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

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

May was an awkward month for the channel.  Younger demos are down from last year, older demos are flat.  Growth is focused on the weekends, but offset by drops during the week.  Median age is up again, hitting its highest point since our tracking began six month ago.

Monthly trends are a little less forgiving.  It was the fourth consecutive month of decreases for A18-49.  A25-54 was steady from April, but shows the same overall trend down for the same four month period.  HUT levels naturally decrease.  We continue to note that sample size remains relatively small so minor drops can create large percentages.

Weekends is where it's at on Science.  Probably not a coincidence that they're the only two nights with regularly scheduled series?  Saturday was the best night of the week for target adults 18-49 and 25-54.  Back to back repeats of HOW IT'S MADE in the 8pm block have their moments.  ODDITIES is the anchor though.  Four episodes stacked in the 9-11pm block, including premieres at 10pm, are well above channel averages for the month.

Sunday was just a hair behind Saturday in the target demos.  A mix of astronomy based programs at 8pm was OK.  Double episodes of FIREFLY at 9pm and 10pm were very strong.  The acquired series drew very nicely at 9pm and built on it at 10pm most weeks.   Overall, the third month of FIREFLY was up 60-70% for target demos over April.

Elsewhere, Monday through Friday were all on the same level, ending below average for the month.  MONSTER BUG WARS was off from April, wrapping up a round of new episodes on Tuesday nights.  HOW IT'S MADE  had a few bright spots on Fridays, but not enough to keep the night above schedule averages.

A mix of inventory repeats in the channel's various genres were stacked during the week with only a few of the 10pm programs delivering decent numbers.  Mini-stacks of series were no stronger or weaker than a batch of one-ups.  The schedule could really use a couple more regular series.  A little predictability would be wonderful.


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.