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.
JANUARY 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2013 vs. January 2012 (% 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. January 2013 saw the premiere of several new series in the primetime lineup, and while overall audiences were down compared to January 2012, numbers were up in the male demos - the audience that Nat Geo is targeting.
Monday nights in January saw a 30% growth in overall household viewers compared to last year, paired with strong gains among the male demographics. Overall, the night performed above average, thanks to new episodes of ALASKA STATE TROOPERS, which was also the top performing show of January's primetime lineup.
DIGGERS premiered on New Year's day to solid, above-average numbers, boosting Tuesday nights up 17% from a year ago, and 8% from last month in overall viewers. The series grew its audience throughout the month, though numbers dipped a bit toward the end of January. DOOMSDAY PREPPERS still pulls in above average numbers, though the series was down slightly compared to December's scores.
Wednesday nights were down 12% compared to last year, and 6% from December. The night saw the premiere of two new series toward the end of the month, LORDS OF WAR in the 9pm and 9:30pm slots, and HIGHWAY THRU HELL (which replaced the similarly-titled HELL ON THE HIGHWAY) at 10pm. Both shows in their premieres failed to hit average.
MUDCATS, which debuted on Sunday 1/13, started its run with above-average numbers. Paired with WICKED TUNA, MUDCATS slowly dropped its audience throughout the month. Sundays were down overall compared to last month and last year, despite being one of the highest-rated nights of the week for NGC.
Re-airs and a haphazard schedule contributed to year-to-year losses on Thursdays and Sundays in January. Fridays were up 43% compared to last year, due mostly to strong performances by specials STONEHENGE DECODED and EASTER ISLAND UNDERWORLD on 1/25.
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.