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Science Channel Analysis - April 2011


* Bold denotes programming change


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.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison /April 2011 vs. April 2010 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Mostly positive news on the year to year front.  Younger demos are up slightly.  Target adults were flat, although rounding showed tiny increases in men and women 25-54.  Overall viewership was flat.  Median age was down a notch, but is still one of our older nets.

Monthly comparisons aren't as positive.  Target audiences, men and women, were down from March.  Women were down a tad more than the women.  We're still in our first year of tracking so we don't have a lot of historical tracking.  Most networks do experience a dip from March so it's not unusual to see here.

Schedule is light on premieres, heavy on repeats, and features very few continuing series.  In a small network, that's a formula for wide up and down swings as the viewer follows titles instead of a regular night of programming.

Strongest night featured the strongest series.  Saturday night with ODDITIES.  One week with new episodes was enough to boost the figures for the entire month.  Repeats were a little lower, but still better than the rest of the weekly schedule.

MONSTER BUGS on Tuesday nights came out of the gate strong for its first two weeks.  Strong enough that they yanked an inventory one-up to clear room for a repeat in week two.  Too much too soon?  Week three fell off dramatically.  Let's see what happens in May.

PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION was heavily pushed in the press a few weeks back.  A single episode peek on a mid month Sunday underwhelmed with the younger viewers, and was barely on par with the A25-54 group.

FIREFLY entered it's second month on Sunday nights.  Result continue to be mixed, but leaning towards the weaker side of things.  Audiences were down significantly from March, a sign that the curiosity factor is in the past and it's the core fans sticking around.  Men remain much stronger than women.  The numbers do build from 9p to 10p, with most of the later episodes hitting schedule average.


The Science Channel's addition to the Cable U Top 30 is a long time coming.  The opportunity for growth is massive.  The network name allows the brand to be as broad or narrow as one likes.  The ratings are still lower than most networks, but are measurable enough to determine success and failure on individual programs.   The channel has been commissioning original programming in increasing amounts the last few years.  It's a must see for any producer looking to break into the Discovery Communications portfolio of networks.

Organizational changes at Discovery Communications once again shuffled the deck and placed Science Channel under new management.  The network has shifted from an internal pairing with Discovery Channel to Animal Planet.  The impact on the content and the schedule won't be known for a few months.  Without the direct tie to the flagship, might we see fewer off Discovery series and more originals?  Will Animal Planet's blue chip natural history find it's way over to Science?  Stayed tuned.