History Channel Performance/Schedule Analysis - May 2009

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

CURRENT AND SIGNATURE PROGRAMS:

AX MEN (NON-FICTION)
Follow four logging crews through a season in the remote forests of northwest Oregon, where anything and everything can go wrong.  Technology, history, and characters are intertwined.
Status: Season 2 currently on air.  Produced by Original Productions.

ANCIENT DISCOVERIES (DOCUMENTARY)
Looking to the ancient past to find the origins of modern inventions. Clues to the beginnings of Robots, ships, warfare, flight are all unearthed in this weekly series.
Status: Currently in repeats.

BATTLES B.C. (DOCUMENTARY)
Profiles ancient military heroes and battles. 
Status: Premiered March, 2009.  8x60.  Produced by Four In Hand Productions

CITIES OF THE UNDERWORLD (NON-FICTION)
Goes underneath the world's major cities to find dungeons, tunnels, tombs, trains, buildings, and ancient cities. Subjects include New York, London, Edinburgh, Istanbul, and others. Hosted by Don Wildman and Eric Geller.
Status: Season 3 finished up in early 2009.

GANGLAND (NON_FICTION)
Inside the prisons and on the streets of America, this series examines the most prominent and violent gangs today.  Episodes include MS-13 and Aryan Brotherhood.
Status: Currently airing Season 4

EXPEDITION: AFRICA, STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE (DOCUMENTARY)
A real life recreation of the Stanley expedition to search for Dr. David Livingstone.  Five adventurers will follow Stanley's footsteps, using only the technology available in the 1870's.  
Status: Premiered May, 2009. 8x60. Produced by Mark Burnett Productions.

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS (NON-FICTION)
Truckers who fight time and the elements, driving across the seasonal ice sheet in the far northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, to deliver their cargo.
Status: Season 3 premiered in May, 2009.  Produced by Original Productions.

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE (DOCUMENTARY)
Based on the successful special, the series follows how things run in a world that has been deserted for a long period of time. 
Status: Premiered in April, 2009.  10x60.  Produced by Flight 33.

MONSTERQUEST (DOCUMENTARY)
(Full Disclosure: CABLEready represents the producer of this program.)  Looks at creature sightings around the world including the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Swamp Beast.
Status: Season 3 currently on air.  Produced by Bosch Media.

MODERN MARVELS (NON-FICTION)
This signature series covers a different topic in each episode, exploring everything from architectural and engineering structures to scientific discoveries and social wonders to common objects that take prominence in human life - from bridges and dams to rubber and concrete, and everything in between.
Status: Ongoing production since 1995.  Produced by Actuality Productions

UFO HUNTERS (NON-FICTION)
Four man team are the UFO Hunters.  With backgrounds ranging from science to publishing, the team uses eyewitness accounts, documents, footage, and science to investigate reports of UFO's.
Status: Season 3 premiered in March, 2009.  Produced by Motion Picture Production

THE UNIVERSE: (DOCUMENTARY)
A look into the interstellar depths through robotic rovers and deep-space telescopes.
Status: Currently in repeats.  Produced by Flight 33 Productions.

WARRIORS (NON-FICTION)
Inside the culture of famous warrior groups, exploring their weaponry, tactics, and rituals.  Included are the Vikings, Barbarians, Aztecs, and the Samurai.
Status: Premiered March, 2009.  10x60.  Produced by High Noon Entertainment

MAY 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, GANGLAND

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.  

UPCOMING PREMIERES:

** July 7 - THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE
** July 20 - MOONSHOT
** July 26 - PAWN STARS
** July 31 - LOCK N' LOAD
** August 17 - WOODSTOCK: NOW & THEN

MAY 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

After a couple of slow months, the network bounces back in May with single digit increases for target men.  The network's press declares it their highest rated May ever for A18-49 and A25-54.  Tuesday's science based history line-up, the return of ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and some well placed specials were behind most of the uptick.  Two year trends look good as well.  

A returning series (ICE ROAD) and the launch of the network's biggest event series ever dominated the month.  ICE ROAD TRUCKERS come back for a 3rd season, this time shifting to the ice roads of Alaska.  Our favorite characters return, along with a few new ones, including the first woman trucker we've seen on the ice road.  While the premiere episode was down from last year's debut, the audience was still significant enough to make it the network's highest rated telecast for the month. 

EXPEDITION AFRICA made its long awaited debut on the final day of the month.  Unfortunately, the highly promoted event series stumbled out of the gate.  While the network's press touted a few highlights, there's no doubt the ratings were a disappointment.  Prime and non-prime repeats have already been pulled from the schedule in June.  The opening episode looked great, with all of the classic Mark Burnett trademarks in the forefront.  Strong personalties, sweeping visuals, quick editing, a rousing musical score.  Ultimately, we believe the Stanley/Livingstone topic was unable to broaden the audience appeal beyond History's core viewers.  

The other big story of the month was the surprise announcement for THE LINK.  A special program and a scientific event, the program was produced in secrecy, with the formal announcment coming less than one week before the airdate.  Chronicling the discovery and analysis of a 47M yr old fossil, the special averaged more than 2M viewers according to the network, well above the network averages. 

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE established itself as one of the anchors on the schedule this month.  After a strong debut episode in April, the all premiere line-up in May was the top rated series of the month, with very strong numbers for target men.  Editorially, by focusing on individual subjects in each episode, the producers allow room for additional seasons down the road. 

PATTON 360, the format sequel to last year's BATTLE 360, was about average for the month.  Using the same combination of graphics and interviews as BATTLE 360, the series dows a nice job of looking back to WWII without an overreliance on B&W archive.

AX MEN wrapped up it's second season with solid numbers, up 25% over the same period last year.  HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE struggled slightly ending its freshmen season, and repeats had an even tougher time.  Nevertheless, it will be back next year, mixing up science and history once again.  MONSTERQUEST and UFO HUNTERS were just below network averages, although MONSTERQUEST premieres were actually better than average. 

Two individual programs also made a strong contributions in May.  First, a Saturday run of the Clint Eastwood classic Unforgiven was one of the top telecasts of the month.  Second, ANGELS & DEMONS DECODED, a tie-in to the Tom Hanks movie, was the second highest rated telecast of the month.  Normally, we refrain from network to network comparisons, but it's worth noting that the special outperformed a similar special premiering a week later on Discovery Channel.  Timing, production, story?  Don't know. 

A couple of two hour HISTORY SUNDAY programs, ART OF WAR and HOW BRUCE LEE SAVED THE WORLD continued the recent string of successes for Sunday specials.  Both programs were 50% above average for target men.

PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

None announced.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

AX MEN, HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, THE UNIVERSE, MONSTERQUEST, ANCIENT DISCOVERIES, MODERN MARVELS

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

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