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Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

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

DistributionAverage PrimeHouseholds
ChannelHouseholds (‘000)MC CVG AA %MC US AA Proj
Fox News85,9432.332,001,000
MSNBC86,0801.901,635,000
ESPN85,4581.401,192,000
HGTV88,7571.271,131,000
History88,4361.201,065,000
ID Investigation Discovery83,2801.15960,000
TLC86,0451.13972,000
USA89,6621.121,002,000
Discovery88,1111.07945,000
CNN89,5121.01901,000
A&E87,8340.98856,000
Bravo86,8270.91792,000
Food89,8300.85766,000
Lifetime87,4920.70611,000
Mtv83,3320.58487,000
VH183,9720.53445,000
Travel82,1210.51416,000
WEtv83,6820.50417,000
SYFY87,1520.50433,000
OWN73,0690.48354,000
Animal Planet85,4140.46391,000
Science60,1810.45269,000
Nat Geo Wild60,6870.44265,000
Nat Geo Channel88,0460.42374,000
Oxygen71,6710.35251,000

Source: Nielsen Media Research

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

DistributionAverage PrimeHouseholds
ChannelHouseholds (‘000)MC CVG AA %MC US AA Proj
BET80,3480.35280,000
E!87,3490.34298,000
Motor Trend73,3280.33241,000
DIY52,8890.33174,000
TRU85,2280.27231,000
ReelzChannel58,7090.23135,000
Smithsonian38,8490.2284,000
American Heroes 47,2270.2198,000
Cooking Channel58,8580.20120,000
Weather 77,3390.20156,000
FYI52,8410.1791,000
Ovation43,8270.1462,000
Destination America44,1260.1460,000
UP62,8390.1380,000
LOGO41,2980.1250,000
Discovery Life Channel41,7750.1248,000
Viceland65,9300.0958,000
Baby First55,2910.0738,000
FUSE54,0320.0527,000

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.