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Emmycast Ad Prices Rising

Aug 16, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC, which will air “The 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” Sept. 19, is getting $550,000 for an average 30-second commercial during the telecast, representing a 10 percent rise from the $500,000 per spot Fox took in last year when it had the program, media agency executives said.

The network wouldn’t go into specifics, but an ABC advertising sales executive said the 2004 version of the show is “very well sold, outpacing what we did when we last had the show.”

The “Primetime Emmy Awards” show continues to be profitable for the TV networks-even as new awards shows compete to steal away viewer attention.

ABC charged $424,400 for a 30-second spot when it last had the show in 2000, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus. ABC recorded a Nielsen Media Research 14.2 rating and 23 share that year-the highest rating for the show in the past five years. Last year Fox aired the show to an 11.8 rating/19 share.

The 2004 price rise is a bit higher than network prime-time shows received during this upfront advertising sales period, according to one network advertising executive, because specials like the “Emmys”-with high ratings and predictable content-almost sell themselves. The “Emmys” remain an easy sell even as a surfeit of awards shows from younger-skewing cable networks, such as MTV, VH1 and ESPN, vie for viewers and advertisers, according to marketing executives.

ABC said its advertising deals were not part of the upfront ad sales process that occurs in June, when agencies buy a number of prime-time shows at the same time, but rather were sold piecemeal, in the third-quarter scatter market. ABC wouldn’t name advertisers, but the network did say that automobile, financial, retail, personal care and movie companies have bought time-similar to Emmy shows of years’ past.

Last year, on Fox, the major advertisers included, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus, General Motors’ Buick Motor division, which spent $4.6 million for multiple 30-second commercials. Capital One Financial was the next biggest advertiser, paying $2.6 million. Nextel Communications, Sprint PCS and Visa International each spent $2.1 million. Burger King, Lee Apparel and Playtex Apparel each spent $1.6 million.

Major beauty product advertisers such as Revlon and L’Oreal buy the “Emmys” and “The Academy Awards” because of the glamorous image of awards shows. “Awards shows do well with beauty product advertisers because those shows target women 25 to 54,” said Geoff Robison, senior VP of national television for Palisades Media Group in Santa Monica, Calif.

Three years ago the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, realizing the steady advertising gains for its Emmy show, hiked license fees in a deal worth $52 million over eight years. This works out to an average of $6.5 million per year-a significant increase from the $3 million a year fee in the previous contract. The current deal is actually structured at $5.5 million for the first four years (through 2004); $7.5 million for the last four years (through 2008). Every year one of the Big 4 networks takes a turn airing the event.

Fifth-Best Awards Show

Even with the rise of license fees to the networks, the Emmy broadcasts bring in major profits. For example, for last year’s Emmy presentation Fox raked in some $32 million in advertising sales, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Deducting the license fee, advertising agency fees and production costs, a network such as Fox can still profit handsomely to the tune of $23 million to $24 million per show.

The “Emmy Awards” is a well-rated show, said media agency executives, but not great. Last year’s 11.8/19 numbers in households rated it as the fifth-best award show behind “The Academy Awards” (20.4/32 in 2003); “The Grammy Awards” (14.7/23 in 2003); “The Golden Globes” (13.4/20 in 2003) and the “Country Music Association Awards” (12.8/20 in 2003).

“Emmy Awards” ratings have slipped during the past 10 years. From 1993 through 1998 the telecast averaged a 13.6 rating. Over the past five years it fell to a 12.5 rating-this includes one year, 2001, during which the broadcast was delayed twice because of events arising from the 9/11 attacks.

Like all awards shows, the “Emmy Awards” have been subject to competition from a plethora of new award shows-including younger-skewing programs such as MTV’s “Video Music Awards,” which airs in late August.

“They are getting hurt by shows such as MTV “Video Music Awards,” which air around the same time,” said Brad Adgate, senior VP, corporate research director, for Horizon Media, New York. “That show has done near a 10 rating.”

Additionally, the “Emmy Awards”‘ mid-September airdate is a difficult time period for advertisers.

“The time of year is not high demand for advertisers,” said John Rash, senior VP and director of national broadcast for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. “It’s after the back-to-school [advertising campaigns] and before the big holiday season.”

While there are benefits for advertisers and their brands to be on the award shows, those TV show brands needing a big boost benefit the most. For instance, TV programming executives have said that “Hill Street Blues,” which was on the ropes and destined to be canceled more than once by NBC, was saved by winning multiple Emmy Awards in the 1980s.

When reality series “”The Amazing Race” won an Emmy last year, CBS had not yet given that show a firm order, but the network did renew the show shortly afterward.

“The same thing could happen for “Arrested Development,” Mr. Adgate said. Fox’s highly critical but so-so rated sitcom earned a weak 2.7 rating in adults 18 to 49 last season. Some analysts believe it could easily have been taken off the schedule if it weren’t for its critical acclaim.

In the long run, the “Emmy Awards” is a marketing tool that helps advertisers.

Said Mr. Rash: “It serves as a promotional platform for new shows. The success of strong television brands can help advertising brands.”