MediaFile

Discovery Channel upstaged by murderers, stalkers

If the low ratings at Oprah Winfrey’s OWN weren’t evidence enough of viewer disinterest in programming that inspires, then perhaps the massive ratings growth at Investigation Discovery, a network whose shows are almost exclusively populated by murderers and stalkers, can provide convincing.

Investigation Discovery, the crime-themed cable channel that launched in January 2008, is not just getting better ratings than OWN, it is also doing better than the Discovery Channel itself. Over the last two weeks, ID averaged 275,000 total viewers, or 8,000 more than the 267,000 viewers that Discovery averaged, according to Nielsen. OWN, which launched in January 2011, only averaged 180,000 total daily viewers during the fourth quarter.

Given those ratings, who needs to spend millions on shows like “Planet Earth” when you can just air cheesy non-fiction crime programming like “I (Almost) Got Away With It” and “Who The (Bleep) Did I Marry. Those kind of shows have the fingerprints of ID president Henry Schleiff all over them. After all, Schleiff built Court TV into a cable network powerhouse on the back of similar programming.

According to a report from investment bank Barclays, the momentum behind ID could give parent company Discovery Communications “substantial leverage” when it negotiates new distribution agreements with cable and satellite operators next year. Currently, analysts estimate that ID only earns 8 cent per subscriber in carriage fees while Discovery commands 36 cents per subscriber.

As the flagship network, however, the fact that Discovery Channel is losing steam could spell trouble for its parent company, which is not only seeing poor results from OWN, but also was forced to recently rebrand the struggling environmental focused network “Planet Green” as “Destination America.”

CBS: Get used to growth

CBS put on a big show in yesterday’s quarterly report, blowing out estimates on both profit and revenue. On the call that followed, Sumner Redstone called Les Moonves a “genius,” and Moonves called broadcast TV “the best game in town.”

Here are some notes from last night’s call:

    CBS, which said it would double its dividend, also plans to repurchase $250 million in stock this quarter. A nice bonus for shareholders who have already seen the stock rise by about 35 percent this year.
    Scatter rates, or prices for last-minute commercial buys, are up more than 40 percent in some cases for CBS. That’s a stunning number. Given those sorts of prices, Moonves is talking about “solid” double digit increases in upfront ad market next month.
    CBS is putting together six or seven fewer pilots than normal this year, showing that it’s pretty happy with its schedule right now (So far this season, CBS has declined the least of the big four broadcast networks in total household audience)
    Basically, investors and analysts should get used to these sorts of results, CBS suggested. Moonves said he was “confident” the first quarter’s performance would be “sustainable.”
    Part of that momentum is due to revenue CBS is getting from retransmission deals, which has been a big focus for Moonves. He said CBS would reach its goal of retransmission fees of $250 million by next year.
    What is more, “meaningful” revenue from its streaming deal with Netflix will start in second quarter.
    As for the outdoor division, Moonves said “we have no great intent to sell” it to JCDecaux, the French company that has it would be interested if CBS Outdoor came up for sale.  “Mr. Decaux, who we know very well and we like, makes statements about how he’d like to buy our outdoor company. As you know, our outdoor results as you can see are growing substantially quarter after quarter,” Moonves said on the call. “We are here, he has our phone number. If he wants to make an offer, we will always listen to it. It’s not our intent to aggressively sell.”
    And finally, there was bound to be a question about “Two and a Half Men” on the call. Moonves dodged it. “We don’t know what the resolution is right now. There are obviously a lot of moving pieces,” he said. He then added, “It’s an important show to us, but the good news about the CBS schedule is we are not dependent on a single show on any single night of the week.”

Super Bowl Monday: The view from armchair copywriters

Ahhh, Super Bowl Monday. The hangovers. The salsa stains on the sofa. The dreams of winning your office betting pool crushed. And the ad reviews. Yes, today is the day when everyone — many with little or no connection to advertising, football or tastemaking — puts out a list of the top Super Bowl commercials. Some are better than others. USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter is probably the best known (and this morning had Bud Light’s Dog Sitter ad ranked tops). But two others that are very good gauges of the winners/losers of the Ad Bowl are TiVo and the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review.

They take very different approaches to rankings.  TiVo ranks the most engaging moments “using aggregated, anonymous, second-by-second audience measurement data” while Kellogg goes with the panel approach that asks viewers to grade ads based on “Attention, Distinction, Positioning, Linkage, Amplification and Net equity.”

Three ads/brands were ranked highly by both TiVo and Kellogg:

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But there were also some glaring differences in the two polls. For instance, the top spot in Tivo went to Snickers, followed by Best Buy and Pepsi Max. Kellogg gave all three of those middle-of-the-road rankings (Snickers and Best Buy each a received B, while Pepsi Max took a C.

Five marketers who better bring it big on Super Bowl Sunday

Call it the Ad Bowl. Or the Buzz Bowl. Or the BS Bowl. Doesn’t matter, it all boils down to this: Sunday’s Super Bowl is the biggest day of the year for advertisers, some of which dished out $3 million for the chance to reach an audience of 100 million consumers for 30 seconds. At that price — $100,000 a second — the stakes are high. A good commercial can be a triumph, creating just the kind of water-cooler talk that propels a brand to a new level with consumers. A bad commercial? Well, those behind it better start dusting off the old resume.

Still, like anything else, the risks are greater for some more than others. So here is our list of… Five Marketers Who Better Bring It Big On Sunday.

1). General Motors. Almost the entire auto industrycould be included in this one, since Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Audi are among those who will help the category account for roughly a quarter of all the commercial time during the game. It’s a turnout that reflects the improving fortunes of the U.S. auto industry, which snapped a four-year sales decline in 2010. GM, however, stands out because of the sheer number of ads it bought, five in all, after a two year absence. Can it strike the right tone with consumers? Can it differentiate its lineup? Will it play it safe — flags waving, trucks pulling 100 million tons of load, some catchy tune from an All-American rocker? Or will it try to liven things up, like Audi and Volkswagen have sought to do? (see below)

NBC Universal creates new sports marketing agency

It’s no secret that sports has been the brightest star of broadcast television lately. It pulls big audiences, and those viewers watch live — a combination that advertisers drool over.  So NBC Universal figured it was high time to make the most of its sports assets — soon to be coupled with those of Comcast – and today announced the creation of “NBC Sports Agency.”

The purpose of the group is to market NBC Sports, whether it’s their coverage of hockey, football, horse racing or the Olympics, and produce campaigns for advertisers or league partners like the NFL or the NHL. John Miller, credited for coming up with the “Must See TV” campaign for NBC’s primetime, will head up the effort. Many industry watchers had predicted that Comcast’s take over of NBC would see a push for more competition for sports rights with Disney’s ESPN powerhouse. Let the battle commence.

Here’s a video of Miller on his new role.

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Super Bowl ads: What’s $600 million between friends?

It’s almost time again for the Super Bowl, which means this is when all the talk starts about those famous, and famously expensive, commercials. Just how expensive? Kantar Media came out with a study today that shows Anheuser-Busch InBev, Pepsi, Walt Disney, General Motors, Coca-Cola have combined to spend nearly $600 million on Super Bowl ads over the last 10 years. For those of you bad with numbers, that’s more than half-a-billion dollars. Keep in mind, General Motors wasn’t even part of the game for 2009 or 2010.

This year, however, General Motors is back in a big way – leading a pack of auto makers who, as we pointed out in a story last week, will dominate this year’s game. Up to nine different auto manufacturers are expected to run spots this year. Kantar points out that five years ago only four car companies ran spots. Ten years ago only one car company bought time.

Kantar digs ups a few other interesting tidbits as well. Of course, everyone knows that prices have climbed over the last decade. But the amount of commercials running during the broadcast is also rising. Last year, the CBS broadcast contained a record 47 minutes 50 seconds of commercial time. A total of 104 individual messages aired. Who has time for a football game with all those advertisements?

Relief in Philadelpia? NBCU profit up 13 percent

NBC Universal’s quarterly results — still wrapped into the General Electric numbers — should have some of the folks down in Philadelphia smiling this weekend. The numbers didn’t set the world on fire, but both profit and revenue showed improvement thanks to (what else) the cable division.

Overall, NBCU’s quarterly profit rose 13 percent to $607 million. Revenue climbed 5 percent to $3.75 billion.

Keith Sherin, GE’s finance chief, credited Jeff Zucker with delivering what he called “a strong performance” and said the regulatory review of the sale to Comcast “is progressing as expected.”

Here comes Windows Unicorn

Thousands of Microsofties yucked it up at the expense of rival Apple at their annual get-together at Seattle’s Safeco field on Thursday.

Saturday Night Live star Seth Meyers set about the old foe, which had its own festival of self-congratulation yesterday.

“Who at Apple let an 8-year-old girl name their new operating system Snow Leopard?,” Meyers asked, according to one employee spreading the good word on Facebook. “What, was Unicorn taken? Was Pony not available?”

Google makes a TV ad

Google built its business on the advertising shift from traditional media, like TV and newspapers, to the Internet.

But as Google strives to jump-start its fledgling Chrome Web browser, the company apparently still sees value in good old-fashioned mediums like broadcast television.

Google said it would begin advertising Chrome on various TV networks beginning this weekend.