Traditional women's networks WE tv and TLC are prepping for
another upfront season, but Investigation Discovery, which offers up a heavy
dose of crime programming on its schedule, has been steadily increasing its
female audience and is expected to grab a good chunk of female-targeted ad
dollars as well.
With series such as True Crime, Catch My Killer, Dark
Minds and Blood, Lies & Alibis, the network has always seemed
more likely to appeal to men. But ID also boasts series such as Dates From
Hell, Deadly Affairs, Wives withKnives, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and
Frenemies, all of which have a huge following of women.
ID now skews 65% female, up from 63% a year ago, and uses
the new tagline, "Your Guilty Pleasure," when promoting its series to women.
Sharon O'Sullivan, executive VP, national ad sales at Discovery Communications,
says, "We offer great storytelling for women and we've been shouting this from
the rooftops. Women love a good story and ID offers programming with drama and
The network's goal in this year's upfront is to raise
advertiser awareness of the significant size and value of ID's audience. It has
grown from a 29th ranked network in audience delivery of women 25-54
in 2010, to 16th in 2011, and to eighth in 2012.
ID will be competing for a larger share of female-targeted
dollars in the upfront with its sister network TLC, as well as with the
AMC-owned network WE tv, among others.
WE tv could be called the antithesis of ID, choosing to run
less dark, more upbeat family-type reality series such as Braxton Family
Values, Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, Mary Mary, My Fair Wedding
and Bridezillas, among others.
Scott Collins, executive VP of ad sales for AMC and WE tv,
describes WE tv programming as "positive, uplifting, family image-themed shows
that are a good environment for all brands."
Collins' sales people don't sell negatively vs. the
competition, but he says WE tv's programming is not going to go "in the
direction of networks like TLC or Lifetime. Those networks are going in a
certain direction and WE tv is going in its own direction."
TLC—which, like ID, is a member of the Discovery
Communications family—is also a player for female-targeted ad dollars.
TLC features series such as Toddlers & Tiaras, Here
Comes Honey Boo Boo, Breaking Amish and Sister Wives, as well as
more traditional female-oriented series such as Say Yes to the Dress and
O'Sullivan says ID and TLC have a lot in common, even if the
themes or genres of series differ.
"TLC and ID both have more hours of first-run programming
and more original content than our competition and a less cluttered
environment," she says.
ID does televise off-network episodes of NBC's Dateline and
CBS' 48 Hours, which it calls 48 Hours onID, but those
episodes are updated with more current information before they air.
TLC has an audience skew of 79% female and ranks sixth among
the most-watched networks by women 18-34 in cable primetime. It is also the eighth
most-watched in primetime among women 18-49.
WE tv's Collins is optimistic about the upfront for his
"WE tv is coming off a really strong fourth quarter and our
first got off to a good start; we have lots of ratings momentum," he says. "We
have stepped up our production of original programming and expanded the number
of new programming hours."
Collins believes the women's cable networks can draw even
more dollars away from the broadcast networks in this upfront. "The amount of
money advertisers are spending to reach women on the broadcast networks can no
longer be justified," he says. "Advertisers are going to stop paying huge
premiums on broadcast to receive less and less viewers. The money is going to
start moving to where the eyeballs are, and we deliver a high-targeted
concentration of women."
Collins says the network will try to sell its female
audience-which has a median age in primetime of 43.8 and 38.5 on Thursday
nights-as being made up of a sizable number of high-income women who are the
main breadwinners in their households, whether married or single. "We over-index
in households where women bring in the larger of the paychecks," Collins says.
He adds that WE tv's Thursday nights targets
African-American women, which he describes as an "underserved audience on
television," but one that is "very desirable for advertisers."
In the upfront, Collins says WE tv will tout its 75% women
audience composition, with 25% of those viewers being the sole breadwinners in
Discovery's O'Sullivan says the plan for this upfront is to
target new advertisers in key categories, while continuing to be a partner to
those advertisers who have been on TLC for a while. "TLC has the ratings, reach
and 100% original content, which allows for effective partnerships with
clients, including co-branded content that is customized in all platforms," she
Beth Rockwood, senior VP, market resources and ad sales
research at Discovery Communications, points out that the 30 series on TLC have
one million or more viewers, and numbers like that are resonating with
advertisers. "Women have been watching as much TV as they ever have, only they
are watching it differently, and we're closing the gap on broadcast," she says.
WE tv's Collins says his network is going to be expanding
into the TV Everywhere arena at some point during 2013. "We don't stream our
content right now because we want to protect some of our current deals with
cable MSOs," he says. "But we now have some deals in place where we can offer
streamed episodes on different platforms and sell advertising on them."
Collins says that could begin by fourth quarter of this year
or sometime in early 2014.