National Geographic Channel Analysis - July 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


NGC continues to mix anthologies such as NAT GEO PRESENTS and EXPLORER with series both new (ALASKA STATE TROOPERS) and time-honored (DOG WHISPERER). Stunt scheduling utilizes multiple runs of popular series or thematically similar specials slotted to maximize audience flow.

Monday and Tuesday are anthology driven, while Wednesday is crime-oriented. Thursday remains Science & Technology-themed; Dog-related series dominate Friday; Saturdays now start with Natural History at 8p and Sundays are anthology slots used for specials, themed stacks and one-offs.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / July 2010 vs. July 2009  (% Change)




Monday 8-11pm




Tuesday 8-11pm




Wednesday 8-11pm




Thursday 8-11pm




Friday 8-11pm




Saturday 8-11pm




Sunday 8-11pm




MTWTFSS 8-11pm




Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

NGC experienced its seventh consecutive month of year to year losses in July, with Thursday and Sunday particularly hard hit. July was up modestly from June, though, with the stunt week "Best of NGC Week" contributing five of the top ten programs for the month.

A 3-hour block of the anthology series NAT GEO PRESENTS dominates Mondays and was down slightly from last year, while growing sharply over last month. RW18-49 nearly doubled from June, with a block of DRUGS, INC episodes finding particular favor for this demo.

Tuesday was up modestly over last year and last month, with NAT GEO PRESENTS: INSIDE SADDAM'S REIGN OF TERROR the night's top offering for HH and demos.

Wednesday's modest losses against last year were cushioned slightly by significant growth in HH and  demos over June. Female demos grew by more than half over June, fueled by new episodes of LOCKED UP ABROAD, which returned to Wednesdays at 10pm, in turn relocating INSIDE to 8pm, where it replaced BREAKOUT from June.

Science-themed Thursday's lineup underwent a wholesale shift in July, with MANMADE, NGC SCI-TECH and NAKED SCIENCE either swapping time periods or returning from hiatus. While Thursday suffered the steepest year-to-year losses of any night in July, HH and demos were up by modest double-digit percentages over last month. The "Best of NGC Week" stunt featured a block of BREAK IT DOWN episodes with NAVY TANKER taking top honors. HITLER'S STEALTH FIGHTER also hit the target as an NGC SCI-TECH offering.

Replacing Friday's usual domestic animal theme at 10p with Archaeological Mysteries and Paranormal fare led to significant losses in female demos from last month and last year. Male demos, however, grew in the 10p hour as female demos declined, but the night was down overall for A18-49 and A25-54, compared to 2009.

Saturday was down slightly against last year for HH and older adults, while younger adults grew modestly.Hitler continued to deliver for NGC, as HITLER'S HIDDEN CITY & THE HUNT FOR HITLER repped the two top offerings for this night. HH and demos were up modestly across-the-board compared to June 2010.

By contrast, Sunday was down by modest double-digits in demos compared to last month, as well as last year. DRUGS INC continued to exert its hold on NGC viewers, delivering the two top offerings for this night under the NG PRESENTS banner. EXPEDITION GREAT WHITE, which grew slightly over its lead-in in demos during its premiere last month, dropped in that measurement for its two Sunday 10pm airings in July.


More theme nights and more series (or series-like) nights.  There's more of a predictability to the schedule than in the past...less reliance on a lot of one-offs.

Here are some tips for those of you on the production side:

Producers should not narrow themselves to the Travel and Natural History dimension of National Geographic, the Magazine. NGC has a very limited editorial relationship with the Magazine, and no current appetite for straightforward Travel series or specials. Look well beyond...and get to know their very diverse schedule.  Science drives it as much as anything. New insights to subjects that have been covered before are welcome. New research and discoveries, as well as new takes on traditional subject matter are welcome.

The key here for originals is a fully formed idea with all the sources (as credible as can be, because fact-checking is as thorough as it should be) and a story arc with new information along the way.  Key subject areas remain:  science, natural history, exploration, space, expeditions and history.  But if you thought crime was going down under the new regime, you'd be hard pressed to find evidence of it.

Very little on the acquired side, but they will take a look on anything that fits into their remit. 

While we've mentioned their need for series before, the recent ratings successes means more additional seasons for existing skeins (LOCKED UP, HOOKED) and less need for new series.  Event specials are always in favor...not live or anything, but 1- or 2-hour Blue Chip docs.  They still want "em.  The key is that there must be enough "substance" throughout the program to justify its length. NGC prides itself on "time spent viewing," so substantive information and action throughout is key to their evaluation of new projects. Regardless, it's the ol' "we want new info on familiar topics" that rules the day. "Big science" is at the top of their "needs" list.

Blue-chip Natural History will begin to migrate to NG Wild, which replaced Fox Reality Channel in March, 2010. The ongoing success of DOG WHISPERER has led to similar appeal series about domestic animals - that sub-genre should remain viable for some time to come.