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TruTV Analysis


Original series dominate truTV's primetime schedule.   On a given night, a single original series will tend to run in a solid block throughout primetime.  There's a heavy reliance on blue collar reality (HARDCORE PAWN, OPERATION REPO, etc), while comedic video clip properties and a handful of other series fill out the remainder of the schedule.

As new series are introduced to the schedule, the network creates a few generic slots across the week for repeats.  Additional exhibitions in short bursts of 2-4 weeks give their new titles a chance to gain recognition with the casual viewer.  When a series does break out, like OPERATION REPO, they move it into a regular timeslot.

Since its 2008 rebranding, truTV has maintained a dedication to reality programming with a special focus on repo and pawning.  Recently the network has incorporated more unscripted comedy to complement its existing reality fare.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Over the course of 2012, the network stayed true to the strategy that yielded it success time and again: accumulate trade-based reality shows. In addition to this dependable method, the network began branching out into the genres of game shows and unscripted comedy.

This December, truTV experienced a yearly decline but enjoyed a month-to-month increase. This rise in viewership can partially be attributed to HARDCORE PAWN’S strong performance. The hit show, which is now well in its sixth season, was up 23% among men 18 – 49 compared to November. This feat is all the more impressive considering PAWN fared quite well last month.

All told, there were 38 telecasts of PAWN in December – a hair more than last month. truTV’s top six telecasts of the month were comprised of five premiere episodes of PAWN (one was technically a late November episode) and one PAWN rerun. The show’s contribution to the network is unparalleled. Likewise, Tuesday nights (which feature PAWN) were head and shoulders above the rest of the week.

Despite PAWN’s considerable network clout, it was not actually truTV’s most watched program overall among men 18 – 49 or 25 – 54. That distinction belonged to FULL THROTTLE SALOON, which aired ten times fewer episodes than PAWN. With only two reruns, SALOON appeared to do quite well from a collective standpoint. But in terms of individual telecasts, the highest rated SALOON episode came in twentieth place. The show fell of from its ratings from a last year among men: 9% and 5% with and 18 – 49 and 25 -54 respectively.

OPERATION REPO fell off a bit, slipping 35% among the key 25 – 54 demo. Nevertheless, REPO managed decent numbers and finished off better than most of truTV’s programming for the month.
CAUGHT RED HANDED entered into it second month and received a 40% spike in viewership among men 18 – 49 and 25 – 54. This is excellent news for network that’s bread and butter consists of trade-based reality programming. While truTV may be slowly expanding its purview, anything that strengthens its base is a plus.

SOUTH BEACH TOW closed out its second season very satisfactorily. The show was up 8% among men 18 – 49 compared to last month. TOW also experienced its highest single telecast ratings to date.

After a hiatus of nearly a year, BLACK GOLD kicked off its fifth season. The response to the shows return was underwhelming. The show was down 18% among men 18 – 49 and 10% in men 25 – 54 compared to when it aired premiere episodes in December 2011.

IMPRACTICAL JOKERS, on the other hand, had a much stronger month. Though it didn’t match the high ratings it achieved last year (when it premiered), the hidden camera show improved from November – roughly 30% with both key male demographics.

KILLER KARAOKE was one of the network’s least watched shows. Despite encouraging ratings for its premiere in November, the game show has since fallen in viewership. Despite the fall, it seems that the show has leveled out, earning consistent – if subpar – ratings. Interestingly, the show draws roughly the same amount as female viewers as men.

In the coming year, expect a growing contingent of game shows to complement the network’s trade reality base.