By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES Nov 20 U.S. television broadcast
networks are taking the first steps to persuade advertisers to
pay for commercial viewership that occurs up to seven days after
a program airs, a shift that would provide a new revenue stream
to help combat ratings erosion.
The networks argue that the rising popularity of digital
video recorders is pushing a sizeable number of viewers to delay
watching their favorite programs beyond the first three days,
the time period most often used for calculating ad payments.
Some advertisers are ready to make the move to a seven-day
metric. One of the big four networks, Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N)
ABC, earlier this year reached deals with some sponsors that
bring in payments for eyeballs counted between days four and
The other broadcasters have begun talks with advertisers and
hope to convince them to switch to the longer window in time for
the "upfront" selling season that starts early next year, when
billions of dollars in ad commitments will be made, ac c ording to
people familiar with the discussions.
Since 2007, most TV ad time has been bought and sold based
on "C3," a ratings measurement based of the average number of
commercial minutes watched during a program either live or
within three days of its airing.
TV networks want advertisers to shift to "C7," which
captures commercials watched within seven days.
Advertisers hesitate to pay for the added days, particularly
for time-sensitive ads pitching a department store's one-day
sale or the opening of a summer movie blockbuster. Media buyers
are pushing for precise measurements of each commercial viewed,
rather than an average for an entire program, as well as a
tabulation of how many people are watching on mobile devices.
The debate intensified after Nielsen data showed a sharp
decline in three-day viewing at the start of the fall TV season
compared with last year.
The drop is partly due to "the greater penetration of DVRs
and the greater usage of DVRs, which clearly have shifted the
rating in the direction of C3, and ultimately, hopefully, C7,"
Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts on a Nov. 8 conference call.
Most viewing of network prime time shows still takes place
within three days. But the post-three day viewers are growing
and can be significant. Ratings for ABC comedy hit "Modern
Family" increased by 5 percent, to 6.5 million viewers age 18 to
49 viewers, when counted by the C7 measurement instead of C3.
The later viewers also are among the most-coveted by
advertisers, according to ABC research, which showed people who
watched a show after three days were more highly educated and
had higher incomes. For days four through seven, “the people who
are doing the viewing are some of the most desirable available
from an advertiser's perspective,” said Charles Kennedy, senior
vice president of research for ABC and the ABC Family cable
Earlier this year, ABC made deals with some sponsors to pay
for ad time based on C7 numbers, ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman
said. "We expect to do more of them if they make sense for us
and our clients," Brockman said.
At CBS, the flagship network of CBS Corp (CBS.N), CEO Leslie
Moonves has been outspoken in pressing for a C7 metric and said
it "represents a significant opportunity for us that is still in
the very early stages."
"As we move forward, we will make it a priority to get paid
for all of the viewing that is going on across our shows,
including DVR viewing beyond C3," Moonves told analysts on a
Nov. 7 conference call.
Advertisers are not ready to commit to the switch and will
be looking for something in return if they agree to a longer
window. Timing is a big concern for many brands that want to get
a message out to large numbers of consumers during a specific
time period. Some commercials lose their value for sponsors over
a few days.
"In moving to C7, you've got to be careful because you are
taking away some of the advantage of why clients buy
television," said Sam Armando, director of strategic
intelligence for SMGx, a division of media buying agency Starcom
Advertisers believe simply adding more days to the current
metric fails to adequately capture viewership. Brands are
lobbying for a more precise measurement that tracks viewership
of each commercial, rather than an average for a program over a
time period, they say. They also want information on how many
people see their ads on programs watched on computers or
Internet-connected mobile devices like phones and tablets.
"If the industry is going to make a move, we need to
consider it all before we just make a little baby step to C7,"
(Reporting By Lisa Richwine; Edited by Ronald Grover and Andrew
((firstname.lastname@example.org)(1 213 955 6776)(Follow me
on Twitter @LARichwine))
Keywords: TELEVISION ADVERTISING/
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