The BizFollow The Viewers

Can you believe that 2003 is almost half over? Yahoo! The war in Iraq has ended, unemployment levels are on the decline, the economy is (allegedly) on the rebound, and now it’s time for...Third Quarter. Ugh.

Unless you’ve got 27 amusement parks in your market, Third Quarter is probably not your most robust time of the year for advertising sales. Actually, I think of Memorial Day through Labor Day as being the “real” Q3. No matter how you identify it though, the summer months require a new influx of sales ideas and creativity to avoid missing revenue projections, and one’s own mortgage payments.

When it comes to new business development, I’m usually working at least one or two months out, if not more. It was at this time last year that I heard the following comment:

“Nobody watches TV in the summer.”

“Nobody.” Hmm...that’s a unique way of looking at things, I thought. Look at all the successful primetime programs that have been launched in the summer months: Survivor, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and Dog Eat Dog (trust me, this will be Dog’s breakout summer). I’m sure you can name even more.

In fact, many people credit the reality genre as being the catalyst behind the explosion of fresh programming last July, and again this summer. Instead of pushing programs through promotion (“If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!” harked the clever NBC promos in past years), the networks actually now have some fresh content to serve up as an alternative to the third airing of some lame, forever-on-hiatus sitcom.

I like charts and graphs—they’re a simple way to illustrate a point to a potential advertising client without bombarding them with Nielsen numbers. When accompanied by a few common sense statements, your story grows even stronger. So here’s Jeff’s Views You Can Use...and feel free to fire up ye olde PowerPoint program to customize the chart on this page for your market.

Views You Can Use: Summer Viewing Vs. The Rest Of The Year

Looking at the graph, I’d have to say that there’s an awful lot of “nobody” watching TV in the summer!

Common sense tells us that people don’t abandon their need for news and information during the summer; they just get their “fix” at different times of the day, and in different ways. In my market, the news at 11 p.m. is in much higher demand than in its earlier editions. Duh! It’s sunny and warm outside at 5 and 6 p.m. Does that make commercial airtime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. worthless? Of course not. It’s priced accordingly. In fact, I found that TV viewing during some daytime and late night hours actually exceeded last year’s regular season average!

The big advertising agencies are taking note of summer viewing trends, as well.

Mainstream marketers such as General Motors, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo are now allowing their messages to appear in selected primetime reality programs. When you consider that many programs lose as much as 50 to 60% of their audience during repeat airings in the summer, it makes sense to take advantage of what’s hot and new!

Don’t let the dog days of summer get you down. There’s a story to be told, and it’s one that savvy advertisers will recognize. Follow the viewers, put your message in some different program areas in the summer months, and the sales will be sure to follow!

Jeffrey Ulrich is a member of the sales team at WHEC, Rochester, NY. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the position of HBI, Inc. He can be reached through his website or at
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