U.S. Factual Networks, 1Q 2011: Who’s Hot? Who’s Not!

How are they doing this year?

John Morse, president of the research firm Byron Media continues his quarterly snapshot of how U.S. Unscripted channels are gaining or losing prime time viewers year-to-year.

Our selection is not apples-to-apples:

  • It includes channels that are dedicated to Docs and Unscripted, for example Nat Geo and Discovery
  • And others like A&E and MTV that mix of Docs and Reality with Scripted
  • Many channels that schedule Factual are unrated, or were not rated last year

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Quantity Not Quality

  • Most ad-supported channels sell media based on their target demos
  • Nonetheless the quarterly ‘average prime time’ is a very useful measure of scale and performance

U.S. Factual Channels
Average Prime Time Audience, 1Q11 versus 1Q10
(‘000)

 

1Q’11

1Q’10

Change

%

ID: INVEST. DISCOVERY

          471

          292

179

61%

MTV

       1,127

          727

400

55%

HISTORY

       1,405

       1,036

369

36%

BRAVO

          781

          611

170

28%

BET

          685

          560

125

22%

WETV

          263

          218

45

21%

MILITARY

          165

          142

23

16%

HISTORY INTL

          193

          175

18

10%

SYFY

          933

          848

85

10%

BIO

          162

          153

9

6%

TLC

          879

          838

41

5%

NAT GEO CH

          367

          353

14

4%

DISCOVERY

          943

          909

34

4%

E!

          590

          581

9

2%

FOOD

          859

          859

0

0%

HGTV

       1,021

       1,036

(15)

-1%

A&E

       1,220

       1,241

(21)

-2%

TRAVEL

          372

          382

(10)

-3%

ANIMAL PLANET

          437

          450

(13)

-3%

SPIKE

          690

          741

(51)

-7%

STYLE

122

          145

(23)

-16%

VH1

          399

          501

(102)

-20%

Factual Networks

     14,084

     12,798

        1,286

10%

Nielsen Media Research

Highlights

Largest audience (‘000)

  • History (1,405), A&E (1,220), MTV (1,127), HGTV (931) and Discovery (943)
  • TLC (879) and SyFy (933) dropped out of the Top 5 in 1Q11

Growth (%)

  • Top 5: ID: Investigation Discovery (61%), MTV (55%), History (36%), Bravo (28%) and BET (22%)
  • (Fast-growing Discovery Science – now rebranded as ‘ Science’ – accidentally dropped off our data set)
  • VH1 remains in the basement (-20%)
    • But the VH1 team developed 2010′s #1 Reality hit Jersey Shore, which airs on sister channel MTV

MTV Adds 400K

  • Jersey Shore, 16 & Pregnant and other hits blast MTV out of the doghouse of exhausted global brands

History

  • 369,000 new viewers is huge for a fully-distributed channel
  • That’s on top of 326,000 new viewers in 4Q’10 versus 4Q09
  • History’s  growth is led by the hit series Pawn Stars, its spin off American Restoration, and American Pickers

The Factual Bucket: 14.1 million and Growing!

  • DocumentaryTelevision.com’s bucket of Basic channels attracted on average 14.1 million viewers in prime time in 1Q’11
  • The year-to-year increase for the Factual genre was 10%!

Takeaways

  • The broad Unscripted category continues to register huge growth at the expense of Scripted, News and other categories
  • More viewers doesn’t mean job security
  • Digital channel:  Analog performance
    • Animal Planet sees ID in the mirror
    • How high can this Female-targeted Crime channel climb?

Don’t Forget: The Oprah Winfrey Network

  • OWN replaced Discovery Health on 1/1/11, and isn’t listed in our year-to-year comparisons
  • But OWN feels looks a lot like underwater real estate as it earns only 225,000 average prime time viewers in 1Q11
  • CEO Christina Norman is sent packing: Discovery sends in Dr Fixit, and Oprah calls it a ‘natural transition’
  • Next post: We polled several execs and experts on their Takeaways from OWN’s poor start

Who’s Hot?

Previous Snapshots from John Morse and Byron Media

And don’t miss!

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SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:

LA ROCHELLE
Sunnyside of the Doc
La Rochelle, France
June 21-24
3D Where is the Money ?
For a year now, 3D has been on the rise. Initiatives are announced by the week.
Is this new format the next El Dorado, despite the heavy technical constraints ?  
Between public subsidies, industrial partnerships, TV copros and theatrical releases: What is the path to successfully finance a 3D project?   
What is the cost premium for 3D versus HD?

Ghislaine Le Rhun-Gautier, head of 3D project, Orange (France)
John Cassy, Director, Sky 3D (UK)
Baptiste Heynemans CNC (NTP) (France)
Laurent Dondey, DP La Géode (France)
Modérateur: Peter Hamilton, DocumentaryTélévision.com