E! Sticking With Stern TV Show

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Howard Stern may be under fire from the Federal Communications Commission, but executives at E! Entertainment Television said last week they have no intention of taking the TV version of his show off the air even though some advertisers shy away from the program.
“The “Howard Stern Show” is among the highest-rated programs on the cable channel, drawing in young males who are otherwise hard to reach. However, some advertisers still won’t make a media buy because of content issues.
“You have every male entertainment media dollar in that TV show-but you might not be getting Right Guard because of content issues,” said one media agency executive.
A look at the list of advertisers on the show makes it clear there are plenty who do want to reach the Stern audience. The biggest advertising categories are home video, theatrical movies, beer and liquor, and video games.
During the past two years, the show’s largest advertiser has been the “Girls Gone Wild” series of videos, which, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, spent $6.4 million on the show in 2003.
“Howard Stern,” which has been on E! since 1990, is consistently one of the highest-rated regularly scheduled shows on E! It posted a Nielsen Media Research average of 627,000 viewers and a 0.50 rating in the first quarter of 2004-numbers that are up 14 percent from a year ago.
The channel’s total-day average rating for the first quarter of 2004 was a 0.25. TNS Media Intelligence said the show pulled in $27.7 million in advertising revenue for 2003, up from $24.2 million the year before.
“It’s a pretty damn good rating,” said Andy Donchin, senior VP and director of national broadcast for Carat USA, “especially if you are reaching a young male target.”
“If you have a male action movie, you have to be in there,” said Andrew Lein, VP of account services for Palisades Media Group in Santa Monica, Calif. Last year, virtually all studios with young male-skewing movies bought the show, including, Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix: Revolutions,” Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “Bad Boys 2” and “SWAT,” Buena Vista Pictures’ “The Recruit” and Paramount Pictures’ “The Italian Job.”
“The thing that surprises most people is how affluent his audience is-it is young and affluent,” said Dave Cassaro, senior executive VP of sales and distribution for E! Networks. “It’s a good promotional platform and a good advertising for clients who choose to advertise there.”
Cost-Effective Reach
Advertising sales executives for competing cable networks said the show’s narrow list of advertisers means less advertising revenue. For advertisers, all this means is that “Howard Stern” is a great deal.
A typical 30-second spot on “Howard Stern” costs a relatively cheap $6,000, media executives said. “It is a very cost-effective way to reach young men,” said Mr. Lein, “Otherwise I’m paying $20,000 for a spot on ESPN’s `SportsCenter.”’
The E! channel’s deal is directly with Mr. Stern, not with his radio parent, Infinity Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Viacom. Since it is on cable, E! is not subject to FCC rules.
Even if Mr. Stern were to move his radio show to a satellite network, as he has threatened to do due to increased FCC pressure over content it is likely E! would continue the TV version, according to executives at the network.
For now, the executives said, the plan is to continue to air his show from 11 p.m. to midnight, in two half-hour episodes filmed from his recent radio broadcasts.
“We are just continuing with business as usual,” Mr. Cassaro said. “As long as there is a radio show, we have a television show.”
If he moves to satellite and continues with E!, the TV show might see increased viewership, said programming analysts, since satellite radio is in only about 1 million homes, a fraction of Mr. Stern’s over-the-air radio audience.
“E! executives keep saying it’s a key show for them,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming at Katz Television Group, a TV station advertising sales company. “His show is easily and clearly identified with E! It’s one of the biggest brand-name shows they have.”