History Channel Analysis - August 2010



* 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.


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




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Looks like another ho-hum of breaking records for the folks on 45th Street.  Highest rated August in their history for virtually every demo break we could find.  Overall viewership is up 30% from last year.  Target male demos are up 20%, and even women are moving up, almost 50% compared to the previous August.  Median age moved up slightly, but stayed consistent with some of the numbers we've been seeing the last few months.

Let's start this time with SWAMP PEOPLE.  Following a family in the backwater bayous of Louisiana, both the show and its subjects exist on the edges of history.  Delivering a gritty, real life story each week, SWAMP PEOPLE enters the schedule as a bona fide hit right out of the gate.  Both the series premiere and its sophomore week land in the schedules Top 20, the only series outside of Monday to pull that off.  Also notable is its performance with women.  While it follows the channels heavy appeal with men, the series debut was the highest rated show of the month for W25-54.

The dynamic duo led the network once again.  Not much more to say about AMERICAN PICKERS and PAWN STARS.  PAWN STARS was the top series in every statistic, with AMERICAN PICKERS ending up second.  Repeats are doing fine, premieres are doing phenomenal.  Factoring in repeats, PAWN was down just a tad from last month for target men.  AMERICAN PICKERS was up 10% or so in the same demo.  Overall, they combine to make Monday night one of the most dominant nights on cable, doubling the network averages for all of August.

Maybe it's the promos on Monday, maybe it's the storyline, but ICE ROAD TRUCKERS seems to be improving with age.  Ratings on the individual episodes steadily increased as the month went on.  Series was up more than 20% over last year in the key demos.  We only wish that Lisa could catch a break.  Seems like half her time is spent in the repair shop.

TOP SHOT wrapped up its first season with strong numbers on Sunday night.  Helps to have ICE ROAD as your lead of course.  Second season is a no brainer on this one.

CHASING MUMMIES can't end soon enough.  Drawing one of the lowest numbers of the month for target men, it's the main reason that Wednesday is the oldest night of the week.

STAN LEE'S SUPERHUMANS turned out to be nice little surprise on Thursdays.  Without much fanfare, the comic based concept garnered above average audiences for target men.  It's a long way from the Monday night series, but it's a nice addition to the schedule.


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.


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.