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Bold Ad Promise: Ratings Will Rise

May 4, 2008  •  Post A Comment

While most networks guarantee their advertisers certain ratings, TV Guide Network is guaranteeing its clients’ ratings will be higher.
NBC Universal signed a multimillion-dollar deal with TV Guide to promote shows including “Lipstick Jungle” and “American Gladiators” on TV Guide Network, as well as in TV Guide magazine and on TVGuide.com and TV Guide interactive program guides.
During the first quarter, the NBC shows had higher ratings for the weeks they were promoted on the TVGuide properties than on the weeks they weren’t, as promised.
“We only have one quarter of data in, but so far it looks great,” said Tim Farish, senior VP for brand management and media at NBC. The ratings increases exceeded TV Guide’s guarantee, which he declined to disclose.
“Two things really stand out on this deal. First, the multiplatform nature of how they approached it, and second, that they were willing to put their money where their mouth was,” Mr. Farish said. “They were willing to provide guarantees on our ratings. That’s about as close as I’ve seen anybody get to promising return on investment.”
TV Guide Network does promotional work with all of the broadcast networks, but the deal with NBC came together when TV Guide senior VP/director of sales Richy Glassberg was sitting on the couch in Mr. Farish’s office in August.
Mr. Glassberg was explaining how Nielsen’s N*Power system could track where TV Guide viewers go next, particularly with special commercials that TV Guide calls top spots. Those air for 30 seconds before 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. as the only spots in that pod. The show that’s advertised during that spot saw, on average, a doubling of its ratings.
TV Guide magazine also had recently completed a survey showing how ratings in Nielsen homes were 20% higher for shows that advertised in the publication.
“I said, ‘Timmy, you’ve got all these options in front of you and everybody’s screaming about declining viewers and how to get viewers and how to get people,’” Mr. Glassberg said. “Why aren’t you spending more with us?”
Mr. Glassberg said that if NBC took money from radio or outdoor, and put it on TV Guide, ratings would rise.
Mr. Farish asked for a guarantee and a multiplatform approach. Mr. Glassberg agreed, and conversations started in earnest.
Mr. Farish said he cut his radio budget and consolidated his spending on TV Guide platforms, which had been done separately on a piecemeal basis. He doubled spending on TV Guide outlets.
Of course, NBC remains in fourth place among the networks in the ratings, despite its TV Guide promotions.
“It’s not my fault,” Mr. Glassberg said. “The 10 shows they promoted did better than the shows they didn’t promote.”
Mr. Glassberg plans to offer similar guarantees to other programmers during the upcoming upfront.
Craig Woerz, founder of Mediastorm, an agency that handles tune-in campaigns for several broadcast and cable networks, said TV Guide can be an important part of a network’s attempt to draw viewers to a show, a task that’s more difficult than ever following the Writers Guild of America strike.
“The combination and mix of the channel plus the [interactive program guide] has shown strong impact on many of our client campaigns,” Mr. Woerz said.
He said he’s begun discussions with TV Guide about a similar type of guarantee for other networks.
The acquisition of TV Guide Network’s parent, Gemstar-TV Guide International, was approved by shareholders last week. Almost immediately, several senior editors were fired at the magazine, which has been losing subscribers and money. But a spokeswoman said there were no changes planned at the network, which has been altering its format to include more original programming in addition to its shows about what to watch.
It also has ramped up its awards show coverage with new hosts Lisa Rinna and Joey Fatone, who replaced Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa.

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