Late Night: Luring Men in PJs
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/28/2005 8:00:00 PM
Late-night TV has long been considered the realm of men, the place where they can drink a beer or two, and spend some quality time after the wife and kids have gone to bed. Turns out, that’s not exactly true.
A look at the Nielsen numbers reveals that women come to late-night TV in bigger numbers than men do, as they do throughout the entire television day. But the key factor for advertisers is that the margin between the two sexes narrows from prime time to late night, so that there’s a higher concentration of hard-to-reach men available in late night.
Almost 20% of women 18-34 watch late-night TV, while 18.6% of men in that age group do so, less than a 2% difference. The gap holds up among older viewers as well, although the percentages change slightly. In comparison, almost 34% of women 18-34 watch prime time TV, while 29.4% of the men tune in from 8 to 11 p.m., a difference of more than 4%.
“When you are dealing with the entire country, four percentage points is a pretty significant difference.” says Thomas Bierbaum, NBC VP of ratings.
That male-heavy audience composition draws a different kind of advertiser to late night, says John Rash, senior VP/director of broadcast operations at Campbell Mithun. “Overall, it’s a highly targetable daypart for younger males. Most late-fringe advertising is either dual-gender or more male-focused.”
Late-night shows have long been significant revenue generators for the Big Three broadcast networks. Leader The Tonight Show With Jay Leno brings in nearly $290 million a year in revenues for NBC, while CBS’ The Late Show With David Letterman takes in around $240 million, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Even the smaller shows are lucrative, with NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien generating nearly $100 million in annual revenue and CBS’ The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live taking in about $70 million each.
Cable networks have come on strong in the race to attract finicky younger men. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block now averages 433,000 viewers among adults 18-34, topping Nick at Night, which is second with 343,000 viewers in the demographic.
And against Leno, Adult Swim attracts an average of 580,000 young men compared with NBC’s 397,000, according to Nielsen.
Still, the broadcast networks aren’t too worried about cable: Men 18-34 make up only 13% of the late-night audience. NBC’s Rick Ludwin, executive VP of late-night and prime time series says, “Our competitor is not so much another network or another cable network. Our competitor is sleep.”
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