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Discovery Analysis


With the big announcement that Discovery's long-running series DIRTIEST JOBS and AMERICAN CHOPPER are coming to an end, it's clear Discovery is on a mission to usher in a new year with new original series.  Their slate of originals for the 2012-2013 season showed that, with a lineup of big, high-octane series, character-driven originals, new bold formats, and big blue-chip science docs.

In the primetime lineup, original series run every night of the week, with themes on a nightly basis.  Mondays in February saw the return of the automotive-themed lineup midway through the month. Tuesdays were all about survival, with DUAL SURVIVAL, and newcomer AFRICA. Wednesdays in February featured MOONSHINERS and saw the premiere of WEED COUNTRY. Thursdays saw more MOONSHINERS, paired with PROPERTY WARS and AUCTION KINGS. Fridays and Saturdays were more Alaska and adventure programming, teamed with high-profile specials, while Sundays featured a variety of rotating programs, including the debut of SILVER RUSH on 2/24.


Live + SD Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2013 vs. February 2012 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

February 2013 continued a positive trend for the new year for Discovery, which has seen more competition from other networks in a huge way over the past several years. As more competitors enter Discovery's traditionally male-skewing adventure space, there's more competition for programs and for viewers than ever before. February's primetime lineup was an interesting one, and ratings night to night varied widely.

February saw the debut of 2 new original series toward the end of the month - WEED COUNTRY on Wednesday 2/20 and SILVER RUSH on Sunday, 2/24.  The night performed well - up 51% in overall HH viewers, and up similarly among the male demographics.  However, this is due entirely to MOONSHINERS, which performed above average throughout the month, and hit a record series high in its finale on Wednesday, 1/30.  The series is up 50% overall in HH viewers compared to last year.

SILVER RUSH, which debuted at the end of February on Sunday nights, performed close to average, but wasn't much help to the struggling Sunday night lineup.  The night was down 21% in overall HH viewers, and even more among the male demographics.  The night was also the weakest of the week for Discovery, which faces a lot of competition across the cable landscape on the night.

Friday nights continue to be the dominating force in the schedule, with a nightly average easily doubling the week's average.  Though the night was flat from a year ago, numbers were up nearly across the board compared to January.  The lineup of GOLD RUSH, BERING SEA GOLD, and YUKON MEN continues to score big numbers for Discovery, driving the night to #1.

Monday nights in February shifted midway through the month from a lineup of EXTREME SMUGGLING and SHIPWRECK MEN back into an automotive-themed night, with FAST N LOUD, AMERICAN CHOPPER, and DEVIL'S RIDE.  FAST N LOUD scored big numbers in its premiere on 2/18, as did DEVIL'S RIDE in the lead-out spot.  Despite the strong performances, the night is still struggling to hit network average in both overall viewers in in the male demographics as well.

Saturdays struggled this month to find footing, despite the airing of two specials - DIXIE MAFIA on 2/2 and ARGO: THE INSIDE STORY on 2/23.  Both were among the top performers of the night.

With a solid lineup of new series, Discovery is poised to regain some traction in the new year with a diverse and compelling programming slate. Figuring out what genres stick and which won't will be the biggest challenge in the new year. We expect many risks from the network in 2013.