Friday, December 30, 2005

'05 Cable Ratings Wrap Up

TNT takes '05 basic cable ratings crown

Turner Network Television takes this year’s crown for total viewers in key demographics among all basic cable networks for 2005, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The channel's "The Closer," the most-watched original cable series of the year, was credited with pushing the network to the top. USA Network placed second for the year increasing overall viewership by 2 percent over 2004, followed by Nick at Nite (up 4 percent), ESPN (down 3 percent) and Fox News Channel. Links: Chicago Sun-Times – TNT Claims basic cable crown, Adweek – TNT, USA Win Cable Ratings with Original Series, Yahoo!TV – TNT Wins cable race for a 4th year

2005 Cable News Ratings

Speaking of FNC, in 2005, they were still #1 and CNN was still #2 while MSNBC and Headline News battled for #3. O’Reilly leads the pack, with the most viewers overall and among the 25-54s. Fox News had 11 of the top 12 shows in 2005. Only CNN’s Larry King Live busts in, at #6. This is the fourth year in a row at the top for FNC. Link: - TVNewser 2005 ratings

Monday, December 26, 2005

The End of an Era for ABC

ABC Bids Farewell to Monday Night Football after 35 years
One door closes and another is opened. Tonight, the NFL bids farewell to ABC, with the New England Patriots playing the New York Jets. This is the second longest-running series on network TV and it will shift to ESPN beginning next season. ESPN is reported as paying approximately $1.1 billion over eight seasons for the Monday night contract.
This is a true win for Cable for ratings and advertising revenues. As the industry continues to gain more high profile programming, hopefully they will also improve their ability to sell out premium inventory.

UPDATED - 12/27/05: Although Frank Gifford stated during the broadcast that "It's going to cable, what's the difference?" Madden disagreed and argued that the shift to ESPN is a milestone. "It's a big deal"! ABC Sports was once what new generation thinks of ESPN. It was the most innovative and biggest force in Sports Television. But those days are gone and the pass off of this program marks the final torch being handed down to ABC's younger sibling and new King of Sports TV.

(Picture above - Courtesy of Mike Segar/Reuters) Fans at the Jets-Patriots game paid tribute to the late Howard Cosell as ABC broadcast its final "Monday Night Football" game last night. ABC hands off the franchise to ESPN next season.

Link: New York Times Dec 27 - With a Dandy Curtain Call, ABC Signs Off on 'Monday Night Football'

Friday, December 23, 2005


Fastest growing websites year-over-year

Nielsen//NetRatings announced the fastest growing Web sites among the top 10 Web brands for November 2005. Apple ranked No. 1 according to year-over-year growth in November 2005, climbing 57% over November last year, Driven largely by the popularity of the iTunes music service and software. Google and Amazon also saw significant year-over-year increases, growing 29% and 16%, respectively. Longtime leader Yahoo attracted the largest unique audience, garnering nearly 104 million unique visitors during the month, and growing 10% year-over-year. "Among the top Web brands, fierce competition for share of online visitors continues to be a catalyst for the launch of new products and features," said Gerry Davidson, senior media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "These additions appear to be spearheading much of the top Web brand growth, because they keep visitors interested and engaged," he continued.

Comparing all sites with at least 1 million visitors in November, the
PhotoBucket photo-sharing site saw the largest growth — a 16-fold increase to 15.6 million visitors, from 983,000 last year. Social networking sites MySpace and Facebook had the second- and third-highest growth, respectively. Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that lets volunteers add and change entries regardless of their expertise, was ninth on the list, nearly quadrupling its traffic. Link: Nielsen//NetRatings Full Report

Power to the Viewer

December 2005 – The Turning point

The shift of advertising dollars from passive, broadcast media to interactive and on-demand media is taking place at a faster clip than earlier shifts from radio to network TV or from network TV to cable.
For those companies that didn’t get it a year ago, let’s hope that they get it now. Consumers are finally in control of content: they are creating it, consuming it and retransmitting it. Very soon, just about every type of content is going to be sliced, diced and presented to consumers in whatever format they want, whenever they want it, wherever they want it." In the coming year there will be an increased push to customize content for VOD and the broadband platform with the question still to be answered: Just how best do we monetize these new assets in the digital marketplace.
Adweek 12/19/05 – They want the world, and They want it now

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Will VOD Kill the DVR?

Call it Tivo or ReplayTV, the DVR is just the First Step

Will VOD Kill the DVR?” (posted on was something I ran across the other day that got me thinking. Obviously the answer will vary depending on your perspective. There are some great advantages to both of the technologies and I’ll be the first to admit that the DVR has TOTALLY changed the way my household consumes television. My 6 year old believes that all “live” television broadcasts can be paused, rewound and forwarded. Tivo and Replay executives certainly are not betting that the DVR is going away anytime soon however Cable industry honchos see it a little differently. For the MSO’s the DVR is currently providing them with a small revenue stream and presenting them with a much larger opportunity. For those of us, which have opted to upgrade to a set top box with a DVR integrated into it, we have also upgraded to the cable operators digital platform. This has fueled the industry’s recent revenue growth and opened the door for the subscribers to utilize the systems VOD offerings. Getting consumers to feel comfortable with using VOD has been one of the businesses bigger challenges during the past 24 months. Although U.S. cable television subscriber growth will remain flat through 2009, digital cable penetration is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%, reaching a total of 43 million households by 2009. The big opportunity for MSO exists in converting DVR users into VOD buyers. According to a study done by Lyra Research, people who own digital video recorders (DVR) are more likely to watch video on demand (VOD) than those who don't. Times are changing and one day the DVR may seen as old and unused as the VHS machines are becoming in my household!

Related Posts:
Apple’s iTunes grows again & TV That you'll want to Pay For?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nielsen Media Monitors DVRs

Nielsen Media Service will include data on Ad-Skipping
Ad Age - NEW YORK - Nielsen Media Research’s first week to deliver new ratings figures that include time shifted viewing will be Dec. 26, and for the first time the ratings service will offer information showing whether viewers skipped ads. The first overnight ratings will be available to Nielsen clients Dec. 28. I’m in disbelief at the amount of time it took for them to acknowledge the revolution that was occurring in TV households across the US. I guess better late than never? Link: AdAge Dec 21 - DVR Ratings to Debut next week from Nielsen

UPDATE 12/22 2:30PM - The dust has yet to settle and meaningful data will not truely be availible for months but concerns over the pricing models for these new rating are already heating up. Link: WSJ Dec 22 - New TV Ratings Will Produce Ad-Price Fight

AOL - Google

AOL-Google the beauty is in the details – for someone!

After months of dancing with a number of potential partners, Time Warner and Google made public the terms of their continued partnership yesterday, with Google, as expected, paying $1 billion for a 5% stake in America Online and $300 million in advertising credits for AOL to promote its content across the Google network. The deal also includes using AOL's 300-strong advertising sales force to sell ads on Google sites and integration between the two firms' instant messaging tools.

Microsoft, which had also been negotiating with AOL, dropped out of talks, in a major blow to the Redmond, Washington Company. A deal with AOL would have cut off Google and provided a major advertising conduit for Microsoft, particularly for its AdCenter search engine, which it has spent $100 million developing. A partnership with Microsoft, whether total or partial, seemed to offer a number of tantalizing possibilities. A real third option in search, a power to challenge Yahoo! in CPM ads and a web traffic monster. Although this new deal with Google is to return AOL back into the vanguard of web companies, the biggest winner may just end up being Google!

More on this topic: CNET – 12/20 Google, Time Warner Strike $1 Billion deal
BusinessWeek – 12/21 AOL-Google: Who gets What

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nielsen Outdoor's Npod

What’s an Npod?
Outdoor Advertising ratings took a major step forward earlier this month with the public release of data from Nielsen Outdoors' outdoor ratings service in Chicago. The company, which is well known for its ratings for TV and radio, has been testing a mobile phone-size gizmo it calls the Npod, or Nielsen Personal Outdoor Device. The unit uses the satellite-based global positioning system to track the wearers' locations, and Nielsen matches their courses of travel with a coded map of 12,000 outdoor-ad units in the area. The data, which does not provide board-by-board detail, provided persons-level demographic about exposure, which could be used in reach and frequency schedules.

As outdoor advertising business continues to surge, the industry has been working to develop a ratings service that would put the outdoor medium on the same playing field with other forms of media. Certainly no surprise to industry insiders, the Chicago test showed that outdoor, one of the fastest growing media other than the Internet, is less cluttered than the electronic media with the average adult exposed on average to 40 outdoor messages per day. Among all demographic groups, men 35-54 had the highest exposure to outdoor advertising with an average of 54 exposures to outdoor advertising per day. Among women, 18-34 year olds led all other female groups with 39 exposures per day. Not surprising, exposure to outdoor advertising peaks during morning and evening commutes.Links: SMM Past Post 12/11 – Outdoor Advertising Surge, ACNielsen – Measuring the Great Outdoors, Chicago Tribune – Nielsen views billboards as ratings source, MediaWeek Dec 06 - Nielsen Outdoor Results

Monday, December 19, 2005

Early Adopter to VOD Advertising

Ford drives sales with VOD ads

Television has traditionally been a mass marketing medium, but targeted TV advertisements delivered via VOD systems are now becoming more common place. Ford Motor announced plans to launch interactive video on demand advertisements for digital subscribers of the Cablevision and Charter Communications cable systems. The three-month campaign kicks off December 28 and has been spearheaded by JWT Detroit. Creative for the campaign mixes branded entertainment, 30-second ads, reviews and “video tours” that highlight car features. For the ultimate marketers dream viewers may opt in to receive more information. Television web style and a very effective way of turning the set top box into a sales lead generator.

For more on this topic see MediaWeek December 19, 2005 -
Ford Test Drives VOD by: Steve McClellan

Sunday, December 18, 2005

ReplayTV back in the News

ReplayTV to release TV recording software for PC’s

Reuters - LOS ANGELES - Digital video recording pioneer ReplayTV plans to announce on Monday it will start selling software to allow personal computers to tune in and record live television next year in a deal with Hauppauge Digital Inc.'s Hauppauge Computer Works. Hauppauge's WinTV-PVR tuner-encoder card, which lets PCs tune in and record live television, will be sold with ReplayTV software starting next year in North America. Link: Dec 18 – Reuters

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mobile TVs Future Growth

Video on mobile phones? Hard to believe but what would you have said 5 years ago if I had told you about the Ipod MP3 and podcasting phenomena? NEXT YEAR, 3 MILLION U.S. consumers will watch News & TV shows on their cell phones and, by 2009, that number will balloon to 15 million. That's one of the conclusions of a new eMarketer report about mobile entertainment. From TV programming to movie clips to songs that download directly to phones, telecom and media companies are placing big bets on their financial futures through mobile entertainment. In the face of stagnating voice revenue, it represents a new revenue stream for wireless operators and it is highly possible that this may permanently alter how media is distributed and consumed. EMarketer’s report titled “Mobile Entertainment: The Rise of the Very Small Screen” suggests that mobile phones could provide a compelling new platform for both media companies and marketers alike. "Online video advertising has taken off because of the way it blends video's high brand engagement with the internet's interactive, tracking and targeting capabilities, so too will marketers be drawn to mobile video advertising," states Deborah Williamson, senior analyst and author of the report.

Cingular's Rob Hyatt, executive director of mobile content, told BusinessWeek in October 2005, "Watching video on cell phones could eventually surpass [demand for games, ringtones and wallpapers], to reach 100% of the population". A perfect example of the current integration that is occurring right before our eyes in the TV-mobile phone-recording industry is; a new song by the band Coldplay rang as a ringtone on a "CSI: New York" character's phone in a resent November episode, followed by an on-air CBS promotion allowing viewers to download the same tone to their own phones. Obviously, some very big companies are working hard so that the wide world of entertainment can begin appearing on very small screens everywhere. Entertainment content could offer mobile carriers a rich new revenue stream - - and mobile phones could provide a compelling new platform for media companies and marketers. But there are problems. "With the US lagging other regions in mobile data usage, it's not even clear that consumers here want to be entertained by their phones," says Ms. Williamson." There are also technology and standards barriers to be overcome." The truth is that usage of mobile entertainment in the US is currently very minimal. According to M:Metrics, as of October 2005, less than 10% of US mobile subscribers had used their phone's browser to get news and information, photo message or purchase a ringtone. Fewer than 5% had purchased wallpaper or a screen saver or downloaded a mobile game. Our we just slower here verse Asia and Europe to embrace an adapt to new technology. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Roses for ABC

Ok, ok… what do you expect! Those of you who know me, you understand that I have bragging rights, afterall USC is my alma mater plus this post is very relevant to my Blog topics!

It appears ABC is coming up Roses this year! According to John Consoli’s December 12th article in Mediaweek, ABC has about 10 percent of its ad inventory left to sell for their Jan. 4 prime-time Rose Bowl telecast and the Network is aiming to maximize sales of the remaining units by packaging in-game spots with advertising across ESPN properties.

Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales stated that:
"We're not looking to just sell in-game spots, the USC-Texas match-up [both teams are undefeated] could be one of the highest-rated college football games ever, so we plan to use it to help drive advertising to our other media platforms".
He added that many of the other platforms in the packages would have synergy with the Rose Bowl. For example, ESPN The Magazine, in its Jan. 2 issue, will offer a BCS preview. Obviously Erhardt sales philosophy is similar to what many of us work towards in the media business, leverage your high valued inventory.

According to Nielsen, the 2004 Orange Bowl was the Bowl Championship Series (USC 55 vs. OU 19) game generated a household rating of 13.7 nationally. The four BCS games totaled a 43.0 household rating. In the year prior, the Sugar Bowl was the BCS championship game and produced a 14.5 household rating, and the 2003 Fiesta Bowl BCS championship produced a 17.2 rating. The BCS bowl games, while having declined in ratings, are still among the highest-rated prime-time programs during the first week in January.

John Concoli (Mediaweek reporter) went on to point out that; “Thirty-second spots in the Rose Bowl were selling for between $1.5 million and $1.8 million per unit prior to the USC-Texas match-up being determined”. Erhardt said “about 70 percent of the units were sold as part of multiyear, multigame packages while another 20 percent of the units were sold during the upfront as strips with ads in all four BCS games”.

Citi will present the game; other sponsors will include Cingular, Home Depot and Texas Instruments.

Read the full article in 12/12/05 Mediaweek: Bloom On The Rose Bowl GO TROJANS!

Monday, December 12, 2005

AOL - Time Warner

Case Makes case!

I was working with Time Warner during the merger with AOL and although I was shocked by the initial news, I did believe that the combination of the two company’s made great sense. This of course was years ago, when my 401K was worth something and I could have considered retirement at a reasonable age! Yesterday in an essay published in The Washington Post, my illustrious ex-leader Steve Case argues for the breakup of Time Warner, suggesting that its cable; print, film production and AOL units would perform better as stand-alone companies. Case believes the AOL-Time Warner merger failed in large part due to concessions made to the sprawling corporate divisions, which prevented company leaders from exploiting synergies in the combined company.

Maybe he has a point! Read – “It’s time to Take it Apart.” From The Washington Post Dec 11, 2005.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor Advertising upsurge

I do my best to say abreast to all sectors of the Advertising industry because I enjoy spotting tends and studying how they effect each other. In the resent past the Outdoor Advertising business has been witnessing a lot of sizable growth. The leading companies in this group are Viacom, Clear Channel and Lamar. On Tuesday evening I caught a quick segment as Jim Cramer was commenting on the business, “Billboards are making a comeback” he said on his "Mad Money" CNBC show, and he is Bullish on Lamar Advertising.

“Lamar has ad space on billboards, buses, bus shelters and benches all places you can't miss, Cramer noted. Because of the increase in the use of digital video recorders such as TiVo, advertisers are moving away from TV advertising. Other forms of advertising, such as the Internet and billboards, are gaining share.
You can't TiVo a billboard," he said.

Lamar is adding digital billboards, which allow it to show multiple ads on one space and should increase sales. And Nielson is coming out with a rating system (more on this soon) for billboard advertising, Cramer said, which should make advertisers more comfortable as the can quantify the effectiveness of their ads. Enhancements and dropping cost on digital printing, flat panel displays and emerging technologies like electronic paper displays (see E Ink) will also revolutionize this industry in the not to distant future. Links: Lamar Advertising Company, OAAA’s – History of Outdoor Advertising

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Internet Statistics

Usage Up & Portals: hot commodity

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Search engines have become an increasingly important part of the online experience of American internet users." On average, nearly 60 million people use search engines daily. This represents a sharp just over this past year where the total number of people using search engines on an average day has jumped from roughly 38 million - an increase of roughly 55%, according to an Emarketer report. The company also recently released results of a study on Internet Portal usage and thanks to robust demand for online advertising, a broadband audience hungry for multimedia applications and an increasingly confident population of online shoppers, portals are hot properties again.

Measured by sheer size of audience, Yahoo continues to be the number one site on the Web, according to data from Nielsen NetRatings. MSN, Google and AOL trail Yahoo in terms of unique audience. During the week ended September 4, 2005, nearly half of all Internet users logged on to Yahoo and all of the Big Four portals had an active reach of more than 30% of all Internet users. This audience build up is having impact on many other industries. For example, AOL and Yahoo are the leading online music destinations - and AOL has partnered with iTunes and MusicNet to create a free and paid music service. News is one of the core content areas of the Internet, and as with music (and video), portals have captured the largest audience for news among the online audience. Yahoo! and MSNBC top the list.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Cable Penetration

Cable Penetration Hits 13-Year Low

In the latest PR move made by the Television Advertising Bureau (TVB) they are blitzing the ad agency community with the message that more American households are receiving subscription TV programming (TVB’s lingo for Cable TV) via an alternate delivery system (ADS) than ever before. MSOs lost 1.4 million subscribers and wired cable's penetration percentage hit a 13-year low, according to a TVB analysis of Nielsen Media Research data for November 2005.

Nielsen’s NTI data reflects national ADS penetration to have reached 20.8% in November 2005, up from 19.2% in November 2004. Over the same period, wired cable penetration fell from 66.4% to 64.8% - the last time wired cable was any lower was in February 1992. The number of wired cable subscribers dropped to 71.4 million in November from 72.8 million a year earlier.

Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) delivery, the largest component of ADS, is now estimated at 20.2%, up from 18.9% in November 2004. ADS now represent 24.5% of subscription television customers. As a 20-year veteran of the Cable industry, this is certainly not surprising. This is the first small bit of red witnessed by an industry that has been blessed by decades of double-digit growth. What is important is make moves now to integrate this tend into the industries future business model. Satellite penetration will continue to chip away but the biggest threat looms in new distribution technology. As the telcos gain footing and begin to offer more TV services over wireless, phone lines, fiber. ADS penetration will grow at a rockets pace. Although cable Interconnects consolidated DMA’s and helped advertisers make cable a part of their media mix in the first decade of the century. I expect the waters to be murkier in the not too distant future. The MSO’s may not be allowed to own and operate alternate distribution systems but that doesn’t stop their ad sales companies from representing them and keeping “Cable” simple and easy to purchase by advertisers and agencies alike.

Review ADS penetration by DMA

To read more from the TVB
Click here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TVs are just Vending Machines

TVs turn into vending machines for programs

USA Today - David Lieberman writes: "Here are two key questions for anyone who wants to run a TV network: Ten years from now, who'll pay for your new shows? And how will potential viewers discover that they exist? The answers got murkier in the past several weeks. Three major networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — took small but important steps away from a business model that has served them for about 50 years but is being stressed by new technology. For the first time, they agreed to let viewers see for a fee current prime-time hits on cable and satellite video-on-demand (VOD) and via Internet download. ..." Link: USA Today.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Apple iTunes Grows Again

iTunes gets more Hit TV Shows

Adding to the deal with ABC in October, Apple Computer struck a deal with NBC Universal to sell television shows a la carte on its online iTunes store. More than 300 episodes from NBC prime time, late-night and classic TV shows are now available for 1.99 each. This includes Law & Order, The Tonight Show, The Office, Surface, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and a number of "classic" popular shows of the past. NBC also recently signed a deal to begin selling replays of its most popular shows on an On-Demand basis with DirecTV and Last month announced a deal with Sprint Nextel to make Leno's monologues and sketches available on their mobile services. ABC may have been first to travel this path but NBC followed up with a larger content deal. I have no doubt that we will not see more deals like this soon. Viacom/CBS anyone?
More on this topic: Disney, ABC & Apple announce deal, USA Today - ABC affiliates feeling uneasy, SMM Oct Post - TV That you'll want to Pay For? and Reinvent TV's - Steven Jobs stars...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Video Search

The Internet’s New Frontier - Video Search

You may not realize it but there is a high-stakes technology arms race going on for control of your living room. Broadband growth has been the catalyst for the Internet as it has matured into more of an entertainment platform and video is playing a key role. Although it is becoming more routine for consumers to load audio, video and other data to our new network of Internet-connected gadgetry the key to success will be in finding relevant files.

The current technology used by today’s most popular search engines look for text like ".mov" or ".avi," and for keywords or links that might be in a document which give a sense of what type of content is there. Unfortunately this identifies only a small percentage of the video that’s currently available. Yahoo is trying to address the problem with new standards like “Media RSS” however how much can we rely on video providers to “submit” feeds. Google’s plan to search the closed-caption text is fine for present and future video but that is still text based and relies on a technology that is not used in many video productions. At best these approaches are workarounds and are only going to scratch the surface when it comes to identifying the millions of video files (growing exponentially) on the web.

AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others have each been quietly developing new search tools for digital video. They all realize that searchable video is an extremely attractive new market and this new tool is extremely relevant to consumers hungry for multimedia. From a financial standpoint it also helps the companies appeal to brand advertisers, which spend about $60 billion annually on TV commercials. Recently I have taken notice of They’re approach to video search is new an unique and its generating quite a buzz. It’s worth some research and perhaps a follow up post on this topic. I’d be interested in hearing your POV. Link: ZDNet Nov 29, 2005 – Striking up Video Internet Search, Previous SMM Posts: Oct 6, 2005 - Video over the Internet