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Science Channel Analysis - January 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 /February 2011 vs. February 2010 (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

A pretty good month for the digital network.  Audiences were up 20-30% from last year and just more than 10% from last month.  Sure, the small samples always mean large percentages, but the movement is in the right direction.  Median age was also down as much as 10% from last year.  For at least the month of February, it was the youngest channel in the Discovery portfolio, beating out Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, ID, and the much older OWN.

The sophomore month for British acquisition IDIOT ABROAD was solid.  Saturday's 10pm premieres all pulled well above schedule averages for the month.  Repeats at 8pm and 9pm struggled a bit, particularly at 8pm.  A repeat over on Wednesdays was just about average for the month.  Overall, following a launch month with major marketing support, IDIOT was down just under 30% versus January.  The series has proven itself as an anchor for a night, but isn't quite ready to anchor and entire schedule.

HOW IT'S MADE continues to draw on Friday nights.  With only one premiere tossed into a sea of repeats, the 8pm block was OK and the 9pm block was very solid.  HOW DO THEY DO IT held down the 10pm slot above average, although a slight fade from it's lead-in.

Monday night's usual slate of astronomy was interrupted for one week with a stack of HOW IT'S MADE.  The mix of single hours on all things space featured a couple of highlights for HOW THE UNIVERSE WAS MADE in the 10pm slot.  Still, it was the mini-stack of HOW IT'S MADE that pushed Monday's above average for the month.

Sunday night featured stacks of individual series each week.  METEORITE MEN and SURVIVORMAN were fine.  FACTORY MADE was a non-starter.  Overall, Sunday was the oldest night of the week, pacing well ahead of the rest of the schedule.

Across other nights, premiere WHEN EARTH ERUPTS was about average on Tuesday nights.  ODDITIES on Wednesdays fell down, losing about 30% from it's January levels.  Off Discovery episode of SOLVING HISTORY never got out of the gate.


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.