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Women's Cable Networks Prep for Upfront Battles

Gearing up to earn lion's share of dollars against broadcast—and each other 2/01/2013 02:06:10 PM Eastern

The cable networks targeting women are gearing up for
another upfront where they'll once again wage a battle to win a large chunk of
marketer dollars, not only from each other, but also from the broadcast
networks, particularly in daytime.

Female-skewing networks such as A+E Networks' Lifetime, the
NBCUniversal networks Bravo, Oxygen, Style and E!, and Scripps Networks
Interactive's Food Network, Cooking Channel and HGTV; and AMC Networks' WE tv
are all readying plans to reach out to advertisers with their own unique
pitches aimed at capturing the attention of the growing number of categories
and brands focusing on women.

"Women today are über-consumers," says Dan Lovinger, executive
VP of cable ad sales for NBCU. "They are focused on by advertisers more than
ever before, including categories like electronics, home improvement and travel
that were traditionally considered mostly male-targeted."

Lovinger says each of the NBCU women's networks has its
unique audience-or advertisers can buy packages across all of the networks. "The
Bravo audience is a little more affluent, Oxygen is a bit younger female
skewing, E! is watched by women for pop culture, while Style targets lifestyle
for all women."

Lovinger adds that even NBCU kids' network Sprout can be a
vehicle for advertisers to reach moms, and USA Network has some programming to
reach a more mass female audience.

"All together, it creates a scalable opportunity but
specific and unique audiences can be targeted separately," Lovinger says. "Each
network stands for something on its own.

"We have a client solutions division headed by Allison
Tarrant who will meet with marketers to see exactly who they want to reach and
tailor programs with them across all our female-skewing networks," Lovinger
adds.

Bravo, of course, is known for its highly-successful Real Housewives franchise, along with
its Top Chef series, and Lovinger says both of these also offer
marketers digital opportunities as well. Oxygen will be introducing model-related
reality competition series The Face prior to the upfront, so it will
still be fresh in marketers' minds as the network gets down to business. E! has
the Kardashian franchise and the next season of Keeping Up with the
Kardashians
will feature Kim's pregnancy, which Lovinger believes will
result in a bump in ratings.

Mel Berning, president of ad sales for A+E Networks, says Lifetime
is once again growing its female audience, which is good timing, given the
approaching upfront. During the current broadcast season, cable network
Lifetime has increased its primetime viewership 8% among women 25-54 and 12%
among women 18-49. And Amy Baker, senior VP, ad sales for Lifetime, says among
all the women's networks with an audience composition of more than 70% women,
Lifetime is tops in primetime viewership in both female 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

"Most of our competitors have almost all reality
programming, we have a mix of reality, movies and scripted drama," Baker says,
taking a little poke at her network's rivals. "We believe that is a major
differentiation."

Berning says another attribute of Lifetime is that "most of
our growth is coming at the younger end of the spectrum," pointing out that
women 18-34 demo ratings are up "about 14%-15%" this season. He cites the Project Runway audience as being both
younger and upscale. But, adds Baker, "creatively, our programming hits every
female age group."

Baker also says that while the network's movies skew toward
the slightly older 25-54 range, drama series The Client List, which returns in March, has a
sizable 18-49 audience. The network is also excited about new drama Devious
Maids
, produced by Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria, which premieres in late
March and which they are hoping will draw lots of younger females.

"We feel we reach all women, young, old, multicultural,"
Baker says, citing the made-for-Lifetime movie Betty & Coretta, about
the lives of Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King, which airs on the network on
Feb. 2.

Drama series Army Wives returns in March, and it will
do so with several younger wives added to the mix. "It was getting a little
older in the demo, so we want to try to bring back more younger women viewers,"
Baker says.

Baker plans to aggressively reach out to categories in this
upfront that traditionally have not targeted women as much, such as automotive
and financial.

Jon Steinlauf, executive VP of ad sales for Scripps Networks
Interactive, says the company's six cable networks, which all reach a
significant number of women, cumulatively took in more than $1 billion in the
upfront last year. Food Network and Cooking Channel each have an audience
makeup of about 63% women, while HGTV's audience is about 65% female.

Scripps will again take its unique approach to the upfront, traveling
to eight cities to do traditional, six-network presentations, with sales and programming
overviews and appearances by on-air talent at a central location in each city.

Steinlauf says while Food and Cooking clearly have sizable
female audiences, HGTV offers the most upscale female audience total-day
numbers, as well as primetime, on cable. Citing Nielsen NPower data, Steinlauf
says HGTV is the top-rated network among women 25-54 with incomes over $100,000
and over $125,000 for both total day and primetime. The network is first among
women 18-49 with incomes over $100,000 for total day and second behind NBCU's
Bravo in primetime.

Food Network is right there as well, ranking third in total
day among women 18-49 and 25-54 with incomes over $100,000 and second in
primetime among women 18-49 with incomes over $125,000. NBCU's Bravo is second
among women 18-49 and 25-54 in primetime with incomes over $100,000 and among
women 25-54 in primetime with incomes over $125,000.

"We have created a 24/7 programming environment for brands
that are all home, all food," Steinlauf says, "and advertisers are able to air
in programming that has consistent ratings across all time periods, no high
spikes or low lows. Having a similar audience level for each of our shows is
appealing to advertisers."

Steinlauf adds that the Scripps networks work with advertisers
to create a lot of short-form custom content for brands that tie into shows
either as part of the show or as advertiser-sponsored vignettes that run during
commercial breaks but relate to the theme of the show.

"We are open to integrating brands into our shows because
our viewers are watching our shows to enhance their lifestyle so they tend to
be much more engaged in the brands featured and in our commercials," Steinlauf
says.

Ad packages can also include magazine advertising in HGTV and Food Network magazines, which Scripps publishes in partnership with
Hearst, as well as digital extensions.

WE tv executives were not available to discuss their
network, but the Syndicated Network Television Association says marketers
should not overlook the power of syndicated television in reaching women in
daytime. Syndication has the two highest-rated daytime shows among women 25-54:
Judge Judy with a 3.4 and Family Feud with a 2.4. Also in
the Top 10 are The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Maury (1.6 each), and
Dr. Phil and Live with Kelly and Michael (1.5 each).

Syndication also dominates daytime with 65% of
women 25-54 impressions, compared to 35% for the networks.

 

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