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Discovery Detects a High Percentage of Female Viewers

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

When Billy Campbell arrived at Discovery Networks less than a year and a half ago, he was surprised to discover that so many of the cable empire’s successful shows were driven by female viewers.
“The top-rated night on Discovery Channel is Tuesday night’s forensics block, which features `The New Detectives’ and `The FBI Files.’ I would never have thought that they skewed more female than male,” said Mr. Campbell, who during his short time at Discovery has overseen TLC’s hit show “Trading Spaces” and its companion series “While You Were Out,” as well as the launch of “What Not To Wear.” He is also responsible for the unprecedented live 10-hour programming event “Birth Day Live” on Discovery Health Channel.
Before joining Discovery Networks, where he oversees all of the company’s 13 U.S. cable networks, Mr. Campbell was president of Miramax Television, where he executive produced “Project Greenlight” along with partners Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris Moore. Previously, Mr. Campbell served as executive VP, CBS Entertainment. Earlier in his career, he was senior VP, drama development, at Warner Bros. Television, where he developed “ER” and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”
While Discovery Channel does not openly target female audiences, its sister networks Discovery Health and TLC rank third and sixth, respectively, among all cable networks in women 18 to 49 audience composition.
“On TLC and Discovery Health, we know who our audience is and we try to cater things to them,” he said. Women respond to personal stories,” Mr. Campbell said.
Clearly, women also respond to animal stories. In daytime, Animal Planet’s audience is 68 percent female among 25- to 54-year-olds and in prime time, women 25 to 54 make up 58 percent of the cable net’s audience.
Discovery Health has fared especially well among women, with programs such as “Make Room for Baby,” “Lifeline” and “Babies: Special Delivery,” while TLC has attracted female audiences with shows such as “Trading Spaces,” “Date Patrol,” “While You Were Out” and “What Not to Wear.”
“TLC has become a destination for young women,” said Mr. Campbell, who was quick to add that the cable networks haven’t forsaken men. “We still have shows like `Junkyard Wars.”’
Billy Campbell
Job title: President, Discovery Networks U.S.
Date of birth: Nov. 23, 1959
Place of birth: Columbia, S.C.
Length of time in current gig: 16 months
Why him? Some of Discovery’s biggest programming successes have been driven by female viewers. TLC’s “Date Patrol,” for example, has a 75 percent female audience among 25- to 54-year-olds, while Discovery Health’s “Babies: Special Delivery” and “Lifeline” each have a 78 percent female audience in that key demo.