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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 January 2013 vs. January 2012 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

As truTV entered 2013, the network enjoyed increased ratings from last December but took a hit in the yearly numbers. Some of the monthly gains can be attributed to the introduction of HARDCORE PAWN: CHICAGO.

Admittedly, the spinoff of the network’s most popular show did not match the numbers of the original. Nevertheless, CHICAGO proved a welcome addition to truTV’s programming slate. Due to strong premiere ratings and a lack of reruns, the program was the most viewed show overall. CHICAGO earned a solid male viewership while also garnering one of truTV’s largest female audiences.

CHICAGO enjoyed an ideal scheduling scenario thanks to the prime lead in of the original HARDCORE PAWN. Together, the pair made Tuesdays the most popular night of the week by a fair margin.

PAWN was actually down somewhat from last month by 6% (18 – 49) and 7% (25 – 54) from December. Despite the decline in viewership, PAWN still held the most spots within truTV’s top 20 telecasts – including the two most watched. It will come as a surprise to few that the program was renewed for a seventh season.

One show that met all expectations was LIZARD LICK TOWING. When the show returned for its third season, it received its most watched episode to date. The season premiere was also up substantially from the second season opener. Collectively, TOWING was up from last January by 7% among men 25 – 54 and stayed even among men 18 – 49. In addition to earning its most viewed episode to date, TOWING also managed to beat out two premiere episodes of PAWN – a difficult feat.

January was also notable for premiering two new truTV shows: SWAMP HUNTERS and CONTAINER WARS. The new titles maintain the network’s tradition of finding previously successful formats and making them their own. The performances of both new programs were encouraging. Both show’s found their biggest audiences among men 25 – 54.

Though IMPRACTICAL JOKERS wasn’t on par with truTV’s trade based reality series, it had a very satisfactory January. The program experienced a boost in both the month-to-month and yearly ratings. The monthly upturn (partially due to a tapering of reruns) was especially substantial – increases of 36% for men 18 – 49 and 33% for men 25 – 54.

The network’s downturn compared to a year ago can be attributed to shows STORAGE HUNTERS, FULL THROTTLE SALOON, and BLACK GOLD. All of these shows were significantly down from last January.