In January 2012, viewers of four cable networks had their choice of 10 different programs all in the same "space":
PAWN STARS, AMERICAN PICKERS, CAJUN PAWN STARS,
AMERICAN RESTORATION - History
STORAGE WARS TEXAS, SHIPPING WARS,
STORAGE WARS - A + E
HARDCORE PAWN, STORAGE HUNTERS - TRU
AUCTION HUNTERS - Spike
Everyone looks at the numbers in a different way, and nets have ads to sell, so their take is in the best light. But here’s a question we don't often see answered: how do programs within a specific genre stack up against each other? What trends emerge when these programs are compared in an objective way? We took a look at ten programs in this popular space in January and created the performance graph above. There are more programs within this space and some have been excluded because they did not air in January. Important to note, however, is that this performance data is based on the Live Nielsen Universe data, as opposed to the individual network universes.
CLICK TO ENLARGE - Number of airings for each program
After examining our data, we found a total of over 200 telecasts of the 10 series in the group. Most had 14-17 telecasts over January (click on the graph to the left to see the breakdown). But the two biggest, PAWN STARS and STORAGE WARS had 47 and 57 telecasts, respectively.
The series are male-driven, with over two million viewers watching the prime telecasts of the two biggies. It tapers off to about 600,000 at the end of the list. Most viewers are men ... about 55-60%. Demo rankings went about the same way, except TRU's HARDCORE PAWN fought above its weight in women, pulling ahead of AMERICAN RESTORATION in 18-49. Still, RESTORATION was up 55% in HH from year ago and 24% from December 2011.
The entire strand still seems strong, but not totally so. Of those series returning from January 2011, STORAGE WARS, RESTORATION, HARDCORE PAWN were up; AUCTION HUNTERS was down big time while PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS were about flat. And even without PAWN STARS showing growth from the previous year, it's still the king within this space and non-fiction cable programs in general.
Worth noting is that we have not broken out premieres and repeats of any of these series. Isolating the premieres would change the raw data, but likely not the results. The genre is still very healthy, if not pretty overserved.
One thing becomes clear: The leaders into this genre continue to perform well. The lesson to programmers is to keep pushing innovation and novelty and lead the charge into new areas for breakout ratings success.