What was once a wildlife-centric channel has evolved into a much more mainstream entertainment platform. Skewing 60% male, 40% female, National Geographic Channel's primetime scheduled is anchored by original series and specials. Much like competitors Discovery and History, NGC of late has been focusing on male-skewing character-driven series. Also, 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.
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.
DECEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
In 2012, Nat Geo made it clear that they are expanding their brand and reach when it comes to factual content. This has paid off well for the network, whose scheduling strategy changes and programming choices have led to strong year-to-year growth.
December 2012 was no exception. Overall, ratings were up 17% compared to December 2012, and number are up across the younger demographics as well. Nearly every night of the week saw year-to-year growth. Most of the top telecasts for Nat Geo in December 2012 focused on the Mayan end-of-the-world predictions. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and Nat Geo has much more to forward to in 2013.
Monday nights in December saw a 30% growth in overall household viewers compared to last year, paired with strong gains among key younger demographics. The night was just about average, but gains were due to strong performances of doomsday special MAYAN APOCALYPSE 2012, which also was the #3 program in overall ratings for the month.
Tuesday nights in December were up 65% in overall viewers compared to December 2011. Series DOOMSDAY PREPPERS continues to score well. A Christmas marathon of BRAIN GAMES scored above average as well.
Wednesday night's 33% year-to-year growth was fueled by solid numbers from BORDER WARS. HELL ON THE HIGHWAY fluctuated throughout the month, following its premiere in November.
Thursday nights, the only night of the week to see a year-to-year loss, was anchored in December by WICKED TUNA, ROCKET CITY REDNECKS, and freshman series AMERICAN CHAINSAW. Very little managed to score above average numbers, and the night was the weakest of the week for Nat Geo.
Fridays featured a variety of series and specials. Top performing was GIANT CRYSTAL CAVE.
Saturday's 21% year-to-year growth was driven by male demos tuning in for ALASKA STATE TROOPERS, which scored well above-average in the 9pm slot. Lead-out DOOMSDAY PREPPERS BUGGED struggled to hit average in the lead-out spot.
Sundays earned the highest overall ratings of any night in December and saw a 9% increase in overall HH viewers and younger demographics compared to December 2011. Premieres of ALASKA STATE TROOPERS brought in above-average numbers for the network, as did DRUGS, INC, but the biggest performer of the night was another apocalypse special, 2012: COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON.
2013 will undoubtedly be an exciting year for Nat Geo, as they work to invade more of Discovery's and History's space with new series and specials. We expect more character-driven, male-skewing programming to hit the lineup as well as more high-profile specials.