Advertisers Tune in to Revamped MyNetworkTV

Sep 30, 2007  •  Post A Comment

MyNetworkTV, flying under the radar, is attracting new advertisers as it launches new shows.
Bob Cesa, executive VP for ad sales at Twentieth Television, who oversees the fledgling network’s sales efforts, said that since former syndication executive Greg Meidel was put in place as president and a new programming strategy was implemented, MyNetworkTV has added 35 new advertisers.
When MyNetwork launched last year, it announced an unusual schedule featuring two English-language telenovelas that each ran five days a week. The series drew lower-than-expected ratings and appealed to a narrow female demographic. As a result, ad sales lagged.
Mr. Cesa said last year MyNetwork TV took in less than the $50 million estimated by analysts. This year’s take in the upfront and early scatter market is above that, he said.
Prominent advertisers on the network include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Hasbro and Kmart. The relationship show “Decision House” is being sponsored by Reckitt Benkiser’s Lysol brand.
“Every week it goes up as one or two new advertisers at least come in,” said Mr. Cesa, who pegged the total number of current advertisers on the network at more than 60.
He credits a more traditional programming approach featuring different shows that appeal to different demographic groups.
“One of the things the advertisers are happy to see from us this year is that we look and we act like the other networks in that we have different programming on different nights, so depending upon the demographic they’re trying to reach, we can appeal to a lot more advertisers,” Mr. Cesa said.
One ad buyer concurs.
“They’re starting to offer some more regularly scheduled programs that are more broad in appeal,” said Jackie Kulesza, VP and activation director for Starcom USA.
The network also is benefiting from a hot scatter market that is creating demand for all prime-time programming.
MyNetwork TV has garnered higher ratings with “IFL Battleground,” “NFL Total Access” and male-oriented reality shows such as “Jail,” from the producers of “Cops.”
So far this season, the number of 18- to 49-year-old viewers is up 15 percent from last year, when the telenovelas were still being hyped. During the week of Sept. 10, the network had three of its five highest-rated broadcasts, with the movie “U.S. Marshals” and two episodes of “Jail” all bringing in nearly 2 million viewers.
Those numbers don’t show up in the daily network ratings that national media buyers and the press get. Mr. Cesa said the network was working on that situation.
Some buyers are waiting for the launches today of “Celebrity Expose” and concert series “Control Room,” which should have more of the female appeal MyNet promised last year.
Mr. Cesa concedes that some buyers are still taking a wait-and-see attitude until MyNetworkTV registers stronger ratings. With the network adding viewers, “You can see now we’re doing a lot more business because these upfront advertisers are buying us in scatter,” he said.
Advertisers are still doing business with MyNetworkTV despite last year’s disaster because the network made sure they were taken care of after the first wave of shows tanked.
“We worked with them in a number of ways to make sure they were satisfied,” Mr. Cesa said.
Most clients have returned, and those that haven’t generally skew female, while the network’s new shows have targeted men.
“We have the support of the ad community. They want us to work. They know it’s an incredibly difficult landscape out there and need a prime-time alternative,” he said. “They’re rooting for us and they’re supporting us.”

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