More Family Programming May Mean Higher CPMs

Want to see more family programming on TV? Then tell advertisers they might have to pay higher CPMs for potentially lower-rated shows.

Doesn’t sound so good? Well, that might be the only formula that gets networks to shift their programming efforts.

In a new print campaign, the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment is dangling media money at networks and producers in a hope they’ll change their minds. The timing precedes next week’s big network upfront presentations.

The Alliance’s big marketers – Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Unilever and 18 others -- say they spend 30% of all TV dollars. Sounds like a compelling argument – or a bit of media leverage.

The trouble is that TV advertisers have been pursuing the goal of family programming since the mid-‘90s with uneven successes. They have been unable to convince big TV networks – all the broadcast networks and now some cable networks – to run more family-oriented programming.  Programs they helped launch – with such efforts as script development seed money -- include “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Friday Night Lights.”



The problem is that these shows and many other family-oriented shows don’t get big ratings. That is something both TV networks and major TV advertisers still want.

Marketers can some find family-oriented programs that fit the bill.  But they are scattered around. Perhaps they should increase media buys on Hallmark Channel – or spend more on “Hallmark Hall of Fame” that now runs on ABC.

Over the last couple of decades, TV marketers have spent ever more money, and run more commercials, to hit the same GRP totals among 18-49 viewers for particular campaigns.

For many, family programs still come with a hidden, not always spoken, description – that they have safe, not compelling, content. Viewers aren’t always interested in that.

How can they get more family programming on the networks? Marketers won’t like the answer, but they will need to pay higher CPMs than they do for procedural crime dramas, medical shows, racy sitcoms or reality fare.

And what happens when those family programs’ ratings, more than likely, come in un-inspired? All kinds of business suffers.


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