Commentary

When TV Middlemen Begin Demanding Programming Changes From Networks

Stations and distributors want more say in program decision-making, and are being outspoken about it.

Peter Liguori, chief executive officer of Tribune, says he’s “not pleased with where the CW is,” adding that it “should not program to [young] people who don’t watch television.”

Until a couple of years ago, CW had focused on the 18-34 demographic, particularly women.  Since then, CW says its programming has catered to a broader group of viewers, as evidenced by higher 18-49 viewer numbers this year versus last year.

But has its marketing changed to keep pace?

Liguori believes CW’s branding emphasis is still on younger viewers, which doesn’t necessary help the network’s affiliates, of which Tribune is the biggest group.

A certain degree of marketing is “aspirational”: Target a younger audience, and an older audience will come along. (After all everyone wants to appear younger, don’t they?)

Does the “CW: TV Now” marketing theme skew younger? Do “The Originals” or “Vampire Diaries” seek those younger audiences? It would seem so.

Perspective is everything. Skewing to 18-49 is younger than, say, skewing to 25-54. But each of those demographics is still dealing with a wide range of viewers.

And then there is this: All five top English-language broadcast networks, except the CW, have a median age of 50 or older. CW’s median age is just over 41. There are younger demographics -- and there are really younger demographics.

Liguori is also verbal that Tribune should be more involved in CW’s programming and decision- marking. “[Maybe it’s time for to] get a seat at the table,” he says.

Tribune has a long history in first-run syndication programming and more recently with WGN America’new original program “Salem.”

In a slightly different case, DirecTV’s recent carriage agreement with The Weather Channel dictated that the network should dial back its growing involvement in reality programming. That was somewhat of a first in a programming demand by a TV distributor.

Testy relationships are bubbling all over because content providers -- big media companies --- are inching toward new digital networks, VOD services and the like, where they might not need broadcast stations, cable operators, satellite services or telcos.

In turn, middlemen companies with any leverage  are looking to put their foot down.

2 comments about "When TV Middlemen Begin Demanding Programming Changes From Networks".
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  1. Michael Gemme from freelance innovator , May 19, 2014 at 6:16 p.m.

    Are they looking to put their foot down or are they looking to enhance the end result of the parties involved.
    I am no expert that will never be in my vocabulary. Usually expert seems to be one who is done learning.
    My experience in music and in marketing for 30 yrs is listening,being open to ideas. My personal experience is if you have integrity product people who have it talk about and love to share about their joy. It was the same with music.
    My question is the title truly that a foot is being put down.investors in you asking to have a voice and share creativity could that be what they are real title might be?
    TV is in need of huge new approach. Not all but high percentage. #QualityCanEqualQuanity

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 19, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.

    Does this mean they would take their ball and go home ?

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