Sportsman Channel Hopes To Entice Advertisers With Nielsen Ratings


Is there a top ad executive with a more diverse portfolio than Mary Jeanne (MJ) Cavanagh? She heads sales at the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) and last year took over much of the national business at the Sportsman Channel, dedicated to hunting, shooting and fishing.

While the Sportsman doesn’t exactly lend itself to package deals, she feels she now has a critical lure to reel in a slew of new advertisers at Sportsman. The network becomes Nielsen-rated March 26.

“Advertisers want to be able to show they’re reaching X, Y and Z,” she said. “They’re held accountable by their clients.”

The Sportsman Channel -– part of InterMedia Partners along with GMC -- has distribution in over 30 million homes, a benchmark many networks use in order to sell with Nielsen numbers. Cavanagh says the measuring stick at the highly targeted network won’t necessarily be the size of the ratings because the content lends itself to the engaged viewer.



Still, she’s hoping to peel dollars away from the Outdoor Channel, which pulled in about $37 million in ad revenue in 2011 (about the same as 2010), and perhaps appeal to advertisers on the History Channel searching for men 25 to 54.

So-called endemic advertisers, for products such as outboard motors or ATVs, are less concerned about ratings, but national brands count on them before revving up spending. Sportsman Channel signed Ram trucks pre-Nielsen and it has sponsored a Friday programming block. Since many outdoorsmen travel frequently, the hotel category is one Cavanagh would particularly like to crack.

She says, however, there may also be a perception on Madison Avenue about outdoorsmen that differs from Sportsman headquarters in New Berlin, Wisc.

“The thing we have to show is hunters and fishermen are regular guys,” she said. “They’re not just guys who live in the middle of America and wear overalls."

One example is Justin Jackette, an account executive at Sportsman under Cavanagh. He wears pinstriped suits when not wearing gear that will help when tracking deer and bears. Cavanagh doesn’t hunt, but once caught a small shark and reeled it in solo.

Sportsman has been receiving Nielsen data internally for about a year and is satisfied enough with the results to bring them to market. Programming includes cooking show "Dead Meat" and the adventure travel-oriented "I Wish You Were Here."

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