CNN Seeks To Redefine The Meaning of Affluence

While other broadcast networks tout affluent viewers--generally considered to be those with $75k annual incomes and up--some CNN viewers probably consider that pocket change, as the network has embarked on a mission to change the ad sales meaning of "affluent."

"During this year's upfront presentations, many of the broadcast networks are touting their upscale viewers," noted Greg D'Alba, the Time Warner news network's COO. "The definition of upscale in their presentations is a household income of approximately $75k or more. However, can that truly be defined as upscale today in a two-income household?"

According to a study by Monroe Mendelsohn Research and commissioned by the network, CNN and Headline News reach approximately 54 percent of those households with incomes of at least $250,000 and approximately 50 percent of those households with at least $100,000.

The study looked at C-Suite executives at Fortune 1000 companies. The individuals who took part had a median income of $426,000 and a median net worth of $2.4 million, D'Alba said.

"These people are influencers," he said. "It's not just about purchasing more themselves, which obviously they do, but it's about the multiplier effect. They determine what goods at all levels have value, and therefore inspire the purchasing choices of a whole range of people not necessarily in that demo."

The study also noted that news is the most popular television genre among C-Suite executives. The majority--eight out of 10--respondents said they watch news on a regular basis over other forms of programming, including sports (72 percent), business (63 percent), and movies (63 percent). About 13 percent watch reality television.

One media buyer--when asked if the $75k figure was too low to consider affluent--noted that CNN had a point, but that the figure was still useful in general.

"In New York City, $75k a year income is not necessarily affluent, but in the rest of the country, it generally is considered upper-middle class at least," the media buyer said. "And we rarely--except for luxury items or high-tech--rarely buy TV spots with mainly the person who earns upward of $200,000."

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