Snapshots of the Bigs
Here's a look at the cable networks that are among the most dominant in their niche, and their plans for programs and advertisers
By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/9/2004 8:00:00 PM
USA Network/Sci Fi
Parent: Universal Television (this week to become part of NBC)
Top Shows:USA: The Dead Zone, Monk, Touching Evil
Sci-Fi:Stargate SG-1, movies
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Jeff Lucas, president of ad sales, Universal Television Group; Michael Tedone, executive vice president, ad sales; Kevin Macauliffe, senior vice president, ad sales
Phone: (212) 413-5000
Profile: Everything from history (Spartacus) to country music mixed with reality (Nashville Star), the network is now tops in the 18-49 demo, unexpected since losing the World Wrestling Entertainment franchise two years ago.
Sci Fi Channel, meanwhile, is trying to become a little earthier, literally, and starting to ease up on the intergalactic stuff. Two big projects on the horizon are Farscape: Peacekeeper War in the third quarter, and Earthsea, with Isabella Rossellini, in the winter. Steven Spielberg, whose miniseries Taken put Sci Fi on the map in 2002, is back with the trilogy Nine Lives in the first quarter of 2005.
With NBC coming in, giving the Peacock the cable entertainment channels it always sought, USA and Sci Fi (and little sibling Trio) should be radically different, in a hurry.
Subscribers: 88 million for USA, 83 million for Sci Fi
Parent: Discovery Communications Inc.
Top Shows:DISCOVERY:American Chopper, American Hot Rod, Mythbusters, and Monster Garage
TLC:While You Were Out, What Not to Wear, Clean Sweep, Trading Spaces, Trading Spaces Family, Faking It, In a Fix, Rides, Overhaulin', For Better or for Worse
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales for Discovery Networks U.S.
Phone: (240) 662-0000; New York sales: (212) 751-2220
Profile: Jane Root, Discovery's new executive vice president and general manager, comes from BBC2, where she invigorated the channel (and gave the world The Office and The Weakest Link). Discovery Networks President Billy Campbell wants to give all of Discovery's 14 channels more "personality" but is concentrating on the top brands, mothership Discovery and popular TLC. Abruzzese is pushing product placement and integration.
Subscribers: Discovery Channel, 88.6 million; TLC, 87.2 million
Parent: Walt Disney Co.
Top Shows:SportsCenter, NFL Sunday Night Football, NFL Primetime
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales
Phone: (860) 766-2000; New York sales: (212) 456-7777
Profile: In the game of advertising, ESPN , with six networks, goes long when it comes to attracting viewers (the network boasts the top eight most-viewed broadcasts in 2003) and building brand awareness (97% of Americans are aware of the brand and 87% are familiar with it).
The original ESPN has made cross-marketing deals left and right to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
Subscribers: 88.4 million for main channel.
Parent: Time Warner
Top shows: TBS: Non-stop comedy block, which features sitcom hits such as Friends, Seinfeld, and Drew Carey.
TNT: 2004 NBA All-Star Game, movies
Key ad sales personnel: David Levy, president of Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing and president of Turner Sports; Linda Yaccarino, executive vice president/general manager, Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing
Phone: (404) 827-1700; New York sales, (212) 852-6748
Profile: TNT's first re-branding three years ago was to for TNT— 'We know drama.' This season it's for TBS— 'Very funny.' TNT gets a toned-down Sex and the City in June and TBS will debut a remake of Gilligan's Island in December, shooting for 25-40-year-old viewers. TNT's looking forward to Steven Spielberg's Into the West in the summer of 2005, and The Grid, a counter-terrorism thriller it produced with the BBC.
Of course, it's really looking for integrated ad deals on both networks.
"The sweet spot is when you can take the strength of your network, as a brand, and marry it with the brand of our clients," says Yaccarino.
Subscribers: TNT, 88.2 million; TBS, 88.1 million
Top Shows: MTV's Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, Real World, Punk'd
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Doug Rohrer Executive vice president and general sales manager MTV Networks Music & Comedy Services; Nick Loria, senior vice president, MTV Ad Sales
Phone: (212) 846-8210
Profile: MTV, with fits sister networks like VH1 and Spike TV, has defined the 18-49 demo and its variants for over 20 years. "We have more 18-49 and 18-34 GRPs [gross ratings points] than anywhere else on TV," boasts Doug Rohrer, exexecutive vice president of sales. "No one else can make these claims. We own it." To tempt advertisers, MTV Networks is offering cross-network buys through MTVNcast. There's also new college network MTVU and teen and 'tween net, The N. New from MTV this summer is Your Face or Mine, a game show that lets contestants guess how attractive you are, and Wanna Come Inside, a reality show in which two great looking guys make over two dweebs and help them score dates.
Subscribers: 88.7 million for main channel
Parent: Co-owned by Disney (via ABC Cable) and Hearst
Top Shows: Original movies, Strong Medicine, The Division, Missing, Wild Card
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Lynn Picard, executive vice president and general manager; Rick Basso, senior vice president of sales and vice president of pricing and planning; John Matluck, senior vice president of sales; Elise McVeigh, vice president of integrated systems
Phone: (212) 424-7001
Profile: "If you talk to our affiliate group, we are one of the top local advertisers for any MSO," says Matluck. "We make so much money for the local MSOs, because a lot of cable networks aren't that targeted , but Lifetime for our affiliate group is so valued because it is a top revenue generator." Trying to attract younger viewers, it will produce 19 original movies this season. Keep an eye on its Friday night reality block.
Subscribers: 87.5 million
Fox News Channel
Parent: News Corp.
Top Shows: The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, The Fox Report, On the Record
Key Ad Sales Personnel: Paul Rittenberg, senior vice president, advertising sales
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Profile: The personality-driven Fox is the one to beat in the cable news channel biz. With political conventions, a presidential election and a divisive war, Fox should have a rocking 2004.
Subscribers: 84.1 million
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