Commentary

Should TV Network Executives Look For Jackasses?

 For a long time the myth has been that Hollywood is pushed by one demographic. Actually, for most movies, that's not the case.

But then we have Paramount Pictures and MTV Films' "Jackass 3D." After weeks of middling theatrical openings, we get an eye-popping $50 million opening weekend. In mid-October, no less!

Who's responsible for this activity? Young men, of course -- that demographic that seemingly pushes summer action movies to amazingly high levels of ticket sales. The audience for "Jackass 3D" was 60% males, with 67% of patrons under age 25. If $50 million weekend estimate total stands up, the film would have the biggest October weekend ever for a theatrical movie -- including a record first-day tally of $28.1 million.

Spikes in TV young-male driven programming don't necessarily work the same way. Still, think about those high NFL ratings these days on TV -- especially NBC's "Sunday Night Football," for example. NBC says over the last month those game have yielded the best prime-time results for the league in some 14 years. Key customers here? Men, and especially young men 18-34. Male viewers can represent 60% to 70% of viewers of a particular game.

Theatrical movies -- because of their distribution patterns -- look for a seam, perhaps a lull, in big entertainment options. But summer is still a key time because box-office attendance is at its highest.

Surely, Paramount would say -- for the most part -- young men alone aren't going to give you big box-office numbers for most of its movies. They need consumers from other quadrants to make a successful film. But with almost 70% of one movie's big $50 million opening coming from one demographic group, it tells you how hungry these particular customers are.

There are niche TV networks targeting younger male viewers -- but never getting these type of audience composition numbers. The better performing young male networks -- MTV, MTV2, Spike, Comedy Central, FX, Fuse -- as well as the usual places, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports Channel, the NFL Network, and Versus -- might register anywhere from 200 to 300 men 18-34 viewers per 1,000 viewing TV homes.

"American Idol" and other big shows can get big gross numbers for any specific viewer group. But getting to strong percentages -- comp numbers for a particular group -- is another issue.

TV marketers sorely crave bigger hits for those hard-to-get young males viewers any time of year, not the least of which is because this demo attracts a different kind of advertiser -- mobile phone service companies, video game producers, and, yes, theatrical movies.

Any lessons for TV marketers? Maybe MTV wishes "Jackass" were still a TV series. >

3 comments about "Should TV Network Executives Look For Jackasses? ".
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  1. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine, October 21, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.

    I saw that film and it was just dreadful! (Took 2 16-yr-olds) If all entertainment goes in this direction we're doomed! I will say, however, that while I would have preferred to spend my OWN $15 ticket money on "Wall Street", "The Town" or "Secretariat" - when it came down to it I spent the $ on making my kid happy. Also it is almost impossible now to deposit 2 16 yr olds at an R rated film and get away with not staying with them - I was FORCED to see it with them by theater managers - as a marketing ploy, I have to wonder how much of that opening weekend $ was other parents, like me, forced to accompany their kids? It may have bumped up their profits by as much as 20-25% right?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 21, 2010 at 5:49 p.m.

    Yet, the first half of that 18-34 demo does not have the funds of the second half and the first 3 years of it cannot be sold alcohol legally. "They" say the target begins at 18, butt again....really? And most of the under 18's money comes from who....again? And again another study just came out stating that the more children are subjected to violent games and video (movies, TV included), the more they are desensitized and the more their violent tendencies can surface. Got accident insurance?

  3. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, October 25, 2010 at 2:40 a.m.

    Considering that there are 2 articles per month here about how one "finally needs to recognize the Mom market" its good to finally see a "don't forget the young male market" article for the first time in 2010. ;)

    It will be a miracle if politicians ever figure out that they might want to try to get the young male vote.

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