Several years after launch, the schedule grid still provides very little consistency week to week. Themed nights are the order of the day, filled with short series, long series, and single hours in between.
OCTOBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / October 2011 vs. October 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Maybe it's because it's fall, or maybe because it's just plain appealing to dudes, but it was LARGE, DANGEROUS, ROCKET SHIPS that took top billing for Science Channel this month. Science + Characters + Strong Visual Payoff = solid numbers for the struggling network. Overall, October slipped a bit from last month, down 7% in HH viewers, and even more among the key demos. Still, year-t0-year numbers show a very positive story for Discovery's sibling, and it's now up to them to figure out what resonates best with their viewers.
Monday nights were about average this month. UNEARTHING ANCIENT SECRETS pulled in above-average numbers, faring even better than off-Dicovery reruns of big budget CURIOSITY. IGENIUS, which aired on 10/24, another off-Discovery doc about Steve Jobs, also scored high numbers following the announcement of Jobs' death earlier in the month.
Tuesday and Wednesdays fell a bit compared to September, down 20% and 38%, respectively. Wednesday's dark science theme skews younger than Tuesday's earth/nature science theme, but both night struggled to find something that sticks. DARK MATTERS: TWISTED BUT TRUE, struggled throughout the month.
Thursdays showed some moderate improvement from September, and the night was up a very impressive 30% from last year. Reruns of HOW IT'S MADE always seem to resonate with Science's viewer, and October showed no exception, with the magazine-style series managing to pull in above-average numbers.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays featured blocks of programming that varied by week. Top billing, of course, was HOW IT'S MADE, which brought in numbers that were more than double MONSTER BUG WARS, or WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE.
Science Channel is on the lookout for BIG pitches - the kinds of shows that could air on sister network Discovery. But the key will be figuring out what will click with the finicky Science Channel audience. Blow stuff up, but intrigue their minds; let them learn but don't scare... it's a delicate balance when it comes to creating a program that works.