show any measureable improvement.


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.

In a recent trade ad, the network described the network as "56% Male / 44% Female truTV delivers the hard to reach male viewer without excluding the female audience. And with a Median Age of 45, truTV attracts the desirable audiences sponsors find value in."


Men are making up roughly 56% 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.