Super Bowl, Grammys Give CBS Promo Clout

Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Big-event February scheduling this year has given CBS an unusual opportunity to market two major programs in the space of a week: the Super Bowl, typically the highest-rated TV program of the season, and the highly rated Grammy Awards a week later.
CBS will air “Super Bowl XXXVIII” Feb. 1 and “The 46th Annual Grammy Awards” Feb. 8.
CBS has aired the Grammys since 1974, but usually the ceremony is held toward the end of February. As part of its NFL contract agreement with the National Football League and the other networks carrying NFL football, Fox and ABC, CBS gets to air the Super Bowl every third season.
CBS will take advantage of the proximity of the two big programs, pitching both to viewers with special on-air promo spots. A voice-over in one spot will proclaim: “Where the greatest come to play.” The spot will show football visuals and musical performances, said George Schweitzer, executive VP of marketing and communications for CBS.
The Grammys will also get a push during the big football game itself.
“The Super Bowl provides us with a great platform to promote the Grammys,” Mr. Schweitzer said, as “Grammy” promos will run heavily during the game. Additionally, CBS will air on-air promo spots for “Survivors: All Stars,” a show to follow the Super Bowl.
CBS has already reaped big advertising revenues for the Grammys, as it has only “a couple of units left to sell,” said Linda Rene, senior VP of prime-time sales for CBS. CBS is asking advertisers for $550,000 for a 30-second spot, up from $500,000 a year ago, according to media buying executives. CBS wouldn’t comment on the price.
CBS has its five major incumbents returning to the event: General Motors, L’Oreal, Dr Pepper, Heineken and Target Stores. Each of these advertisers buys six to eight 30-second units. Other major advertisers such as fast food and credit card companies buy three to four commercial units. Movie companies also make major ad purchases, Ms. Rene said.
Last year the Grammys moved to a Sunday berth from their traditional Wednesday time period and witnessed a 24 percent ratings improvement, drawing a Nielsen Media Research 14.7 household rating/23 share and 15.6 million viewers. That was up from the previous year’s 11.9 rating/19 share and 12.5 million viewers. Still, last year’s numbers were the second lowest since 1998.
The Grammys have suffered in recent years from increased competition from a number of other music awards shows, including the “MTV Video Music Awards,” “The Billboard Music Awards” and “The American Music Awards.”
“With all the other awards shows out there, there is some thought the Grammys lost some of its luster. But if they get good talent, you never know,” said Andy Donchin, senior VP of national broadcast for Carat North America. “In getting the Eminems of the world, it is their attempt to skew younger. It is still a prestigious award.”
As opposed to the MTV awards show, the Grammys gets a broad range of viewers, typically with a prime target audience of adults 18 to 49 and a secondary target of 18 to 34. “It’s one of our younger-skewing shows on the network,” Ms. Rene said. She said CBS doesn’t necessarily look to package the Grammys with other CBS programming for advertisers.
That isn’t true for sister Viacom cable network MTV.
The cable network’s award shows are a linchpin for its overall annual advertising revenues. The “MTV Video Music Awards” and the “MTV Movie Awards” are such a major programming draw that MTV requires advertisers to spend additional ad revenue on MTV’s other shows. Package deals for advertisers can range from $1 million to $2 million. Executives refer to this arrangement as “mini-upfront” deals for MTV.
“MTV Video Music Awards” grabs a little less than half the viewers of the Grammys. The “MTV Video Music Awards” pulled in a 6.4 rating/8.1 share last year, and viewership has remained steady over the past few years. MTV shows, however, typically get harder-to-reach teen and young-adult demos.
In past years, both MTV and VH1 have helped promote CBS’s Grammy broadcasts and other music shows. This year MTV is producing CBS’s Super Bowl halftime show, which will feature Janet Jackson.
Despite fourth-quarter doldrums for most TV ad sellers, CBS said it had a productive period leading into 2004, which has helped Grammy sales. Said Ms. Rene: “We came out of the fourth quarter very strong, and we are also very active in the first quarter.”