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HGTV Analysis


HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the key component of primetime, and after being floated around the schedule they are now tethered to 10 and 10:30 from Monday through Saturday.

There were changes on weekends in August where the stalwarts of Saturday and Sunday were replaced with HGTV’s rising stars.  LOVE IT OR LIST IT replaced design shows on Saturday nights entirely by the end of the month, while on Sunday PROPERTY BROTHERS knocked out a run of HOLMES INSPECTION.

Each night of the week offers a different theme of programming from 8 to 10. Mondays were promoted as a signature night last year, but this year Tuesday hosted the penultimate signature series, HGTV DESIGN STAR and now DESIGN ALL STARS. Wednesdays are host to “The Guys of Wednesday Night,” featuring KITCHEN COUSINS, PROPERTY BROTHERS and INCOME PROPERTY, and a new program SCORING THE DEAL slated to launch in late 2012 or early 2013. Thursdays feature power real estate brokers of SELLING NY, LA and LONDON, with NATURUAL BORN SELLERS joining the fray in July. Fridays were HHI stacks last year, but are now a rotating mix of specials and encores. Design Time Saturday is typically a bastion for design programming and Sunday nights feature Mike Holmes’ programming, which is unique in that it attracts a 50/50 male/female audience.

Half hour programs are still paired to create one-hour blocks, but hour-long shows are becoming more common on the line-up, particularly in the 8:00 hour.

HGTV is among the best in identifying and developing program elements to build upon. HGTV is able to extract the formula that works in existing programs and apply it to new programming. The HOUSE HUNTERS franchise is perhaps the most successful result of this strategy. Some recent press statements from general manager Kathleen Finch illustrate the point:

- "The Property Brothers are big stars on HGTV so we've created an exciting second series featuring twins Drew and Jonathan."

- HGTV viewers passionately tune in to programs about family run real estate businesses, they love the dynamics and drama that comes with running a real family business, so we're excited to introduce NATURAL BORN SELLERS."

- In talking about expanded Mike Holmes programming "Some of our most successful shows are those that feature experts who come to the rescue of real homeowners who don't know how to resolve a design or construction problem."

- She identifies who HGTV viewers are and what they are looking for: "Our audiences also love that HGTV provides pure voyeuristic fun with shows that feature fantasy celebrity lifestyle and over-the-top home trends. The network has fresh offerings for every fan of the home, including those who enjoy peeking inside other people's houses, travel enthusiasts and reality competition addicts."


Live Plus Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2012 vs. August 2011  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

AUGUST 2012: After hitting a plateau, HGTV's ratings fell this month. Numbers were down every night of the week on core women 25-54 vs. last year. Compared to last month, only Sunday's numbers showed improvement.

The good news is that HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL have some help. These two programs have virtually defined HGTV for years, claiming over one-third of the primetime line-up and even bigger share of the ratings. First time home owners programming PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE were the back-up programming, but were never more than second tier-programming. This year, PROPERTY BROTHERS has stepped up, able to fill in weak programming holes. LOVE IT OR LIST IT joined the line-up earlier this year, and has quickly risen to the top of the charts while receiving an ever-increasing presence on the schedule. Together, the four programs took up 54 hours of primetime this August, 64% of the line-up. Their ratings were 20% higher than the closest program (KITCHEN COUSINS), and no other program claimed more than five hours of the schedule.

And so, while both HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL dropped 20% of their ratings vs. last month, MY FIRST PLACE and PROPERTY BROTHERS held, and were able to stabilize the bottom line. The bad news is, not much else was working for the net.

The bad news is that other long-standing franchises are falling down. Tuesdays brought DESIGN STAR ALL STARS this month. HGTV DESIGN STAR has been a top performer for seven seasons. Seemingly a sure-thing, based on the success of TOP CHEF ALL STARS, CHOPPED ALL STARS, and multiple other reunion-based competition programming, DESIGN STAR ALL STARS  actually performed below the network average. ALL STARS performed about 14% lower than season 7 in August, and 7 was about 20% off season 6 numbers from August 2011.

Saturday night's Design Time was another fading franchise this month. SHOP THIS ROOM debuted with low numbers. MEGS GREAT ROOMS and THE HIGH LOW PROJECT dropped 33% and 19% of their women 25-54 audience vs. last month. By the end of the month there were no design programs on the air; they were all replaced with two hours of LOVE IT OR LIST IT.

HOLMES ON HOLMES repeats on Sunday nights have been pulling down HGTV's bottom line all summer. However, this month brought new episodes of AMERICAN HANDYMAN. PROPERTY BROTHERS was in place to anchor the night at 8PM. Still, viewers did not return and ratings were down by 27% for women 25-54 and by 31% for men 25-54.