Cable’s signature shows

Oct 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Behind the Music
Years on air: 5, premiered Aug. 24, 1997, with “MC Hammer”
Premiere ratings: “MC Hammer” premiered with a 1.4 household rating, representing 1 million viewers over 2 years of age (P2+).
Ratings today: Prime-time installments averaged a 0.4 in the third quarter of this year, reaching nearly 400,000 total viewers. The premiere of “Behind The Music: Aerosmith” in September earned a 0.7 household rating or 700,000 total viewers.
High point: Shania Twain, Oct. 4, 1998, 1.8 household rating, or nearly 1.74 million total viewers.
Prognosis: `”Behind the Music’ is now a legend in the annals of cable television,” said a VH1 spokesperson. “Our new management team is dedicated to creating additional breakthrough series for the future.”
Years on air: 15, premiered April 6, 1987, with a profile of Josephine Baker
Ratings today: 1.0 Nielsen Media Research household rating average this year, representing more than 850,000 homes.
High point: In 2000, the show averaged a 1.5 rating. That year, the network ran its highest-rated “Biography” program ever with a profile of Oprah Winfrey, which garnered a 6.4 rating and reaches 4.8 million households.
Profitability: “Biography” has spawned a magazine, a Web site, a digital channel, a consumer products line and video-on-demand. The programming itself has been extended to “TVography,” “Street Stories” and “Bio Year.”
Prognosis: “[`Biography’] was important when it hit because it helped give A&E an identity. When people thought of A&E they thought of `Biography,”’ said CarolAnne Dolan, VP of documentary series and executive producer of “Biography.” “The statement that it makes about A&E is important-it is quality television for smart people. It’s still the way people come in to A&E.”
E! True Hollywood Story
Years on Air: 7, premiered in 1996
Premiere ratings: The show averaged for its first season a 0.66 household rating, reaching 263,000 households and 314,000 total viewers. The show garnered a 0.38 in adults 18 to 34 and a 0.35 for adults 18 to 49.
Ratings today: For 2002, the show is averaging a 0.7 household rating, reaching 582,000 households and 761,000 total viewers. The show is averaging 0.40 for adults 18 to 34 and a 0.50 for adults 18 to 49.
High point: “The Brady Bunch True Hollywood Story” on June 6, 1999, generated a 2.46 household rating, delivering 1.37 million households and 1.98 million total viewers. It also earned 1.72 for adults 18 to 34 and a 2.0 for adults 18 to 49.
Profitability: This season continues to deliver strong performance, with a piece on Ginger Lynn garnering a 1.74 household rating. The show’s 18 to 49 demographic has grown 43 percent since the show launched.
Prognosis: “Here’s a show that took audiences closer to celebrities and delivered to the attributes of the brand,” said Mark Sonnenberg, executive VP, entertainment, E! Networks. “It is absolutely still important because it has become part of pop culture. Ben Affleck said [in People magazine] you are just one bad night away from an `E! True Hollywood story.’ It is the anchor of our programming.”
Emeril Live
Years on air: 5, launched January 1997
Ratings today: 0.6 household rating for “Emeril Live” at 8 p.m. in the 2001-02 season. It is the highest-rated season for the show in its history. The show’s 8 p.m./11 p.m. combined rating for September was a 1.0.
High point: The highest-rated show was on July 16, 1998, and delivered a 1.05 rating. The highest Emeril special was “Emeril Tailgate Jam” on Jan. 29, 2000, with a 1.3.
Profitability: Network penetration has grown from 40 million homes to more than 76 million in the past three years, an increase led in part by “Emeril’s” success.
Prognosis: “The reason `Emeril Live’ was so critical was that it defined the entire network, because I think he had an attitude about combining food, teaching and preparation with entertainment,” said Judy Girard, president of Food Network. “I think through that show we learned you could do the whole network that way. We would never have put `Iron Chef’ on the air if `Emeril’ hadn’t worked. We build the lineup around it because it is a foundation of the network. It will have a long life.”
Real World
Years on air: 10 years, 12th season
Premiere ratings: 0.93 among persons 12 to 34
High point: The show currently enjoys its strongest ratings ever with a 4.23 in persons 12 to 34.
Prognosis: `”Real World’ is the father of the current generation of reality programming,” said Mike Goodman, programming analyst with The Yankee Group. “MTV really showed that there is an appetite for voyeurism among the American public.”
Road Rules
Years on air: 7 years, launched in 1995, just completed its 11th season
Premiere ratings: 1.70 rating for persons 12 to 34
Ratings today: The show is averaging a 2.40 in adults 12 to 34, its second-highest season.
High point: During season six in 1998, the show generated a 2.75 rating for persons 12 to 34.
Prognosis: “The pioneers of reality television, `The Real World’ and `Road Rules’ have become cornerstones in MTV’s programming lineup,” said Brian Graden, president, MTV/VH1 Entertainment. “Both shows continue to be hugely successful with our audience, and if the steady rise in ratings is any indication, they will only continue to grow.”
South Park
Years on air: 6
Premiere ratings: The show’s launch on Aug. 13, 1997, generated a 1.3 household rating, representing 600,000 homes, and a 1 rating among adults 18 to 49.
Ratings today: For the 11 new episodes to date this year, the show is averaging a 2.2 household rating, representing 1.7 million homes, and a 1.9 rating among adults 18 to 49. It attracts an average of 2.6 million viewers, with 72 percent of those in the 18 to 49 demo.
High point: On April 22, 1998, the show delivered an 8.2 household rating, representing 4 million homes, and a 6.3 rating in adults 18 to 49.
Profitability: Comedy Central has generated $500 million in retail merchandising sales through “South Park.” It is the network’s most successful export and is found in 100 countries. In its heyday, 1998-99, the show commanded in excess of $80,000 for a 30-second spot. When the show launched in 1997, the network was available in about 40 million to 50 million homes. It had gained 10 million new homes by the next season.
Prognosis: “I don’t think Comedy Central quite knew what had happened with the `South Park’ hit. It was like a nuclear explosion,” said Bill Hilary, executive VP and general manager for the network. “It not only was a hit but it put Comedy Central clearly [on the map] as a top-tier cable network. It really drove Comedy Central’s distribution.”