Like most TV ad sales execs, Sharon O’Sullivan has a sheet of bragging points for her clients, which she whips out during price negotiations to illustrate how well her network, Investigation Discovery (ID), is performing.
But O’Sullivan has the problem every TV network wants: She just can’t update that printout fast enough. ID—Discovery Communications’ true-crime network—is racing up the ratings chart. ID was ranked No. 2 in total day in its key demo (women 25 to 54) for the week of March 11, its highest point so far on a steady uphill slope. Only first-place perennial USA rated higher. During the same period last year, ID ranked number 35; now, O’Sullivan has tough news for advertisers used to gradual price increases. Network president and gm Henry Schleiff credits ID’s boom among its target audience to their love of mystery and suspense programming: “That very popular genre is not just part of the schedule—it is the schedule.”
On the one hand, Discovery bosses expect a fair price for highly rated programming. On the other, the TV ad industry doesn’t usually cotton much to price hikes. “The reality is you don’t get the full value of what you’re delivering as quickly as you’d like to,” O’Sullivan said. “But we have some adjustments to talk about.”