Travel Channel Analysis - January 2011



* Bold denotes programming change


The schedule is built around a handful of key series at 9pm or 10pm, complemented by repeats of the same on the same night.  Monday features ANTHONY BOURDAIN and ANDREW ZIMMERN BIZARRE FOODS.  Wednesday is MAN VS FOOD, and Friday is GHOST ADVENTURES.  The remaining nights feature an occasional series such as WHEN VACATIONS ATTACK, but the overwhelming majority of the timeslots are filled with single hour programs.  Thematic stacks and diverse topics, premieres and repeats, they're all mixed throughout the one up portion of the schedule.  It remains one of the few non-fiction based network schedules with a large number of one up programs in basic cable.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /February 2011 vs February 2010  (% 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

After three months of slippage, the channel comes back to level in February.  Men were down slightly, women were up, and overall delivery was just about even compared to last year.  Monthly numbers are steady versus January.  In fact, Adults 18-49 haven't changed since November.  Doesn't get much more steady than that.  Median age is down 4% from last year and is now at one of its youngest levels since we began tracking the channel four years ago.

Top story this month is GHOST ADVENTURES.  The long running Friday night staple brought a full load of premieres in the 9pm time period, all of which land in the top five for the month.  Series takes the top spot as the highest rated series on the schedule, jumping 10% in young adults versus last year.  Saturday and Sunday repeats drew decent audiences, albeit not quite up to the Friday levels.  Friday night was the youngest night on the schedule by far.  Strong ratings, young demo.  Advertisers love those kind of stats.

Not far behind was BIZARRE FOODS W/ ANDREW ZIMMERN.  Another full slate of premieres at 9pm Tuesdays drives the series to 50% increases or more in the target demos.  8pm repeats weren't as strong, but 10pm repeats held onto just about all of the lead-in out of the premiere episodes.

MAN VS FOOD has been on the down slope for a few months now.  February marks the first month that we can recall that the stalwart falls below network averages for all airings.  Premieres are OK, and repeats are steady, but it's no longer the star.  Target demos were down nearly 20% compared to year ago.  MAN is still one of the stronger series on the channel, but it would appear the run is over.  We might suggest cutting back the Thursday runs to reduce the volume.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN NO RESERVATIONS filled up Mondays with three of repeats each week.  Series was on par with last year's figures with a small bump in women offsetting an equal drop in men.  Monday night was the oldest night of the week in terms of median age.

Sunday nights featured repeats of WHEN VACATIONS ATTACK at 8pm, followed by a two hour block of WILD WITHIN to round out the night.  Numbers landed below average for the month.   Night was the second oldest on the schedule, just behind Monday.


The network could seriously use some fresh titles and a little diversity.  A couple of anchor series are carrying the current schedule and they're weakening.  From where we sit, we're not seeing a whole lot on the near horizon right now.  In the last 18 months, the network has become almost all food all the time.  At least that's the perception created with all of the food series dominating the channel headlines.  As part of the Scripps family, the channel is now seeking out concepts that embrace travel without food at the center.  Scripps already has two networks devoted to the genre and they probably weren't looking to buy another one.

They see Travel as Lifestyle, consistent with their current network offerings.  While some of that is classic PR spin, there's a lot of truth to it. We also expect that they'll go towards more series and less one-offs consistent with most Scripps nets.

On the subject of travel, Travel Channel IS the category.  Other networks may have it as a subcategory, or as a component of a series, but here, it's the core of most everything they do.  No other network directly competes with them, but rather, nibbles around the edges of some of their genre and certainly audience.

They tend to quote three Key Points for what the channel takes into consideration when evaluating any idea:

- Lust for life - Immersion and exploration -  Credible authorship

Lately, an accompanying internet component is not only necessary, it is deemed MANDATORY!  Take a look at their website:  you almost have to hunt for the TV part.


Programs usually need a host...make sure they have "a lust for life" and are "credible and IMPASSIONED INSIDERS" (their emphasis).  Programs should be "immersive" (literally defined as "a 3D image that seems to surround the viewer").   "What is the driving force?  What is the story arc?  What is the holy shit factor?"  BTW, good direction for any idea! "INSIDER" SERIES; ANTHROPOLOGY; ARCHAEOLOGY; ARCHITECTURE get $140-200k/hour.

Stay away from stories that are too personal(translation: vacation videos); overly formatted series; gimmicks;  competition programs; serialized formats and programs;  talent that's mere talent ("all hair and teeth") and not credible; docusoaps and pure reality shows.

What Travel does want is "sticky" take-away information; authentic travel experiences;  programs that transport the viewer;  visually appealing images; self-contained episodes (see: no serials); multi-platform opportunities (see: internet); articulate, knowledgeable talent.  And getting younger men is a part of all of this. They're now advertising an HD feed, so it wouldn't hurt to consider what makes a good HD travel show either.

And don't forget the website as a jumping off point for plays to a younger audience, and has a retail connection (tools, trips, etc.).  Travel needs your mind on that as you submit program ideas.