New Orleans -- Can all of the networks really be No. 1 in something for a sweep
or a season, as it seems judging from the press releases that are frequently
That's the question panel moderator Cynthia Turner put to a gaggle of
research mavens at a Tuesday National Association of Television Programming Executives session on ratings issues here.
The answer, they said, was yes.
With all of the data available today it is easier to pinpoint strengths in
specific age or income groups.
So while CBS might be No. 1 in households most nights, NBC can say the same
about adults 18 through 49, while The WB Television Network can claim bragging rights to women 18
"There are many ways of looking at the audience," said Jack Wakshlag, chief
research officer at Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
Think of it more as putting a best face on things than as misrepresentation, he
said. "We all focus on different demos that we target. It's not a household
world anymore," he added.
Indeed, Betsy Frank, executive vice president of research and planning at MTV Networks, took
the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau to task for its seemingly endless stream
of press releases touting claims that cable has now surpassed broadcast in
"They're pretty much meaningless," Frank said, also indicating that she felt
the same way about Television Bureau of Advertising releases that proclaim the
small number of cable networks that achieve a 1.0 rating or better during a sweep.
"You have to look at specific audiences" because that is what advertisers are
buying, she added.
And within those audiences, said Cheryl Idell, president of Intermedia
Advertising Group Inc., advertisers increasingly want more detailed data about how
engaged viewers are when they're watching TV.
Can viewers, for example, actually recall the ads in the shows they watched,
or were they too busy reading the newspaper or getting a snack?
"It's not just about impressions anymore, but the value of those eyeballs,"