Survey: Ad Execs Target Discovery, ESPN

NEW YORK A new Beta Research survey of advertising executives suggests that clients may be spending more of their 2009 marketing dollars on cable networks like Discovery Channel and ESPN.
After polling 225 ad professionals — of which 150 were identified as agency players while the remaining 75 were culled from the client ranks — Beta found that 45 percent of respondents said they would increase their ad spending on Discovery this year, while 44 percent predicted they’d invest in more ESPN.
TBS was the third most-cited cable network in the Beta study, as 40 percent of those quizzed indicated that they would pick up more of the Turner network’s inventory in ’09. Food Network took fourth (39 percent), while top-rated USA Network finished just behind the Scripps flagship (38 percent).
Along with queries about how each network functioned in terms of providing a favorable programming environment, the Beta study also focused on the issue of audience retention during commercial pods. According to the researcher, 50 percent of executives who do business with ESPN/ABC Sports said that the cable and broadcast properties rated at least a four-of-five on a scale where a perfect five indicated that the group’s strategies to reduce commercial churn were particularly effective.
ESPN is generally one of the “stickiest” cable networks during commercial pods, as viewers tend to watch a great deal of its sports programming live and in real time.
Turner Entertainment, which includes TNT, TBS and truTV, also fared well, as 49 percent of those surveyed gave the collective high marks for its various retention strategies. Turner was followed in short order by: Fox (49 percent), Discovery Networks (48 percent), MTV (47 percent), Scripps Networks (47 percent), NBC (47 percent) and VH1 (46 percent).

Having invented the concept of pod-busting in the halcyon days of 2005, MTV has developed dozens of executions designed to keep its young, gadget-happy demo locked in during commercial messaging. While not all of the initiatives have been successful, proactive MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central have shown significant improvement in their commercial-ratings deliveries, shaving churn from the low double-digits (-15 percent) to the low single-digits (-5 percent).
ABC and CBS were judged to be somewhat lacking on the preemptive front, as the former got high marks from just 41 percent of those surveyed, while the Tiffany Network limped in at 31 percent.
Beta conducted the 225 interviews between August-October 2008.