Rating the buyers

In almost every Strategy article about TV one finds buyers rating the networks and their shows. So we figured it's only fair to have a go at rating the buyers.

In almost every Strategy article about TV one finds buyers rating the networks and their shows. So we figured it’s only fair to have a go at rating the buyers.

To do this, we found out which media directors and buyers had the instinct and foresight last spring to buy into what turned out to be this season’s top 10 shows.

Below, you can find a selection of buyers who bet on the right horses, along with their comments on how successful a buy it turned out to be.

(For this exercise we defined winning horses as the top 10 prime-time series by DMA rating among adults ages 18 to 49 in the Greater Toronto Area, for the months October through December 2001, as measured by Nielsen Media Research.)

1) Survivor III (rating: 16.9)

Florence Ng, VP, broadcast buying, Optimedia

‘I actually bought only a few, the station estimates were very high. Even though it is number one, the rating has gone down quite a bit [from previous Survivors], at least a 15% drop-off.’

Dennis Dinga, VP, director of broadcast buying, M2 Universal

‘We anticipated a bit of fall-off but we still thought it would be in the top 10.’

Helen Shelton, VP, broadcast

operations, MBS

‘You can’t miss with Survivor.’

Florence George, VP media

director, Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell

‘Historically, Survivor has a huge premium on it. So we didn’t utilize it to a great degree.’

Sherry O’Neil,

director of broadcast buying, OMD Canada

‘We had hoped it would do better than it did. We’re still fans of the Survivor series and we have a couple of advertisers that are regular participants in it. But certainly the ratings for 18 to 49 are way off what our expectation was.’

2) Friends (rating: 10)

Florence Ng

‘It seems to be rejuvenated. My only concern is it’s still going to run in a pre-release position – rather than simulcast – in Canada. That actually affects the audience delivery.’

Dennis Dinga

‘People who put it on their buy will be pleasantly surprised; it’s probably over-delivering because of its performance.’

Helen Shelton

‘I think now that we’ve seen people cocooning a little more after Sept. 11, Friends being strong isn’t so surprising now. We wouldn’t have predicted that it would have been as strong back when we were buying in June or July.’

Florence George

‘Friends is doing better than it has historically, maybe because of the events of last fall.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘We invested in it at the beginning of the season, but to a lesser degree than some of the other top shows because it is so expensive. It’s made a nice little comeback versus a year ago.’

3) E.R. (rating: 9.3)

Florence Ng

‘It probably skews a little bit better toward 25 to 54. If clients can afford it, we buy it, but it’s not really that affordable.’

Dennis Dinga

‘It’s a strong program. It continues to have strong writing, they continually change the actors around, and there are always good storylines. I don’t expect E.R. to fall off, even next year.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘It has been there and stayed there consistently, but really all the top shows are down a rating or two, so they’re less ‘top’ then they used to be. This season’s launches were low versus the prior year and then fell off enormously in subsequent weeks.’

4) Star Trek Enterprise

(rating: 8.9)

Florence Ng

‘The clients I work on target adults 18 to 49, so I bought. If I was buying for women I probably wouldn’t have gone for it.’

Dennis Dinga

‘I’m a Trekkie, so I predicted that program to do very well from the moment I saw the preview.’

Florence George

‘Not too many surprises in the top 10, except for Star Trek. I kind of kick myself now. I know CHUM was trying to sell it on a regional basis, but we didn’t go into it long term because we felt it to be – wrongly or rightly – more of a male skewed, younger program. It’s current rating is much higher than CHUM was estimating.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘It was a surprise that it made the top 10 at all. Kudos to Jay Switzer and CHUM for locking on to it. It’s doing well across the country and not just in Toronto. We did buy it and it’s certainly the most cost-efficient top 10 show that’s available in the market.’

5) Malcolm in the Middle

(rating: 8.5)

Florence Ng

‘I think it’s still going to be an ‘all family’ show. There aren’t that many of those anymore, and I think this is going to stay in demand.’

Dennis Dinga

‘There’s not a lot of choice in the Sunday 8 p.m. timeslot, so it’s a good time for Malcolm.’

Florence George

‘I think it does well because it follows The Simpsons, which also has a pretty broad appeal, even family appeal. It doesn’t surprise me. It did well last year too.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘I think there’s a lot of family viewing of Malcolm, with kids and parents watching it together. We bought it extensively for a lot of our clients. It’s a favourite because it crosses so many demographics.’

6) Will & Grace (rating: 8.5)

Florence Ng

‘Because it is in the Thursday night lineup, whenever we can afford it, we buy it. We tend to do road blocking, so we have both Will & Grace on Global and C.S.I. on CTV.’

Dennis Dinga

‘It’s fallen off a bit for adults 25 to 54, but it’s still capturing that 25 to 34 target group. It’s still a strong program.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘We find Thursday night is really expensive on Global so we don’t tend to buy it as much as some of the other programs. If you’re going to buy Thursday night, you want to buy the top show. You focus more on Survivor or Friends than you do on Will & Grace.’

7) Frasier (rating: 8.0)

Florence Ng

‘It’s a quality show. It used to be extremely high-priced and I think stations now understand that it doesn’t deliver the same big numbers anymore. We have Frasier for most of our clients.’

Dennis Dinga

‘It doesn’t matter if you put it in repeats, back-to-back, or back-to-back-to-back – Frasier still delivers.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘We’re surprised that it continues to do so well. It is also one of the really expensive shows on the Global lineup. We have bought it for our more older-skewed businesses, rather than 18 to 49.’

8) Simpsons (rating: 8.0)

Florence Ng

‘For 18 to 49, I don’t buy it, but I do for 18 to 34. Some of our clients want something a little more edgy and that probably is the one – for a high-tech kind of client. It’s a cult show for guys.’

Dennis Dinga

‘I’m really surprised that it keeps going and going and going. It’s a cult with certain guys.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘It’s another one like Malcolm, it crosses all kinds of demographics. We have lots of brands that are youth oriented with two demographics we have to reach. It’s a great environment to be in, and a regular buy for a lot of our client base.’

9) C.S.I. (rating: 7.8)

Florence Ng

‘It was a dark horse. This year it’s actually improving in the ratings and delivering right across the board.

‘I buy it mostly for 25 to 54 clients, 18 to 49, and if I look at women’s numbers, the rating is even higher. For adults 18 to 49 it ranks number nine but for women, it’s number four.’

Dennis Dinga

‘It’s an excellent program. It continues to rank in the top three in the U.S. week after week. It’s got a pretty good time slot on Thursday night. A lot of viewers watch a half hour of Friends, watch Survivor, then C.S.I. and go into E.R.’

Sherry O’Neil

‘C.S.I. finally arriving in the top 10 in Canada is very welcome. It’s taken a long time to get there. We’ve been buying it and we were disappointed in its performance, so we’re happy to see it move up.’

10) Law & Order

(rating: 7.3)

Florence Ng

‘I think the rating is being eroded a bit because they’re growing the franchise like crazy. I think people watch it because there’s a guarantee of quality, but there’s only so much Law & Order you can take.’

Helen Shelton

‘We now have Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. How much Law & Order can we watch?’

Sherry O’Neil

‘It’s been there on the edge for years and it’s one of our tried and true. When we’re buying CTV we always look at the Law & Order properties, so it’s a very important top 10.’