Quest for youth

Youth is desirable, whether you're talking skin creams or target demos, and broadcasters know that if they corner the coveted 18 to 49s, it won't be long before buyers come knocking.

Youth is desirable, whether you’re talking skin creams or target demos, and broadcasters know that if they corner the coveted 18 to 49s, it won’t be long before buyers come knocking.

Citytv knows this better than most and makes no bones about the fact that its newscasts aim younger than the other guys.

The Nielsen numbers attest to its success: If you look at overall audience, its flagship Toronto CityPulse show sits at number three or four, but if you narrow in to the 18 to 34 demo, it’s number one with males.

Josh Tedbutt, media supervisor at Cossette Media in Vancouver, says so far it looks like Citytv’s formula will have the same results in Vancouver.

The quest for young male viewers, one of hardest to reach demographics, is pretty evident at the new channel, says Tedbutt. For instance, the kickoff CityPulse newscast on July 22 not only featured an interview with former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, but also included more cheesecake in the sports segment by including interviews with Miss Indy Pageant contestants.

‘Most news generally skews toward the older demographics, but I would say CityPulse is going after a more youthful audience and an audience that’s not so interested in the hard news.’

The question is – for both the competition and the buyers – where will that youthful audience come from?

BCTV News on Global has been the market leader for over a quarter century, and as such is pretty untouchable, but BC CTV, which has built itself into number two over this past year, has already taken some initial hits from CityPulse in the young adult and young male demos.

But even with this threat from CityPulse, David Stanger, partner at DSA Baron Communications in Vancouver, doesn’t believe overtly making changes to go after younger viewers would be a wise move for the traditional newscasts.

‘If Global, CTV or CBC all of a sudden decided to become hip, funky, we get it, we know the city, we know the streets – their loyal viewers would wonder what they were trying to be. It’s like a 50-year-old man going out and getting his ear pierced. It happens, yes, but when it does, you get people around him wondering what he’s trying to do.’

Rick Sanderson, media director at Bryant Fulton & Shee, says he isn’t surprised that BC CTV is now under attack for the number two spot. He says the CTV station has only been around since last year so its audience isn’t yet a loyal one.

In addition, he says, when CTV launched its local newscast last year, it emulated Citytv with a fleet of SUVs and videographers out on the street.

‘It’s more like Citytv than anything else I’ve seen on a CTV station, sort of a pale imitation of Citytv, because they just don’t have that philosophy in their soul. So it’s not surprising that when the real Citytv shows up, they’re going to repatriate the audience.’