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USA Performance/Schedule Analysis - May 2009

PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS(Updated as of June 21, 2009)

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMS:BURN NOTICE (DRAMA)
A blacklisted spy returns to his hometown of Miami to solve crimes while trying to find his betrayer.
Status: Third season premiered Thursday June 4 @ 9PM. 16 x 60. Produced by Fox Television Studios / Fuse Entertainment

HOUSE (DRAMA)
Medical drama following the acerbic Doctor House and his hospital team (Off Fox).
Status: A USA primetime staple. Produced by Heel and Toe Films, Universal Media Studios.

IN PLAIN SIGHT
(DRAMA)
series follows the life of a U.S. Marshal as she helps people in the witness protection program, while coping with her own erratic family.
Status: Second season currently on-air, premiered 4/19. 12 x 60. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Pirates Cove Entertainment

LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT
(DRAMA)
The third installment of the network franchise focuses on law officers forced to make ambiguous decisions when bringing criminals to justice.
Status: Season 8 currently on-air, premiered 4/19. 16 x 60. Produced by Universal Media Studios / Wolf Films

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
(DRAMA)
Police/crime drama that focuses both on the crime as well as the legal proceedings of a case. (Off NBC.)
Status: Three months since it has been on USA. PProduced byUniversal Media Studios / Wolf Films

MONK
(DRAMA)
Series revolves around a private detective who also has OCD and multiple phobias.
Status: Season 8 premieres Fridays at 9PM on 8/7.Produced by Universal Media Studios / Mandeville Films / ABC Studios

NCIS (DRAMA)
Criminal investigation drama revolving around a team of special agents assigned to solving crimes connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel.  (Off CBS)
Status: A USA primetime staple.Produced byCBS Televisions Studios - Network TV / Belisarius Productions

PSYCH
(DRAMA)
A man fakes being a psychic but is recruited to the police force when people believe that his powers are real.
Status: Season 4 premieres Fridays @ 10 on 8/7.Produced byUniversal Media Studios / Tagline Pictures

ROYAL PAINS (DRAMA)
A young doctor becomes a concierge doctor to the Hampton's elite.
Status Debut Thursday June 11 @ 10PM. 11x60.Produced byUniversal Media Studios, NBC Universal Cable Studio, USA Network.

WWE RAW (SPORTING)
World Wrestling matches feature pro wrestlers in action.
Status: A Monday night regular on USA.Produced byWorld Wrestling Entertainment

MAY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

WWE, IN PLAIN SIGHT, NCIS, LAW &ORDER: CI (ORIG)

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

USA is all about consistency. The network is extraordinarily consistent month-to-month and week-to-week, making it easy for viewers to, well...view. They know what to find and when to tune-in.

HOUSE and NCIS have replaced SVU as the glue that holds the network together; they dominate the line-up with strips and three-hour primetime blocks. Other than that, WWE always runs on Monday nights, and preferred nights for original series are Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Movies have taken a back seat lately, with a diminished presence on the primetime line-up, although movie package purchasing is in full swing.

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

BURN NOTICE season 3 premiered Thursday, June 4 @ 9PM
ROYAL PAINS debuted Thursday, June 11 @ 10PM
MONK season 8 premieres Friday August 7 @ 9PM
PSYCH season 4 premieres Friday August 7 @ 10PM

RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison: 
May 2009 vs. Mayl 2008(% Change)
HH      A18-49    A25-54
Monday 8-11pm          14%        4%         13%
Tuesday 8-11pm           4%        11%         7%
Wednesday 8-11pm      59%        32%        54%
Thursday 8-11pm          -6%        13%          8% 
Friday 8-11pm              4%         -1%         5%
Saturday 8-11pm          -22%       -37%      -32%
Sunday 8-11pm             41%        9%      31%
MTWTFSS 8-11pm       10%        0%         8%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

This May, USA had its lowest ratings since August '08, when the Summer Olympics snapped up viewers.  May is a tough month for all of the cable networks, but particularly USA...it is arguably the cable network most affected by broadcast sweeps programming. In addition, May's NBA play-offs tend to take a toll.  Bottom-line, the network lost 10% of its demo audience vs. less competitive April. Compared to last year, it gained 10% on household ratings, held onto its 18-49 audience and built the 25-54 audience by about 10%.

On Mondays, WWE continues to dominate. Once again, it is USA's top rated program of the month among households and men. In a similar story to the whole network, WWE lost just under 10% of male ratings vs. last month, but added about 5% more men vs. last year.

It was the same trend for Tuesday night's three-hour block of HOUSE. Ratings fell between ten and sixteen percent vs. last month. Compared to last year, household and women ratings were virtually flat, while male ratings increased by an impressive 26%, a sign of the male viewers' preference for HOUSE over LAW & ORDER: SVU. And that is why this month we see 10 telecasts of HOUSE each week and zero telecasts of SVU. You could say HOUSE is the new SVU.

But NCIS is becoming the new HOUSE. NCIS has increased from 6 primetime telecasts last May to 22 last month to 32 this May. It is the number-two ranked program among men, behind only WWE. Compared to last year its ratings are up by over one-third, and it was the only program on the line-up to build share vs. last month. Wednesday's three-hour block of NCIS was the most-improved night of the week compared to both last year and last month. In fact, it was the only night of the week to show improvement vs. April, with 4% to 13% higher ratings.

Thursdays were another night of HOUSE, with a couple of NCIS telecasts slipped in. The story was similar to Tuesday night's HOUSE block, with numbers improving vs. last year but slightly down vs. last month. The two episodes of NCIS underperformed the HOUSE lead-ins, even though NCIS is better rated on average. HOUSE is acting as a placeholder on Thursday nights until originals BURN NOTICE and ROYAL PAINS take over in June.

Fridays were the third night of mostly HOUSE, with the occasional NCIS thrown in.  Last year the network was running male-skewing movies and NCIS and SVU blocks. Women prefer this year's HOUSE line-up, while men preferred last year's, coming out as a wash in the end.

Saturday was the only night this month to offer theatricals, and they appeared on just two nights out of five. Although USA has been a relatively aggressive player in the movie market place, it has not made much room on its primetime schedule for them. The HOUSE and NCIS blocks on the other three Saturday nights generally out-performed the movies.

Sundays in May were the only nights to carry original programming. HOUSE led into LAW & ORDER: CI and IN PLAIN SIGHT, both of which had new season premieres in April. IN PLAIN SIGHT was the top ranked program among women for the month, but as was the case with the rest of the line-up, both programs were off vs. April. They earned about 20% lower female ratings, which is a bigger hit than the -7% average for the month.

In the end, USA weathered the May sweeps, and is all set with a fresh batch of original programming to help bring in a strong summer.

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

In February 2009 USA Network acquired the exclusive network television premiere rights to the 2009 Universal Pictures' film slate. The deal is considered to be one of the largest of its kind between a film studio and basic cable network. USA will receive two dozen of the studios' films, including Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, Fast & Furious with Vin Diesel, State of Play with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, Land of the Lost with Will Ferrell, Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, Funny People with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, Green Zone (working title) with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear and the upcoming untitled Nancy Meyers film with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Other titles include, Atonement with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, Away We Go with John Krasinski and Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Boat That Rocked with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emma Thompson, Cirque du Freak with Salma Hayek and Jane Krakowski, Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, Flash of Genius with Greg Kinnear, Frost/Nixon with Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, The Limits of Control with Bill Murray and John Hurt, Milk with Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, Ethan and Joel Cohen's A Serious Man, Taking Woodstock with Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber, Traveling with Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart, and 9 with Elijah Wood and John C. Reilly.

Movie deals from 2008 include:
After the movie premiered, USA picked up the cable rights to air The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian from Disney ABC Domestic TV for approx. $15million. The 4 and a half-year contract for the movie begins September 2010.

A deal with Paramount will bring Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to USA, in addition to the first three entries in the series.

A New Line TV deal includes ten movies, three of which were pre-buys (Sex and the City: The Movie, Semi-Pro and He's Just Not That Into You). The seven other movies are The Golden Compass, Rendition, Running Scared, El Cantante, Martian Child, The Number 23 and Shoot 'Em Up.

USA is scheduled to air The Golden Compass in July 2010, Semi-Pro in September 2010, Sex and the City: The Movie in January 2011 and He's Just Not That Into You in March 2011.

USA has also agreed with Disney-ABC Domestic TV for the rights to Oscar winner No Country For Old Men, Enchanted and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

And for those keeping track, USA likes its sequels, with four Raiders, three Pirates of the Caribbeans, two National Treasures, one Ocean's and one Bourne on its increasingly deep bench.

Back in 2007 the net had already implemented a strategy of selective movie acquisitions, purchasing exclusive basic-cable rights to Disney's The Game Plan to start airing in 2009. Starring "The Rock," it is an obvious fit with USA's Monday night WWE RAW series.

In addition, they have purchased Underdog, My Boss' Daughter and Bad Company, all slated to air after 2010.

USA and SciFi signed a $20 million Lionsgate package that includes 3:10 to Yuma (Early 2010), Good Luck Chuck (2010), Employee of the Month (2010) and Jason Statham titles War (2010), Crank (2009) and Chaos (2009).

Other deals include New Line's Hairspray (the 2007 version) for a four-year window beginning in 2010. Also Ocean's 13 (a competitive move after Ocean's 11 kept popping on TNT), License to Wed and Blood Diamond, all from Warner.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

WWE RAW has received a multi-year renewal, keeping the top-rated series on USA through 2010.

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced recently.