MyNetworkTV’s switch to a new programming lineup yielded strong ratings gains, with audiences doubling in some time periods.
In recent weeks, the network, formed by News Corp. last year as a counterweight to The CW, has added second-run movies, ultimate fighting and specials to its schedule. MyNetworkTV launched with an all-soap opera format, and it continues to air the telenovela-style shows two nights a week.
The improved ratings mark a step in the maturation of MyNetwork, whose initial lineup was cobbled together with telenovelas developed for late-fringe syndication. With the new lineup, Nielsen Media Research will categorize MyNetwork’s ratings with broadcast networks rather than the syndication group.
“They have to be encouraged by the fact they’re getting sampling,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming at Katz Television Group. “Is this a turnaround? Probably not. Is this the beginning of getting discernable numbers? It could be.”
The significance of MyNetwork’s dramatic ratings increases are tempered by the fact that its telenovela programming ratings were dramatically low.
A special on Anna Nicole Smith earned a 1.0 household rating on March 7, according to Nielsen Media Research, doubling the previous Wednesday night average of 0.5. An airing of the movie “The Rundown” March 8 pulled a 1.1, more than doubling the average. The debut of “International Fight League” March 12 scored a 0.8, up 60 percent in the time period.
“It had to be anticipated that movie titles, some of which were recognizable, would get an audience,” Mr. Carroll said. “Certainly, ‘IFL’ got sampled. But the big surprise was the Anna Nicole special and I’m sure they’ll look to do more of [that type of programming].”
When it debuted last fall, MyNetwork ads sold for about $25,000 per 30-second spot, a figure media analysts say has almost certainly decreased in light of its telenovela performance. By comparison, The CW gets between $30,000 and $150,000 per spot for its first-run shows, depending on the series.
The shift in programming realigns News Corp.’s strategy with MyNetworkTV under President Greg Meidel.
The addition of the IFL in particular was a gear-change, since telenovelas target older women and ultimate fighting targets younger men. The network expects the IFL figure to improve as more young men find the channel.