FEBRUARY 2010 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.
FEBRUARY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /February 2010 vs. February (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
In a month dominated by the Vancouver Olympics, History brings home the gold. Several networks had a tough time against the winter sports gathering. Not this one. The network press touts it as their best month ever for the key male demos and Adults 25-54. Further, Men 25-54 in particular exceeded previous highs by a wide margin. Median age was up slightly from January, but nothing to be concerned about.
Let's start with the top programs. PAWN STARS heads the list once again, gaining steam every week it seems. It takes up 12 of the top 20 telecast, including the Top 6. Monday night premieres have just been phenomenal. Thursday night repeats and a mini-stack on a single Friday weren't too shabby either.
AMERICAN PICKERS was solid last in its debut last month. It remains so in February. Monday premieres all fell in the Top 10 telecasts of the month, providing one heck of a lead-in to the aforementioned PAWN STARS. The one-two punch has made History Monday one of the most formidable nights on cable television. A handful of repeats scattered around the schedule were OK, but not quite as strong as PAWN.
AX MEN's strong showing completes the network's trifecta. Sunday premieres all made the net's Top 20 telecast list. Series garnered a seasonal best midmonth, and outpaced the schedule averages in all key demos.
Tuesday's science/history night fell off considerably from last year. HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE was down significantly. LIFE AFTER PEOPLE was also off from last month. Both series featured premieres across the month, but this could be a case of the Olympics impact.
MONSTERQUEST was off from last year. FOOD TECH struggled big time, down 30% from January. GANGLAND did fairly well, improving on last month, but not quite reaching the network averages.
Saturday and Sunday specials went quiet this month, relying on repeats. However, a weeklong strip of WWII IN HD was used to counter the female skewing week #2 from Vancouver. Numbers were OK.
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.
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.