NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
Vestiges of the MODERN MARVELS strip still run at 8pm on several nights. Premiere series tend to run at 9pm, with 10pm reserved for encore plays and/or established inventory series. Thematic evenings take over on the weekend. Network tends to run two hour event docs on Saturday. Sundays have become the home for the umbrella theme "American Originals", including ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and AX MEN. Specials can be inserted on Sunday evenings without breaking the flow of the regular schedule. Stability has been the hallmark of the schedule. Multiple episode series and very few changes give the viewer several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing.
NOVEMBER 2009 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
After a somewhat slower October, November showed positive signs for History. Numbers were up (or at least, not down) every night of the week compared to a month ago and the net is up from November of 2008. Median age is slightly up from '08.
PAWN STARS did all right for the network as it aired throughout the month but numbers clearly aren't much better than average. TIME MACHINE had similar results, with back to back episodes airing on Monday night throughout much of November.
WORLD WAR II IN HD was the star of November. The special series pulled in big audiences nearly every time it aired, scoring particulary well among male demos.
Other top programs this month included NOSTRADUMUS EFFECT and HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE. MONSTERQUEST was off slightly from last month, as was MYSTERYQUEST, which fell 15% from a month ago but both remained in the top programs for the month.
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
Series are the name of the game. While the network has had many years of steady growth, they had been searching for a breakout franchise that could stand above everything else. ICE ROAD TRUCKERS brought just that a couple years ago. Now, PAWN STARS takes on the same label, but in a format that can go year round. Hosted series remain a big focus of the network. Someone who can stand out from the crowd and still maintain the credibility needed for a channel devoted to history. Until recently, formats have been the domain of sister network A&E. History have been more active in formats.
Take what is "old" and make it "new" again. This is what keeps History hot with its core audience of males 25-54... Take a current technology or modern day event and link to its origins. Shows on technology are always a draw for History's viewers. Uniting modern science with its origins is what makes up just about all of their tech-based shows. Witness THE UNIVERSE as Exhibit A.
History attracts a strong male audience that is otherwise tough to capture by a non-sports network. Male hosts and male experts have obvious appeal to History's viewers and male viewers in general. This also says something about the subject matter and type of content that appeals to this viewer: viewers are already familiar with the general topics covered in the programs, yet are given new information in an entertaining format.
Specials are taking a larger role on the channel. The occasional Sunday or Monday opens up for two hour single topic special programs. Saturdays have been dominated by repeats of the same specials, freeing up resources for regular series elsewhere.
Despite rumors to the contrary, "traditional" history remains at the heart of the channel. Ancient times, military topics, archive based, they're all there. The difference now is that they balance the network, but don't dominate it. Shape your program pitches accordingly.