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Studios may have to rethink TV buys

Jul 9, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Call it Must See WB.
In a surprising finding, “7th Heaven” on The WB-at least during one week-had a higher concentration of viewers who are frequent moviegoers than any other show on TV.
In fact, during the week of June 11, of the top 25 shows watched most by frequent moviegoers, not one was on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.
For more than a decade now, if a studio wanted to advertise its movies, it was most likely to be on the Peacock Network’s “Must See TV” Thursday.
To studios and the agencies that buy advertising time on their behalf, the thinking has been that you still cannot beat “Friends” and its proximity to the weekend, sheer reach and demographics.
But Nielsen Media Research has quietly rolled out a research tool that identifies other broadcast network shows that are popular (or not) with frequent moviegoers.
Aptly titled The Moviegoer and compiled weekly in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, it sorts all shows in all dayparts on the seven broadcast networks and in syndication in several different ways-most notably with an index that indicates the odds of reaching a self-described frequent moviegoer in any specified demographic group within any given show.
So if $490,000 for a 30-second spot in “Friends” is a little rich for the blood, the advertiser looking for moviegoer magnets that don’t command such steep prices need only run his or her finger down the list of shows.
Or up the list. During the week of June 11 to 17, a networks-only sample spreadsheet supplied by Nielsen showed that among viewers 12 or older, 25 shows had a higher concentration of frequent moviegoers-people who say they attend movies at least once a month-than “Friends” did that week. Only five of them were on NBC: a Monday-night edition of “Ed” (ranked fifth for the week by Moviegoer), the Saturday night movie (“Congo,” sixth), the Saturday-morning tween show “Just Deal” (No. 18), the edition of “The Tonight Show” that aired on the Friday the NBA championship was decided (23rd) and the fourth game of the NBA Finals.
With the exception of ABC’s “Spin City” (No. 19), all the other shows that outranked “Friends” were on The WB (whose “7th Heaven” ranked first, with the highest concentration, 26 percent, of moviegoers), UPN (“The Hughleys” and “The Parkers” ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, with 25 percent) and Fox (led by “The Simpsons” at No. 7 and “Ally McBeal” at No. 8).
Until now, the best-known source of data identifying TV programs popular with frequent moviegoers has been Mediamark Research Inc., which does twice-yearly surveys (that include movie and TV habits) that add up to a sample of 20,000 or more adults in the United States. Mediamark says its system is vastly different from Nielsen’s.
“A lot of advertisers have always relied on that surrogate,” said Anne Elliot, director of communications for Nielsen Media Research, who said that where MRI asks respondents to recall their choices, Moviegoer is part of Nielsen’s ongoing live national people meter sample of approximately 5,000 TV homes and allows subscribers to track how the households’ frequent moviegoers (who see at least one movie a month) and avid moviegoers (at least two movies a month) watch TV.
Moviegoer clients can get their data from a Web site each week or on CD-ROM and can further manipulate the data with Optimizer and similar programs-“This can go deep into clients’ analytical systems,” said Kevin Svenningsen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nielsen’s syndication, agency and broadcast group. Nielsen would not disclose what the service costs, except to say it varies according to type of client and is not priced like other Nielsen services.
One network research executive familiar with Moviegoer described it as “hugely expensive” and said that while the “recency effect” of advertising is going to continue to make Thursdays the prime territory for movie advertising, “It is obviously interesting stuff.”
“Any of that kind of product information is useful,” said a network sales executive, who noted that movie advertising revenue is among the top five, “maybe even [the] top three” sources of revenue for networks that target young audiences.
Nielsen would not identify its early Moviegoer clients except to say that of the handful, one is an advertiser and the others are agencies.
A marketing executive at a major studio predicted that Nielsen “will have a fairly easy time” of selling the service.
“I think the networks clearly will use it … to sell their programs to us,” said the executive, who added that the service will be particularly helpful in making a case for connecting with frequent-moviegoer audiences on the nights studios and their media buyers generally tend to write off. Both “The X-Files” and “Miami Vice” attracted inordinate numbers of moviegoers to Friday nights, which are often written off as nights moviegoers are not home watching TV.
One the other hand, the data for the week of June 11 to 17 underscores the perception that morning shows, despite their frequent segments featuring movie-star interviews and film reviews, are not a productive kiosk for movie ads, except perhaps for movies with the broadest appeal.
Only 13 percent of ABC’s “Good Morning America” viewers 12 or older were frequent moviegoers, followed by NBC’s “Today” (12 percent) and CBS’s “The Early Show” (8 percent).