Spike TV Analysis - October 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 has returned to Thursday nights from a several-month-long sojourn on Monday nights to take on USA's WWE Wrestling head-to-head. Other factual series usually deal with physical competition or risk.

Spike is, however, retooling its original-series strategy, having recently introduced sit-com BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE and reality series SCRAPERS.  Spike has also recently made a serious commitment to off-network product. Starting October 2011, Spike TV will broadcast two back-to-back episodes of the sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS in prime time twice a week.

In addition they have recently invested in Theatrical acquisitions with movie franchises Rambo and the Star Wars saga.


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Where losses in HH delivery experienced in 2009 were mitigated by growth for RM18-49, in 2010 this key demo has now dropped for the ninth month in a row. However, while HH and RM18-49 declined in September every night of the week, except for Tuesday, October saw three nights move into positive territory for HH ratings, with two of those enjoying demo growth as well. October was up by modest double-digit percentages in HH and demos when measured against September.

After shedding older viewers in early 2010, Spike  experienced the opposite over the past few months, although with  October up only 1% in Median Age compared to last year, the aging trend may be slowing This overall aging trend, though, could explain why RM18-49 contoinue to fall faster than overall HH ratings.

Monday's mix of movies and UFC FIGHT NIGHT consistently earned sub-average HH and demo ratings compared to this month's average Prime delivery for Spike. The night was down modestly from last month, when DEADLIEST WARRIOR filled the 8-9pm slot.

After two months at 10 and 1030pm on Tuesday, original reality series SCRAPPERS, which grew 29% in HH Rtg and 14% in the demo in September over its August debut average, was replaced by top non-Sports series 1000 WAYS TO DIE.  Now filling the entire night, 1000 WAYS TO DIE drew more women to the Network, most likely accounting for the growth in HH Rtg while younger men continued to decline. Overall, the night also improved slightly over last month in HH and female demos.

The return of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER to Wednesdays at 10pm, replacing Season 5 of PROS VS JOES, gave the night steady growth from 8-11pm, leading out of two hours of ULTIMATE FIGHTER UNLEASHED. Although the returning favorite more than doubled Spike's Prime RM18-49 average for the month, the night as a whole suffered the second-steepest annual declines of any night in October. There was sharp growth over last month, however, and Spike earned its highest viewership in the demo on this night - 77% above average.

TNA Wrestling's HH and demo ratings grew 20% from September in its fourth month since Spike's top franchise returned to Thursday nights, and sharply increased its new GANGLAND lead-in at 9pm.

GANGLAND is now the highest-rated non-sports series for M18-49 on Spike.

Fridays in October were dominated by a 3 hour block of the under-performing ENTOURAGE, leading to the month's steepest annual losses. Despite six consecutive episodes to build momentum through each Friday, the delivery stays flat from 8-11pm.

Weekends featured UFC specials and series blocks slotted around Movie presentations. Saturday's growth over last year and last month was due to a couple of UFC events. Sundays were populated by blocks of ENTOURAGE and CSI, neither of which helped overall demo delivery.


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.