Lifetime has nailed down one of its main objectives in scheduling three expensive, original primetime series back-to-back on Tuesday: It’s harvesting almost 50% more women 18-49 in the time period.
The downside is that the three weekly series — the drama “Any Day Now” at 9 and the sitcoms “Maggie” at 10 and “Oh Baby” at 10:30, all of which premiered Tuesday, Aug. 18 — are flat in the household numbers compared to the rerun TV movies that played in the two-hour time period for the comparable three weeks in August 1997.
“But not one of our deals with advertisers gets sold on household ratings,” says Doug McCormick, president and CEO of Lifetime.
The best Nielsen performer of the three series is “Any Day Now,” an Aaron Spelling production starring Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint as former childhood friends in Alabama who get together again when Toussaint returns to Birmingham after a number of years as a Washington, D.C., attorney. “Day” is averaging a 2.0 rating in cable homes for its first three weekly cablecasts. A total of 57% of those viewers — 832,000 — are women 18- 49, compared to Lifetime’s average of 42%.
Paramount TV’s “Maggie,” starring Ann Cusack as a 40-year-old wife and mother going through a midlife crisis, has averaged a 1.2 rating in cable homes over the three weeks, 56% of whom — 490,560 — are women 18-49.
Columbia TriStar TV’s “Oh Baby,” with Cynthia Stevenson as a thirtysomething career woman who decides to have a child through artificial insemination, also averaged a 1.2 rating, 66% of whom — 578,000 — are women 18-49.
McCormick said he’s not depressed over the relatively low household numbers being delivered by the three shows because fewer and fewer men are watching the channel as Lifetime’s schedule pushes even more in the direction of women-oriented programming. The network will think twice about buying any more off-network series with equal appeal to men and women, such as “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
The young-women focus has also caused Lifetime to drop out of the bidding for the cable rights to the second cycle of “Seinfeld,” whose audience makeup includes a high proportion of males.
Lifetime has paid big bucks for “Party of Five,” “Ellen” and “Chicago Hope,” all of which joined the network schedule last month, and has bought for future use “Suddenly Susan” and “Caroline in the City.”
All five of these series appeal predominantly to women.