Discovery Analysis - November 2009

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NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:

Discovery Primetime Schedule

SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

Schedule has shifted from a consistent slate of series to one that features several nights mixed with single hours, series repeats, and specials.  Tuesdays have been the anchor night of late, using DEADLIEST CATCH as a springtime anchor with other series (SWORDS, COLONY) to follow.  Wednesdays have alternated MYTHBUSTERS and MAN VS WILD as the anchor.  Thursdays have featured a variety of series, including half hours, although none have settled there permanently.  Mondays and Fridays offer a variety of series repeats and loose titles with little to no consistency on a week to week basis.  Saturdays tend to push mini-stacks of the best performing series throughout the week.  Sunday recently returned to its roots, becoming the home for premiere specials and highlighted encores.

NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008  (% Change)

HH

M18-49

M25-54

Monday 8-11pm

-13%

2%

-6%

Tuesday 8-11pm

-3%

-4%

-4%

Wednesday 8-11pm

-6%

-12%

-1%

Thursday 8-11pm

-19%

-14%

-18%

Friday 8-11pm

-9%

-12%

-14%

Saturday 8-11pm

-6%

-6%

0%

Sunday 8-11pm

-12%

-26%

-16%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

-9%

-11%

-9%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

November continues on last month's unfortunate trend of ratings being slightly down and the median age being slightly up.  In November, overall numeers fell 9% from a year ago, with men 18-49 showing an 11% drop off.

MYTBUSTERS and DIRTY JOBS continue to deliever, as did a special 2012 APOCALYSPSE.

GHOST LAB continued its run into November.  Much like it performed in its debut month of October, it drew above average numbers in men, but wasn't able to hold the audience of lead-in DITRY JOBS.

Wednesdays in November appearted to be a little experiment by the network to pair another show with back-to-back episodes of MYTHBUSTERS.  Throughout the month, STORM CHASERS and 2010 APOCALYPSE held the spot and performed above average.  The most success in the 10pm Wednesday slot came from a third stacked episode of MYTHBUSTERS.

STORM CHASERS continued to be a successful, above-average draw on Sunday nights, but reruns thorughout the month weren't able to hold the same kinds of numbers.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

For many producers, the Holy Grail of networks on which to be.  The most households, the widest global reach, the greatest prestige, and if Discovery gets behind it, a pretty good marketing campaign, too.  They'll commission it, co-produce it (though they seem to prefer commissions), acquire it, license it, merchandise it, take it around the world.....you name it.

For programmers, they've spawned a number of series and one-offs that are imitated and distributed globally...so to not watch them and their results would to be in error.

Do know this, and it comes from the top:  Mr. Zaslav is thinking globally; to paraphrase, no longer will the US and UK commission separately...one "super-factory" will be built, to pick programs that will travel around the world "to 173 markets"...and he says (and we like this), "We can spend a lot more money on programming because we're only doing it once."  (WSJ, 6/11/07) (But there are individual territorial needs that will have to continue to be met.)

But wait, there's more:  "High-quality programming can break through the clutter" (IE, PLANET EARTH).  Discovery's core mission:  "to educate, inform, to satisfy people's curiosity".  Discovery is, "a knowledge brand....about making knowledge exciting, enjoyable and stimulating."

Discovery Channel is looking for Adventure, immersive, in the moment, energetic, informative, relevant, immersive, intelligence - specifically:  adventure, survival, people/places, science, engineering, technology, anthro/archae/palentology, space, environment, investigation (of the unsolved mysteries kind), exploration, nature, history (not "straight" history, more of a scientific approach to it), Biblical mysteries (again with a scientific approach), unexplained.

Most everything they're doing or announcing is in that "ACTION/REALITY" category, a la DEADLIEST CATCH.  So, producers, go out and find a dangerous thing filled with cool characters and a story arc, and you'll likely find an audience in Silver Spring.  SURVIVAL is a category that needs strengthening.   And SCIENCE is always welcome.

Discovery officials plan to "double down in this space (archaeology)".  So start diggin'.  And the latest is that they "want to reclaim the History category", which as History Channel becomes more Discovery-like, ought to be interesting.

Also important info:  While the network is stepping up its ownership of ALL rights, it is also looking for "Big Global Projects" appropriate for its worldwide channels.  Still, for the "right program" (lately PLANET EARTH, upcoming OCEAN), the channel will continue to consider co-pro deals.

Budgets are in the $200,000 range (and lately, higher) per hour for prime (plus or minus, and plus a lot for the blue chip ones, of course, dinosaurs, volcanoes, CGI-filled things).  Series are under $150k per half-hour (not daytime...under a third of that, but they're really not buying much specifically for that daypart).  This varies according to their level of financing, international interest, whether they commission it or not, and a multitude of other negotiable and non-negotiable factors.  Though do keep in mind that they're looking for more global rights these days...or they're not as interested in the idea.  Zaslav keeps talking about "all the programs we (they) own"...not a bad way to pump up the asset value now that they're a public company.

DISCOVERY NEWS FROM SCIENCE CONGRESS in FLORENCE:

Now reaching 98.1 million homes;  new mission statement:  "TO ILLUSTRATE THE WORLD IN ALL ITS WONDER, DIVERSITY AND AMAZEMENT";  to "ignite viewers' curiosity.  Looking for Adventure, immersive, in the moment, energetic, informative, relevant, immersive, intelligence - specifically:  adventure, survival, people/places, science, engineering, technology, anthro/archae/palentology, space, environment, investigation (of the unsolved mysteries kind), exploration, nature, history (not "straight" history, more of a scientific approach to it), Biblical mysteries (again with a scientific approach), unexplained.  "John Ford's strategy is now hitting the air."

As for submissions there, "be realistic about what a subject in an ob-doc is capable of achieving".  IE They did a BASE jumping show and while the jumps were cool, the characters involved were not.

Co-production models:  They are "completely open," but also like commissions because they also supply the international networks. Their format is 43:30, 5 breaks, 6 acts.  American TV track record is essential for new producers.  Non-North American talent is okay, provided the lingo is American-centric.  Helps to "get a champion" in the building.

Best way to submit is with a 2-pager of the idea, a little footage ("gets people more excited") and need to register it on the website.

Pitch what feels like the concept of the brand.  Brand is really "the sum of all the parts" of the idea;  "Adrenalized programs" is what they are about.

Bumpers and ins/outs to/from advertisements are VERY important and structured, but the network handles that.

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