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TNT Performance/Schedule Analysis - February 2009

PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of March 21, 2009)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54

FEBRUARY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

THE CLOSER, LEVERAGE, TRUST ME, NBA

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

TNT serves up stacks of female-skewing crime dramas Monday through Wednesday, NBA on Thursdays, when it's the season, and blockbuster, mostly-male-oriented theatricals Friday to Sunday. Premiere night of original dramas, when they are running, is usually relegated to Mondays, sometimes Tuesdays (as in this month). LAW & ORDER is the glue that fills in the holes.

In the future, TNT has announced a big move toward originals in primetime. They plan to have three nights (Monday - Wednesday) of original programming, including dramas and non-scripted fare, throughout the year by 2010.

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES:

JANUARY - FEBRUARY:

THE CLOSER was back on Mondays, and TRUST ME debuted in the coveted 10PM time-slot. On Tuedsays, movies led into LEVERAGE more often than LAW & ORDER. Wednesdays brought a second run of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (the first run was on sister Cartoon Network on Friday nights). Thursdays were pure NBA this month. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were still all movies, with the exception of the NBA All-Star Weekend.


PREMIERES:

** January 26, 2009 @ 9PM: THE CLOSER     
** January 26 2009 @ 10PM: TRUST ME
** February 13-15 2009: NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND
** February 14 2009 @ 11PM: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiere on TNT.
** February 18, 2009 @10 & 10:30PM: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS time-period debut

MARCH & BEYOND:
PREMIERES:

** March 2, @ 10PM: SAVING GRACE (TRUST ME moves to Tuesday)

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:

TNT showed small but steady improvements on demo audiences this year vs. last. While household ratings (and median age) were flat, male ratings improved by +7%, women 18-49 ratings grew just +3% and women 25-54 ratings grew by +11%.

One of the biggest factors to hit the ratings was the NBA. Basketball continues to show much-improved numbers this year, as game numbers actually approach the Jordan years. TNT's NBA numbers are between +43% and +87% better than last year's. But, while this helps the bottom line, it doesn't help the rest of the programming, as TNT doesn't always translate higher basketball viewing into higher program viewing.

Another big factor affecting the ratings is LAW & ORDER, but unfortunately that program is affecting the numbers in a negative way. Household and demo ratings are off by about -30% for the program. It has a diminished presence on the network (down to just 12 primetime runs this year vs. 24 last year), but still has enough of a presence to move the numbers. And so an old stand-by has become an underperformer, pulling down the bottom line.

But beyond the numbers, TNT had three original dramas on the air this month, and each of them pulled in solid numbers. No small accomplishment for any programmer.

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: 
February 2009 vs. February 2008(% Change )
HH      A18-49    A25-54
Monday 8-11pm          -4%        -2%          0%
Tuesday 8-11pm          -1%          0%        1%
Wednesday 8-11pm      17%        14%         25%
Thursday 8-11pm        -15%       -12%        -5% 
Friday 8-11pm           -17%         -6%        -9%
Saturday 8-11pm          -11%        -19%      -12%
Sunday 8-11pm             -12%        -11%       -8%
MTWTFSS 8-11pm        -6%         -5%        -1%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

FEBRUARY 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

There was a lot happening on TNT's schedule this month, and a lot of double digit audience shifts, in both directions. Compared to January, TNT kept its female audience levels steady while growing total primetime male audiences by +20% or more. Household audience rose +9% and median age was the same.

Mondays brought new episodes of THE CLOSER, TNT's, and one of cable's highest rated programs. September '08 was the last time the program was running new episodes, and the numbers have taken a nose-dive since then: -26% lower household ratings and more than -30% lower core women ratings.

Mondays in February also brought us TRUST ME, the newest original drama out of the TNT stable. The program is the third highest rated program on households and women, but it underdelivers the network average on men, and more significantly, typically loses more than half of its CLOSER lead-in audience. The future does not look bright for the program, and doesn't bode well for non-crime dramas in the future. There were no press releases on the program from TNT after its premiere, and when SAVING GRACE came back for the rest of its second season in March, TRUST ME was bumped to Tuesdays.

Speaking of Tuesdays, LEVERAGE was still a star on that night. It has a fairly even male/female skew, and brings in better male audiences than THE CLOSER. Strong, male-skewing movies (Independence Day, Four Brothers) were usually the lead-in for the program, which helped it considerably vs. the LAW & ORDER lead-ins. Compared to last month, women ratings were -9% lower, while men were flat for the program. For the night, men were up while women were down. 

On Wednesdays this month TNT presented two hours of LAW & ORDER followed by COLD CASE at 10PM, which was not a big hit with any demo, dropping audience from its lead-in, and coming in as the lowest rated program of the month for men. In the last week of the month, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS began its Wednesday 10PM TNT run (it was originally broadcast on Cartoon Network). It was the lowest rated program on the network for households and women, and the second lowest for men.

Thursdays were NBA night all month, and as discussed above, we are seeing renewed interest in the sport this year. The ALL STAR WEEKEND specials provided the high-points of the weekend, (and the month). Movies were also strong weekend performers this month, with standard TNT titles like Bourne Supremacy, Shrek and Oceans 11. The other stand-out of the weekend was the TNT original movie, GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY, which was particularly strong with women and households.

ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:

NBA ALL STAR GAME on February 14th posted single to double-digit viewer growth results from the previous year in various demos: +10% with A18-34 at 2.5 million; +6% among A18-49 at 4.0 million; and +12% with A25-54 at 3.4 million. The broadcast also averaged 6.8 million total viewers. (from TNT)

Find many more ratings and success stories in our Network Archives/Press section: www.cableu.tv/tnt-press-releases-2009/

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

A 2008 prebuy deal with New Line and Picturehouse will bring The Women, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Zac Efron vehicle 17 Again and the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases to the network.

TBS, TNT and their Cartoon Network also signed a 12-title blockbuster deal with Warner Bros. that will funnel 10,000 B.C., The Dark Knight, Get Smart and three other prebuys to their primetime schedules throughout 2010 and 2011.

A $12 million Lionsgate movie package was sold to TNT and sister network TBS, and includes titles such as Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married and Daddy's Little Girls, Bernie Mac's Pride and Bill Engvall's Delta Force.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

LEVERAGE, RAISING THE BAR, SAVING GRACE, THE CLOSER

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING

Programs filling out the rest of the day are primarily off-net one-hour dramas, otherwise known as "Primetime in the Daytime," and include ANGEL, CHARMED, ER, JUDGING AMY, LAS VEGAS and WITHOUT A TRACE.