National Geographic Channel Analysis - October 2010



* Bold denotes programming change


NGC continues to mix anthologies such as NAT GEO PRESENTS and EXPLORER with series both new (FISH WARRIOR) 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 generally 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 / October 2010 vs. October 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 tenth consecutive month of year on year losses in October, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday particularly hard hit. Annual demo losses were spread evenly; October's HH an demo delivery declined a similar amount from September, as well.

While NGC usually has offers a multi-day scheduling stunt each month, October featured regularly scheduled series and anthologies almost exclusively (note lack of "Various" in the grid above).

Monday's 3-hour block of NAT GEO PRESENTS experienced modest year-to-year declines but was down sharply among Women demos from last month. A night of NAT GEO PRESENTS episodes dealing with Nazis did fairly well, though, scoring 1/3 higher than this September's average HH delivery.

A similar theme night did not help stem Tuesday's continuing annual and monthly demo losses.  Debuting 9pm series MAKING HISTORY averaged 93% of its NG PRESENTS HH lead-in.

Wednesday's new 9-11pm double run of BORDER WARS (with the 10p run under the INSIDE umbrella) led to Wednesday's modest RW25-54 growth against last year. The night was down by nearly 1/5 in HH and demos against September, which featured the identical lineup.

Thursday earned the greatest growth over last month of any night in October, with younger women and older men up significantly. However, this science themed night struggled for viewership, with annual losses for the fourth straight month, even though the 9-11pm lineup is consistent with last year. An episode of NAKED SCIENCE entitled "Hubble's Amazing Universe" generated above-average interest.

Fridays in October dropped nearly 1/2 of last year's younger adult delivery, while growing slightly from last month in HH and M18-49 only. BORDER WARS had been running at 10pm under the NGC FRIDAY anthology, and was replaced in October by a mixed bag of series episodes and one-offs.

Saturday was down against last year for HH and all demos, but up slightly for M25-54 against September. BORDER WARS episodes filled most of the 9-11pm SUPER SATURDAY episodes for the month.

Sunday, the only night to earn annual increases over last year, was driven by Women demos, who were up by a third to one half from October 2009. Delivery was down by modest double-digits from last month, however. The special INTO THE LOST CRYSTAL CAVES was the top offering of the month by far.


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 has migrated 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.