Discovery Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Original series, off-network acquisitions, and specials anchored the August primetime schedule for Discovery.  Big programming stunts and specials for Discovery's famous Shark Week, which ran from Sunday, August 12th.  When sharks weren't the focus of the month, newcomers GATOR BOYS drove Monday nights.  Tuesday nights tend to be adrenaline-fueled, high-stakes programs, like DEADLIEST CATCH and GOLD RUSH. More guns and manliness is on the agenda, for Wednesday nights with AMERICAN GUNS and SONS OF GUNS.  Thursdays continue to feature programming in the auction space, with AUCTION KINGS and PROPERTY WARS anchoring the night.  Fridays in Saturdays in August featured a variety of programming, and Sunday closed out the week with a steady lineup of SURVIVORMAN and ONE CAR TOO FAR.

AUGUST 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / August 2012 vs. August 2011 (% Change)

HH

P18-49

P25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-16%

-14%

-10%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-11%

-8%

-2%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-28%

-30%

-20%

Thursday 8-11pm

0%

5%

2%

Friday 8-11pm

29%

33%

49%

Saturday 8-11pm

-7%

-9%

-6%

Sunday 8-11pm

0%

39%

35%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-7%

-2%

4%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

August was an interesting month for Discovery.  While overall viewers were down 7% compared to August 2011, Discovery's famous SHARK WEEK helped propel the network to the "#1 non-scripted cable network spot for P18-49 delivery."  Further, "premieres of SHARK WEEK 2012 surpassed SHARK WEEK 2011 premiere viewership...in all key demos."  (Source: Discovery Press, 8/20/12). This came at a good time, as Discovery has been struggling a bit to find its footing in 2012.  A somewhat inconsistent schedule and a wide variety of genres appears to be troublesome as far as new programs gaining viewers.

Monday nights in August featured a wide variety of programming - from high-stakes nature-based adventure (GATOR BOYS, OFF THE HOOK) to off-network crime specials (I ALMOST GOT AWAY WITH IT.)  The night saw an overall decline of 16% in overall viewers.  Shark Week specials, which aired on Monday 8/13, scored above-average, as did an airing of MYTHBUSTERS in the 10pm slot that night, but nothing else managed to hit average on the night.  The night did skew significantly younger than any other night during the week.

Tuesdays in August also took a hit year-to-year, falling 11% compared to August 2011.  Airings of DEADLIEST CATCH still score above average, and Shark Week specials on 8/14 also scored big, but other programs - GOLD RUSH and PROPERTY WARS - failed to hit average.  Still, with DEADLIEST CATCH, Tuesday nights managed to be one of the strongest of the week for Discovery.

A testosterone-fueled lineup anchors the Wednesday night primetime schedule, featuring AMERICAN GUNS and SONS OF GUNS in August.  Unfortunately, the night is down in both overall viewers and among the key male demographics, falling 39% and 30% in Men 18-49 and Men 25-54, respectively.  Again, on Wednesday 8/15, the Shark Week lineup scores well above average.

Discovery continues to play in auction space full force on Thursday nights, with a lineup of AUCTION KINGS and PROPERTY WARS.  The night was flat in overall viewers, and up just modestly among the key younger demographics.  AUCTION KINGS delivers solid numbers throughout the month, establishing Discovery as a key player in the auction space - look for more in this genre to hit in the air in the coming weeks and months.

A variety of programming anchored Friday's and Saturday's primetime lineups in August.  Friday nights saw solid growth compared to August 2011, with GOLD RUSH and BERING SEA GOLD both nearly doubling average.  Newcomer YUKON MEN saw a nice increase in viewers from its lead-in, BERING SEA GOLD.  Saturday's lineup didn't score quite as well, with a variety of programs including CURIOSITY, MYTHBUSTERS, and MOONSHINERS all failing to hit average.  A special, shared with sister network Animal Planet, MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND, scored about average in its re-air.

Sunday's lineup, though flat in overall viewers, saw big jumps among the key younger demos.  The Shark Week premieres on 8/12, didn't hurt, but SURVIVORMAN and ONE CAR TOO FAR, which anchor the 8pm and 9pm slots later in the month both scored average to above-average.

In recent months, it's clear there is a tremendous amount of competition in the cable landscape for viewers, and several networks that are actively working in Discovery's space.  Big programming choices, tentpole series, and stunts are going to be Discovery's biggest weapons in the ongoing fight for viewers in 2012.

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