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HGTV Analysis - November 2011


Mondays have become an HGTV showcase night, with new signature programming, while on Fridays, HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL runs all the way from 8 to 11.

Tuesday through Thursday features the “First Time Homeowners” block from 8 to 9PM, with MY FIRST PLACE AND PROPERTY VIRGINS. The 9 to 10 slot mixes it up while the 10 to 11 slot remains dedicated to HOUSE HUNTERS or HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL all week, with occasional exceptions for specials.

Saturday is home-design focused, and Sunday features specials and Mike Holmes’ programming, thereby drawing more men to Sunday nights.

HGTV has become adept at providing viewers with “sneak peaks,” premiering one or two episodes in advance of new programs’ scheduled releases.  This serves to create buzz around new programming while giving viewers an impression of intimacy with the network.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NOVEMBER 2011: NOVEMBER 2011: The end of the year is typically a low-point on the ratings spectrum for HGTV, and 2011 is following suit. The net made some gains over last month, particularly with men, but November remains one of HGTV’s lowest rated months of 2011. Compared to last year, ratings were down by three or four percent, except for core women 25-54, who were exactly on pace with November 2010.

The network’s foundation programs are still HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. The two formulaic real-estate programs continue to dominate the schedule with a total of 76 telecasts, or just less than half the primetime line-up between them. They take up about the same amount of primetime real-estate as they did last year, with core ratings that are pretty much the same as last year’s. They also continue to start and end primetime blocks on most nights of the week. The difference is their place in the program average rankings. Last year they were topped (on household ratings) only by HOLMES ON HOLMES. This year they were both topped by HOLMES INSPECTION, PROPERTY BROTHERS, SELLING LA, SELLING NY and COLOR SPLASH. HH INTERNATIONAL was also topped by HIGH LOW PROJECT, HOLMES ON HOLMES and MY FIRST PLACE.

While bottom line ratings and foundation program seem to be somewhat stagnant, HGTV’s line-up is robust. Notably, there were 12 programs running this November that were not on the air last November.  COLOR SPLASH MIAMI, DESIGN ON A DIME, DINAS PARTY, DONNA DECORATES DALLAS, HIGH LOW PROJECT, HOLMES INSPECTION, KITCHEN COUSINS, LOVE IT OR LIST IT, MY HOUSE YOUR MONEY, PROPERTY BROTHERS, SELLING LA, SELLING NY, The majority of that list is comprised of programs that lauched in 2011.

With all the new programming coming in, something had to go. The “first-time homeowner’s block” is essentially gone, with PROPERTY VIRGINS and MY FIRST PLACE running together only on Tuesdays, and MY FIRST PLACE running alone on Thursdays. They went from 46 primetime telecasts last year to 18 this year. But ratings-wise, less was not more. Core women 25-54 ratings were virtually the same year over year.

So what was different in the ratings? Both COLOR SPLASH and INCOME PROPERTY had nice runs, gaining about 25% better w25-54 ratings. But really it was all the new programming that made the network feel different, even though ratings were virtually the same in the end. HGTV has been trying hard to carve a new image for itself. It focused on strong personalities this year in developing its new program line-up. In a recent interview Kathleen Finch (SVP General Manager) noted the common link she sees in the network’s most successful shows: family.  PROPERTY BROTHERS, KITCHEN COUSINS, MY HOUSE, YOUR MONEY, SELLING NY, HOME BY NOVOGRATZ and DONNA DECORATES DALLAS each depict family members working and living together.

Is that the key to HGTV’s future success? None of the new programs have been strong enough to grow the bottom-line ratings, but they are new, and any one of them could become the catalyst that HGTV needs.