History Channel Analysis - July 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 /July 2010 vs. July 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

It's another big month for History.  Network press has it pegged as its best July of all time.  We'd say that's pretty good.  Numbers are up nearly 25% over last year.  What's most significant is that the channel is doing it with regular series.  No stunts, no specials.  Just regular series.  It's rare to see a non-fiction based network pull that feat without the benefit of some big marketing driven event. 

PAWN STARS is at the top of the heap.  Again.  Number one series in all demos.  17 of the top 20 telecasts for the month.  The July 5th premiere was the #1 single telecast of all time per the network, pulling down 6.3M viewers.  Also impressive is the discipline the channel has taken in not overusing their biggest property.  Beyond the Monday night schedule, only a few repeats can be found on Wednesday and Sunday.  Most nets flood prime with repeats.  History has avoid that approach with very strong results.

AMERICAN PICKERS is again the second half of of the one-two punch.  Big numbers again in July.  Two weeks of premieres were way up, with two weeks of repeats still well above average. 

Rounding out the big three, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS keeps on truckin'.  Way up on the net average for target men and showing growth to boot.  Target men are up single digits over last year.  Even better, target men were up 20-25% from last month.  Our only worry is that Lisa still can't catch a break on those northern roads.  Can't they give her a truck that doesn't have a mechanical problem?

TOP SHOT, the Sunday companion to ICE ROAD, had a good month of premieres with better than average audiences.  Repeats fell off pulling the series average down.  Series finale is due up in August. 

CHASING MUMMIES was the newest thing to hit the schedule.  The Wednesday night series had a reasonably good opening night as viewers checked it out.  Unfortunately, Zahi Hawass and friends couldn't keep the momentum going in week 2.  Numbers fell significantly, proving that not everything on the schedule turns to gold.  PT repeats have already been pulled from the schedule and we're not expecting a renewal on this one. 

August will probably bring another record month.  One of the benefits of having regular series drive your engine. 


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.