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. On weekends, a mix of programming and stacked mini-marathons of top shows drive the lineup.
MARCH 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
March was a stellar month in what turned out to be History's best quarter ever among key adult demographics and total viewers. According to network press, History was the #1 network on cable (excluding sports) for the quarter among Men 25-54. The programming, and choices History has made are making History - in more ways than one.
PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS dominate the schedule on Monday nights. Despite showing some moderate loss compared to year ago, PAWN is actually skewing 6% better than it did a year ago. The powerhouse lineup drove Monday night in March to be the strongest of the week for History, nearly doubling their average. This franchise isn't going anywhere - though AMERICAN PICKERS is beginning to show some sign of fatigue, down 11% overall compared to 2011, and seeing losses across all the key demos.
Tuesdays in March saw more PAWN, followed by TOP GEAR, and TOP SHOT. TOP GEAR performed throughout the month, but competition series TOP SHOT couldn't hold the lead-in numbers. The show is down 26% compared to year-ago. Not quite sure this kind of competition works for the History audience - see FULL METAL JOUSTING analysis on Sunday nights below. On a more positive note, the night skews youngest of the week for the network.
There was more Americana on Wednesday night with AMERICAN RESTORATION and ONLY IN AMERICA. The night is among the weakest, and flat from a year ago. ONLY IN AMERICA is down 11% compared to last year.
Thursdays saw the most dramatic increase out of any night of the week, up 99% compared to last year. Key younger demos are up even more. The reason? SWAMP PEOPLE! New episodes double the average for History. Lead out MUDCATS performed well compared to average, but lost a good portion of the SWAMP viewers.
Fridays saw moderate year-to-year growth this month compared to March 2011. However, the night remains below average, and is one of the oldest of the week. The schedule was fairly haphazard, and re-airings of AMERICAN PICKERS on Fridays was the only program to see above-average numbers.
Saturdays featured a mix of programming, and numbers were down from last year. Nothing hit average throughout the month, though SWAMP PEOPLE came close.
Sundays in March saw the continuation FULL METAL JOUSTING after its premiere at the beginning of February. Numbers were below average in its premiere, and continued to be below average through March. Between TOP SHOT and FULL METAL JOUSTING underperforming for the network, it seems History hasn't quite figured out exactly how to do competition for their viewers.
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. Characters clearly work. 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.