History Channel Analysis - August 2011

Publish date:


* 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 /June 2011 vs. June 2010 (% Change)




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MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Another record for August.  Target audiences were up low double digits from last year.  Further, August wraps up another record summer for the channel.  Network press says it's their best summer ever for A25-54, improving 27% over last year.  History was also the #1 network in all of cable for M18-49 and M25-54.  Truly amazing.

The usual suspects rose to the top of the list once again.  PAWN STARS premieres on Mondays are some of the best in cable.  Our only caution is the volume of repeats.  Monday repeats at 8pm have been doing fine.  Tuesday repeats were just a little weaker.  A few Friday plays were OK.  Overall though, the series was down almost 20% from last year.  A little less exposure might be in order here.

AMERICAN PICKERS followed a similar pattern.  Monday premieres are outstanding.  Scattered repeats are hit and miss.  Some Friday 8pm plays really struggled.

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is having a bit of a renaissance.  It was even with AMERICAN PICKERS for A25-54, well above schedule averages.   Further, it was up 24% over last year in the target demo.  Hugh, Lisa, and friends are on a roll.

TOP SHOT returned for a 3rd season on Tuesdays at 10pm.  Premieres were under average for A25-54, but above average for the younger A18-49.  Not quite pushing the bigger series on the schedule, but its appeal with younger men give this one some job security.

TOP GEAR had a good month.  Already a decent performer with the younger demo, the BBC format showed serious growth in both A18-49 and A25-54.  Audiences were up 20% in those key demos.

AMERICAN RESTORATION was mostly in repeat mode in August.  Definitely one of the weaker links on the schedule, at least for this month.  Push for more premieres!

ANCIENT ALIENS filled up Thursdays, staying about on par with last month and last year.  Still, it's feeling a little lost on the current schedule, editorially speaking.


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.