Fall primetime insights dished by network: 18-34 cable


Baseline Intelligence Media analysts Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill have teamed for their latest report, Primetime TV Insight: The 2011 Fall TV Preview Edition. This is their take on the new fall shows. Yesterday we looked at cable, with a focus on Kids & Teens networks. Today, its 18-34-skewing Youth/Pop Culture networks:

Adult Swim
Turner’s Adult Swim (Cartoon Network after 9PM) leads the pack among men 18-34, and is second only to Nick-at-Nite among teens. Of course, the network does not program a full primetime schedule. It shares a channel with Cartoon Network, and basically programs 10pm through late night. Its primetime ratings are driven by Family Guy (which remains strong regardless of venue) and King of the Hill. The network announced six new series and specials for 2011/2012. The shows include NTSF:SD:SUV: (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle), a 15 minute animated series about a team of government agents who work to protect San Diego from terrorism of various sorts, and The Heart, She Holler, a live action series premiering this fall and produced by comedians Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless.

At one time, MTV was best known as the network that trail-blazed music videos and also paved the way for a whole generation of pop culture; it’s now best known for reality TV. The network’s ongoing strategy is to focus on the millennial generation and continue to keep that audience front and center by selecting programs that capture their interests and emotions.

MTV’s annual Video Music Awards, the last remaining vestige of the network’s foundation, remains one of cable’s highest rated specials. The network’s strongest regular primetime series are: The Hills, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Jersey Shore and Real World – obviously shows that hold far greater appeal for young women than men. The network’s ratings are currently stable from last season, but are down significantly from two years ago.

Reality staple Jersey Shore is MTV’s top-rated primetime program. The fourth season of the series, which was filmed in Florence, Italy, will officially premiere on August 4th. The January premiere of Season 3 opened up with nearly 8.5 million total viewers and the finale episode averaged 7.6 million viewers. We’re confident that Season 4 will also open up strong.

MTV is now trying to develop more scripted content. New series include: This Is Awkward, about a typical anonymous high school girl who finally gets noticed only after a freak accident leaves half her body in a case.

On the animation side, MTV announced the return of classic Beavis and Butt-Head and the new Good Vibes, a Family Guy style series about high school sophomores in California. MTV also previewed a number of unscripted series. Quiet Campus, on MTVu (the 24-hour channel that is targeted to college students), follows students at Gallaudet University, a college for the deaf. The network has picked up a second season of Teen Mom as well as the new I Used to Be Fat, which shows overweight teens as they try to slim down the summer between high school graduation and college. Ridiculousness, a sort of Jackass meets Tosh.0, where the host runs through the top funniest amateur Internet videos and user submitted clips featuring people accidentally injuring themselves.

Comedy Central
Comedy Central has three original shows currently greenlit. Workaholics, which premiered April 6th at 10:30pm, follows three friends fresh out of college who live and work together as telemarketers. The Sports Show with Norm MacDonald, premiered April 12th at 10pm. Hosted by the SNL alum, the show is a weekly sports news comedy shot the day before air to provide an updated parody of sports coverage. In June 2011, Jon Benjamin Has a Van, featuring H. Jon Benjamin along with acquisitions of FOX’s Bob’s Burgers and FX’s Archer are scheduled to premiere.

The network has also acquired NBC sitcom 30 Rock, which will debut September 2011, airing weekdays at 7pm. Repeats of the previous night’s The Daily Show and Colbert Report will move to 6pm. Returning shows include, Ugly Americans, Onion Sportsdome and acquired series Futurama and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Four new shows are in development: Gregory Brothers, Mashup, Keegan vs. Jordan and Playing with Guns. Comedy Central will also return with its events, featuring more stand-up, The Comedy Awards and Comedy Central’s Roast Series with Kid Rock scheduled for this summer 2011 in Detroit.

Comedy Central has declined this season among its core adult 18-34 and teen viewer base. Its two strongest (and most iconic) ongoing primetime series, South Park and The Daily Show, are still solid performers (although down from their heydays). Rally for Sanity and/or Fear, which aired on October 30 and was co-hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, has been submitted for Emmy nomination consideration. The network’s series of celebrity roasts have also been performing well.

The network, which revamped is logo earlier this year, is committed to taking ownership of comedy with more content, ranging from original series to stand-up performances, while also making it available around the clock on its web site.

Returning series The Daily Show, Colbert Report, South Park (celebrating its 15th anniversary) and Tosh.0 have helped the network among its core men 18-34 audience, finishing second to Adult Swim in the category.

Nick-at-Nite, the primetime and overnight block of Nickelodeon continues to thrive on off-network family sitcoms. With the likes of ICarly and SpongeBob sprinkled in, the network’s ratings have been bolstered by staples, George Lopez, Everybody Hates Chris, Malcolm in the Middle, and Home Improvement. Family Matters and Fresh Prince have also performed well for the network.

Nick at Nite is now going to try launching its own original comedy created by and starring Happy Days alum Scott Baio. Daddy’s Home is a multicamera comedy about a dad (Baio) who decides to stay home so his wife can resume her career as a soap-opera actress. Nick at Nite had first announced a push toward original
programming back in 2008 with the acquisition of the Michael Eisner-produced animated series Glenn Martin D.D.S.

ABC Family
Prior to past president Paul Lee’s arrival in 2004, ABC Family had been largely a dumping ground for failed ABC series as well as encores of its reality shows. In the past six years, Lee transformed ABC Family into a strong brand, largely due to his strategy of developing popular original series that resonate with young women and teens. ABC Family is now in the top five among all cable networks in primetime among women 18-34, 18-49, and 12-34.

Most notable among ABC Family’s original series are, Secret Life of an American Teenager, Make It or Break It, Melissa & Joey, and newcomer Pretty Little Liars. The network also continues to do fairly well with its original movies as well as its Saturday and Sunday night movies. According to ABC Family President Michael Riley (who replaced Paul Lee) the network will continue to focus on its core millennial audience, building on the strength of its original scripted series.

Since its series debut last year, Pretty Little Liars has been the second highest-rated scripted cable series among women 18-34. Its March finale drew 3.64 million total viewers, the series second most watched telecast. Liars, which has been renewed for a second season, re-joined the schedule in June.

This year the network will have three nights of original programming, Monday-Wednesday. ABC Family will use its existing original series to launch its new ones.

Monday night will feature Secret Life of an American Teenager at 8pm, which leads into new drama, Switched at Birth (which just became the network’s highest rated series debut ever with 3.3 million viewers). Once Switched ends its run in mid-August the network will debut The Lying Game. Based on the novel
by author Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars), the story follows Emma, a kind-hearted foster kid who learns she has an identical twin sister.

Tuesday nights will open with a new season of Pretty Little Liars (June 2011), followed by new original series The Nine Lives of Chloe King, based on the Liz Braswell book series. Melissa & Joey, (which launched the second half of its first season on June 29), leads off Wednesdays at 8pm. The half-hour comedy, which stars Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, has just been renewed for a second season. State of Georgia (starring Raven Simone, Loretta Devine) which follows at 8:30pm, is about an aspiring actress with a larger than life personality and her science geek best friend as they try to make it in New York City. The sitcoms are paired with comedy movies such as Legally Blonde and Dodge Ball.

New scripted dramedy, Jane by Design, will debut in January 2012. Jane, a teenager, lands a job at a hip retail company when they mistake her for an adult. ABC Family is also continuing its seasonal themed events featuring programs and specials. This summer, the network returns with its third season of its back-to-school themed Campus Crush. Also returning are the network’s annual Holiday events, The 13 Nights of Halloween, November’s Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas and the 14th annual 25 Days of Christmas.

The 13 Nights of Halloween will feature a prequel episode of Pretty Little Liars, which sets the stage for the storyline when the series returns in January. Original movie Hunky Santa is slated for November along with 12 Dates of Christmas in December (starring Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselarr). Other original movies include Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Time  (January 2012 debut) and Elixir (April 2012 debut), with two more original movies slated for Summer 2012.

BET has gained momentum in the past few years. A strong destination for African-American viewers, BET’s primetime content is especially attractive to women under 50 and teen viewers. Shows like Frankie and Neffe, College Hill, and Tiny and Tonya are performing well.

The decision to acquire the off-net rights to former CW series The Game has paid off big and the network is producing new episodes of the series. The Season four finale of The Game delivered 4.4 million viewers. Season five gets underway in January 2012. Freshman series Let’s Stay Together was also picked up for a second season. BET will add one new scripted comedy in 2011-2012. Reed Between the Lines (4Q’11) stars Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show) as parents of teenage twins and an outspoken 7-year old daughter. The network also has signed a deal with Queen Latifah’s production company to produce original programs for the network. Other returning series include 106 & Park (season 10), gospel competition show Sunday Best (season 5) and talk shows The Mo’Nique Show (season 3) and The Wendy Williams Show (season 3). Acquired series include The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends, and The Parkers.

Special events include the BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock!, The BET Honors, Rip the Runway, Celebration of Gospel the BET Awards, The Message: The History of Hip Hop, and A Very BET Christmas.

VH1’s audience has been declining over the past few years, a clear indication that the network’s particular brand association of celeb-reality is wearing thin. The network will try to reverse its bad fortune by introducing many new series over the next year, each fitting into four themes: “music/storytelling,” “a blended life,” “highs and lows of fantasy life,” and “primal pull of vicarious viewing.”

Music-themed programming, will dominate, but will be more centered on the storytelling aspect. Within the “music storytelling,” the network launched a destination for music lovers on Friday nights titled Friday Night Alright, where viewers can watch concerts and episodes of Unplugged and Storytellers. New series, Big Morning Buzz, hosted by Carry Keagan, provides the latest updates on music, film and TV and will feature celebrity guests.

Returning series include The Top 20 Countdown (weekend airings), Behind the Music (Mary J Blige, Enrique Iglesias), Rock Docs (Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam), Storytellers (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Unplugged, and You Oughta Know, a series presenting new artists on the rise.

In addition, VH1 will revive its classic Pop Up Videos and is developing Movies That Rock-New Kids on the Block for next season. VH1’s “A Blended Life” reflects the aspiration of a life that blends responsibility with fun. Series include Audrina, Saddle Ranch, Single Ladies, La La’s Full Court, and Mother in Law (in development). Single Ladies, is executive produced by Queen Latifah The series, which explores the lives of single women from three very different perspectives launched as a two-hour movie on Monday, May 30; it’s currently airing as a weekly series on Mondays at 10pm.

The “highs and lows of fantasy life” programming includes returning reality series Love and Hip Hop and The T.O. Show, as well as new series Beluga Heights and Famous Foods, with the latter starring reality stars Heidi Montag (The Hills), Danielle Staub (The Real Housewives of New Jersey), and Jake Pavelka (The Bachelor). Programming under the “primal pull of vicarious viewing” umbrella, taps into the secret desire and fun of being a bad girl. Series include Mob Wives, Basketball Wives: Miami, Basketball Wives: Los Angeles and I’m With the Band (in development).

VH1’s special events for 2011/2012 include the Do Something Awards (set to be hosted by Jane Lynch), Hip Hop Awards, VH1 Divas Awards and The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. VH1 will also simulcast MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Next on tap: Younger-skewing female networks.