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CNN Touting Greater Out-of-Home Viewers

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

While Fox News Channel gets higher ratings among viewers watching at home, CNN said a new survey shows it has far more viewers out of home.
The study will be a key part of CNN’s upfront presentation, designed to persuade ad buyers to continue to pay more per ratings point for CNN than for other news outlets.
The presentation, already shown to automotive executives in Detroit and just starting to make the rounds among buyers at agencies, uses research to reinforce CNN’s claims that all ratings points are not created equal. While Fox News is clearly No. 1 in average ratings, CNN says it has more exclusive viewers, higher-income viewers and a broader range of platforms for advertisers.
Chief Operating Officer of CNN Ad Sales Greg D’Alba said one of the first things he did last year when he was named to his position was to conduct research on CNN’s out-of-home viewership and how much of its audience is from the elusive ranks of “light viewers.” CNN commissioned Nielsen to conduct both studies.
According to the out-of-home study, conducted Dec. 19, 2003 to Jan. 15, 2004, CNN reached 16 million viewers per month at work and in airports, bars and restaurants, hotels and motels and health clubs, the most of any news network. Combined with Headline News and CNN’s Airport Network, it reached 18.7 million viewers per month. Headline News, usually sold as a package with CNN, had 14.1 million out-of-home viewers by itself.
NBC was next on the list with 10.3 million viewers reached, followed by Fox News Channel with 10 million, Fox Broadcasting with 8.5 million, MSNBC with 6.9 million, ABC with 6.9 million, CBS with 6.8 million and CNBC with 4.7 million.
Only sports compares to news as programming consumed out of home, Mr. D’Alba said.
“The only other thing that attracts that type of out-of-home viewing is sports. People have a passion for sporting events,” he said. “In the same way, they are attracted to the CNN News product.”
Mr. D’Alba said CNN has not calculated what adding out-of-home viewers would do to its reach number or its ratings. And it doesn’t plan to ask advertisers to pay extra for those out-of-home viewers.
But Mr. D’Alba said the research helps quantify the value CNN gives advertisers beyond simply adding up gross ratings points.
Similarly, CNN says its study of light viewers makes its audience more attractive.
Nielsen found that CNN reached 33.7 percent of light TV viewers in the 25-54 demographic during a survey conducted from Oct. 27-Nov. 30, 2003. Fox News reached 26.9 percent of those viewers. CNN reached an even higher percentage of high-income light viewers. “These viewers have the highest socioeconomic profile available,” Mr. D’Alba said.
CNN also pointed to figures from the 2003 Mendelsohn Affluent Survey showing that CNN, combined with Headline News, reaches 73 percent of viewers with household income of more than $250,000. That’s more than Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC or such other cable networks as A&E, Discovery and ESPN. The Mendelsohn survey also showed CNN and Headline News reaching a higher percentage of “C-level” executives, fancy talk for CEOs and other top corporate executives.
Earlier this month, Fox News showed ad buyers the results of a Knowledge Networks/SRI fall study showing that it leads the news networks in brand resonance. Its viewers were loyal, involved and committed, which Fox said put them in a better frame of mind to receive ad messages.
Both pitches will be weighed by buyers as the news upfront begins in the next couple of weeks.
News in Demand
Mr. D’Alba said demand for commercial time on the news is strong. “News is the one hot daypart” in scatter, he said. Generating the heat is a continuous stream of breaking news along with continuing coverage of the election campaign.
It was once said that CNN’s audience disappeared when the world was calm. That’s not the case these days. “Breaking news has become the main event every day,” he said.
While viewership is off from the Gulf War days a year ago, it’s still higher among 25- to 54-year-olds than it has been in the past 10 years, Mr. D’Alba said. Looking ahead to the rest of the presidential campaign and a series of high-profile defendants expected to go on trial in the next few months, he said, “There is enough breaking news for a year.”
Mr. D’Alba expects that outlook to support higher prices in the upfront. “We think it’s going to be a robust market,” he said. “I think all of cable is going to do well.”
He’s hoping to grab some of the $1.6 billion spent on broadcast news, noting that the cable news networks now account for about 62 percent of all news viewing. Given the immediacy with which the 24-hour cable networks carry news as it breaks, he said, “I believe broadcast news is archaic.”
`Bizarre’ Broadcast Upfront
He also said the broadcast prime-time upfront has turned into a “bizarre” exercise, with buyers getting about half of what they think they’re buying because of underdelivery and changing schedules. CNN, by contrast, has overdelivered, Mr. D’Alba said. And its sales are done in less of a rush because a large portion of its clients buy upfront for the calendar year, others buy based on the TV season and another group is involved in integrated deals. “Our upfront lasts eight months,” he said.
Mr. D’Alba added that clients are looking for cross-platform and other deals that “extend the 30-second creative.” He said CNN makes many multiple-platform deals and added that the network is offering to partner in research with clients designed to show that ads are creating sales.