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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.  On weekends, a mix of programming and stacked mini-marathons of top shows drive the lineup.   In October, there was a tremendous reliance on PAWN STARS and spin-off CAJUN PAWN STARS, with the show appearing 65 times during the month (which is down from September's count of 96.)


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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

With some nights seeing up to 40% growth overall compared to last year, and others seeing losses, October was an interesting month for History.  Still, the network is dominating in the ratings compared to several other networks in its target demographics - no easy feat when you consider the massive cable landscape and competition.  Overall, October saw a minor 1% decrease in overall viewers compared to last year, and saw losses overall among key younger demographics - a frustrating concern considering that October saw the debut of several new series and specials for History.

Mondays in October featured a lineup of PAWN STARS and AMERICAN PICKERS.  Despite most telecasts surpassing average for the network, the night was down 34% compared to this October 2011.  Both shows are starting to show some signs of wear; PAWN is down 28% compared to last year, and AMERICAN PICKERS saw losses in the key male demographics from last year.   COUNTING CARS, which replaced PICKERS toward the end September, saw 1 airing in October with below-average numbers before being replaced by PICKERS again later in the month.

Tuesdays in October saw more PAWN STARS, paired throughout the month with TIME MACHINE, History's blanket term for various specials.  This lineup was replaced mid-month with newcomer THE MEN WHO BUILT AMERICA.  The night was up 11% in overall viewers and THE MEN WHO BUILT AMERICAN brought in above-average numbers for the network, driving Tuesday nights to be the second strongest of the week for History.

AMERICAN RESTORATION and CAJUN PAWN STARS anchors History's schedule for Wednesday nights.  This month, the night saw year-to-year gains of 4% overall.  AMERICAN RESTORATION is showing some signs of wear compared to last year; numbers were down 4% in overall viewers compared to October 2011, and saw similar losses among the key younger demographics.

Thursday's schedule was even more PAWN STARS, paired with the arrival of NOREASTER MEN and TIME MACHINE.  Though the night was up 22% compared to last year, it was PAWN doing the heavy lifting; NOREASTER MEN failed to hit average in its first airing and lost nearly half its viewers in the second on 10/4.  The show was replaced later in the month by more TIME MACHINE, which fluctuated throughout the month but saw a solid delivery with LOST MAGIC  DECODED on 10/18.

Fridays in October featured stacked episodes of CAJUN PAWN STARS, AMERICAN RESTORATION, SWAMP PEOPLE, and AMERICAN PICKERS.  Despite PICKERS managing to hit above-average, the night was down 25% compared to last year.

Marathons of PAWN STARS anchored the Saturday primetime lineup in October and, as we've seen, the show manages to draw a crowd whenever it's scheduled.  The night was up 40% compared to October of 2011, and saw similar growth among the key demographics as well - clearly a smart programming choice for History.  THE MEN WHO BUILT AMERICA served as its lead-out later in the month and while the first week scored above-average, viewers were down for the second.

Sunday's schedule in October was anchored by a variety of programming, from AMERICAN PICKERS to PAWN STARS and newcomer OUTBACK HUNTERS.  While the night saw moderate growth, news for the freshman series OUTBACK HUNTERS wasn't great - the first airing hit just below average, and lost 40% of its viewers in the second.

Look for more scripted programming and miniseries in the coming months, as well as more attempts by the network to step on Discovery's toes in programming choices and scheduling.