Who’s Hot? Who’s Not! U.S. Factual Channels, 3Q’11 versus 3Q’10.

Which U.S. Factual channels are gaining or losing prime time viewers year-to-year?

Here are three highlights:

  • A&E swoops into the #2 spot on our Factual network list, behind its big sister History.
  • Discovery Networks has a new #3 network: ID is up 51% and knocks Animal Planet into #4.
  • Nat Geo Channel has a lively pulse, read on…

METHODOLOGY

Our bucket of channels is not apples-to-apples:

  • It includes channels that are dedicated to non-scripted, for example Nat Geo and Discovery.
  • And others like A&E and MTV that mix Docs and Reality with Scripted.
  • Some channels that schedule Factual are unrated, or were not rated last year.
  • And some cases we didn’t capture the data in 2010.

Our quarterly, high-level snapshot is prepared with the assistance of John Morse, president of research firm Byron Media.

Quantity Not Quality

  • Most ad-supported channels sell media based on their target demos.
  • And networks rate their performance (and those of their managers) quarter-to-quarter rather than year-to-year.
  • Nevertheless, our measure of the quarterly ‘average prime time’ audience is a very useful tool for gauging of relative scale of the networks as well as trends in their appeal.

DOCUMENTARYTELEVISION.COM CHART:  WHO’S HOT? WHO’S NOT!

U.S. Factual Channels
Average Quarterly Prime Time Audience, 3Q’11 versus 3Q’10
(‘000)

 

Viewers:

 

 

 

Rating 3Q11

3Q’11

3Q’10

Change

%

HISTORY

1.5

1,516

1,291

225

17%

A&E

1.2

1,242

1,172

70

6%

SYFY

1.1

       1,070

950

120

13%

MTV

1.1

       1,062

952

110

12%

HGTV

1.0

       1,001

      1,055

-54

-5%

FOOD

0.9

900

905

-5

-1%

DISCOVERY

0.9

886

956

-70

-7%

TLC

0.9

865

864

1

0%

TRU TV

0.9

798

838

-40

-5%

SPIKE*

0.7

704

NA

NA

NA

BRAVO

0.7

695

751

-56

-7%

BET

0.7

608

562

46

8%

E! ENTERTAINMENT

0.6

566

589

-23

-4%

VH1

0.5

484

348

136

39%

ID: INVEST. DISC.

0.6

460

304

156

51%

ANIMAL PLANET

0.4

429

431

-2

0%

NAT GEO CHANNEL

0.5

384

318

66

21%

OXYGEN

0.4

337

384

-47

-12%

TRAVEL

0.3

331

399

-68

-17%

WE

0.3

220

235

-15

-6%

STYLE

0.3

208

122

86

70%

SCIENCE

0.3

189

201

-12

0%

OWN: OPRAH*

0.3

188

NA

NA

NA

BIO

0.2

157

165

-8

-5%

H2 (HISTORY INTL)

0.2

155

166

-11

-7%

MILITARY

0.2

129

121

8

7%

PL GREEN / DISC TRAVEL*

0.2

111

NA

NA

NA

NAT GEO WILD

0.2

98

88

10

11%

DISC FIT HEALTH*

0.2

89

NA

NA

NA

DIY*

0.1

80

NA

NA

NA

CURRENT*

0.1

63

NA

NA

NA

VELOCITY*

0.1

56

NA

NA

NA

OVATION*

0.1

39

NA

NA

NA

*Data not available or channel rebrands
Source: Nielsen Media Research

HIGHLIGHTS

Largest audience (‘000)

  • History (1,516), A&E (1,242), SYFY (1,070), MTV (1,062), HGTV (1,001)
  • MTV replaced the In-and-Out Discovery in our Top 5

Growth (%)

  • Top 5: Style (70% – what’s going on there?), ID: Investigation Discovery (51%), VH1 (39%), Nat Geo Channel (21%) and History (17%)
  • Audience losers were Oxygen (-12%), Bravo (-7%), Discovery (-7%), the newly branded H2 (-7%) and We (-6%)

Oprah’s OWN: You’ve read this before…

  • Discovery has spent upwards of $200 million
  • What for?
    • OWN’s average audience is only .1 higher than the ‘under-performing’ Discovery Health network it replaced.
    • And Health was for years kept alive on a drip feed of stale library product!
    • How much more time will Discovery give Oprah and OWN? What’s the solution?

The Factual Tide Keeps Rising

  • The broad Unscripted category continues to grow at the expense of Scripted, News and other categories
  • The year-to-year increase for DocumentaryTelevision.com’s bucket of Basic factual channels was 4%, but down from 9% in our last sample

TAKEAWAYS

  • History’s 228,000 new viewers hammers home the message: “We’re in a competitive class all of our own!”
    • But isn’t it time for History to share more of its Eureka! scale profits with its work-for-hire production teams?
    • A&E’s leap into the #2 spot underlines A+E Networks’ dominance of the Factual category.
  • ID (460/+51%) shot past a hibernating Animal Planet (429/0%)
    • The Law & Order franchise isn’t Factual, but maybe it’s a beacon for how high Discovery’s Crime-dedicated channel can aim?
  • The diminutive Nat Geo Channel (only 380) gains viewers (21%) as a new management team focuses on what American cable TV viewers like.
    • Nat Geo is leaving its ‘Yellow Borders heritage’ in the rearview mirror.

AND BTW

Some other channels…

3Q’11 

Rating

Viewer

USA

2.7

       2,656

LIFETIME

1.0

          961

WEATHER

0.3

          268

IFC

0.2

          121

LOGO

0.1

             40

MSNBC

0.7

          624

HBO (Pay)

3.7

       1,126

One comment

  1. Dawn porter says:

    Would be interesting to add pbs and the premium channels showtime and HBO and espn to this mix – consumers are paying for all of it how do the premies stack up ?

Comments are closed.