USA Performance/Schedule Analysis - June 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of July 24, 2009)

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMS: BURN NOTICE (DRAMA)
A blacklisted spy returns to his hometown of Miami to solve crimes while trying to find his betrayer.
Status: Third season premiered Thursday June 4 @ 9PM. 16 x 60. Produced by Fox Television Studios / Fuse Entertainment

HOUSE (DRAMA)
Medical drama following the acerbic Doctor House and his hospital team (Off Fox).
Status: A USA primetime staple. Produced by Heel and Toe Films, Universal Media Studios.

IN PLAIN SIGHT
(DRAMA)
Series follows the life of a U.S. Marshal as she helps people in the witness protection program, while coping with her own erratic family.
Status: Second season currently on-air, premiered 4/19. 12 x 60. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Pirates Cove Entertainment

LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT
(DRAMA)
The third installment of the network franchise focuses on law officers forced to make ambiguous decisions when bringing criminals to justice.
Status: Season 8 currently on-air, premiered 4/19. 16 x 60. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Wolf Films

MONK
(DRAMA)
Series revolves around a private detective who also has OCD and multiple phobias.
Status: Season 8 premieres Fridays at 9PM on 8/7. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Mandeville Films / ABC Studios

NCIS (DRAMA)
Criminal investigation drama revolving around a team of special agents assigned to solving crimes connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel.  (Off CBS)
Status: A USA primetime staple. Produced by CBS Televisions Studios - Network TV / Belisarius Productions

PSYCH
(DRAMA)
A man fakes being a psychic but is recruited to the police force when people believe that his powers are real.
Status: Season 4 premieres Fridays @ 10 on 8/7. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Tagline Pictures

ROYAL PAINS (DRAMA)
A young doctor becomes a concierge doctor to the Hampton's elite.
Status Debut Thursday June 11 @ 10PM. 11x60. Produced by Universal Media Studios, NBC Universal Cable Studio, USA Network.

WWE RAW (SPORTING)
World Wrestling matches feature pro wrestlers in action.
Status: A Monday night regular on USA. Produced by World Wrestling Entertainment


JUNE 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

ROYAL PAINS, WWE, BURN NOTICE


SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.

HOUSE and NCIS have replaced SVU as the glue that holds the network together; they dominate the line-up with strips and three-hour primetime blocks. Other than that, WWE always runs on Monday nights, and preferred nights for original series are Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Movies have taken a back seat lately, with a diminished presence on the primetime line-up, although movie package purchasing is somewhat active.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

BURN NOTICE season 3 premiere Thursday, June 4 @ 9PM
ROYAL PAINS debut Thursday, June 11 @ 10PM
MONK season 8 premiere Friday August 7 @ 9PM
PSYCH season 4 premiere Friday August 7 @ 10PM

RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: 
June  2009 vs. Junel 2008(% Change)
HH      A18-49    A25-54
Monday 8-11pm            25%          7%         10%
Tuesday 8-11pm             6%        19%         19%
Wednesday 8-11pm      58%        45%         72%
Thursday 8-11pm          48%        57%         62% 
Friday 8-11pm               13%        10%           8%
Saturday 8-11pm            -1%      -14%         -11%
Sunday 8-11pm             -12%      -23%        -19%
MTWTFSS 8-11pm       18%        10%          17%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

USA certainly seems to have it all going on this summer. Four high-rated scripted original programs were running in June, including newcomer ROYAL PAINS. which emerged as the quarter's top-rated original scripted cable series in adults 18-49 (Variety). A media hoax with Donald Trump helped spike somewhat stale WWE numbers. NCIS continued its ascent, and has proven to be a solid base for the rest of the line-up. Theatricals were back in force for summer with 14 movies spilling into primetime. Although they performed lower than the network average, they helped the male skew, and did better than last month and last year.

In May, USA had some of its lowest ratings in nearly a year; in June the network enjoyed its highest ratings, across the board, ever. In fact, there were many notable records set this month.

** June marks only the second time the network has earned over a 2.0 HH rating. (The other time was February '09.)

** It is the first time the average primetime audience had an even male/female skew. (Typically the audience is 45% male.) . The male audience comes from a spike in WWE ratings, more movies and the launch of BURN NOTICE.

** A dubious record that USA was not promoting is the audience's median age. As it edges closer to 50, USA's June 2009 audience was both its largest and its oldest on record.

As always, Monday nights brought NCIS and WWE RAW. But, this month WWE could have been added to the scripted original programming list. A promotional stunt had the media falsely reporting that Donald Trump had purchased WWE. Plus, the broadcast ran commercial free. The result according to USA's PR, WWE RAW delivered a 4.5 rating/7 share, with 6.8 million overall viewers tuning in. The household rating was up 25% over the June 8 broadcast, which was watched by 5.5 million. It was the most-watched episode of RAW in more than seven years. According to CableU's take on the Nielsen numbers, at the end of the month WWE's male audience grew less than 10% vs. year ago (June '08) or month ago (May '09). A lot of the growth came from women 18-49, whose ratings increased by 20%.

HOUSE has been a regular on USA since September '08. While the program started out by spiking the numbers wherever it appeared, it has been showing some signs of wear-out. Tuesdays typically belong to HOUSE, but this month USA rolled out a slew of summer movies as well (40-Year-Old Virgin, Sweet Home Alabama, National Treasure, among others). HOUSE did not stand up, and both its male and female audiences were eclipsed by box-office fare. We see USA playing with replacements for HOUSE throughout the week.

While HOUSE has been falling down, NCIS can't seem to do anything wrong. The program continues to gain traction, providing a solid lead-in to WWE on Mondays and a full three-hour block on Wednesdays. Wednesday night is up over 20% vs. last month, and up by over 45% vs. last year.

Thursdays in June brought the successful return of BURN NOTICE, which had its best premiere yet (this is the third season). ROYAL PAINS debuted at 10, and actually drew a bigger audience than BURN NOTICE among households and women. The two programs topped all of cable and half of the broadcast fare for the night. In its second week, ROYAL PAINS'(Tm) audience increased and even male ratings were topping BURN NOTICE. In second quarter, the top rated A18-49 cable program was ROYAL PAINS and the second was BURN NOTICE. (Variety).

A side-story to the drama(s) was the lead-in program. HOUSE is typically the Thursday night lead-in at 8PM, but in the last week of the month NCIS stepped in and topped HOUSE handily.

As the network waited for MONK and PSYCH to make their Friday night return in August, it played with various programming scenarios --  male skewing movies one week, female skewing movies another, three hours of HOUSE, and three hours of NCIS. And the winner is .NCIS, hands down. A similar scenario played out on Saturdays. Look for more NCIS in the future!

Sunday was the other big night of scripted original drama on USA. LAW & ORDER: CI and IN PLAIN SIGHT. The CI audience grew by about 10% vs. last month, but lost about 5% of its demo audience vs. last year. Compared to last month IN PLAIN SIGHT is up among women but down among men, and even on households and adults. Compared to last year it has lost 17% of its household ratings and over 25% of its demo ratings. While IN PLAIN SIGHT continues to be a strong cable program, it did come in slightly below USA's primetime average this month.

It doesn't look like much can get in USA's way this summer. With the exception of exceptional events (BET AWARDS / Michael Jackson, Disney's HANNAH MONTANA/SUITE LIFE/WIZARDS convergence, JOHN & KATE), USA looks pretty solid on its top perch. 

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

In February 2009 USA Network acquired the exclusive network television premiere rights to the 2009 Universal Pictures' film slate. The deal is considered to be one of the largest of its kind between a film studio and basic cable network. USA will receive two dozen of the studios' films, including Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, Fast & Furious with Vin Diesel, State of Play with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, Land of the Lost with Will Ferrell, Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, Funny People with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, Green Zone (working title) with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear and the upcoming untitled Nancy Meyers film with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Other titles include, Atonement with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, Away We Go with John Krasinski and Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Boat That Rocked with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emma Thompson, Cirque du Freak with Salma Hayek and Jane Krakowski, Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, Flash of Genius with Greg Kinnear, Frost/Nixon with Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, The Limits of Control with Bill Murray and John Hurt, Milk with Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, Ethan and Joel Cohen's A Serious Man, Taking Woodstock with Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber, Traveling with Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart, and 9 with Elijah Wood and John C. Reilly.

Movie deals from 2008 include:
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.

A deal with Paramount will bring Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to USA, in addition to the first three entries in the series.

A New Line TV deal includes ten movies, three of which were 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 purchased Underdog, My Boss'(Tm) 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.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

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

BURN NOTICE renewed for a fourth season.

ROYAL PAINS renewed for a second season.


PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced recently.

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