Travel Channel Analysis - June 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 /June 2011 vs June 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

June was a tough month.  Audience figures are down across the board, with the largest losses coming from men.  Last summer was the beginning of a six month stretch of increasing audiences.  That has yet to happen this summer.  Newer series are struggling and the most of the veterans aren't filling the gaps.

It's been a full year since the change in management and the schedule is still relying on anchor series from prior years.  They could really use something new that grabs hold in the next few months.

Friday night was the bright spot in June.  Highest rated night on the schedule, up more than 40% from last year.  GHOST ADVENTURES lone premiere knocked it out of the park, and the repeats were strong to boot.  GHOST was up 25% in the key adult demos over last year.

More encouraging, the debut of PARANORMAL CHALLENGE kept the Friday momentum going.  The series premiere was second highest rated telecast for the month.  Week #2 dropped, but well within expectations for a new property.  Caution though.  The repeat of the series debut a week later at 8pm underperformed GHOST ADVENTURES norm.

MAN VS FOOD NATION appears to have revived the franchise.  Premieres on Wednesday made it the highest rated series for the younger demo.  Parent series MAN VS FOOD also had a good month, improving significantly on the May figures.

The remaining veterans were down from last year.  ZIMMERN was off 29% in A25-54, BOURDAIN fell 20%, and BERT THE CONQUEROR lost the 18-49 group.

As noted above, the newer stuff struggled as well.  OFF LIMITS was down 12% from May, as women aren't showing up.  MANCATIONS made a one week appearance on Sunday and then faded away.  The buddy based travelogue underperformed the schedule average nearly 50%.  Don't expect to see this one back any time soon.

The other new series, SAND MASTERS, came out of the gate on Wednesday with solid sampling courtesy of the MAN VS FOOD lead-in.  Week 2 fell off 30% before shifting from Wednesday to Sunday.  The new night appears to be a better fit, but SAND is still below average for target adults.

Finally, a single play of THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR from sister channel Food Network, wiped out.  Even with the benefit of a strong MAN VS FOOD lead, was way below average, losing 60% of the audience in the process.


The network is slowly inserting some fresh titles and a little diversity.  So far, nothing has gained any traction, but they're trying.  Just a few anchor series carry the current schedule and they're weakening.  We're not seeing a whole lot on the near horizon right now, at least in the network's announcements.  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.  With more than a year 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," and "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.