History Channel Performance/Schedule Analysis - September 2008

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PERFORMANCE/SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

(Updated as of October 20, 2008)

TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC:

M 25-54.

SEPTEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, TME MACHINE, 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.  

PROGRAM/SCHEDULE CHANGES: 

AUGUST to SEPTEMBER:

Tuesday - ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and EVOLVE wrap things up; entering the 9-11 block are older episodes of ANCIENT DISCOVERIES and repeats of SANDHOGS

Thursday - entire night is replaced with an inventory mix of repeats from various series

Sunday - HISTORY SUNDAY strand returns as ICE ROAD finishes its second season; highly anticpated SANDHOGS premieres at 10pm

PREMIERES:

** September 7th - SAND HOGS

OCTOBER AND BEYOND

PREMIERES:

** November 7th - SHADOW FORCE
** November 10th - THE BRAIN
** November 11th - EXTREME TRAINS
** November 17th - EINSTEIN

YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE: After hitting that speed bump in Beijing, the network is back on track.  All the demos are up, especially the key male numbers.  Men 18-49 and 25-54 are up 9% and 6% respectively.  Last year, September saw a big drop coming out of August.  Looks like they solved it this time around.  Of course shifting the finale of ICE ROAD TRUCKERS from August to September didn't hurt.

Inside the good news, are a couple of tough spots.  Two big series came out of the gates with less than stellar numbers and were yanked from the schedule.  More details in the monthly analysis below.

SEPTEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Mondays were up a bit for M18-49 and down the same for M25-54.  Dumping last year's Josh Bernstein series explains the uptick in younger men.  Last week of September featured the special SUPER CITY: NEW YORK.  Really well done show that should have done better than it did.  Competition from the first night of the broadcast fall season might be the culprit.

Tuesdays were a problem.  Numbers were down double digits in all of the key demos.  Premiere series EVOLVE was pulled from the 10pm slot after a month of weak performances.  Production values on the series were solid, but it never gained an audience.  Replacement strand ANCIENT DISCOVERIES struggled with repeats.

Wednesdays also had a tough time.  Younger men were flat and M25-54 were down 12% from year ago.  MONSTERQUEST repeats, especially at 8pm, are losing ground.  Caution about overuse.  Interestingly, the female appeal of MONSTERQUEST boosted that audience about 20% on average, even though the net tends to avoid going after that demo in an overt manner.

Thursdays featured the network's much anticipated 9/11 special 102 MINUTES THAT CHANGED AMERICA.   Airing commercial free, the special pulled more than 5.2M viewers per the network's press, making it the second highest rated program in the network's history.  Naturally, the year to year growth for the night was phenomenal.  Removing the event night from the numbers, the night shows some modest growth in the male demos, mostly stemming from MODERN MARVELS. 

Fridays were up considerably from last year.  Full month of premieres for SHOCKWAVE and GANGLAND did the trick.  A single episode of THE WORKS showed up mid month, as well as an earlier Thursday.  Looks like they're trying to burn off the remaining premieres now that it's been pulled from its regular timeslot.

Saturdays were flat to down across all demos as the channel gives away Saturdays to a variety of repeat stacks and a movie. 

Sundays are way up versus last year.  A repeat of 102 MINUTES did great in the key audience demos, this time with commercial breaks.  The big highlight was the season finale of ICE ROAD TRUCKERS.  Network announcements state second season finale drew 2.7M viewers, including just under a million men 25-54.  Hugh and company closed up shop on the Ice Road for another year, but you can be assured a third season is in the making.

At the other end of the spectrum, SANDHOGS was pulled from its Sunday 10pm timeslot after just four weeks.  The series was featured prominently in the channel's upfront announcements and promoted heavily in advance of the fall premiere.  Unfortunately, the audiences got progressively worse each week, ultimately drawing 50% of the normal for Sunday nights.  The series felt more polished and less "of the moment" than others in the format, one possible reason for the disconnect. 


PROGRAM ACQUISITIONS:

None announced.

PROGRAM RENEWALS:

THE UNIVERSE (11/11)

PROGRAM CANCELLATIONS:

None announced.

ADDITIONAL SHOWS CURRENTLY AIRING:

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

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