History Channel Analysis - December 2010

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* 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 /December 2010 vs. December 2009 (% Change)




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

What a year.  History wraps up probably the most improved year on year performance in Cable U's history.  Adult demos were up 30% over last year.  Phenomenal.  It's going to be a tough act to follow.

December was another record month.  Adult demos are up 30%.  Target men roughly the same.  Median age has inched up slightly the last few months, but not enough to be concerned about.

On the program front, PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS continue to dominate as the top two regularly series on the schedule.  The former was up more than 60% over last year.  Simply an amazing performance.  Not to be outdone, PICKERS rose again, jumping almost 30% from November.  Competitive networks are envious to say the least.

IRT: DEADLIEST ROADS finished its freshmen season in fine fashion on Sunday.  AX MEN returned to occupy the Sunday 9pm slot with a solid opening episode, and a week two showing jumping double digits.

BRAD MELTZER'S DECODED launched in early December and had a roller coaster month.  Audiences were episode dependent, bouncing up and down each week across the month.  DECODED is one of those series that they visit based on the specific topic more than the broad idea.  Debut episode on the White House was good.  Second week fell significantly.  Up again for Week 3 on the Statue of Liberty, and down for week four.  Like we said, roller coaster.

ANCIENT ALIEN quietly keeps rolling along, pulling sizable audiences each week, albeit slightly older than the rest.  TIME MACHINE specials were visibly  present this month.  Holiday themes and a two part on the THIRD REICH filled the slate.

TOP GEAR was strong on the Sunday premieres, weaker for midweek repeats.  It still skews much younger the rest of the schedule, an asset the network would like to find in a few more time slots across the week.

A fantastic year.  Now the real work begins.  A new baseline has been set.  We're not expecting the massive leaps from 2010.  That would be unfair.  But History has shown that they're not done yet.  Watch this space for the latest.


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.