Spike TV Analysis - June 2010


* Bold denotes programming change


THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER and other UFC-related series and specials pop up a lot in different days/time slots, occupying at least 1/3 of the Prime grid, and figuring prominently among the top-rated vehicles each month. Sports entertainment series TNA IMPACT which generally holds one of the top spots in HH and key demo delivery each month is moving to Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head, and will be offering live action every other week. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.

Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy.  Spike has been focusing its development slate on comedy as well as drama, in addition to their library of action movies and stunts.   Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network movie product as they have beefed up their acquisition purchases with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where declines in HH delivery experienced in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, in 2010 this key demo has dropped  for the fifth month in a row, along with continuing HH losses from the corresponding month in 2009. RM18-49 declined significantly in June on 4 of 7 nights, and were up only modestly on the remaining three nights. Delivery was essentially flat with last month.

Spike, which had been shedding older viewers in 2010, experienced an abrupt increase in its Median Age in June - up 9% versus June 2009, and a whopping 15% compared to May 2010. Movie-driven Mondays and Saturdays added the lion's share to the aging process, with both up 28% in Median Age over last year.

Monday's rating highlights were a Memorial Day stunt featuring the off-HBO WW2 mini-series BAND OF BROTHERS, as well as the movie THE TRANSPORTER.

DEADLIEST WARRIOR dominates Tuesday's schedule, with delivery down slightly from May while essentially flat with last year. The premiere of the first episode of US NAVY: PIRATE HUNTERS earned top-10 honors for the month.

Wednesdays feature a variety of UFC- related fare, with 10pm THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER leading the way to modest growth for M18-49, although the block was essentially flat with last month.

TNA Wrestling  has fully returned to Thursday nights, and sharply increases its lead-in at 9pm. In its first full month back on Thursday nights, TNA's RM18-49 was down 21% from March, the last month it occupied this time period.

Fridays in June begin with "super-sized" episodes of CSI, followed by a variety of specials and series episodes, which run off the clock, due to the additional CSI material. This has resulted in the month's steepest demo losses vs. last year, but exhibited modest growth over last month.

Saturday's increases over last year and last month were fueled by Movies such as URBAN JUSTICE, as well as a live UFC event, which was the top demo earner for the month. Sunday's mixed bag of series episodes and specials declined sharply from last year and was flat with last month.


Spike is making a bigger play for its target 18-49 male audience with an increased output of original scripted comedies, focusing on shows with sports themes. January 2010's premiere of BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE  is a good example.

Spike sees itself as an entertainment-driven factual Network aimed solidly at younger men. Much of their Prime line-up is dedicated to physical competition, whether from its Sports division (UFC) or Original Entertainment (DEADLIEST WARRIOR.)

Movies also occupy a significant amount of the schedule, but the concentration is on Theatricals, rather than original M.O.W.'s. In its quest to differentiate itself from its competition, Spike looks to take on traditional genres, but with a twist. Specials about historical warriors have appeared on History, Discovery and National Geographic (all of which Spike counts among their competitors,) but in Spike's DEADLIEST WARRIORS, two different eras and cultures are pitted against each other in a tournament format that puts each unique style to the test. Producers should keep this imperative in mind when developing projects aimed at this Network.

Comedic elements, where germane to the project, are also favored by the Network. One sub-genre that Spike is currently staying away from is Disaster-related fare.