News

BBCA: Our Viewers Have Money

3/14/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

BBC America's pitch to ad buyers starts with this message: “Our viewers have more money to spend in this economy.”

The 63 million home network expects to “do better than the marketplace” in the upfront auction of ad sales, largely because of audience demographics, senior vice president of advertising sales Mark Gall said. To him, that means an increase in upfront sales, as many projections are for a flat upfront for cable networks.

To ad buyers, BBCA is touting the most affluent and educated audience in cable, combining the highest percentage of viewers with household income of more than $100,000 and four years or more of college (median income: $73,000).

It has also reduced its median viewer age to 47, while increasing its average viewing in primetime by 44% in its target age bracket of 25 to 54, officials said.

Other bullet points from Gall's presentation: BBCA averages 14 30-second ads per hour versus an average of 23 on cable-networks and the fewest total among cable networks, officials said, citing Nielsen Media Research data.

BBCA also claims to top the list of non-kids cable networks for viewers that watch the commercials, citing Nielsen Media Research “C3” ratings. And it claims to have lower-cost sponsorships than other networks.

“We're the only network that can say those three things: Fewest, highest, most. And in this economy, composition matters more than any other topic,” Gall said.

Since last August, when the scatter market for buying ads started to “teeter,” BBC America has outperformed other cable networks, bringing in ads from movie theaters, car dealers and wireless companies, he said. “Speaking to our ability to have great programming where people will actually see the commercial.”

BBCA adds new original series year-round, “and the production quality, at about $1.4 million per hour episode, is pretty phenomenal,” Gall said.

Richard De Croce, senior vice president of programming, said that in addition to returning mainstay series such as car show Top Gear, sci-fi dramas Doctor Who and Torchwood and romantic comedy Gavin & Stacey, the network will likely add 10 to 12 new original series this year.

They include a pair of sci-fi shows already announced but not yet scheduled: Being Human, about a vampire, werewolf and ghost, and the post-apocalyptic Survivors.

Increasingly the network has waited until it has 12 to 14 episodes to run together, rather than separating out “seasons” of British shows that might only contain six episodes. It did that with hits Primeval (a science-fiction drama with dinosaurs), Mistresses and Ashes to Ashes, the sequel to the original British Life on Mars. Those three shows will return to the schedule this year.

“Most of our viewers have 150 channels on the digital tier that we're on,” De Croce said, so the network needs to keep shows on the schedule for longer runs so that when viewers find a show they like, they can expect to see it again the following week.

Networks such as those in the Scripps Networks group have recently said they were positioned well going into the upfront, based on clearly defined audience demographics for advertisers focused on consumers doing home repairs or entertaining at home.

“We are serving the niche for people who have money to buy stuff,” Gall said. “That's a decent niche to be in.”

September