JUNE 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
History posted record ratings again, this time for the 2nd quarter. Network press lists this as their new best quarter ever for all key demos. The service average over a 1M viewers in the A25-54 demo, a fantastic achievement.
June was a big part of those records, experiencing 40% growth over last year in both of the key adult demos. Tracking those same figures back to June, 2009, the network has nearly doubled it's ratings in just two years. Truly amazing.
Turning to the now familiar list of the network's hit series, PAWN STARS leads the way. PAWN was even to last year and up almost 20% from May. New episodes on Monday are some of the strongest shows on cable. Even the repeats are 2-3 times most cable networks' averages.
AMERICAN PICKERS was in premiere mode for June, also well ahead of May. Spin-off series AMERICAN RESTORATION carried Fridays, but was down a few points from last month.
SWAMP PEOPLE was stellar on Thursdays, and has become one of cable's top series. MOUNTED IN ALASKA is the beneficiary of SWAMP PEOPLE'S lead-in at 10pm. Any other network and MOUNTED is probably average at best.
Tuesday was the weak spot on the schedule, if you can call a 15-20% improvement a weak spot. ONLY IN AMERICA and HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPE filled the evening. Fun shows full of information, but they lag behind the rest of the schedule.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is back for its 5th season. All your favorites return as Hugh, Rick, Alex, and Lisa race across the frozen north in their annual deep freeze. Numbers were up significantly over the last year.
Memorial Day weekend is usually a big winner for the channel. This year it was GETTYSBURG, an original film that grabbed the moment. Ratings were excellent.
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.