Ratings Snapshot for U.S. Channels in 1Q’19: Average Primetime Audience & Distribution Footprints for 40 Factual Channels

The distribution footprint and average primetime audience of Cab/Sat channels are key measures of scale and performance.

These metrics are of intense interest as Realscreen West kicks off in LA and Sunny Side of the Doc approaches in La Rochelle, France.

Today’s coverage and ratings snapshot is for 40+ U.S. networks, from Factual leaders like Discovery to those that are barely hanging on, like Viceland.

Read below about my collaboration with Byron Media’s Dr John Morse to provide our clients with strategic insights based on deep audience analysis.

Primetime Ratings, 1Q 2019
Selection of U.S. Factual Channels
Mon-Sun 8-11PM Live +7 Days Playback

Distribution Average Prime Households
Channel Households (‘000) MC CVG AA % MC US AA Proj
Fox News 85,943 2.33 2,001,000
MSNBC 86,080 1.90 1,635,000
ESPN 85,458 1.40 1,192,000
HGTV 88,757 1.27 1,131,000
History 88,436 1.20 1,065,000
ID Investigation Discovery 83,280 1.15 960,000
TLC 86,045 1.13 972,000
USA 89,662 1.12 1,002,000
Discovery 88,111 1.07 945,000
CNN 89,512 1.01 901,000
A&E 87,834 0.98 856,000
Bravo 86,827 0.91 792,000
Food 89,830 0.85 766,000
Lifetime 87,492 0.70 611,000
Mtv 83,332 0.58 487,000
VH1 83,972 0.53 445,000
Travel 82,121 0.51 416,000
WEtv 83,682 0.50 417,000
SYFY 87,152 0.50 433,000
OWN 73,069 0.48 354,000
Animal Planet 85,414 0.46 391,000
Science 60,181 0.45 269,000
Nat Geo Wild 60,687 0.44 265,000
Nat Geo Channel 88,046 0.42 374,000
Oxygen 71,671 0.35 251,000

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Primetime Ratings, 1Q 2019
Selection of U.S. Factual Channels (continued)
Mon-Sun 8-11PM Live +7 Days Playback

Distribution Average Prime Households
Channel Households (‘000) MC CVG AA % MC US AA Proj
BET 80,348 0.35 280,000
E! 87,349 0.34 298,000
Motor Trend 73,328 0.33 241,000
DIY 52,889 0.33 174,000
TRU 85,228 0.27 231,000
ReelzChannel 58,709 0.23 135,000
Smithsonian 38,849 0.22 84,000
American Heroes  47,227 0.21 98,000
Cooking Channel 58,858 0.20 120,000
Weather  77,339 0.20 156,000
FYI 52,841 0.17 91,000
Ovation 43,827 0.14 62,000
Destination America 44,126 0.14 60,000
UP 62,839 0.13 80,000
LOGO 41,298 0.12 50,000
Discovery Life Channel 41,775 0.12 48,000
Viceland 65,930 0.09 58,000
Baby First 55,291 0.07 38,000
FUSE 54,032 0.05 27,000

Source: Nielsen Media ResearchFor Deeper Analysis

The Selection

  • Our list is not apples-to-apples.
  • It includes channels that are dedicated to Documentary and Unscripted, and others that include Scripted in the mix.
  • Fox News, ESPN and MSNBC are included to provide context for the factual sector versus the leaders in News and Sports.

Quantity Not Quality

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

More Custom Research

  • Contact me directly if your bus dev efforts will benefit from detailed audience data, for example to develop your strategy, or help with a pitch or analyze the performance of your program / series, or the programs of your competitors.
    • My partner, Byron Media’s Dr John Morse will share deep dive data, analysis, and strategic insights.
    • Read more here and here.

5-Year Winners & Losers

  • Check out my 2014 post “Who’s Hot? Who’s Not!” who lost in the 5-year decline in viewing for most Cab/Sat channels.
  • Discovery’s ID network swam strongly against the tide of cord-cutting, earning a 31% increase in audience.

My Sweet Spots Study is a valuable source of additional information covering the audience for factual channels, plus what they pay for programs.