History Channel Performance/Schedule Analysis - February 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of March 14, 2009)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

M 25-54.

FEBRUARY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

GANGLAND, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, UFO HUNTERS, TIME MACHINE, THE UNIVERSE, MONSTERQUEST

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

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.  

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES: 

JANUARY to FEBRUARY:

Tuesday - HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE debuts at 9pm, pushing THE UNIVERSE to 10pm;

Wednesday - MONSTERQUEST returns with premiere episodes at 9pm and repeats at 8pm;

Thursday - MODERN MARVELS comes back to 8pm, followed by GANGLAND at 9pm

Friday - all repeats of MODERN MARVELS at 8pm, GANGLAND at 9pm, and umbrella strand TIME MACHINE at 10pm;

PREMIERES:

** Feburary 10th - HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE
** February 16th - STEALING LINCOLN'S BODY

MARCH AND BEYOND

PREMIERES:

**  March 2nd - AX MEN (Season 2)
**  March 9th - BATTLES BC
**  March 12th - WARRIORS
**  March 29th - PREDATOR X
**  April 21st - LIFE AFTER PEOPLE

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE: After a January filled with stunts surrounding the New Year and the Presidential Inauguration, regular series return to a normal pattern in February.  Results were mixed, but mostly positive.  Men 18-49 were up 4% over last year, while men 25-54 were down just 2%.  Last February dropped significantly from January and the same happened this time around.  Men were down roughly 10% from January.  Normal reaction is to presume broadcast sweeps as competition.  While there's probably some impact from broadcast, it's more likely the absence of the special event programming we saw in January.  Moreover, premieres were fairly limited in February to existing brands.  Only one new series and one special were introduced this month.

Last year, the network bounced back in March with numbers on the same level as January.  The return of AX MEN and the debut of a couple big promotable series give the schedule a chance to do the same in 2009.

FEBRUARY 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Steady is the name of the game.  With the exception of Friday, male demos are within a few percentage points for every night of the week.  Looking under those numbers, there are several program highlights to run through.

The only series debut, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, continues the history meets science direction we've seen the last year or so.  Two episodes were enough to make it the highest rated series this month with target men.  From Pioneer Productions, each episode highlights a specific geological feature and brings it to life with stories and graphics.  We enjoyed the San Andreas fault episode in particular.

UFO HUNTERS brought out all premiere episodes in February.  Men were up more than 25% from January, but had some mixed comparisons versus the same period last year. 

MONSTERQUEST kicked off a third season on 2/4, showing significant improvement over last month's schedule of repeat episodes.  Along with the aforementioned UFO HUNTERS, it made Wednesday the highest rated night of the week for target men.  In addition, the cryptozoological investigative series showed decent jumps over last year.  Keep it up and a fourth season can't be far behind.

CITIES OF THE UNDERWORLD ran full slate of premieres, but this one didn't turn out so well.  The Monday episode are running well below average with target audiences.  Looks like they may be running out of cities and stories to cover on this one. 

THE UNIVERSE wrapped up another season in fine fashion, clearing the timeslot for HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE.  The last two episodes were comfortably above average.  Traditionally, astronomy based programs can have a tough time attracting a mass audience.  Nice to see this one buck the trend.  Expect more episode of the science/history series in the future.

The lone premiere special was STEALING LINCOLN'S BODY.  Joining several cable and broadcast nets, this was History's contribution to the celebration of the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birth in 1809.  It was the highest rated single telecast for the month across the board.  Households and men. 

One movie was on the schedule this month, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES.  They had great success with the title last month, and this month was no different.  It was the second highest rated program in February for total viewers, and did extremely well with men 25-54 as well.  Movies haven't been consistent when tried on Saturday nights, but it appears this one is a keeper. 

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

None announced.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

AX MEN

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:

DECODING THE PAST, MEGA MOVERS, DOGFIGHTS, ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE, BONEYARD

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