History Channel Analysis - April 2010

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APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

* Bold denotes programming change

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Vestiges of the MODERN MARVELS strip still run at 8pm on several nights.  Premiere series tend to run at 9pm, with 10pm reserved for encore plays and/or established inventory series.  Thematic evenings take over on the weekend.  Network tends to run two hour event docs on Saturday.  Sundays have become the home for the umbrella theme "American Originals", including ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and AX MEN.  Specials can be inserted on Sunday evenings without breaking the flow of the regular schedule. Stability has been the hallmark of the schedule.  Multiple episode series and very few changes give the viewer several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing.

APRIL 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /April 2010 vs. April 2009 (% Change)

HH

M18-49

M25-54

Monday 8-11pm

167%

155%

162%

Tuesday 8-11pm

41%

41%

41%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-11%

-8%

-14%

Thursday 8-11pm

20%

7%

10%

Friday 8-11pm

-8%

-16%

-17%

Saturday 8-11pm

28%

32%

37%

Sunday 8-11pm

85%

120%

115%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

45%

48%

50%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

We're starting to sound like a broken record.  For the 3rd consecutive month, History breaks their record for highest rated month ever.  Network press offers the details:  best numbers ever in total audience, men 18-49 and 25-54 and Adults 25-54.  Add in the highest rated program in network history to the  big three anchor series already on a roll and you've got one heck of month. 

AMERICA: THE STORY OF US was the story of the month.  The highly promoted debut on the last Sunday in April grabbed audiences like nothing before it.  Literally.  Network press touted the overall 4.0 rating and the 5.7M viewers as the most watched program in the channel's history.  Using a combination of classic storytelling, CGI, a little recreation, and some excellent writing, AMERICA weaved together a series of short stories into a compelling two hour event.  The series continues into May and early indications are that the ratings momentum keeps going. 

The big three.  PAWN STARS is tops again.  Far and away the best draw for target men, the Monday premieres are pulling just phenomenal numbers.  The 8pm block of repeats would land on most network's Top 10 for the month.  A Tuesday stack in midmonth killed it.  Even the Thursday 10pm block of repeats does better than its MODERN MARVELS and FOOD TECH lead-ins. 

AMERICAN PICKERS continued to be a major draw on Mondays.  Sandwiched between repeats and premieres of PAWN STARS, it's the second part of the powerhouse first night of the work week.  Only a few repeats later in the week pulled it's overall stats down a bit from March.  Keep those premieres coming.

The third member of the Big Three, AX MEN, wrapped up its third season on the third Sunday night of the month.  According to the network, almost 3M viewers tuned in to say good bye.  Across the key demos, Season 3 finished up more than 50% ahead of Season 2.  Look for Season 4 to go into production shortly.

One new series debuted in April.  Proving that all is not quite golden on the schedule, SLICED went out the final Thursday with less than resounding numbers.  With a couple of PAWN STAR repeats providing a strong lead, SLICED lost roughly 25% of the target male audience at 10pm.  The slide continued at 10:30 with more losses.  Combination science, history, and curiosity, this one doesn't feel like the best fit on a schedule with the aforementioned Big Three.  Network must have agreed.  It appears to have quietly disappeared from the regular schedule in May.

Couple of two hour specials premiered on Tuesdays with nice results.  THE REAL FACE OF JESUS doubled its lead-in the week prior to Easter.  HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES the following week was even better.  Doubling the lead-in from an AMERICAN PICKERS repeat, the program with the long title was a great mix of fun and information.  We could easily see a few sequel specials spinning off.  Lots of states, lots of borders, means lots of stories. 

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Series are the name of the game.  While the network has had many years of steady growth, they had been searching for a breakout franchise that could stand above everything else.  ICE ROAD TRUCKERS brought just that a couple years ago.  Now, PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS take on the same label, but in a format that can go year round.  Hosted series remain a big focus of the network.  Until recently, formats have been the domain of sister network A&E.  Not any more.

Take what is "old" and make it "new" again. This is what keeps History hot with its core audience of males 25-54... Take a current technology or modern day event and link to its origins. Shows on technology are always a draw for History's viewers. Uniting modern science with its origins is what makes up just about all of their tech-based shows. THE UNIVERSE, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE have all had some pretty good runs on the channel.

History attracts a strong male audience that is otherwise tough to capture by a non-sports network. Male hosts and male experts have obvious appeal to History's viewers and male viewers in general. This also says something about the subject matter and type of content that appeals to this viewer: viewers are already familiar with the general topics covered in the programs, yet are given new information in an entertaining format.

Specials are taking a larger role on the channel.  The occasional Sunday or Monday opens up for two hour single topic special programs.   Saturdays have been dominated by repeats of the same specials, freeing up resources for regular series elsewhere.

Important:

Despite rumors to the contrary, "traditional" history remains at the heart of the channel.  Ancient times, military topics, archive based, they're all there.  The difference now is that they balance the network, but don't dominate it.  Shape your program pitches accordingly.

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