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E! Analysis - May 2011


* Bold denotes programming change


Even with the cluttered programming on cable on Sunday nights, E! is not afraid to air one of their best originals like  KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS or HOLLY'S WORLD.  Most of their schedule varies night by night, week to week.  It is rather looked upon as if you are watching the brand, and not appointment viewing.

This cable network has developed a successful, highly profitable take on the old broadcast network formula -- find and create accessible stars and watch the viewers pour in, but for fractions of the cost of a single episode of a network drama.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

E! fell into a bit of a rut this past May, despite a smattering of bright spots here and there.  According to a press release distributed by the network, May 2011 saw E!'s highest ratings among women aged 18-34 and 18-49.  Despite this report, the Nielsen ratings paint a much different story: year-to-year numbers were significantly down among all demos - even young women.  This suggests that while primetime was low, daytime numbers were remarkable.

Among the more impressive primetime programming was the second half of KHLOE & LAMAR - a new hit for the network. The top telecasts for the month belonged to the season's final four premiere episodes.  The strength of the show helped elevate Sundays above the rest of the week, which in turn was the biggest night of the week for women aged 18-49.

Considering the popularity of this latest Kardashian spinoff, its clear that the franchise is still thriving.  The show represents a cross-section of themes that strike a chord with E's core demographic.  The combination of reality television, tabloid personalities, and interpersonal drama is a very attractive formula for the network.  Based on the success of KHLOE, it's a safe bet that E! will continue to display interest in similarly themed shows.  The show was often rated as the strongest original among women aged 18-34.

The consistently vital FASHION POLICE WEEKLY was the network's second-highest rated show for the network. Although there were no events on the scale of the Royal Wedding to cover this month, the show still performed well.  As expected, POLICE - which aired new episodes on Fridays - was highly rated amongst women in both main age demos but had no pull with men.

The combination of POLICE and THE SOUP helped make Fridays second only to Sundays.  THE SOUP'S numbers generally don't lean heavily in either direction, but May's ratings were surprisingly female skewing.  While THE SOUP still had the largest male audience of any E! show, the ratings were down significantly from peak numbers.

Overall, the top program for the month was E! NEWS.  Hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic, the show enjoyed its most-viewed May ever.  E! NEWS had the same number of male viewers as THE SOUP and exceeded female viewership of FASHION POLICE WEEKLY.  This suggests that viewers might prefer the comparatively straight style of a show like E! NEWS over the quirkiness of SOUP and POLICE.

DANCE SCENE - which premiered in April - attracts a female 18-49 audience that rivals E!'s top shows but suffered from a negligible male viewership.

Meanwhile, SEX AND THE CITY remains a key acquisition for the network as it pulls in numbers comparable to new, original shows.  The rest of the schedule, which included AFTER LATELY and reruns of KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS, was underwhelming.


E! and Virgin Produced, the newly minted production arm of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, have forged a multiyear first-look development deal in which E! will have exclusive rights to all Virgin Produced reality series development.  Virgin Produced serves as the film and television development, packaging and production arm of the Virgin Group.

E! has excelled at creating the next celebrity from scratch through cheaper, unscripted reality TV and its formula to create an alternate universe of reality-based celebrities who have become just as famous as the sitcom and drama stars in network prime-time, but with more impact on E!'s brand and bottom line than any sitcom, medical procedural or legal drama could for broadcast.

A lot of E!'s original reality programming starts with a family or an ensemble piece.  It's not about one person, but rather a group.  As in the case of the KARDASHIANS.  KARDASHIANS allow the E! viewers to vicariously live the fantasy of its stars but also points to specific touchstones that are very relatable to viewers.