SEPTEMBER 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.
SEPTEMBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /October 2010 vs. October 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Another of record breaking numbers for one of the hottest channels on television. As has become the norm of late, September was up everywhere over last year. Audience and key demos jumped by 40% or more. Network press announced it as the highest rated single month in the channel's history. It rounds out one heck of a quarter to boot. In fact, it's the "best quarter ever" according to the net.
Surprise,surprise. PAWN STARS lands at the top. Again. Monday premiere ratings would be considered phenomenal if we hadn't seen them the last few months. Way, way above network average. Monday repeats at 8pm deliver numbers that most networks would envy for new series. Most notable, unlike many cable services, History has shown great discipline not to overuse their strongest property all over the place.
The second half of Monday night's one-two punch, AMERICAN PICKERS, continues to hum as well. Once again it's the second highest rated show on the schedule, finishing slightly behind PAWN STARS. The network announced a spin-off series for this Fall (AMERICAN RESTORATION).
Sunday night features a one-two punch of it's own. ICE ROAD TRUCKERS keeps on rolling. Hugh, Lisa and friends were just above average for the key male demos. October spin-off moves to the Himalayas and the early returns are good.
SWAMP PEOPLE came out of the gate strong in August. It's down 25% for target men from that peak, but still lands well ahead of the rest of the schedule.
STAN LEE'S SUPERHUMANS dropped down a notch from a pretty good debut in August. Premieres at 10pm were solid, repeats at 9pm fell down. CHASING MUMMIES on Wednesdays continued to struggle right to the end. We're a little surprised it stayed in prime for the entire run.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Series are the name of the game. While the network had many years of steady growth, they were 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 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, 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 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.