Vh1 Analysis - March 2010

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MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

VH1 continues to have success with home-grown series, often built around Reality "stars" from earlier series (e.g. NEW YORK GOES TO WORK featuring a former FLAVOR OF LOVE contestant.) VH1's primetime lineup is very fluid in nature, leading to a lot of "Various" programs on their schedule grid.

VH1 will occasionally stack night of programming and air episodes of the same show back-to-back-to-back.  This can prove extremely successful for them, especially when they use these mini-marathons to premiere the latest episodes of their original series. Episodes of new series tend to receive multiple Prime plays during the week each episode premieres.

Music-oriented fare continues to make its presence felt on VH1, with survey-oriented specials (100 GREATEST...) joining occasional new epsiodes of the venerable BEHIND THE MUSIC series, along with concert specials and documentaries.

MARCH 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

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

HH

P18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-60%

-58%

Tuesday 8-11pm

 -37%

-41%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-15%

-25%

Thursday 8-11pm

-13%

-21%

Friday 8-11pm

-21%

-26%

Saturday 8-11pm

-9%

-13%

Sunday 8-11pm

-54%

-59%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-38%

-43%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

March 2010 saw an acceleration of the year-to-year losses which afflicted the last four months. In March, every night experienced double-digit HH and demo losses from the same month last year, with Monday and Sunday losing over half of last year's viewers. Delivery was also down from February, albeit by modest double-digits only. In addition to this 5-month streak of year-to-year losses, March shows the continuing ageing of VH1 as the Prime Median Age crept up by 13% compared to last year.

If we look at the Top 5 series from March 2009, we see they played in 68 time slots that month, compared to only 17 timeslots for this month's Top 5. RP18-49 was down 40% year-to-year when you compare the delivery of these two groups of top skeins.

Scheduling strategy this month was hard to determine, as seemingly random epsides of various series cropped up all over the schedule. For a Network not known for consistent scheduling, March set a new standard, with the only consistently slotted series being Monday's 9p run of CELEBRITY FIT CLUB 7. Despite this, CELBRITY FIT CLUB 7, which debuted in February, slid from #2 series that month to #9 in March. Much-hyped new series THE PRICE OF BEAUTY with Jessica Simpson replaced FANTASIA FOR REAL at 10p on Monday, equalling its predecessor's delivery for the first two weeks of its run.

Tuesdays started with a variety of offerings, including two runs of the premiering CELEBRITY FIT CLUB 7, leading into the off-Logo series RUPAULS DRAG RACE, which led the pack each Tuesday in March. The night as a whole was down sharply from last year and last month.

New episodes of CELEBRITY REHAB 3 and the premiere of SOBER HOUSE 2 joined the movies, series blocks and specials that fill Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. SOBER HOUSE 2 was the top offering Thursday, but could not prevent the night from dropping by modest double-digit percentages from last year and last month.
Friday suffered double-digit losses from last year, as the various repeat episodes which populated the night could not compete.

GREASE was the word for Movie-centric Saturday, as the venerable title took top honors for the month, but its two runs may have contributed to the previously noted ageing of VH1's audience.

Premiere series TOOL ACADEMY 3 was the high point each Sunday, following a  run of 

FRANK THE ENTERTAINER at 8p.  Despite this, TOOL was down by nearly 1/3 for HH and key demos, compared to last month.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

VH1 has been extremely successful in the creation of an entirely new genre of programming.  Coining the phrase Celebreality, Vh1 has created several hit shows revolving around celebrities, past and present, and their "real" lives.

So now, the task at hand is to determine how they can expand beyond what's expected - and reach out to an even broader audience.  It's great to have programs that are celebrity-based, but anything that has amazing characters, tells a good story, and does it in a compelling way, is going to interest the net. Recently, VH1 has expanded into the original M.O.W. realm, with their first original feature being produced by Queen Latifah's production company, Favor Unit.

Important:

VH1's Celebreality hits have received a lot of attention and ratings success. The network, however, continues to expand upon their brand to bring unique documentaries and interesting pop culture and music-related series to air.

VH1 has said that they are actively looking for documentaries in their ROCK DOC block.  They are looking for "intimate stories," "iconic characters" (namely 60s and 70s icons), and intelligent documentaries that aren't afraid to take chances.  Think "big stories" told through a "small narrative," too.

In addition, they're looking to expand beyond just Celebreality.  TOOL ACADEMY and THE PICK-UP ARTIST were a fairly big successes for the network and they're looking for the next version of those series.

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