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NFL Cruises While the Rest of TV Splinters

February 2nd, 2010

League Defies Problems the Medium Is Having, Helped Along by Smart Marketing, High-Def and Online, Says Horizon’s Brad Agate
Published by Advertising Age on January 29th, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder to assemble big audiences around expensive network TV, where prime-time ratings in the fourth quarter just declined another 7% from a year earlier and the highest-rated program of all time remains the “M*A*S*H” finale — in February 1983. Even cable TV saw ratings slide in the final quarter of last year.

But the National Football League doesn’t have those problems.

And it’s not just the Super Bowl, where a close game on Feb. 7 might finally surpass the last “M*A*S*H” and its 106 million viewers as the top TV program in history.

The NFL’s marketing genius, embrace of digital platforms and even the spread of high-definition TV have combined to draw bigger and bigger audiences in the post-season, the regular season and even the off-season.

Dominant performance, many beneficiaries

While all kinds of proliferating competition kept creating problems for so many others, the NFL turned out a regular season with more viewers than any other season since 1990. No other TV property can come close to making that claim.

But at least the 2009 regular season was a ratings bonanza for all five networks that carry NFL games.

The highest rated prime-time program on NBC during the fourth quarter was, once again, “Sunday Night Football.” Through the course of the regular season NBC’s games averaged 19.4 million viewers, whether they watched live or time-shifted on the same day, an increase of 17% from the 2008 season. Fox coverage of the primarily larger market NFC teams averaged 19.1 million viewers for its Sunday afternoon package, an increase of 12% from the previous year. Similarly, the CBS package of AFC games averaged 17.1 million viewers on Sunday afternoon, an increase of 7% from 2008.

The NFL’s impact was even greater on cable TV. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” franchise averaged 14.4 million viewers in 2009, gaining a very healthy 20% over the year before. One of ESPN’s highlights came on Oct. 5, when Minnesota’s Brett Favre made his greatly anticipated return to Green Bay and played against his old team. The game averaged 21.8 million viewers — the most watched cablecast in history and the top TV show, whether cable or broadcast, of the week.

Top two shows in a week

Later in the season ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” became TV’s most-watched program of the week with a Nov. 30 match-up between the New England Patriots and the now-Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints that averaged 21.4 million viewers. The second-most watched show of that week, moreover, was the Sunday Football Game on NBC in which the Vikings and Cardinals averaged 20.9 million viewers.

Of the five networks carrying games, however, the league’s own NFL Network reported the healthiest increase in viewers. The 4-year-old network averaged 5.5 million viewers for its eight late-season prime-time games, an increase of 48% from 2008. And it eclipsed its previous high of 10.1 million viewers, for a Green Bay-Dallas match-up in November 2007, when a blizzard on the East Coast and a marquee match-up between the Cowboys and the previously undefeated Saints averaged 10.5 million viewers on Dec. 19.

The NFL’s phenomenal ratings roll continued into January and the post-season. Before the post-season began there was only one program, the college football championship game, that averaged more than 30 million viewers. By contrast, of the 10 post-season NFL games prior to the Super Bowl, seven averaged more than 30 million viewers.

The ratings of NBC, CBS and Fox were all up significantly when compared to last season’s post-season. For the first round of the playoffs, aka Wild Card Weekend, audience delivery arrived up 16% for the two games on NBC and up 15% on both games on CBS and Fox. For the divisional playoff round the following week the audience levels for the two games on CBS and Fox grew by 11% and 18% respectively.

The NFL’s ratings romp then hit high gear for the conference championship games of Jan. 24. The AFC Championship Game on CBS, in which the New York Jets faced the Indianapolis Colts, averaged 46.9 million viewers, an increase of 15% from last year’s match-up and the highest mark for an AFC Championship Game since 1986, when New England played Miami. Later that day the NFC Championship Game on Fox, in which the Favre’s Vikings faced the Saints, averaged 57.9 million viewers — a whopping 51% over last year’s contest. The game became the most-watched contest since a Dallas-San Francisco match-up in 1982.

Technology might actually be helping

The NFL can’t take credit for the spread of high-definition TV, but it’s certainly benefiting. According to Nielsen, sports are the “killer app” on HDTV, with sports ratings 21% higher on HD sets than non-HD sets last year. With the TV industry planning to roll out 3D TV, football games are poised to benefit too, as depth perception is added that lets viewers gauge the separation between offensive and defensive players.

The NFL is also probably helping its case on live TV by diving into the new platforms technology has delivered. The league is using, social networks, video gaming and micro-blogging to reach out to new consumers such as women and ethnic groups. NFL games are also available online. The Saints-Cowboys game on Dec. 19 attracted more than 1 million streams, a record.

On cable and satellite, last year the NFL made its Red Zone Channel widely available, allowing viewers get real-time highlights and to look-in at other games being played outside their home market. This year the NFL plans to make this channel available to subscribers’ cellphones.

The NFL has become a year-round, global marketing machine. It has turned off-season activities such as the four-day NFL Scouting Combine into televised events; the college draft attracted 39 million viewers in 2009. And it has scheduling regular season games in London and Mexico City, with other games planned. Last season the Super Bowl was carried by 61 global broadcasters.

Big sports events often depend on the match-up to attract viewers. The most watched NBA Championship Game over the past five years, for example, occurred in 2008. The reason was the match-up featuring two of the NBA’s most storied franchises and greatest rivals: the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Viewership for the 2009 World Series, marking the New York Yankees’ first appearance in the Fall Classic since 2003, was 42% higher than the previous year and the most watched since 2004, when the Boston Red Sox “reversed the curse.” And the College Football Championship Game has averaged more than 30 million viewers only twice, in 2006 and 2010, when the two combatants were undefeated.

This year’s Super Bowl pits each conference’s top-seeded team against the other for the first time since 1993, but the teams also represent two of the smaller markets in the NFL.

It shouldn’t be a problem. Traditionally it has been the Super Bowl itself and its ads that attract viewers to the NFL championship. And the last two Super Bowls have been the most-watched in the game’s 43-year history, attracting 97.5 million viewers in 2008 and 98.7 million viewers in 2009. Coupled with the NFL setting record audiences this season, this Super Bowl is likely to average 100 million viewers. And if the game is competitive, we might see one more record fall.

badgate Technology, Television , , ,

2010 Trends

January 28th, 2010

The media landscape continues to evolve, the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show from Las Vegas highlighted 3D video screens and e-readers. Additionally, consumer electronics are getting smaller, more multi-functional and environmentally friendly.
The recently concluded decades brought out some of the industry’s greatest innovations such as iPods, smartphones, social networks, blogging, YouTube, Twitter, e-books, portable GPS devices, the transition to digital TV and the emergence of Google to name a few. The upcoming decade promises to be even more innovative with each year offering new and exciting opportunities for consumers and marketers fueled by technology.

While the overall adoption of 3D TV (and other screens) is perhaps several years away, if indeed it ever does become a commodity, there are some trends to look out for in 2010.

2010 will be another banner year in sports. With such regular events as the Super Bowl and World Series joined by the Winter Olympics originating from Vancouver and soccer’s World Cup, televised sports will continue to attract viewers when most TV shows are losing viewers. One reason for the popularity of sports is HD television. Nielsen reports that in 2009n ratings in HD sets for sports were 21% higher. The number of HD sets capable sets is 47.4 million and will grow boosting sports ratings further.

Set top boxes will become the currency (for some). With well over the half the households subscribing to digital cable or satellite TV and upwards of six companies analyzing the data, second-by-second viewing information is now readily available. Many smaller ethnic and regional cable networks as well nationally unmeasured cable networks will begin to use digital set top boxes with advertisers as the currency, potentially challenging Nielsen.

Cars becoming Media Centers. Cars are also benefitting from digital technology. Many applications familiar on cell phones as well as websites and social network are now are also available in new cars. For safety reasons these media centric capabilities will be either have steering wheel controls, activated by voice controls or touch screens. As the industry rebounds in 2010 expect automobiles ads to not only tout fuel efficiency, low prices and safety features but also their media capabilities.

2010: The year of mobile mid-sized screens. Last year 33 million netbooks were sold to consumers proving there is a market for mobile screens that are smaller than laptops and larger than cell phones. Another example is the popularity of e-readers from Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble and based from the all the exhibits from the CES, numerous others. Looking ahead 2010 could be the long awaited year of the wireless tablet (e.g., Apple iPad) as well as the Linux based smartbooks. All these mobile devices have a screen of 5” to 10” in diameter. Furthermore these mobile devices will help move newspapers and magazines migrate to a digital platform (already Wired and Sports Illustrated are beta testing tablets) also offering readers and advertisers interactive capabilities.

Cell phone application will lead to behavioral marketing. With over 100,000 mobile applications to choose from and over 3 billion downloaded since July 2008 consumers are now providing valuable information about their preferences and interests that have marketing implications. Expect marketers this year to gain some access to this information and, coupled with a mobile component, begin to provide relevant advertising information to consumers on there smartphones.

Improved Search: Search engines led by Google will continue to improve. In 2010 look for more real time search as posts on Twitter and Facebook becoming readily available. Also in 2010sSocial search will provide more relevant information based upon user profiles and Google goggles allow users to find relevant information based upon a photograph.

DVD’s on the way out? While Sony’s Blu-Ray HD DVD Player was one of the fastest growing consumer electronic products in 2009, DVD sales, an important profit center for movie studios, slipped for the second consecutive year (dropping 13.3%). Expect studios in 2010 to look for streaming movies as the next platform for consumers. Companies providing online rentals include Netflix, Disney’s Keychest and even Blu-Ray which is expected to launch an online video service in February. These products also have the capability to work with portable devices as well.

Mobile TV: With Google entering the smartphone market with Nexus One the industry will be more competitive than ever. Mobile TV will benefit greatly from the digital transition of June 2009 allowing for TV stations to broadcast in real time on portable devices. The number of TV stations broadcasting to handheld devices will grow from 30 to 200 by yearend. Furthermore, GPS enhanced mobile devices can allow marketers to target consumers geographically with relevant ad messages. Nielsen and Rentrak plan to unveil an audience measurement system in early 2010.

While the recently 2000’s were evolutionary, in all likelihood the upcoming 2010’s will be revolutionary. The media opportunities for both consumers and marketers will expand exponentially in the upcoming decade with personal devices at the forefront.

badgate Uncategorized ,


November 23rd, 2009

Television trends and patterns continue to evolve. For example, not long ago situation comedies dominated the most watched programs on television. Each network had at least one night a week (and sometimes more) for a “made for TV movie”, you could count on a blockbuster mini-series or two to air during the sweeps, and you could watch a top rated show on either a Friday or Saturday night. Of course today, none of these facts are true. Another soon to be fond network television memory seems to be a top rated and cutting edge drama running at ten o’clock to anchor that evening’s program lineup.

Between 1979 and 2009, many high profile and critically acclaimed dramas could be counted on to run at 10PM. In fact, for 21 consecutive years beginning in 1979 the Emmy Award for Best Drama went to a program airing at 10PM on one of the three networks. In the past decade however, not one 10PM program on broadcast TV was an Emmy winner. With ER and Boston Legal stopping production in 2009, it appears that after three decades, the Golden Age of 10PM dramas has, at last, come to an end on network TV.

Since it fell outside of the so-called “family hour”, the broadcast networks could focus on more adult themed content at 10PM. For example, Hill Street Blues was noted for its grittiness in working in a seedy inner city police precinct. Cagney & Lacey, another police drama, was critically acclaimed for depicting the difficulties women confronted in the workforce and their home life. NYPD Blue broke barriers for having partial nudity and using language not typically heard on broadcast television. The challenges and self indulgences of young adults were effectively chronicled with thirtysomething. The first bisexual TV character was depicted on L.A. Law, she also kissed a female colleague on the lips, another television first. The prime time “soap opera” Dallas introduced viewers to the season ending cliffhanger with “Who Shot JR?.” Throughout the summer of 1980, the nation was transfixed on who the would-be assassin was. The culprit was revealed in an episode watched by 83 million people (on a Friday night no less) at 10PM. The last ratings titan at 10PM was ER which after 15 years ceased production in 2009. ER was the last top rated show to air at 10PM a decade ago. Other cutting edge and acclaimed series that aired primarily at 10PM in the 1980’s or 1990’s were Twin Peaks, Miami Vice, Northern Exposure, Lou Grant, China Beach, St. Elsewhere, Picket Fences and The Practice. These dramas could be found on any given night.

In recent years however, while dramas (and reality shows) dominate in ratings, these programs are not airing at earlier than 10PM. For example, a large majority of the top rated shows in 2008-09 such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, NCIS, CSI, 60 Minutes, Desperate Housewives, Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds & The Mentalist all aired at either 8PM or 9PM. Of the four 10PM shows that cracked the top 20 only two, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, are returning as Without a Trace and Eleventh Hour were both cancelled. Other critically acclaimed dramas such as Lost, House, 24, Law & Order, Fringe and Heroes are now seen at an earlier time period.

The difficulty in finding a hit program to run at 10PM is compounded with rising production costs for a one-hour drama. The cost to produce a single episode of a one-hour drama on network television is in the $2 to $3 million range. This prompted NBC to air The Jay Leno Show weeknights at 10PM, a program that is notably less costly to produce.

While 10PM has been slightly stronger this year with The Mentalist moving one hour later and The Good Wife starting out strong, there is another disturbing trend; the shows at 10PM have a much older audience profile. In fact, of the 19 programs that air 10PM this season, 17 of them have a median age above 50. Since advertisers pay a premium to reach younger viewers, advertising costs can be notably lower while production costs continue to rise.

Another reason for the loss in popularity at 10PM has been the impact that time shifting with DVR’s has had. A report from Nielsen on how DVR’s are changing the television landscape found that 10PM shows now not only compete against each other but also programs that air earlier that evening, and are played back at 10PM. The study found that over the course of one week, 53% of 8PM are played back in the same day, 42% of 9PM shows and only 27% of 10PM shows. After three days, 89% of all 8PM shows are played back, 87% of 9PM shows but only 82% of 10PM shows are watched. As television moves to a more “on-demand” and “TV Everywhere” environment, 10PM will be less and less important.

If one wants to watch cutting edge dramas at 10PM these days they can always turn to cable. They have been very aggressive in producing breakthrough dramas scheduled for 10PM. AMC airs both their Emmy Award winning dramas Mad Men and Breaking Bad at 10PM. FX airs many of its gritty and original programs at 10PM such as Damages, Nip/Tuck, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me and Sons of Anarchy. Previously FX had aired its cutting edge police drama The Shield at 10PM. Cable’s top rated network USA, has also used 10PM to run some of cable’s highest rated shows Psych, Royal Pains and In Plain Sight. TNT has also used 10PM for Raising the Bar, Dark Blue and Leverage. Lifetime’s top rated original series Army Wives is seen at 10PM.

Moreover, many cable originals have been able to cast familiar actors for their series. There are less episodes to produce each year allowing cast members to work on other projects such as movies and plays. Also, the chances of getting cancelled mid-season are remote, allowing them to avoid the indignity of getting axed mid-year. On the other hand, many cable dramas at 10PM suffer from the same older audience profile that the broadcasters at 10PM face.

The 10PM time period on cable is not just limited to provocative dramas but also other formats. At 10PM viewers can watch reality shows like Project Runway on Lifetime, Real Housewives on Bravo or Real World on MTV. Even the popular and risqué South Park on Comedy Central is on at 10PM.

Many of television program’s shock value have migrated to pay cable; they are not concerned with either FCC regulators or advertisers. In the past decade, both HBO and Showtime have produced original (and Award winning) series that have become ingrained in pop culture. Although they may not all air at 10PM, their content and language has pushed the envelope even further than any broadcast television can.

With the networks becoming more timid at 10PM, (perhaps in response to the FCC crackdown stemming from the “Wardrobe Malfunction”), the continued aggressiveness of cable networks and more and more viewers time shifting, perhaps Fox had the right idea all along when they began rolling out their prime time schedule. The most watched network among Adults 18-49 for the past few seasons has never programmed at 10PM when they began to roll out their schedule 20 years ago, opting to give the last hour of prime time to their affiliates. Based upon current trends can the three other networks be far behind?

badgate Television


November 3rd, 2009

Similar to any other 365-day period, 1989 the year Horizon Media opened its doors was unique. Here is an overview of what 1989 was like and what changes have occurred in the media landscape over the past twenty years.

There are several similarities from 1989 to 2009. For example, the TV industry was coming off of a debilitating writer’s strike, the stock market was negatively impacted by dubious business practices, in movies the Batman franchise with Joker as the arch villain was still holding strong( although the actors changed) and there was a little controversy at MTV’s Video Music Awards. There was a 3-D ads at halftime of both the 1989 and 2009 Super Bowl’s both sponsored by a soft drink. In 1989 an incoming president was named George Bush. In 2009 the outgoing president was George Bush.

News-It was in 1989 that George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan as president of the United States. There was a series of upheavals in Eastern Europe resulting in the dismantling of the Berlin Wall issuing in the post-Cold War. In another example that the Cold War was ending was the last troops from the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in 1989. In March the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound spilling 11million gallons of oil. In June the Chinese army initiated a crackdown on democracy protesters that was highlighted with tanks in Tiananmen Square. In October an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck northern California killing 67 people and postponed the San Francisco-Oakland World Series for ten days. It was also in 1989 that Florida and Virginia began to allow the use of DNA genetic fingerprinting as admissible evidence in courts. In sports 22-year old Deion Sanders of the New York Yankees and Atlanta Falcons became the first and only person to hit a home run in a Major League Baseball game and score a touchdown in a National Football League game in the same week.

Business-In the business world, Time, Inc. and Warner Communications announced a merger creating Time Warner which has since become the largest media company increasing revenue from $10 billion in 1989 to $35 billion. Time, Inc. had sought to merge with Warner Communications to help prevent a hostile takeover from Paramount. The US Government had provided a $150 billion bailout for hundreds of saving and loans associations that year. A mini-crash of the stock market caused by the collapse of the junk bond market had the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 6.9% to 2,569.26 on Friday the 13th of October. Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando’s Walt Disney World first opened its doors. Also in 1989 a debilitating strike forced Eastern Airlines to go out of business.

Film-1989 was a blockbuster year for movies, led by Batman (starring Michael Keaton & Jack Nicholson) there were nine different films that grossed over $100 million in total domestic box office. According to, 1989 marked the first time that domestic box office receipts exceeded $5 billion with an average ticket price of $3.97. By comparison, in 2008 the average ticket price was $7.18 with box office receipts reaching $9.6 billion. Other popular movies included Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Look Who’s Talking, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Little Mermaid (the biggest grossing animated film since The Jungle Book in 1967) and Parenthood. It was also a popular year for sequels with Lethal Weapon 2, Back to the Future-Part II and Ghostbusters II. Additionally, Driving Miss Daisy won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 62nd Academy Awards held in March 1990 which had been hosted by Billy Crystal for the first time.

Books-According to Publishers Weekly, the best-selling fiction books were Tom Clancy’s Clear & Present Danger, The Dark Half by Stephen King, Daddy and Star by Danielle Steel, Caribbean by James Michener. The book that received the biggest publicity however was Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses which prompted Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini to put a death sentence on the English author and soon after diplomatic relations between Iran and the United Kingdom were severed. The fiction works of Tom Clancy, Stephen King and Danielle Steele also dominated the best selling paperbacks twenty years ago. The best selling nonfiction works were by Robert Fulgham, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; Roseanne Barr, Roseanne; Nancy Reagan, My Turn; C. David Heymann, A Woman Named Jackie and Gilda Radner, It’s Always Something (Radner passed away in May 1989). Children book sales were dominated by Martin Handford’s “Where’s Waldo” franchise and the Way Things Work from David Macauley.

Music-The biggest musical artist of 1989 was Paula Abdul, the Lakers cheerleader turned choreographer turned singer had two top ten hits for the year, Straight Up and Cold Hearted. Abdul also walked off with four MTV Video Music Awards that year in a program hosted by Arsenio Hall. Also in the 1989 VMA’s, MTV issued a lifetime ban on comedian Andrew Dice Clay for his expletive laced comedy routine before introducing Cher. Another big musical act that year was the Grammy Award winning Milli Vanilli. The duo had three hits in the Top 25 in 1989, Girl You Know It’s True, Girl I’m Gonna Miss You and Blame It On The Rain. Also in 1989 people first began to suspect that Milli Vanilli had been lip synching all along. Other top songs were Look Away by Chicago, My Prerogative by Bobby Brown and Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison.

The “Cost of Living in 1989”Yearly Inflation Rate: 4.83%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average: 2,753
Average Cost of new house: $120,000
Average Income per year: $27,450
Average Price for new car: $15,500
Gallon of gas: $1.12
One dozen eggs: $0.96
Postage Stamp: $0.25

In 1989 the population of the United States was 247.3 million. Twenty years later that figure has jumped by sixty million to 307.4 million, an increase of 24% the largest two-decade increase in our nation’s history. A large portion of this growth can be attributed to ethnic groups most notably Hispanics and Asian-Americans. In March 1989 the Census Bureau estimates that there were 20.1 million Hispanics in the U.S. In July 2008 the Hispanic population has more than doubled reaching 46.9 million, making it the nation’s largest ethnic minority. (In fact there are more Hispanics living in California and Texas today than there were 20 years ago in the entire country.) Hispanics now account for 15% of the US population up from 8.2% in 1989. Despite an increase in median age from 25.9 to 27.7, Hispanics still have the youngest median age of any ethnic group.

The population of African-Americans in 1989 stood at just under 30 million with a median age of 27.9. Since then, the population has grown to over 41 million with a median age of 31.1. In addition, the number of Asian-Americans has more than doubled from less than 7 million in 1989 to over 15 million today. Similar to other segments of the population, the median age has grown from 30 to 35.4 in that time.

Lastly, with longer life expectancy and aging baby boomers, the median age of the U.S. has risen from 32.5 in 1989 to 36.6 in 2009.

One can easily make a case that the media landscape has changed more in the past two decades than in all the combined years beforehand. When Horizon Media opened its doors in 1989 many of the familiar communication channels consumers and marketers use today did not even exist. The media world of today has become far more vibrant and exciting and Horizon Media has evolved along with it. The availability of technology and new consumer electronic products quickly becoming a commodity has triggered many of these changes. The changing dynamic of the American household and population has also had a major impact on media and marketers as the nation become more far more ethnically diverse and consumers are more in control than ever before. Moreover, ad volume estimated to be $124.7 billion in 1989 and has more than doubled since then.

Television-As in 1989, television is the dominant medium in 2009 (although today it is also known as the first screen which was not needed twenty years ago). In 1989 there were 175.6 million TV sets or 1.94 per household. By 2008 there were more TV sets in homes at 310.5 million than people. The average home in 2008 had 2.83 TV sets. Despite all the other leisure time activities people now have, watching television has actually grown since 1989, especially with adults. In 1989, women watched an average of 4 hours and 39 minutes each day, that figure has increased to 5 hours and 20 minutes. Male television viewing has increased from 3:58 in 1989 to 4:45. Even teens are watching ten more minutes of TV than they were 20 years ago. Only kids viewing have dropped in the past two decades but only by five minutes
The reason for the growth in TV viewing can be attributed to the growth of cable penetration and households receiving more and more channels. According to Nielsen, in 1989 cable penetration stood at 56% and ESPN had the largest subscriber base with 52 million homes. In 2009 wired cable penetration is 62% however those homes that can receive cable programming stands at 90%, the difference being satellite companies (and to a lesser extent phone companies). Another notable difference is the number of channels available. In February 1990, the closest study available, the average home had 27.2 TV channels, the number as of August 2008 has soared to 130.1. The number of channels viewed (defined as ten consecutive minutes during the survey week) has not kept pace, in 1989 the average watched 8.9 channels, that figure has since “only” doubled to 17.8. Among the more notable cable network launches over the past two decades helping to fuel increased viewing include Syfy, Cartoon/Adult Swim, Food, HGTV, FX, History, ESPN2, MSNBC, Fox News, Animal Planet and TV Land. Today all these cable networks are available in over 90 million homes. The prime time household shares for ad supported cable was 14 in November 1989 in 2008-09 that figure has risen to 60.

For the 1988-89 season the three broadcast networks had reported a household share of 67 with NBC the top rated network averaging a 26 share (ABC was second at 21 and CBS third at 20). In 1988-89 Fox aired programs on only two nights (Saturday and Sunday) they expanded to Monday the following season. The 1988 was also hindered by a writer’s strike (sound familiar?). Needless to say, the audience share of the four networks (including Fox) 20 years later has dropped to 36. In a far cry from today, the top rated programs in 1988-89 were dominated by comedies led by The Cosby Show, Roseanne, A Different World and Cheers. In fact, eight of the ten highest rated shows were situation comedies, 60 Minutes and Murder, She Wrote were the only non-comedies in the top ten. Among the new shows in 1989 was the Seinfeld Chronicles, the pilot to Seinfeld which premiered in July 1989 and joined NBC the following May. It was in 1989 that America’s Most Wanted became the first program to win a time period for Fox. In 1989, Fox debuted and The Simpsons, more than 400 episodes later, television’s longest running evening animation program is still going strong. The only other show in prime time that debuted in 1989 and still on the air is Cops also on Fox.

The most popular mini-series on network TV (remember when they aired them) in 1989 was Lonesome Dove on CBS. The western about a cattle drive was based upon Larry McMurtry’s novel and starred Robert Duvall. The mini-series ran over four nights during the February sweeps and averaged a household rating of 26.2 and 39 share. Lonesome Dove was one of the last blockbuster mini-series events. Other notable prime time drama events included such made-for-TV movies as The Karen Carpenter Story (the singer who died of anorexia in 1983) on CBS, The Ryan White Story (a child AIDS victim) on ABC, Everybody’s Baby: The Jessica McClure Story (a toddler who got stuck in a Texas well) on ABC and The Preppie Murder (based upon a 1986 Central Park murder case) also on ABC.
Super Bowl XXIII had the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 20 to 16 and aired on NBC on January 22 in Miami. Billy Joel sang the national anthem. The halftime show was called “Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D”. Several scenes included computer generated 3-D images. Prior to the game, Coca-Cola distributed 3-D glasses at retailers for viewers to use (sound familiar?) An average thirty-second cost “only” $675,000 and Anheuser-Busch aired six ads devoted to the first “Bud Bowl”. Super Bowl XXIII delivered a household rating of 43.5 in 1989 compared to 42.0 household rating in 2009.

Other TV trends include a steady decline in ratings of the three evening newscasts. In 1989 the networks were cutting back on their news budgets. The previous year some affiliates had moved the start date of the evening newscasts from 7PM to 6:30PM to allow stations to air more syndicated programs. In 1989 the ratings race between the three networks were tight. With a strong fourth quarter, ABC World News Tonight was, for the first time, the top rated newscast with a household rating of 10.9 in 1989. The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather ranked second with a household rating of 10.4 and NBC Nightly News anchored by Tom Brokaw was third at 9.9 (although Tom Brokaw was in West Germany on assignment when the Berlin Wall fell) Hence, collectively, the three newscasts “reached” 31.2 of all TV households. By comparison, over the past 12 months (2008-09) the combined household ratings of three evening newscasts cut in half to 15.1, with NBC in the lead with a rating of 5.7, followed by ABC 5.4 and CBS at 4.1.

NBC’s The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson dominated late night viewing despite two new contenders attempting to displace “The King of Late Night”. CBS introduced The Pat Sajak Show on January 9, 1989 and lasted only 15 months, he quickly returned to host Wheel of Fortune. Arsenio Hall debuted in late night syndication in 1989 and was fairly successful by attracting a younger audience than Carson. Hall’s talk show aired until 1994. ABC’s News Nightline, which began as nightly recap of the Iranian hostage crisis begun ten years earlier, was also successful by counterprogramming The Tonight Show. Looking at the weekend, it was in 1989 that David Spade and Michael Myers joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.

In early morning NBC’s The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley, Willard Scott and Gene Shalit was the top rated show. There were some rifts however. It was in early 1989 that an internal memo by Gumbel to his superiors that criticized some co-workers (Scott and Shalit) was leaked out to great embarrassment. In December 1989 Jane Pauley stepped down and was replaced by Deborah Norville. In September 1989 Norville, to great publicity, had been added to The Today Show to read the news (replacing John Palmer). By early 1990 The Today Show ratings dropped 15% and ABC’s Good Morning America with Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson became the top rated early morning show.

A notable change on broadcast television over the past twenty years has the drop in the number daytime programs. In 1989 there were no fewer than 19 programs across the three networks. Similar to today, daytime dramas dominated the broadcast networks daytime schedule. In 1989 and today The Young & Restless on CBS was the top rated show. ABC cancelled Ryan’s Hope in early in 1989 and replaced it with The Home Show a magazine-talk show. There were five game shows in 1989 with The Price Is Right the top rated.

Over the past 20 years several daytime programs were cancelled and replaced by syndicated shows. The battle for the top rated daytime show in syndication was between Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue (TV Guide had named Oprah Winfrey the richest woman on TV in 1989). Another popular talk show in syndication was Live with Regis & Kathie Lee which debuted in the fall of 1988. The People’s Court with Judge Joseph A. Wapner (popularized in Rain Man) was another successful daytime show in syndication. Other popular programs in 1989 (and still on the air) are Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Entertainment Tonight. Another top rated shows in syndication in 1989 was Star Trek: The Next Generation and the “off-net” Cosby Show. Kid shows peaked in the late 1980’s in syndication (before migrating to cable) led by Disney’s DuckTales and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle which premiered in the fall of 1988.

In May 1989 VCR penetration was 65.5% and rising. Variety reported that the top video rentals in 1989 were Big, A Fish Called Wanda Die Hard, Rain Man and Coming to America. VCR penetration peaked at 91% in 2004 before dropping to 72% in 2009. The reasons for the drop in VCR penetration was DVD players and DVR’s. The first DVD player was sold in 1997 and in 2009 household penetration neared 90% (among the fastest growing consumer electronic products in history). TiVo launched the first DVR in 1999 and ten years later roughly 30% households have at least one DVR (primarily from cable or satellite companies).

Radio- In 1989 there were 9,244 commercial radio stations in the U.S. (most of them were on the AM band), that figure has increased to 10,754 in 2009. With over 2,000 stations country music remains the most popular format in the nation as it did in 1989. There are however, a few format trends worth noting, the number of news/talk radio stations has doubled to over 1,300 (primarily on AM radio) making it the second most popular format. The number of Spanish language radio stations is approaching 800 up from 200, making it the third most common format. Another format that has grown exponentially over the past two decades is sports talk radio. A nascent format in 1989, there are now nearly 600 of them across the country. A popular handheld device in 1989 was the Walkman and that year 84% of all portable devices came with a radio.

Another trend that the radio industry has undergone since 1989 is ownership consolidation. The 1996 Telecommunications Act which relaxed ownership rules. This consolidation has led to the emergence of Clear Channel and other large radio owners. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions Clear Channel now owns upwards of 900 stations reaching 110 million listeners each week. Some radio purists have argued that radio consolidation has had a negative impact by creating fewer format choices and losing the localization of the medium.

After peaking in 1989 radio listening has been dropping, especially among younger age groups. For example, in 1989 Persons 12+ listened to 2 hours and 59 minutes of radio each day, that figure has dropped by 40 minutes. The daily listening of teens has dropped by 55 minutes over the past two decades. The emergence of new audio technology has also had an impact on the radio industry. For example, the first radio webcast was heard in 1994, there are 4,650 stations now streaming and 27% of Americans have listened to radio online each month. In 1999 Napster was launched and the era of online music sharing files had begun. In 2001 Apple introduced its popular MP3 player the iPod, this year 40% of Americans have a portable MP3 Player, including 71% of Persons 12-34. The first podcast was heard in 2003, since that time 22% of Americans listen to one. XM satellite radio was launched in 2001 and its partner Sirius the following year, since then they have 18.4 million subscribers. Lastly, the first HD radio broadcast aired in 2004, there are about 1,900 radio stations broadcasting in HD although consumer adoption has been slow.

Magazines- The number of total magazines including consumer, trade, business-to-business and Sunday publications has grown from 12,797 in 1989 to 20,590 today. One notable change has been the decline in newsstand sales of magazines. In 1989 single copy magazine sales accounted for 22% of the total (the remaining 78% were subscription sales), in 2008 single copy sales dropped to 12% of total sales. Perhaps due to the economy, the ratio of advertising pages in magazines in 2008 is actually lower than it was in 1989. In 1989 advertising accounted for 48.6% of magazine pages it dropped to 46.2% in 2008.

There have several prominent magazines and magazine types launched since 1989. One trend has been magazines tied to celebrities including Martha Stewart Living (1990); O, The Oprah Magazine (2000); and Everyday with Rachael Ray (2005). As a result of their growing population there has been a rise in Spanish language magazines led by People en Espanol (1996) Latina (1996) and Vogue en Espanol (1999). Publications on technology launched include Wired and Fast Company both begun in 1993. Other categories growing in popularity include celebrity magazines such as In Touch Weekly (2002) and OK! Weekly (2005) and video game magazines including PC Gamer (1994) and Official Xbox Magazine (2001). Other popular magazine types have been the “laddie” books led by Maxim (1997) as well as teen (including “little sister”) publications such as Teen Vogue (2007). Some teen magazines have since migrated exclusively to the Internet. In 2009 there are nearly 7,500 consumer magazines available online. Other successful launches include Entertainment Weekly (1990); In Style (1994); ESPN: The Magazine (1998); More (1998); Lucky (2000); Real Simple (2000); and The Week (2001).

There are a few long running and familiar magazines that have stopped publishing since 1989. These include McCall’s which was re-launched as Rosie (after Rosie O’Donnell ) in 2000 and finally went under in 2001. The monthly version of Life in 2000, Sport had stopped publishing in 2000, Mademoiselle stopped in 2001 and, most recently, Gourmet in 2009. Horizon Media has outlived several notable publications including George (1995-2001); Jane (1997-2007); Business 2.0 (1998-2007) Vibe (1993-2009); Cottage Living (2004-2008); domino (2005-09); Cookie (2005-09) and Portfolio (2007-2009). Several of these publication are surviving online.
Another trend in magazines over the past has been that the circulation of many large magazines is dropping, (not too dissimilar from the broadcast networks audience erosion). For example, Reader’s Digest which recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has had its circulation drop from 16.3 million in 1989 to 8.3 million in 2008, a decrease of 49%. TV Guide which has been revamped since 1989 has suffered a decline in circulation of 79.2% from 15.9 million to 3.3 million. National Geographic another publication with a circulation of over 10 million in 1989 has had their numbers drop 53% to 5.1 million.

Many of the seven sister magazines have reported a decline circulation ranging from 5% for Better Homes & Gardens to McCall’s which had a circulation of over 5 million in 1989 and as mentioned stopped publishing (reducing the seven sisters to the six sisters). One reason for the decline in circulation for these general editorial women’s services magazines include the popularity of niche magazines about health/fitness, shopping, parenting, working women, food and celebrity/entertainment to name a few.

Newspapers-With news available around the clock and on various platforms, the number of newspapers, circulation and readership has been declining, a trend that began before 1989 continues to this day. Since 1989 the number of daily newspapers has dropped from 1,626 in 1989 to 1,408 in 2008. In 1989 there were 1,125 evening newspapers and that figure has been cut in half to 546 in 2008. The number of early morning newspapers has actually increased over the past two decades from 530 to 872.

Over the past two decades the circulation of daily newspapers has been decreasing. In 1989 daily newspaper circulation was 62.6 million, that figure has decreased to 48.6 million. Circulation for morning newspapers has actually increased slightly since 1989 from 40.8 million to 42.8 million. The circulation for evening newspapers has dropped considerably from 21.9 million in 1989 to 5.8 million in 2008. Reasons for the decline in afternoon newspapers is competition from cable news networks, news/talk radio and the Internet, more full-time working women and a reduction in factory jobs in which workers typically came home at an earlier hour.
The number of Sunday newspapers has grown from 847 in 1989 to 902 in 2008. Circulation has not kept pace however, dropping from 62.0 million in 1989 to 49.1 million in 2008. It marks the first time since the 1940’s that the circulation for Sunday newspapers has fallen below 50 million.

There have been several long running newspapers that have ceased publication since 1989. Other publishers have filed for bankruptcy protection, resorted to cost cutting measures or put newspapers up for sale. Industry analysts surmise that in the near future some major cities will be without one daily newspaper. In early 2009, Colorado’s oldest newspaper The Rocky Mountain News owned by Scripps-Howard shut down after 150 years. Also in 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the cities first newspaper (beginning operations in 1863), now owned by Hearst Corp., stopped publishing a daily newspaper and migrated exclusively to an online edition. Both Denver and Seattle are now one newspaper towns. Other recent newspapers that have stopped printing and moving exclusively online include The Christian Science Monitor and Tucson Citizen.

Active newspapers are also providing content online as well. In June 2009 over 70 million Americans visited a newspaper website viewing nearly 3½ billion pages. Newspapers are still developing a business model for their online content. Another trend that did not exist in 1989 is free newspapers available in major metros across the country (and world). Begun in Stockholm in 1995, the primary purpose was to get younger people in the habit of reading newspapers. Supported almost exclusively by advertisers, free newspapers have since migrated to various markets in the U.S. by the early 2000’s.

The number of Spanish language newspapers has more than doubled over the past two decades reaching 700+ daily, weekly and less than weekly newspapers. In 1990 ad revenue for daily Spanish language newspapers was $76 million, that figure was $427 million in 2008.

Outdoor-One mainstream medium that has enjoyed a revival since 1989 it is out-of-home. What had once been regarded as outmoded has had a re-birth aided by as much by digital technology and other innovations as any ad supported medium. As the number of tobacco and alcohol advertisers using traditional roadside billboards were eliminated or curtailed, a growing number of marketers are using place based advertising and guerilla marketing strategies.

Over the past two decades, there have been several significant events effecting out-of-home media. In 1995, the first mobile billboard was used. In 1996, the Federal Highway administration approved changeable signs on billboards on roadsides. In 1999 tobacco advertising was banned by the outdoor industry. As people became more conscious of the environment, the outdoor Industry, in 2007, adopted a one sheet plastic poster replacement for paper poster billboards and began to phase-out of PVC flexible vinyl, replacing it with eco-plastics such as polyethylene. The out-of-home industry remains a vibrant part of many marketers strategy.
Computers/Internet The ad supported medium that has made the biggest change of course has been the Internet. A time line of web innovations over the past two decades will indicate the growth of the Internet. In 1989 Tim Behrers-Lee first proposed the concept of a worldwide web, the following year first search engine Archie (named after the comic book character) was written. In 1994 the first banner ads appeared online as the Internet became privatized. In the mid 1990’s many now familiar web companies were launched. Yahoo! was founded in 1994, the following year both the first eBay auction took place and was founded. Search giant Google was founded in 1998.

While there appears to be some confusion, the first weblog (blog) was posted sometime in the mid 1990’s. The first social network Friendster was launched in 2002, MySpace (2003) and Facebook (2004) quickly ensued. Consumer generated content became a phenomenon when YouTube started up in 2005. The following year the micro blogging website Twitter began operations.
In 1989 the number of personal computers in use worldwide exceeded 100 million for the first time. The U.S. had, by a wide margin, more than any other nation with almost half of them (49.4 million). A pre-Internet report on Computer Use issued in 1989 by the Census Bureau issued the following findings:

• After nearly ten years small “personal” computers are now an established part of many lives. At work, at school, and at home, the computer is a basic tool that many of us use daily.
• In October 1989 13,683,000 (15%) of all US households had a computer, an increase from 8.2% in 1984.
• Computer access for children in schools rose to 46% in 1989 up from 28% in 1984.
• 36.8% the workforce use a computer at work, up from 24.6% in 1984.

In summary, in 1989 almost one-third (32.3%) of Americans aged 3 or older (232.8 million) used a computer in some way. By contrast, today nearly three-quarter of Americans or (227.6 million) have Internet access. In 1989 the latest operating system from Microsoft was Windows 2.0 (Windows 3.0 would be released the following year). Also in 1989 was the first release of Microsoft Office Suite featured the bundling of word processors, spreadsheets, database and presentation software took place.
In 1989 Intel released its latest microprocessor “The 486”, which replaced “The 386” and was the first chip to have over one million transistors and multitasking capabilities. Also that year Apple introduced the much anticipated Macintosh portable. By 1989 the number of host computers (those computers that connect to a data network such as the Internet) reached 100,000. By 1992 that figure reached one million PC’s.

Video Games In 1989 Nintendo (in the years before Sony Playstation, and Microsoft Xbox) was dominant with an estimated market share of 80%. Selling over 20 million game systems and over 50 million video game cartridges that year, Nintendo became a must have for boys and male teens. By comparison, today the average age of a video game is 35 and they have played video games on average for the past 12 years. Also far more females are playing videogames that two decades ago. In August 1989 Nintendo launched its 8-bit Game Boy, the first handheld video game console which included the new Tetris game cartridge (40,000 were sold the first day and one million for the year). While Nintendo was almost synonymous with video games twenty years ago, there was competition. Most notably from Sega, they had introduced the next generation Genesis the (then) state of the art 16-bit (or fourth generation) console in 1989 in the US. Backed by a heavy marketing campaign, Sega sold 400,000 consoles in the U.S. for the year. Several popular video games were first launched in 1989. Maxis released SimCity, a video game that helped launch of series of simulators. Electronic Arts released the first Madden Football for the Apple II the first video game that featured all 11 players on each team.

By 2008 there were 37 million video game consoles sold with revenue reaching $21.3 billion Consumers also are renting video games becoming a $541 million market in 2008. In total, roughly two-thirds of all US households are playing some sort of video game.

Cell Phones 1989 was a breakthrough for cellular phones, annual sales reached one million for the first time and the first cellular phone ad appeared on television. In 1989 the state of the art phone was the Motorola MicroTAC, which had the innovative flip-open mouthpiece and a hefty price tag of $3,000. Back in 1989 cell phones did only one thing, make phone calls and they were also pricey reaching 50 cents a minute during peak hours. The first digital cellular phone call was made in the United States in 1990. In 1989 there were three million cell phone subscribers in the US, needless to say, that number has grown 90-fold to over 270 million. Cell phones can do has other functions than making calls.
What’s Next? What will the next 20 years bring is anybody’s guess, but already there are some early trends that could help us. The population will get older and will become increasingly more diverse. Fueled by new technology which knows no geographic boundaries, marketers are looking more globally than locally or even nationally. As media becomes more and more fragmented edgier content and ads and advertising opportunities will be created to help them stand out. Not only will consumer media grow, but consumers will spend more time with consumer supported (instead of ad supported) media.

Another trend is media usage outside the home will grow fueled by GPS (the first GPS satellite was launched in 1989), handheld devices and “smart” cars. In the future place shifting will be as prevalent as time shifting is today. With the number of screens outside the home growing, alternative out-of-home media opportunities will proliferate. The fourth screen will be as well known as the first three screens. The fourth screen will more importantly be, for many products, closer to point of purchase especially in-store advertising. Content such as news will become customized to each person’s individual taste and with more relevant and engaging ads. While privacy will remain an issue, many ads will be more targeted based upon their media selections that consumers will leave behind.

Media will no longer have a top down approach but will become more a more collaborative experience between marketers and customers. Consumers are empowered and their experiences and recommendations of brands and media will be shared with others. Targeting will be based upon behavior, attitudes, interests, psychographics and other patterns instead of just age/gender breaks. Marketers will look for greater accountability on their advertising investment.

In any event, Horizon Media will continue to bring its unique perspective and innovative ideas to help our clients grow their business. The next 20 years will be even more exciting and challenging than the first twenty.

badgate Horizon Media


August 26th, 2009
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As the recession began to take hold during the summer of 2008 the advertising community was insulated by two quadrennial events, the Presidential election and The Summer Olympics. As the longest Post-War recession continues, into the summer of 2009, ad dollars are plummeting. Local TV, newspapers and radio are losing upwards of 20% of its ad revenue versus a year ago. While there are no blockbuster events like The Olympics or political campaigns to offset the sluggish economy, there are two initiatives taking place that are unique and could give the sluggish advertising industry a mild shot in the arm.

Historically, one of advertisings largest product categories has been automotive. The industry has undergone a massive overhaul with two of Detroit’s “Big Three” filing for bankruptcy protection and coming back leaner and (hopefully) more productive companies. Automotive has been by a wide margin the top product category with local TV stations and despite a reduction of nearly 50% in spending in first quarter 2009. To give a shot in the arm, the government has initiated over the summer The Car Allowance Rebate System, better known as “cash for clunkers” program in which consumers can trade in their gas guzzling old cars, receive $3,500 to $4,500 in cash to trade-in for a more fuel efficient car. 83% of all “clunkers” are either SUV’s and trucks while the new car gets on average nearly ten more miles to the gallon.

Many local car dealerships are advertising the “cash for clunkers” plan with excellent results, wiping out their entire inventory for some. In July 2009, Ford Motor, reported a sales increase of 2%, its first year to year increase since November 2007. That same month General Motors reported its first increase in ten months and Chrysler’s sales grew by 30% when July 2009 is compared to June 2008. The program has been so popular that the government has extended the program into September.

While the short term the program has been incredibly successful, its long term success is questionable. Will this program only provide a temporary spike in sales similar to 0% financing or employee pricing or will it jump start the ailing automobile category and thereby help the advertising industry. If it does jump start the auto industry how soon would carmakers and auto dealers increase their marketing budgets pumping dollars back into the advertising industry?

The debate over health care reform can also pump some much needed dollars into local TV, local radio and newspapers. Already the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates that various advocacy groups have spent $52 million on the topic. At the onset most of the dollars were targeted in Washington, in an attempt to influence lawmakers. With Congress now in recess, the dollars will spent in various strategic markets and states across the country
With the health care reform bill being a lengthy 1,100 pages long, the law will be dissected by citizen journalists and bloggers and others. The debate will move from the traditional top down advocacy advertising that had been prevalent in years past to a new media, in which activists and voters are empowered and their opinions will be widely distributed and known. Hence, instead of dollars further spent on local TV, radio and newspapers, the recipients will be twitter, social networks and other platforms of the web 2.0.

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