Turner takes off with repurposing: charmed delivers big numbers for TNT—and a new audience for advertisers – Ratings

Tom Bierbaum

A month into the fall season, the new crop of off-network programs is doing its part to energize basic-cable ratings.

Perhaps the most interesting off-network debut on basic cable this fall is TNT’s Charmed, which has averaged a 0.9 rating, 2 share among adults 18 to 49 and a 1.1/2 in households in the TNT universe, according to Nielsen Media Research. The channel runs Charmed Tuesdays at 10 p.m. following its initial airing the previous Thursday on the WB broadcast network. What makes this Charmed cable run especially important is how some of the ad deals are selling the broadcast and cable audiences in one package. That’s creating a rare opportunity for a cable telecast to command the same per-viewer ad rates as a broadcast program, something all cable sales departments would like to see a lot more of in the future.

And the early Charmed returns suggest the program is both generating big demographic increases for TNT and giving advertisers an almost completely new audience beyond those watching Charmed on the WB.

“The reason it’s done so well is simple: It’s a good show. It’s a show that fits in our drama lineup, it resolves itself, it’s simple, fun to watch and the actresses are very appealing,” says Steve Koonin, TNT’s EVP/GM. “Instead of showing a five-year-old show, we’re showing a five-day-old show, and it gives me a platform to launch our own originals; what’s more, it helps expand our advertisers’ reach with two completely distinct audiences.”

According to TNT research head Bob Sieber, the duplication of Charmed’s broadcast and cable audience is just 4% to 6% in key young-adult demographics. And the show is bringing the kind of younger demographic skew TNT was hoping for, tripling the number of adults 18 to 34 who were watching the short-lived Bull in the time period last year and doubling Bull’s 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 totals.

TNT has also recently added the ratings workhorse Law & Order (0.7/2 in 18 to 49, 1.7/3 in homes in the TNT universe) to the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. hour Mondays through Thursdays. This has beefed up the channel’s household rating by 13% and its women 25-to-54 results by 26% over year-ago averages (with mostly movies and some wrestling).

Over on TNTs sister service TBS, Friends (1.0/4 in 18 to 49, 1.3/3 in homes in the TBS universe) has been added in the 7:30 p.m. half hour and is paying off immediately with gains of 31% and 23%, respectively, over adult 18-to-34 and 18-to-49 results in the time period a year ago with Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

TNT’s Charmed isn’t the only repurposed show doing solid business this fall. On USA Network, the NBC duo of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (0.8/2 in 18 to 49, 1.3/3 in homes) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (0.7/2 in 18 to 49, 1.4/3 in homes in the USA universe) are up 29% and 43%, respectively, over third-quarter time-period averages in USA’s target adult 25-to-54 demographic.

USA’s SVP of research, Ray Giacopelli, thinks quick cable exposure for these repurposed dramas is helping to establish them on their broadcast outlets. This was the case for the original Law & Order when its cable exposure on A&E a few years ago helped boost that series to new ratings levels on NBC.

Lifetime continues to repurpose the ABC drama Once and Again (0.5/2 in 18 to 49, 1.0/2 in homes) in the Sunday 11 p.m. to midnight hour. The resulting Nielsens are nothing special, down in share from what Lifetime’s original Sunday prime-time dramas are averaging. But according to Lifetime SVP of research, Tim Brooks, Once and Again hits the demographic bull’s eye for Lifetime–younger women–and encourages the show’s loyal audience to sample Lifetime’s wares.

TNN is tapping into a similar loyalty with its introduction this fall of Star Trek: The Next Generation (0.7/2 in 18 to 49, 0.9/2 in homes). TNN general manager Diane Robina says Next Generation is a key component of that channel’s ongoing rebranding from the Nashville Network to the National Network. The strategy, she says, is to make “a few very select high-profile acquisitions and bring those fans here. Star Trek is the perfect show to do that, because it has such an extremely loyal audience that will follow it wherever it goes.”

Basic cable’s most downbeat off-network numbers are generally coming from dramas with continuing story lines. The most notable exception is FX’s 7 p.m. strip of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (0.7/2 in 18 to 49, 0.9/2 in homes in the FX universe), which has brought that service ratings gains of 31% among adults 18 to 49 and 114% among adults 18 to 34 over year-ago time-period results from MASH.

The going gets a lot tougher for FX from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with Ally McBeal (0.2/1 in 18 to 49, 0.4/1 in homes) and The Practice (0.2/1 in 18 to 49, 0.4/1 in homes). But Ally is still up year-to-year over NYPD Blue in young-adult demographics, while The Practice is way down from the tough standard set by last year’s The X-Files in the time period. Steve Leblang, FX SVP of strategic planning and research, says numbers are inching upward in recent weeks and may have initially lagged in part because of the difficult environment created by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Court TV has added NYPD Blue (0.2/0 in 18 to 49, 0.5/1 in homes in that universe) this fall and slipped a little among adults 18 to 49 from last year’s comparable time-period results from Profiler (0.3/1 in 18 to 49, 0.4/1 in homes). But NYPD Blue is holding onto a higher percentage of its Cops 18-to-49 lead-in than was the case for Profiler. Court TV’s NYPD Blue results are virtually identical to what FX did with the cop show in the same hour a year earlier.

Nick at Nite is off to an OK start with its most recently added classic comedies, Cheers from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (0.6 in 18 to 49, 1.1 in households in the Nick at Nite universe) and Family Ties from 11 p.m. to midnight (0.5 in 18 to 49, 0.9 in homes). Compared with time-period results from a year ago, Cheers is up 8% among adults 18 to 49 and Family Ties is down 16%.

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