Lifetime Embraces Commercial Ratings in Upfront

Jun 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Lifetime has begun doing upfront advertising deals on the basis of average commercial ratings.
Many cable networks, notably MTV, are resisting using commercial ratings because their commercial ratings are substantially lower than the program ratings previously used for buying and selling spots.
Average commercial ratings for live viewing plus three days of digital video recorder playback—known as C3—was the dominant currency used by the broadcast networks, which largely wrapped up their upfront deals last week.
Lifetime was willing to go to the new ratings because it retains about 96 percent of its viewers through commercial breaks.
“We’re in a good position,” said John Matluck, senior VP advertising sales at Lifetime. “In a perfect world, I don’t think any cable network was happy about doing commercial ratings. But as the broadcast market unfolded and as the cable market was unfolding, it was clear that that would probably be the currency that people were going to go with.”
Rick Basso, senior VP, planning and pricing, at Lifetime, said the network had done a major deal with GroupM, one of the leading proponents of C3, and was more than half done with its deals. Lifetime is getting price increases in the high-single-digit range on a cost per thousand viewers, or CPM, basis, he said.
“We see the market strong in both volume and CPMs,” Mr. Basso said.
Lifetime also was likely to do commercial ratings deals with MediaVest, which buys for Procter & Gamble. P&G took a major sponsorship in Lifetime’s new hit show “Army Wives,” which boosted the network to fifth place in the prime-time ratings among cable networks last week.
Mr. Matluck said the success of “Army Wives” “made advertisers and agencies very confident about putting money on Lifetime.”
The network hasn’t officially renewed the series, but, Mr. Matluck noted, “Not too many successful shows get canceled.”
Lifetime is counting on “Army Wives” to lead a rebound at the network, which had lower ratings and revenue in 2006. Its CEO, Betty Cohen, was replaced by Andrea Wong in April.
(Editor: Baumann)

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