History Channel Analysis

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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.


Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

History ends 2012 with a solid December, closing a most successful year for the cable network. From a programming standpoint, fresh, original series dominate the lineup, and the network has seen tremendous success this year in riskier genres, effectively broadening out the network to be a broad-based entertainment platform rather than a niche cable net.

With some nights seeing up to 72% growth overall compared to last year, and others seeing losses, December was an interesting month for History. Still, the network is dominating in the ratings compared to several other networks in its target demographics - no easy feat when you consider the massive cable landscape and competition. Overall, December saw a 4% increase overall viewers compared to last year, but was down slightly among key younger demographic.

Mondays in December featured a lineup of PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS with nearly all telecasts throughout the month surpassing average, and driving Monday nights to be the strongest of the week for History.  However, Monday night was down 27% compared to December 2011, and both shows are starting to show some signs of wear; PAWN is down 33% compared to last year, and AMERICAN PICKERS is down 26% overall.

Tuesdays in December featured epic series MANKIND THE STORY OF US (as well as a Christmas marathon of AMERICAN RESTORATION.)  MANKIND started the month above average, but numbers crept down over the course of the month.  AMERICAN RESTORATION on Christmas didn't hit average.

PAWN STARS, AMERICAN RESTORATION and INVENTION USA anchored History's schedule for Wednesday nights in December.  The night was flat compared to year-ago numbers.  While AMERICAN RESTORATION scored mostly above average, INVENTION USA struggled, with numbers that fell throughout the month.

Thursday's schedule in December was a rotating variety of of programs.  Above average deliveries, courtesy of PAWN STARS, propelled the night up 72% compared to last year.

Fridays in December featured stacked episodes of AMERICAN PICKERS and various other programs that rotated throughout the month. PICKERS continues to score well on Fridays, but a marathon of I LOVE THE 1880s wasn't able to pull the same audience. Still, the night was up 17% compared to last year.

PAWN STARS, paired with MANKIND THE STORY OF US anchored the Saturday primetime lineup in December.  PAWN outperformed MANKIND, and helped drive the night up 45% compared to last year.

Sunday's schedule in December was anchored by PAWN STARS, AX MEN, and newcomer BAMAZON.  Numbers fluctuated a bit for the freshman series throughout the month, but didn't hit average.

Look for more scripted programming and miniseries in the coming months, as well as more attempts by the network to step on Discovery's toes in programming choices and scheduling.