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Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

U.S. Cable Networks: Which Ones Commission Factual? How Many Homes Do They Reach?

   
Commissions 
Factual?
  U.S. TVHH Genre
TBS 100,608Entertainment 
CNN / HLN 100,370NewsYes
DISCOVERY CHANNEL 100,101Factual/RealityYes
NICK-AT-NITE 100,064Entertainment 
NICKELODEON 100,064Kids  
THE WEATHER CHANNEL 100,054NewsYes
FOOD NETWORK   99,934LifestyleYes
CNN CABLE NEWS NETWORK   99,640NewsYes
TNT   99,630Entertainment 
ESPN   99,612SportsYes
HEADLINE NEWS   99,579News 
USA NETWORK   99,541Entertainment 
ESPN2   99,527Sports 
LIFETIME TELEVISION   99,336EntertainmentYes
A&E NETWORK   99,303Entt/RealityYes
HGTV   99,105LifestyleYes
DISNEY CHANNEL   99,098Kids  
TLC   99,041Factual/RealityYes
MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION   98,954MusicYes
ADULT SWIM   98,836Entertainment 
THE CARTOON NETWORK   98,836Kids  
SPIKE TV   98,816EntertainmentYes
HISTORY   98,741Factual/RealityYes
COMEDY CENTRAL   98,537Comedy 
VH1   98,431Factual/RealityYes
FOX NEWS CHANNEL   98,393NewsYes
ABC FAMILY   98,381Entertainment 
CNBC   97,909NewsYes
TV LAND   97,713Entertainment 
E! ENTERTAINMENT TV   97,540NewsYes
SYFY   97,470EntertainmentYes
ANIMAL PLANET   96,851Factual/RealityYes
FX   96,424Entertainment 
AMC   96,011EntertainmentYes
TRAVEL CHANNEL   95,882Factual/RealityYes
MSNBC   94,201NewsYes
BRAVO   93,717EntertainmentYes
TRU TV     92,531Factual/RealityYes
CMT   91,154Music 
BET  BLACK ENT’T TV   90,196EntertainmentYes
HALLMARK CHANNEL   89,700Entertainment 
GOLF CHANNEL   83,469SportsYes
TV GUIDE NETWORK   80,380Entertainment 
MTV2   78,472Music 
LIFETIME   77,756Entertainment 
DISNEY XD   77,122Kids  
WEtv:WOMENS ENT’T   76,651Factual/RealityYes
OXYGEN MEDIA   76,418Factual/RealityYes
DISCOVERY HEALTH / (OWN)   75,923Factual/RealityYes

 

   Commissions Factual?
  U.S. TVHH Genre
SPEED   75,713Sports 
SOAPNET   75,255Entertainment 
VERSUS   74,091SportsYes
NICK JR (formerly NOGGIN)   73,279Kids  
ESPNEWS   73,101SportsYes
WGN AMERICA   72,533Entertainment 
GSN   71,586Entertainment 
ESPNU   70,802SportsYes
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC   70,639Factual/RealityYes
TeenNick (formerly THE N)   70,220Kids  
G4   69,514Entertainment 
FUSE   67,993Music 
BBC-AMERICA   67,528Factual/RealityYes
SCIENCE CHANNEL   66,617FactualYes
STYLE   64,678LifestyleYes
ID: INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY   63,119Factual/RealityYes
BIO   59,524Factual/RealityYes
GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY   58,713Music 
HISTORY INTERNATIONAL   58,274FactualNA
MILITARY CHANNEL   57,564FactualYes
COOKING CHANNEL (formerly FINE LIVING)   57,328LifestyleYes
GALAVISION   57,276Entertainment 
VH1 CLASSIC   56,982Music 
NICKTOONS   56,979Kids  
FOX BUSINESS NETWORK   56,421News 
NFL NETWORK   56,316SportsYes
ESPN CLASSIC   55,468SportsYes
MLB NETWORK   55,323SportsYes
DIY NETWORK   53,734LifestyleYes
TV ONE   50,354Entertainment 
REELZCHANNEL   50,176Entertainment 
GOSPEL MUSIC CHANNEL   47,376MusicYes
LOGO   45,629EntertainmentYes
SUNDANCE CHANNEL   40,000EntertainmentYes
RFD-TV   38,506Entertainment 
FOX SOCCER CHANNEL   36,503SportsYes
OUTDOOR CHANNEL   36,423LifestyleYes
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WILD   35,805Factual/RealityYes
ENCORE   35,259Entertainment 
MUN2 CABLE   35,192Entertainment 
HALLMARK MOVIE CHANNEL   34,707Entertainment 
ENCORE PRIMARY   34,013Entertainment 
HBO   30,643EntertainmentYes
SHOWTIME   23,102EntertainmentYes
TOTAL U.S. TVHH114,900  

 

The ‘Scale Thing’

This chart is intended as a handy guide to the household reach of U.S. cable/satellite-delivered networks, courtesy of Nielsen (June 2010).

We added the programming category, and a checkmark to indicate if a channel has an appetite for commissioning factual programs.

We will further qualify this data in the coming months, for example by indicating the scale of hours commissioned, relative total spending on unscripted content, average budgets, a quality metric (e.g. receives award nominations), and so on.

The links connect to our earlier coverage of a network’s commissioning processes.

  • We are preparing reports on many other channels that commission factual programs.

Channels not covered by the Nielsen report include: 

  • LinkTV (32 million satellite homes and ‘program blocks shown regularly on 15 million cable homes’)  
  • The Documentary Channel (25 million)
  • Smithsonian Channel
  • Ovation TV (42 million)

HBO and Showtime are “premium” channels, explaining why they are the least widely- distributed channels shown on the list.

  • HBO is a powerhouse in the U.S documentary universe
  • Showtime also acquires and commissions docs

Don’t forget the regional and college sports networks that commission archive-based series as well as doc features, for example:

  • Big Ten Network (75+million, U.S. & Canada)

Please email us if you spot any errors or omissions.