Quantitative research methods have largely been used in sociological approaches of television studies, but less so to uncover institutional or textual histories. This paper attempts to extend the use of quantitative research methods for television studies by introducing readers to a database collected about television drama shown on British terrestrial television between 1970 and 2000. It argues that quantitative research methods can falsify existing hypotheses as well as reveal relationships that have previously been overlooked. In particular, this paper investigates Channel 4's history in regards to American imports and argues that we need to understand Channel 4's increased reliance on imports – countering the hypothesis that new broadcasters decreasingly import programming when they become established – by investigating its particular history. This history shows several overlaps with the American network NBC in regard to target audiences which made NBC comedy particularly interesting to Channel 4 in the 1980s and 1990s.