"For the first time in cable television history, we offer the ability to copy split automatically," he boasted, explaining that the capability is an outgrowth of technology TWC already employs to give local conditions and forecasts to cable TV viewers around the country. The new ad capability, however, takes that technology one step further, giving advertisers the ability to target by time zone, geography or even - and here's the really relevant part for TWC - the weather.
Here's how it would work: A car manufacturer, for instance, would be able to simultaneously run a 30-second spot for a sport utility vehicle in Denver, a luxury car in New York City and a gas-electric hybrid auto in Los Angeles.
"All at the same time," marveled Iaffaldano.
TWC also presented research showing that 30-second spots on the channel are viewed and remembered 50 percent more than other cable news channels. That level grows when ad sponsorships are added to the mix, which outperform typical Weather Channel spots between 35 percent and 70 percent. Weather-triggered ad sponsorships outperformed typical Weather Channel spots - which already outperform spots on other news networks - by 125 percent in recall.
The study included 1,250 telephone interviews of adults 18-64 conducted by ASI Entertainment between March 8 and April 8. The study focused on related recall, which involves answers that describe the commercial and what was said about the product.
The research - and Tuesday night's presentation - serve the network's ultimate message to ad planners and buyers: That TWC is a premium place for advertising, a lean-forward environment where the viewers' degree of attention and recall is significantly stronger than many of the other networks.
"This is a critical message for us," said Debora J. Wilson, chief operating officer of The Weather Channel Networks. The Weather Channel contends its viewers are not only engaged by the network but are passionate, active people who use the channel to plan and act upon their busy work, family and leisure time.
"The Weather Channel is all about the most impactful environment on TV," said Lyn Andrews, president of TWC Media Solutions. There's a name for these active, connected people: Vitalists. Andrews said that they come to The Weather Channel to fuel their passions as well as getting information to make decisions about the rest of their lives. They're also coveted by advertisers for an obvious reason.
"They are the people who buy your clients' products," Andrews said. They're also better reached via The Weather Channel in an era of heavy clutter on other networks, Iaffaldano said. The Weather Channel has no more than four commercials per pod. The channel has also been ranked in the 2004 Beta Brand Identity Study as the channel out of 41 networks least cluttered by commercials.
Unlike last year, when the upfront was filled with announcements about long-form programming, no new shows were unveiled. Instead, said Weather Channel Networks President Patrick Scott, the programming initiatives have born fruit in the ratings. Ratings are up 24 percent in adults 25-54 for the 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. block and up 39 percent in adults 25-54 for the 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. show, both in the first quarter. Adults 25-54 ratings rose 16 percent for "Storm Stories" (one of the long-form programs that runs at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. every day), along with "Evening Edition," the weekday weathercast that follows it from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Total day was up 11 percent.
The success has also shown up in ad revenues, which were up 37 percent for the TV networks and interactive (weather.com) in the first quarter compared to the same period a year earlier.
The upfront presentation was held at The Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. It was headlined by the California rock band Maroon 5, which played for almost 45 minutes following The Weather Channel's 20-minute presentation.