APRIL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /April 2011 vs. April 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Another record month. Best month of all time per the network. What's amazing is that they're setting records on top of last year's records. The momentum is building upon itself. Every new series is two steps ahead before it even premieres. All demos, all genders were up in April by double digits.
PAWN STARS was number one again, pulling in more than 6M viewers on average. PAWN was up 30% over last year, repeats included. Simply amazing.
AMERICAN PICKERS, Monday's other half of the dynamic duo, was a close number two. It was also up significantly over last year, as much as 20% in key demos.
AMERICAN RESTORATION debuted this month on Fridays at 10pm. A spin-off from AMERICAN PICKERS, RESTORATION pulled in more than 3M viewers, singlehandedly revitalizing the night. Friday was up 50% from March in key demos, and doubled the same period from a year ago.
MOUNTED IN ALASKA also premiered in April, on Thursday nights at 10pm. Back to back half hour episodes drew nicely at the start. Unfortunately, audiences dropped for the next two weeks. The network's halo might not carry into taxidermy. We'll see in May.
Yet another new series, INSPECTOR AMERICA, launched on Sunday night. With AX MEN as the lead-in, INSPECTOR had a strong platform to start. Unfortunately, the decaying infrastructure series was unable to capitalize. INSPECTOR struggled out of the gate. Sunday nights were down more than 20%.
A new season of SWAMP PEOPLE kicked off on Thursday nights with stellar audiences. Target demos almost doubled from last year.
In a sea of great nights and great ratings, there was Wednesday and Saturday. Neither night has an anchor series, generally relying on specials and repeats. April was mostly repeats. Wednesday was down for young adults, flat for older. Saturday was down for both.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Series are the name of the game. While the network had many years of steady growth, they were 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 are the 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, and now TOP GEAR 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 night 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.
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.