JULY 2011 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.
JUNE 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /June 2011 vs. June 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Once again, a record month. Highest rated July of all time for the network. Total viewers were up big time from a year ago. Target adults were up more than 30%. Two year trends are astounding. Median age is the one number that hasn't changed. The network still has one of the older median ages in the unscripted/non-fiction genres.
The month's big event was a July 11th crossover stunt with AMERICAN PICKERS, AMERICAN RESTORATION, and PAWN STARS. Network press had it averaging 6.7M viewers, with more than 30M unique viewers tuning into some portion of the stunt.
Outside the stunt, the big three series were on their game. PAWN STARS was tops in the ratings in July. AMERICAN PICKERS wasn't too far behind. AMERICAN RESTORATION also landed in the top five, and well above schedule averages. Premieres of all three were stellar as usual, and the repeats weren't too bad either.
SWAMP PEOPLE's place as an established hit is a lock. The Thursday 9pm series was in full premiere mode, landing the number three spot for top rated programs on the schedule.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS rounds out the top five, up 19% in the target demo from last year. Remarkable how they keep the series fresh after five years. However, we're trying to understand how Dave went from good guy in the Himalayas to the problem child on the ice roads. Must be the cold air.
TOP GEAR was back for another season of cars and fun. More than 2M viewers flocked to the premiere of Season 2 according to the network's own press. Younger men continue to be the main target for this one. A great lead-out from ICE ROAD TRUCKERS on Sundays.
HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES finished up a few weeks into June. We love the combination of history and trivia, but the lower than average ratings for the target demo could make this a one season property.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
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.