Discovery Nabs Record Ratings at Top of 2015 as Other Cable Giants Falter

Documentary 'Racing Extinction'

The first quarter under president Rich Ross sees all-time bests among total viewers and adults 25-54, as more drops plague A&E and History.

Bucking the downward trend plaguing much of reality-driven cable, Discovery just wrapped its strongest quarter ever.

During the first three months with Rich Ross as president, Discovery posted all-time highs among total viewers and the targeted demographic of adults 25-54. Up 9 percent from the same period the prior year, Discovery's primetime averaged 1.65 million viewers with all live-plus-three day data reported.

Among adults 25-54, Discovery was up 4 percent to an average 0.84 rating during primetime to put it at No. 5 on all of cable. And improvement is not exactly a common theme among the network's top competitors. After dramatic drops in 2014, both A&E (0.52 rating) and History (0.7 rating) continue to slide. Compared to the same quarter last year, among adults 25-54, the networks are down a respective 27 and 25 percent.

Both of Discovery's increases come after a relatively stable 2014 for the network — during which ratings remained flat by most measurements, except for a drop among younger adults. That's where Ross is focusing his efforts on the turnaround. "One of the realities of our world and the Discovery Channel that I’ve come into is that it’s more narrowly niche than I think it ever needs to be or should be," he said shortly after the start of his tenure. "I think being more inclusive to women and younger men is a way for us to build back the audience ... and to become the number one TV brand for the whole family."

Obviously, much of that course was already set prior to Ross' January arrival, but the exec has had a hand in making its current lineup gear storylines away from men exclusively in hopes of luring more co-viewing. Its adults 18-34 audience did see some movement, compared to a year ago, up a modest 3 percent. Viewership among women was also up 4 percent.

Discovery's biggest success is part of the old guard. Gold Rush ranked as the top unscripted show in all of cable among adults 18-49 and 25-54 during the first three months of 2015. In fact, it now pulls the best showing of any reality series on all of TV among male viewers, excluding The Voice.

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