USA Performance/Schedule Analysis - July 2008



(Updated as of August 23, 2008)


Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54





USA is all about consistency. The network is extraordinarily consistent month-to-month and week-to-week, making it easy for viewers to, well...view. They know what to find and when to tune-in.

And what they'll find nearly half of the time is LAW & ORDER: SVU. This cable stalwart tends to dominate USA's schedule, stripped from 8-9PM Sunday - Thursday, plus 9PM telecasts Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Three-hour stacks appear on occasion,

When SVU is not on the air, you can find WWE on Mondays and theatricals, or USA originals on the other nights. Originals tend to run on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.


JUNE - JULY 2008:

USA has managed to shed prestigious tennis and golf commitments, but at the beginning of this month the NBC-Universal owned company ran four nights of Olympic trials.

But that's small potatoes. In July USA was running five, yes five, new seasons of original dramas spread across three nights. USA added BURN NOTICE (Thursday @ 10PM), MONK (Friday @ 9PM), and PSYCH (Friday @ 10PM) to the line-up this month, joining LAW & ORDER: CI (Sunday @ 9PM) and IN PLAIN SIGHT (Sunday @ 10PM), which premiered in June.

The originals primarily replaced LAW & ORDER: SVU, dropping SVU down to 26 hours of primetime this month. In perfect symmetry, all the original hours of original dramas also added up to 26 hours of primetime.

In September, when many of the original series finish their runs, HOUSE will step in to primetime at 8:00PM, replacing the LAW & ORDER STRIP.


** July 10 @ 10PM: BURN NOTICE
** July 18 @ 9PM: MONK (100TH episode airs on September 5th)
** July 18 @ 10PM: PSYCH 



** August 25: US OPEN TENNIS
** September 8 @ 8PM: HOUSE
** October 10 @ 10PM: THE STARTER WIFE


** August 17 @ 10PM: IN PLAIN SIGHT
** August 24 @ 9PM: LAW & ORDER: CI
** September 12 @ 9PM: MONK
** September 12 @ 10PM: PSYCH
** September 18 @ 10PM: BURN NOTICE


Once again USA is enjoying the good ole Summertime. After record-breaking audiences last summer, USA is back with more original dramas and bigger numbers than ever, with six programs consistently earning a 2 rating or better.

Monday - Sunday primetime ratings are up +10% on households, a modest +5% or so for men, +8% for women 18-49 and +16% for women 25-54.

That surge in the older female demo is driven by Sunday night, where the total audience aged 20%. Household audience and share doubled on Sundays vs. last year. Male viewing increased by 30% to 40%, women 18-49 grew by 60%, and women 25-54 ratings grew by 78%. We would expect numbers to take an uptick with the exchange of IN PLAIN SIGHT and LAW & ORDER: CI (USA orig) for THE DEAD ZONE and THE 4400, but not this much of an uptick! Particularly when we consider the plethora of cable networks programming their signature series on Sunday nights.

Other programs driving USA's success this month were Monday nights' WWE RAW (on demos), original drama BURN NOTICE (on women) and syndicated eps of LAW & ORDER: CI.

It all looks good on USA right now. They just need to keep an eye on that aging audience, and the female skew.


Despite the successful addition of two new nights of original dramas to the line-up, bringing the network up to five concurrent hit originals on the air, USA's overall primetime numbers were basically flat versus June. Household ratings were up +1%, women 18-49 were down -2%, while women 25-54 ratings were up +2%. Men 25-54 were up just +2%, while men 18-49 took the biggest hit, down -12%.

How could this be?? WWE and IN PLAIN SIGHT were up slightly over June, LAW & ORDER CI (orig) ratings were up by about 15% for men and 30% for women, New programs BURN NOTICE, MONK and PSYCH all came in with numbers well above average, performing better than their previous seasons. The fall comes from lower-rated movies, low-rated specials and to a lesser degree, L&O: SVU. There were far fewer runs of SVU this month (26 vs. 50 in June), and numbers were slightly off, most notably -14% among men 18-49. Tuesday and Saturday nights pulled the network down.

Tuesdays in July saw OLYMPIC TRIALS, low-rated movies like ELF and 50 First Dates, and most unfortunately, the AFI AWARDS tribute to Warren Beatty. Men 18-49 tuned out, and their ratings were off by -44% for the night. Households and women were down -20%.

Saturdays were off by -20% on households and about -40% on demos. Movies are mostly to blame for the decline - this month's offerings of Jurassic Park and Oceans'12 couldn't compete with last month's ratings busters Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones.

This should not take away from USA's success. The network is continuing to pull away from the rest of basic cable and make in-roads into broadcast fare. (For details, and USA's spin, visit our archives / press page.) No matter how you slice it, three big nights of original scripted dramas puts USA in a league of its own this summer.


After the movie premiered, USA picked up the cable rights to air The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian from Disney ABC Domestic TV for approx. $15million. The 4 and a half year contract for the movie begins September 2010.

But pre-buys are what's in fashion now, and USA Network is in the game with both Paramount and New Line. USA bought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull before its theatrical release, plus the first three entries in the series. USA ran the previous three in the series -- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom (1984) and The Last Crusade (1989) -- in May and June 2008, attracting big audiences.

The New Line TV deal includes ten movies, three of which are pre-buys (Sex and the City: The Movie, Semi-Pro and He's Just Not That Into You). The seven other movies are The Golden Compass, Rendition, Running Scared, El Cantante, Martian Child, The Number 23 and Shoot 'Em Up.

USA is scheduled to air The Golden Compass in July 2010, Semi-Pro in September 2010, Sex and the City: The Movie in January 2011 and He's Just Not That Into You in March 2011.

USA has also agreed with Disney-ABC Domestic TV for the rights to Oscar winner No Country For Old Men, Enchanted and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

And for those keeping track, USA likes its sequels, with four Raiders, three Pirates of the Caribbeans, two National Treasures, one Ocean's and one Bourne on its increasingly deep bench.

Back in 2007 the net had already implemented a strategy of selective movie acquisitions, purchasing exclusive basic-cable rights to Disney's The Game Plan to start airing in 2009. Starring "The Rock," it is an obvious fit with USA's Monday night WWE RAW series.

In addition, they have purchased Underdog, My Boss' Daughter and Bad Company, all slated to air after 2010.

USA and SciFi signed a $20 million Lionsgate package that includes 3:10 to Yuma (Early 2010), Good Luck Chuck (2010), Employee of the Month (2010) and Jason Statham titles War (2010), Crank (2009) and Chaos (2009).

Other deals include New Line's Hairspray (the 2007 version) for a four-year window beginning in 2010. Also Ocean's 13 (a competitive move after Ocean's 11 kept popping on TNT), License to Wed and Blood Diamond, all from Warner.


IN PLAIN SIGHT: A second season has been ordered.

THE STARTER WIFE: After a successful run and many awards as a mini-series in Spring/Summer 2007, THE STARTER WIFE will become a 10-episode weekly USA series starting October 10, 2008. Produced by 3 Arts.

WWE RAW has received a multi-year renewal, keeping the top-rated series on USA through 2010.


Maybe not technically a cancellation, but USA has taken a pass on US OPEN TENNIS. 2008 will be the last year tennis fans can find the opening week of the tournament on USA. Starting in 2009 it will be shared by ESPN and The Tennis Channel.