History Channel’s Pawn Stars, reality TV make it the fifth-most popular cable channel

The History Channel’s reality shows have propelled the network to become the fifth-most popular network on cable, behind only USA, Disney, TNT, and ESPN; last year, it was number eight. Pawn Stars, which is getting a spin-off, is largely responsible for that growth. While the network is planning to air some scripted shows, its brand of reality TV—including Top Shot—has now made it more popular than any other network that airs primarily unscripted TV.

The New York Times reports on the channel’s growth, noting that Pawn Stars in 2009 and Swamp People in 2010 were responsible for “giving the channel its giant growth spurts” and leading it to now have “more middle-aged men than any other cable channel except ESPN.” The paper cites a report that noted “History had gained more ratings ground than any other single channel” in part because of the five million plus viewers that watch every Pawn Stars.

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