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Upfront TV: A&E, History Unscripted Gold | “The Pitch” Launches | Disney Tops Nickelodeon

Published on March 28, 2012
  • After its strongest ratings year of 2011, A&E began 2012 with its best quarter ever in Q1. Year to-date, cable net Arts & Entertainment (A&E) currently ranks fifth among all entertainment cable networks in adults 25-54, adults 18-49 and in total viewers. The network was up in adults 25-54 (819,000 vs. 807,000) and up in total viewers (1,608,000 vs. 1,574,000) edging out the previously record-setting first quarter 2011 as the best in network history. Led by such original hit series as “Storage Wars,” “Storage Wars: Texas,” “Shipping Wars,” and “Duck Dynasty,” the network introduced eight original series that averaged more than one-million viewers in adults 18-49 and seven original series that averaged more than one-million viewers in adults 25-54. (The original programming is far heaver on the entertainment than the arts.)

  • Elsewhere on cable, History also secured its best quarter ever in key demos in Q1 2012, with key adults and total viewers. History claims to have been the #1 network on cable (excluding sports) for the quarter among men 25-54, with offerings like “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” and “Swamp People,” as well as “Larry the Cable Guy” and “Ax Men.”.In addition, HISTORY had nine series average over 1.0 million A25-54 impressions and 11 over 850,000.  As well, the network had three of the top seven series (vs. all cable scripted/unscripted) among Adults 25-54 (“Pawn Stars” at 3.1 million; “American Pickers” at 2.6 million; and “Swamp People” at 2.5 million). “Pawn Stars” was the #1 non-fiction cable series among total viewers (5.8 million) and adults 25-54 (3.1 million) in 1st quarter. Missing among all those top-rated series on History, which follow contemporary pawnbrokers, migrant workers and swamp residents? Anything historic.

  • AMC launches its newest unscripted series, “The Pitch,” with a sneak preview of the premiere episode, featuring Subway restaurants, on Sunday, April 8 at 11 P.M. ET/PT following the network’s award-winning series “Mad Men” and “The Killing.” The Pitch” chronicles the incredible lengths, intense stakes and tight deadlines top advertising agencies encounter when they take aim at a major new piece of business. The series follows the best creative shops as they prepare campaigns knowing that in the end, it all comes down to the pitch. The eight-part unscripted series will then return on Monday, April 30 with a new episode, featuring Waste Management, at 9 P.M. ET/PT followed by an encore showing of the premiere in its regular timeslot at 10 P.M. ET/PT. “The Pitch” Subway restaurants episode will also be available on, iTunes and YouTube following its sneak peek.
  • After four weeks of what Deadline Hollywood calls “miniscule ratings” on Saturday night, Fox is yanking the Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony reality series “Q’Viva: The Chosen” from primetime and moving it to Saturday late night. Q’Viva original U.S. broadcasts air on Univision, the Spanish-language network, then debuted on Fox with a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 in the 8-10 P.M. Saturday slot, and has since dropped to a 0.5. Fox will replace the last two episodes of “Q’Viva” with perennial favorite “Cops,” which had averaged a 1.2 rating in the period. “Q’Viva” will be trimmed to 90 minutes to run on Fox’s Saturday late-night block from 11 P.M.-12:30 A.M.
  • Proving the power of syndication, Adweek opined that “Mad Men may be the ultimate critical darling…but the most transformative show on basic cable is actually a broadcast hand-me-down,” being “The Big Bang Theory.” It is now the most-watched comedy on cable, drawing more than 3 million viewers per episode on TBS, and has “sent TBS’s fortunes soaring.” In the first quarter of this year, TBS accomplished something officially upended USA Network as the top-rated cable entertainment channel among adults 18-to-49; through March 25, TBS averaged 1.22 million members in the 18-49 demographic, a 33% improvement from the same period in 2011.

  • There is “a new kids' kingpin,” declared Multichannel News. In March, and for the first time in its history, Disney Channel topped Nickelodeon in ratings and total viewers among kids aged 2 to 11. Disney tied Nickelodeon with a 2.7 total-day cable rating (a 2.3 national mark) in February, then took a 2.6 total-day rating for the ratings month Feb. 27 to March 25, versus 2.4 for Nickelodeon. “As such,” said Multichannel News, “Disney ended Nick's 17-year run as the most-watched basic-cable network in the total-day measure.” True—but Nickelodeon with its aging inventory has been ailing and easy to beat. It has yet to launch its aggressive new slate of 650 new episodes for the 2012-2013 season.