Disney's Iger: Broadcast Ratings Drop Can Be Stemmed
Disney CEO Robert Iger said ratings declines at broadcast networks aren’t inevitable–and pointed to Disney’s ABC network as an example.
Speaking Dec. 9 at the annual UBS media conference in New York City (click here for complete coverage), Iger said, “It’s inevitable there will be more choice, but not that ratings will fall. You can stem the tide with good programming. Modern Family is a good example.”
Iger acknowledged, however, that the ABC network was down slightly season-to-date in C3 commercial ratings, largely due to a fall-off at Dancing With the Stars. But he added that the marketplace for advertising was currently healthy. Scatter pricing is running 25% above upfront pricing, he said. (ABC last week said its president of advertising sales Mike Shaw is stepping down. The company is yet to replace him.)
The Disney chief told investors that the way ratings are reported sometimes confuses the picture. “Its apples to oranges, left and right,” he said referring to the numerous sets of ratings data available. The press cover what’s known as live-plus-same-day ratings, media agencies look at C3 commercial ratings while the networks themselves look at the largest number, the live-plus-seven rating, calculated on what viewers play back on the DVRs inside one week of a broadcast.
There have been several calls from network commentators to look more closely at how shows do in live-plus-seven, even though the networks do not get compensated for those additional viewers. Iger said that the live-plus-seven numbers help Disney figure out which shows might have life off the network and in overseas sales.
On the thorny subject of retransmission consent, Iger looked ahead, saying, “We are not in active negotiations, but [they] will be coming up in 2010.”
Broadcast networks are negotiating hard for a piece of the action normally paid to the affiliate stations that carry the signal. Big media companies are looking for a piece paid to non-owned affiliate stations to carry the network programming.
“We derive huge value from stations, they derive huge value from us… We should get paid for the value we deliver. We look at it as part of the whole equation, but I think there’s more focus on deriving specific value.”