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History Channel Analysis


Programming blocks and consistent scheduling seem to be History’s mantra.  Not too wide a programming mix, the primetime schedule is home to the solid favorites, giving viewers several opportunities to find their programs and develop a pattern of appointment viewing, although in recent months, specials have aired on Tuesday nights as well as Saturdays.  Thematic evenings take over on the weekend.   Sundays have become the home for the umbrella theme “American Originals."


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2012 vs. February 2011 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

With a heavy slate of new and successful original series, big brands, and strong marketing campaigns, History is setting up 2012 to be a monumental year.  Though average numbers were only up slightly compared to last year, and actually down compared to last month, when looking closely at the programming lineup, it's clear that History is on an extremely solid path.  (To see how History compared to other networks in the CableU top 30, check out the CableU performance chart here:

Returning staples PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS continue to dominate the schedule and the lineup (in February, 18 of the top 20 telecasts of the month was one of the two shows.)  Although both shows are seeing moderate decline from last year, they still draw big numbers.  Monday nights nearly doubled average for History, and was, by far, the strongest night of the week for the network.

Following the "Americana" theme, SWAMP PEOPLE returned to the schedule on Thursday nights with huge numbers.  Also nearly doubling average, the show propelled Thursday night to the #2 spot, up 96% in viewers compared to February 2011.  MUDCATS, which also joined the the Thursday lineup, also saw numbers above average (but not to the same extent as SWAMP.)  Keep the characters coming, folks.

TOP GEAR and TOP SHOT anchored Tuesday nights in February starting mid-month.  Numbers were below average - though TOP SHOT saw a 29% jump in viewers compared to last year.  Tuesday nights were down 34% from last year - hopefully a more structured schedule in March will help push Tuesdays in a more positive direction.

More Americana on Wednesday nights helped the lineup gain 26% more viewers than it had a year ago.  AMERICAN RESTORATION continues to score just above average (though numbers are down slightly from last month).  ONLY IN AMERICA is showing just a bit more wear - down 28% from a year ago.

Fridays and Saturdays both saw moderate year-to-year growth this month compared to February 2011, though overall, both nights saw below-average numbers.  Schedules were fairly haphazard, and re-airings of AMERICAN PICKERS on Fridays was the only program to see above-average numbers.

Sundays in February saw the debut of FULL METAL JOUSTING on 2/12.  Numbers were below average in its premiere, and fell steadily after that.  A risky move for History, and one that we will continue to track.

The History audience is fickle and finicky, and programmers have a tough job of developing shows that the audience will believe in and return to.  Characters clearly work.  Hitting the buzz words is good, but this audience clearly doesn’t respond well to shows that feel too “produced.”  Make it organic and real.