Programming blocks and consistent scheduling seem to be History’s mantra. Not too wide a programming mix, the primetime schedule is home to the solid favorites, giving viewers several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing, although in recent months, specials have aired on Tuesday nights as well as Saturdays. Thematic evenings take over on the weekend. Sundays have become the home for the umbrella theme “American Originals."
JANUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2012 vs. January 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
After closing out 2011 with a strong December, January shows evidence of continued momentum for History in the start of 2012. As shown in the year-to-year numbers, nearly every night of the week is up from a year ago, and all nights are up significantly from December. History is clearly hitting their sweet spot.
Overall, History was up 18% compared to year-ago numbers, and nearly every night of the week saw growth. History's staples - PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS, continue to dominate the schedule (the top 20 telecasts of the months were all either PAWN STARS, AMERICAN PICKERS, or CAJUN PAWN STARS.) There has been some evidence of modest decline for PAWN STARS - the original - in the last year, but it's minimal.
January 2012 saw the debut of spinoff series CAJUN PAWN STARS on Sunday January 8th, to big numbers. It's clear that this franchise isn't going anywhere but up. The series lead Sunday night to a 31% increase from last year, and the night to be the second strongest of the week for History. AX MEN also saw nice numbers in its return.
PAWN STARS (the original) and AMERICAN PICKERS, which continue to anchor History's Monday night lineup, again pushed Monday nights to be the strongest of the week. Numbers hover around double - in some cases, even triple - average.
Tuesdays were somewhat of a struggle this month for history, but are clearly showing improved numbers compared to 2011. The night was up 44% compared to last year. Reruns of PAWN STARS continue to pull in big numbers.
Wednesday nights also saw year-to-year growth, with solid performances from PAWN STARS, AMERICAN RESTORATION, and ONLY IN AMERICA (History's show with Larry the Cable Guy.) Thursdays also saw moderate growth in year-to-year numbers, but without new episodes of SWAMP PEOPLE and BIG SHRIMPIN', numbers weren't as strong. Look for new episodes to hit soon in 2012.
Fridays were up 35% compared to last year, but without much of a regular schedule, the night's numbers bounced all over the place. As expected, reruns of PAWN STARS never seem to hurt, and the night was among the stronger of the week.
Saturdays remain the struggle in History's schedule. The only night of the week to show a decline since last year, Saturdays also saw a slight drop in key demos compared to December. Specials aren't resonating with the History audience and without much consistency, it's been hard for the night to gain any traction.
The History audience is fickle and finicky, and programmers have a tough job of developing shows that the audience will believe in and return to. Hitting the buzz words is good, but this audience clearly doesn’t respond well to shows that feel too “produced.” Make it organic and real.