History Channel Analysis

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Programming blocks and consistent scheduling seem to be History’s mantra.  Not too wide a programming mix, the primetime schedule is home to the solid favorites, giving viewers several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing.  On weekends, a mix of programming and stacked mini-marathons of top shows drive the lineup.  In recent months, and especially with the success of mini-series HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, look for History to start increasing the amount of scripted programming in their lineup.


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




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Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

June was a tremendous month for History, and while HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS was a major factor, it was strong programming choices, a solid lineup, and smart scheduling that drove History's numbers up this month.  HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS scored record-breaking numbers in its 3-night debut.  According to network press, the "three nights rank as the top 3 entertainment television telecasts of all time in ad supported cable history among total viewers.... delivering 14.3 million total viewers."

PAWN STARS continues to dominate the schedule, airing 53 times in June (including CAJUN PAWN STARS.)  Though the show is showing moderate signs of wear (down 18% in HH viewers compared to June 2011), it delivered solid numbers throughout most of the airings in June.

Monday nights in June continued the traditional PAWN STARS/AMERICAN PICKERS lineup for History, with HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS debuting on Monday, May 28th.  Numbers were up across the board for the night, which, on average, was the strongest of the week for History.  Numbers for AMERICAN PICKERS were well-above average for the month, though, like PAWN STARS, the show is starting to show some signs of wear, down 6% in HH viewers compared to last year.

Tuesday nights in June also saw significant year-to-year growth, up 122% in HH viewers, and even more among the key demographics.  HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS on Tuesday, 5/29, more than tripled average in its second night.  UNITED STATS OF AMERICA, which showed declining numbers throughout May, aired on 6/5, and then was gone from the schedule, replaced with ICE ROAD TRUCKERS in the 10pm slot.  (Numbers for the reruns were not much better, however.)

Wednesday nights saw the record-shattering finale of HATFIELDS on 5/30, which helped drive the triple-digit year-to-year increases on the night.  During the rest of the month, more PAWN and AMERICAN RESTORATION was on the agenda and while numbers were solid, fell below average.

SWAMP PEOPLE and MOUNTAIN MEN were on the lineup for Thursday primetime and scored big numbers, coming in as the second strongest night of the week for History.  Numbers throughout the month were average or above average for all premieres.

Fridays in June saw more MOUNTAIN MEN and AMERICAN PICKERS, though Friday night reruns weren't able to hit average.  Saturdays also saw a similar trend - replays of HATFIELDS and PAWN weren't able to hit average, though Saturdays did see a solid year-to-year increase.

Moderate decline for Sunday night's primetime lineup of PAWN STARS, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, and MOUNTAIN MEN/SWAMP PEOPLE.  Numbers were solid, but below average.

Overall, June was a tremendous month for History and made it clear that this network can be successful in more than just the docudrama/reality space.  Look for more scripted programming and miniseries in the coming months, as well as more attempts by the network to step on Discovery's toes in programming choices and scheduling.