Cable Buys Go Minute-by-Minute

Jun 24, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Not all of this year’s upfront deals have been conducted on the basis of commercial ratings.
Media agency Starcom closed two $100 million cable deals, one with Discovery Communications based on minute-by-minute ratings and one with Nickelodeon based on quarter-hour program ratings.
Starcom senior VP Sam Armando said the agency wants to make deals based on the rating that best represents the audience for commercials. “In a lot of cases the average commercial rating works. In all cases, the minute-by-minute data works,” he said.
But convincing networks to do minute-by-minute deals is tough because “a lot of networks have yet to invest in the data. Discovery has,” Mr. Armando said. In fact, Discovery and Starcom did a deal on Discovery HD Theater based on second-by-second viewing data.
“It’s a progressive move,” said Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales for Discovery Communications. “It’s probably where everybody’s going to be in a year from now anyway.”
For Discovery, the differences between average commercial ratings and the minute-by-minute data were smaller than for other networks.
“Think about a two-hour movie that starts at 8 o’clock and builds audience until 10 o’clock. Somebody who is in the first pod or the last pod, there’s a big difference in the audience,” said Beth Rockwood, senior VP of market resources for Discovery. “With average commercial minute, every one of those advertisers will get the same audience. We have mostly hourlong shows, with shorter pods, so it doesn’t make that much of a difference.”
Starcom did the first minute-by-minute deal last year with the Weather Channel. “We’re thrilled not to be the only guys out there doing it,” said Paul Iaffaldano, executive VP and general manager, TWC Media Solutions.
He said he is confident the deal will be renewed. “This is where the industry needs to go. If we want advertisers shifting money into television and out of other media, we’ve got to be more accountable,” he said.
Nickelodeon is part of MTV Networks, which has resisted using commercial ratings during this upfront.
“We want to take our time and not base so much on numbers we haven’t had time to fully analyze,” said Jim Perry, executive VP of 360 Brand Sales for Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids & Family Group.
“When Nickelodeon wouldn’t consider minute-by-minute this year, we had to figure out what was the best way to move forward,” Mr. Armando said. Based on the agency’s analysis, “In the majority of cases, the quarter-hour rating was a better representation of the audience for the individual commercials than the average commercial rating was.”
The deal with Nick also calls for research into how kids interact with shows on Nick and to gauge how well commercial ratings can be used and processed in the future.

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