Vh1 Analysis - May 2011

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MAY 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

VH1 continues to concentrate on home-grown series, often built around Reality "stars" from earlier series (e.g. DAISY OF LOVE featuring a former ROCK 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 a successful original series. Episodes of new series tend to receive multiple Prime plays during the week each episode premieres. This fluid approach to scheduling, however can take its toll on viewer loyalty, as the lack of a discernible schedule on many nights seems to have harmed viewership over the last two years.

Music-oriented fare continues to make its presence felt on VH1, with survey-oriented specials (100 GREATEST...) joining occasional new episodes of the venerable BEHIND THE MUSIC series, along with concert specials and documentaries. Urban-appeal theatrical films, many with strong musical components, are also delivering above-average ratings to the Network

MAY 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2011 vs. May 2010  (% Change)

HH

P18-49

Monday 8-11pm

-13%

-3%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-31%

-26%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-14%

-11%

Thursday 8-11pm

-39%

-45%

Friday 8-11pm

-12%

-22%

Saturday 8-11pm

-24%

-32%

Sunday 8-11pm

-11%

-20%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-20%

-20%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

VH1's struggles continued in May with HH and demos off by 1/5 from May 2010, which, in itself was down sharply from 2009. The network tried to capitalize on April's successful launch of MOB WIVES  by scheduling the seven episodes in May to fill 33 individual hour slots, nearly 1/3 of the total schedule. This seems to have watered down the series overall Ratings impact, as MOB WIVES fell from first to third among ranked VH1 series from April, and lost 1/3 of its HH and demo delivery from last month.

Overall HH and demo delivery was flat with April.

Monday's demo delivery was flat against last year and last month for the second straight survey.  Premiere episodes of LOVE & HIP HOP and BEVERLY HILLS FABULOUS debuted in the 8pm hour and then repeated in the 10pm hour, earning similar ratings, and finishing as the #1 and #2 series this month, ahead of MOB WIVES.

Tuesday night as a whole was down significantly for HH and P18-49 ratings from last year, as a block of MOB WIVES filled the last two weeks of the sweep, in part replacing the departed RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE 3. HH and demos were off by 10-20% from April.  None of the series repeats stood out on this night.

Movies, specials and series repeats combined to give Wednesday an overall delivery down slightly from last year and flat with last month. Repeats of  MOB WIVES were the top draw for this night.

Despite stunting specials among the block of hour-long episodes of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE  that had settled in on Thursday in November 2010, the night suffered the steepest drop of the month. Only a run of the movie ROCK STAR  came close to equaling VH1's declining Prime average.

Friday was down modestly from last year and last month for A18-49. The mixed-bag schedule featured Movies, specials and series repeats, with he film LEGALLY BLONDE the only offering to stand out on this night.

Saturday's HH and demo delivery was down more significantly from last year, somewhat less so from April. None of Saturday's varied offerings stood out in May

Despite premiere episodes from three new series, Sunday lost a fifth of last year's RA18-49. MOB WIVES scored the highest individual and average ratings for the month, but the 8pm premiere episodes dropped 1/3 in RA18-49 from Week 1 to Week 5. Lead-out series 9pm AUDRINA and 930pm SADDLE RANCH remained fairly consistent throughout the survey, ranking as the #4 and #6 VH1 series for May.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

VH1 had 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. Flavor Unit is also producing VH1's first scripted drama, based on the same characters as the M.O.W.

Important:

VH1's Celebreality hits have received a lot of attention and ratings success in the past. 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 fairly big successes for the network and they're looking for the next version of those series.

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