New Analysis of History Channel Viewer Data Finds Pseudohistory Viewers Follow Fake History Across the Dial
The smart TV data largely confirms what the Nielsen ratings report, that the History Channel is one of the top 20 most-watched channels and that about one in four Americans watches the network at some point each month. About 1.37% of all time spent watching television in America is spent watching the History Channel, and Inscape found that its highest levels of viewership occur in the Appalachian Mountains, the empty parts of upstate New York and New England, the upper peninsula of Michigan, the Florida panhandle, and the outer edges of the Mississippi watershed—the most rural and conservative parts of the country. By contrast, the network’s lowest viewership levels occur in and around major cities, especially the Washington-New York-Boston megalopolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even Texas’s largest cities. In short, where young and liberal people live, History isn’t watched as much. No wonder the media, largely based in these large cities ignore the channel, even though its viewership is often many orders of magnitude greater than the current TMZ cause célèbre.
History Channel viewers watch two other channels more than any other: The Science Channel and the American Heroes Channel, both of which show History-style pseudo-history documentaries about aliens, treasure, Templar conspiracies, and the like. History viewers are more likely than other TV viewers to watch channels devoted to country music, hunting, home repair, and cars. I needn’t point out what that means. The constellation of related traits is obvious. It goes without saying that Inscape found that History Channel viewers are disproportionate fans of Fox News programming, and this extends even beyond viewers of History’s fake history shows. Inscape studied viewers for the much-hyped “serious” History series Grant, about U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. It found that Grant viewers were largely also viewers of Curse of Oak Island, Ancient Aliens, and Fox News. In other words, Grant serves more to give History cover for its fake history shows than to expand its audience beyond conspiracy theorists.
But here is what I found fascinating: When looking beyond Grant to see what regular History viewers watch on other channels besides History, Inscape discovered data to support what I concluded from anecdotal evidence: The audience for History watches all the other History-style history-themed “mystery” shows. The top programs History viewers watch on other channels are Expedition Unknown, Outback Opal Hunters, Forbidden History, Unearthed, and Curse of the Bermuda Triangle. In other words, my intuition that there is one audience, totaling about 1.5 million people, that circulate through the constellation of fake history shows actually has analytical data to support it. The Venn diagram of viewers for various pseudo-history, ancient mysteries, and treasure-hunting shows is almost a set of perfectly concentric circles of diminishing size.
On the financial side, I was surprised to learn that the reason Ancient Aliens remains on the air despite its declining ratings is because it delivers more commercial messages to more people than any History show except American Pickers. Ancient Aliens served up 4.1 billion ad impressions (the number of commercials multiplied by the number of viewers who don’t turn the channel), accounting for 11% of History’s total by itself. (Pickers, at 8.1 billion, represents 21.4%, while Curse of Oak Island had only 7.5%.)
6/4/2020 10:38:06 am
"By contrast, the network’s lowest viewership levels occur in and around major cities, especially the Washington-New York-Boston megalopolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even Texas’s largest cities. In short, where young and liberal people live, History isn’t watched as much."
6/4/2020 11:11:46 am
Ancient Aliens may appeal to some people of all political spectrums. That doesn't mean that particular portions of the spectrum can't be well represented while others are not so well represented. Have you taken a look at the county level returns for Appalachia in the 2016 election?
6/4/2020 01:52:23 pm
Joe, "They could very well be" is code for, I'm going to make something up out of whole cloth that I have no evidence of, so that I can disagree with you.
6/5/2020 10:05:29 am
Jim thinks young people don't stream their entertainment. The lengths he will go to disagree with everything I post on this board. I mean... he goes to other sites to search what I write from five years ago. To do what? Bring me down his toxic rabbit hole of imbecility, no doubt. And yes Jim, this is not an argument. So no need to google more informal fallacies that you'll misapply. It is actually concern at this point for how much time you spend during the day searching for me online and combatting each and every thing I post on this site. Elsewhere too now.
6/5/2020 01:47:57 pm
6/6/2020 04:14:43 pm
Actually, Jim you kinda did say that, when you said "Joe, "They could very well be [streaming this nonsense]" is code for, I'm going to make something up out of whole cloth that I have no evidence of..."
6/7/2020 10:06:31 am
Joe/Kent: "kinda did" is code for not really. Still playing the word twisting game I see.
6/8/2020 10:20:24 am
"You never argue against the points I make..."
6/8/2020 01:08:19 pm
Actually, "kinda did" is lifted from David Spade's character in Rules of Engagement and means "Yes I actually did debauch that waitress then skedoodled when she was in the other room."
6/9/2020 12:03:45 pm
"You never argue against the points I make, you only distract and toss out insults."
6/9/2020 10:35:13 pm
"By the bye, did you know that Netflix tried showing Ancient Aliens for a year then dumped the show for lack of interest.
6/10/2020 11:46:48 am
Funny too, that Jim is now making things up, liked Netflix dumping Ancient Aliens for lack of interest. I don't have Netflix, never have had it. Not sure why they might drop a show. Could be because History already streams the show for free. But either way it appears there are numerous ways to stream it, if you can no longer find it on Netflix.
6/10/2020 02:46:30 pm
To be fair, I appreciate his explaining to me what I actually mean. He's like Mother Teresa in that way. Of course I share Hitchens' view of Mother Teresa.
6/10/2020 04:39:48 pm
6/10/2020 06:56:01 pm
James, you special needs. AA is available for free on Hulu. "But your internet!" Go to your local public library and use their computers.. Ultimately nothing is free but being an enormous wuss is no way to go through life, son.
6/10/2020 08:29:17 pm
Hulu ?? Really ?,,, Are you just passing gas Kent, or are you seriously suggesting AA fans subscribe to Hulu ? lol lol.
6/10/2020 10:35:34 pm
Oh James, I don;t care. It seems that your mission in life is to be an incredibly stupid idiot.
6/11/2020 10:09:36 am
"P.S. I thought you weren't going to respond to me anymore. "
6/4/2020 10:38:54 am
Are states like Utah, Nevada, and Idaho part of the Mississippi watershed? How are outer edges of the Mississippi watershed rural and low population but equally rural and sparsely populated areas in the heart of the Mississippi watershed aren't? Maybe you are talking around the issue of rural, low population, and predominantly white? You might want to drill down on "most rural and conservative parts" of the country unless you were just giving a few selected examples of hotspots of viewership in your discussion. A map plotting all relevant data would be helpful.
6/10/2020 07:11:42 pm
You're asking a barista to do electrical engineering. Minnesota is part of the Mississippi watershed.
6/4/2020 11:44:14 am
Well, Jason, the problem as I see it is coming up with shows as interesting and as cheap to make as History's current offerings.
6/4/2020 12:20:21 pm
I am just outside Albany, NY and Ancient Aliens and the show William Shatner hosts are about the only things I watch on History these days. I meant to watch Grant but forgot about. Hopefully it in the On Demand menu.
6/4/2020 04:58:58 pm
Sure, the programs may be designed for the capture of conservative white boy's/old men's money via ad dollars but according to epoll, democrats actually engage more in Ancient Aliens.
6/4/2020 10:52:31 pm
Personally, I'm more amazed and surprised that people in general are actually using their smart tv to "tune in" to anything. It has been decades since I've used my tv as anything other than a glorified "monitor" as I use either a playback device (i.e. Roku, apple tv, Chromecast, etc) or a cable tv box (PVR, DVR,etc).
These are only 1.5 million people watching such shows? That's not a lot. These are 0,46% of the whole US population. Or are these only the smart TV owners? And how big is the number really, estimated? (Is there a correlation between owning a smart TV and political attitudes?)
6/6/2020 04:24:49 pm
"I needn’t point out what that means."
6/7/2020 11:21:12 pm
I like watching Curse of Oak Island and Swamp People.Don,t watch much more and all the commercials on any channel drive me nuts. Haven.t even been watching any of the paranormal shows on Travel Channel like I used to. Watching more of HGTV,etc.Than History Channel. AA the alien
10/19/2020 07:17:23 pm
I am very uncomfortable with the classism inherent in this article.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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