Starcom Inks Pact with Bravo, Additional NBCU Properties


Bravo and Starcom USA have signed a major upfront deal on minute-by-minute commercial ratings, which offers even more granularity than the newly dubbed C3 metric, which the bulk of broadcast television upfront deals (and many cable pacts) have been brokered on.

The deal, says NBC Universal sales and marketing chief Mike Pilot, represents "another attempt by the whole industry to experiment with new metrics that can get us ever more accountable to marketers for delivering highly engaged audiences that are watching the commercials."

That’s because unlike average commercial ratings – which provide averages for national commercials within a single program – minute-by-minute ratings more specifically parse the data. Bravo is the only network in NBC Universal’s stable of cable channels to be sold on the metric, although Starcom’s total commitment for NBCU spans multiple properties including USA, SciFi, MSNBC and CNBC.

NBC Universal has written about 75 percent of its upfront deals, most of them on the C3 metric. The Bravo deal, which will utilize Nielsen’s minute-by-minute commercial data unveiled in January 2006, also includes three days of DVR playback. The C3 metric is based on new data streams that only became widely available in May – making the numbers less than full-proof in the eyes of many buyers. For instance, squeeze back credits and scrolling text sharing the screen with commercials (seen on most news channels and increasingly on entertainment channels) can cause the commercial pod to be erroneously tagged as part of the program, says Sam Armando, senior vice president/director of video of research for Starcom.

"The minute-by-minute data actually alleviates many of those concerns," he says.

Starcom brokered minute-by-minute deals last year with AMC, WE and the Weather Channel and earlier this year partnered with TNS Media Research for a Discovery HD deal based on second-by-second ratings.

"We obviously think minute-by-minute is a more precise way to measure for our clients than C3," says Chris Boothe, president/chief activation officer at Starcom. "We’ve been pushing minute-by-minute as much as we can."