Hi-Def Networks Drawing Interest

Feb 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The high-definition picture is becoming clearer for advertisers, with several major marketers signing deals to buy commercials on iN Demand’s HD networks INHD and INHD2.

Sony Pictures Television, which last fall took over sales responsibilities for the two networks, recently signed ad deals with Xbox, John Hancock, Quicken Loans, Acura, Volkswagen and Bose estimated to be worth nearly $1 million.

Amy Carney, executive VP of advertising sales and operations for Sony Pictures Television, said high-definition viewers are predominantly male and very affluent, making them an attractive audience for certain advertisers.

Ms. Carney declined to put a value on the ad sales, but said the sector now amounts to “real money.”

Sony identified key categories interested in targeting that demographic, including consumer electronics, automotive, gaming, entertainment and finance. “We think that’s why the sales have really taken off,” she said.

The networks also offer advertisers flexibility by offering run-of-schedule rotator ad buys as well as specific program sponsorships.

Advertisers can also use commercial messages of varying lengths. Bose, for example, is running a spot for its noise-canceling headphones that’s more than two minutes long. It might seem odd to use high-definition video to sell headphones, but HD also offers high-quality sound, Ms. Carney noted. Plus, gadget buffs who own HD sets might also be interested in high-tech audio gear. “Early adopters and technophiles, they love their toys,” Ms. Carney said.

Consumer interest in high-definition TV is taking off, according to Ms. Carney, who pointed to statistics that nearly 2 million HD and HD-ready sets were sold in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2005 and that 26 percent of all TV sets sold in the U.S. in 2005 were equipped for high definition, according to research firm The NPD Group.

“As soon as you have one, you’ve got this appetite for the programming,” she said. And though the broadcast and cable networks are increasing the amount of HD programming they offer, “Right now, if you’ve got a high-definition television, there are only a handful of places that are 24/7 in high definition. INHD and INHD2 are the premier networks for that.”

Sony does not yet sell high-definition ads in its more traditional syndicated programming. Ms. Carney said that beginning next fall “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” will be produced in HD. Sony sells some sponsorships as well as 10-second IDs in those shows.