TruTV Analysis - September 2010

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* 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 /October 2010 vs. October 2009 (% Change)




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Tuesday 8-11pm




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MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Not a good month.  Audiences of all types were down versus last month and last year.  We're a little puzzled.  Yes, their were monthly losses in September that continued to trend down in October.  Broadcast premieres dominated in October, but that was also the case last year.  Last year's numbers were good, but not so high that reaching them again was unreasonable.  Several series, new and continuing featured new episodes.  On paper, this should have been a solid month for the channel.  Let's look inside the numbers.

SOUTHERN FRIED STINGS was back with a second season on Monday nights and becomes the highest rated series of the month.  For target men, it outperformed net averages, but did finish behind a few other titles on the schedule. 

OPERATION REPO might just be slowing down.  Still well above average relative to the rest of the schedule, but it was off 10-20% for target men from September.  And that includes a couple premiere episodes.

MA'S ROADHOUSE had a few bright spots, even with the sophomore month dropping off a bit.  Series was above net averages for the month.  In addition, audiences built across the back to back episodes on Wednesdays, with the 9:30 showing looking solid.

REHAB:: PARTY AT THE HARD ROCK was above the schedule averages as well.  Again, it was off from September, but Tuesday 10pm premieres shone through.  Lead-in repeats didn't quite match up.

BLACK GOLD, our personal favorite, was off from last year.  So were SMOKING GUN PRESENTS, TOP 20 MOST SHOCKING, COPS, and INSIDE.  In fact, every series that ran in October, this year and last, fell off.  Spreading the impact is the only way to describe it.

CONSPIRACY THEORY returns for a second season on Fridays.  OK for the series, great for the night.  CONSPIRACY was slightly off from network averages, probably due to lower HUTs on Fridays.  But the overall night was up considerably.  Actual ratings are still some of the loweest of the week, but it was still the only night of the week to show improvement in October. 

Speaking of Fridays, long running FORENSIC FILES disappeared in October.  It's traditionally gone much much older and more female than the rest of the schedule so moving the needle was inevitable once the change was made.  Short term change, or shift in the night?  Not sure just yet.


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.