In a radical break with the past, NGC ushered in 2012 by eliminating regularly scheduled anthologies Time-honored titles such as NAT GEO PRESENTS and EXPLORER along with newer umbrellas such as NG INVESTIGATES or NGENUITY were replaced by new seasons of series such as TABOO and DRUGS, INC. or new series such as DOOMSDAY PREPPERS.
The Wednesday "Science Night" is no more, as series blocks alternate with specials to fill most nights.
Repeats of the previous week's premiere episodes are likely to serve as the lead-in for the current week's premiere, providing the network with two-hour blocks of its top programming most nights.
Crime-oriented series and specials remain a key component of the schedule, although a number of different factual genres are being explored. Ancient mysteries, contemporary fringe cultures and big science specials help round out the line-up.
MARCH 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /March 2012 vs. March 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Drugs, Crime and the Apocalypse drove March's year-to-year growth for RA25-54 to triple that earned in February. The latter subject was well-represented by 16 runs of new reality series DOOMSDAY PREPPERS, as well as top Specials CRADLE OF THE GODS and OMENS OF THE APOCALYPSE. Overall Median Age dropped 4% from March 2011, and ratings were essentially flat with last month.
January ushered in a new scheduling strategy that largely eschews anthologies in favor of listing the actual title of the series episodes which, in earlier months, repeated under umbrella titles such as NAT GEO PRESENTS or SUPER SATURDAY. This change was rewarded with significant annual HH and/or demo growth Tuesday through Thursday, as well as on Saturday. With Science largely absent from the line-up in March 2012, the broader appeal programming strategy paid off even more richly than last month.
Crime-driven Mondays lead off with new series SECRET SERVICE FILES, declining slightly from February's CIA CONFIDENTIAL, also at 8pm. Ratings generally grow at 9pm with ALASKA STATE TROOPERS and then again at 10pm with new series NAVAJO COPS. Delivery was up modestly from last year's Specials-driven Monday, but M18-49 demos were down 27% from February.
For the second month in a row, Tuesday was driven by new series DOOMSDAY PREPPERS, leading to sharp increases across the board compared to last year's ratings for HARD TIME in the same slot. Two episodes of new series DIGGERS also helped lead Tuesday to second strongest annual growth of any night in March. DOOMSDAY PREPPERS ratings for HH and older demos slipped slightly in repeat-heavy March compared to February's premiere-laden lineup, but RA18-49 held steady. Overall delivery for the night was down slightly for Men demos compared with last month.
Wednesday earned the highest annual A18-49 growth for the second month in a row, as new series AMERICAN WEED led out of 8pm DRUG'S INC from 9-11pm. The night dropped 17% in Median Age from 2011's INSIDE anthology lineup. Delivery was flat compared to last month's similarly scheduled offering.
Thursdays specials continued to show significant improvement over last year's Sci-Tech themed block. CRADLE OF THE GODS and OMENS OF THE APOCALYPSE were the top specials this night. Demo delivery was up in the 30% range from last month.
Friday's Specials continued to labor with an 8pm lead-in of ALASKA WING MEN, which under-delivered NGC's average prime rating by 20%. Only a special on the Japanese Tsunami stood out on this night. Female demos were up sharply from February.
Saturday was led by repeat episodes of DOOMSDAY PREPPERS and DIGGERS. Demos were up across the board, particularly Younger Women who grew by 1/3 over last year's ALASKA STATE TROOPERS heavy line-up.
Sunday was hurt by the decline of ALASKA STATE TROOPERS, which dominated the weekend in 2011 to greater effect, as it was used in the ubiquitous anthologies that dotted the lineup then. Top Sunday series WILD JUSTICE could not equal its numbers, and the night was down in the 20% range for A18-49 from last year and last month.