Skip to main content

Discovery Analysis


Original series, off-network acquisitions, and specials anchored the September primetime schedule for Discovery.  Cars, Alaska, Survival - you know, manly programs - anchor the schedule and run throughout the week.  Mondays in September were all about cars, with AMERICAN CHOPPER and FAST N LOUD.  Tuesdays were Alaska, with BERING SEA GOLD and YUKON MEN anchoring the lineup.  Guns and jobs were the theme for Wednesday (and, in September, Discovery introduced booze into that mix, with HOW BOOZE BUILD AMERICA.)  Thursday saw AUCTION KINGS, paired with SAW DOGS, TEXAS CAR WARS, and FAST N LOUD.  Friday was more Alaska, while Saturdays was a mix of programming, including ID's I (ALMOST) GOT AWAY WITH IT.  Sundays was a lineup of originals - SURVIVORMAN, ONE CAR TOO FAR, and other specials.


Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2012 vs. September 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

With more competition in the non-fiction cable television marketplace than ever, Discovery has had somewhat of a tough 2012.  Overall, viewers were down 4% from this time a year ago, and most of the key younger demographics took hits as well.  A small silver lining: Men 25-54 saw a small bump up (3%) compared to last year.  The network is still seeing success with many of its long-running franchises and specials, and the network has a slate of new programs and specials set to debut in the coming weeks and months.

Monday nights in September were all about cars, with a lineup of AMERICAN CHOPPER and FAST N LOUD, kicking the week off with above-average numbers in nearly every telecast.  Monday nights were the strongest of the week for Discovery, and beat averages in both male and female demographics.  The night is one of the youngest-skewing of the week for Discovery.  Still, numbers were down compared to September 2011 in the key demos, and it might be time for the next iteration of the car show for the network.

Tuesdays saw a moderate bump up in overall numbers, up 2% compared to September 2011.  High-stakes male-driven shows like YUKON MEN and BERING SEA GOLD continue to deliver above-average numbers and over-index in male demographics.  A special, THE 9/11 SURFER, which aired on 9/11, scored the top ratings for the month.

Wednesday's gun-centric lineup was down 30% compared to September of last year and saw similar losses among the key demographics as well.  Despite solid lead-in numbers from SONS OF GUNS, newcomer HOW BOOZE BUILT AMERICA failed to hit average.  However, numbers did increase from week 1 to week 2 for the new series.

An auction-themed lineup on Thursday proved successful for Discovery, as numbers were up overall and among the key demos compared to last year.  While stacked episodes of AUCTION KINGS performed around average, TEXAS CAR WARS in the 10pm slot beat the averages and was especially strong in the key younger male demos.

Fridays have notoriously been a high-profile night for Discovery, and this September was no exception.  A lineup of BERING SEA GOLD and YUKON MEN propelled the night up 41% compared to September 2011 in overall viewers, and the night was up across the board in both male and female demos.  BERING and YUKON are examples of Discovery at its most Discovery-ness, and viewers clearly respond.

Saturday's lineup in September was somewhat haphazard, featuring a schedule of stacked episode of a variety of programming, from more FAST N LOUD to TEXAS CAR WARS to BERING SEA GOLD to I (ALMOST) GOT AWAY WITH IT.  Top performing was TEXAS CAR WARS.

Sunday's lineup was down 12% compared to last year.  SURVIVORMAN was below average, then up, then down again throughout the month, and ONE CAR TOO FAR failed to hit average at all.  The lineup was replaced halfway throughout the month with other programs; top performing was a special, BERMUDA TRIANGLE EXPOSED.

In recent months, it's clear there is a tremendous amount of competition in the cable landscape for viewers, and several networks that are actively working in Discovery's space.  Big programming choices, tentpole series, and stunts are going to be Discovery's biggest weapons in the ongoing fight for viewers in the remainder of 2012.