Accuracy in Media

NBC Nightly News, which consistently beats its competition in the ratings, is taking a new tack in an effort to boost ad revenue.

The program, which along with the evening news on ABC and CBS traditionally attracts an older audience and thus advertisers that target both budding and longtime senior citizens, is now hyping the fact that their viewers are older, surprising many in the ad industry according to a report in Ad Age:

As a new round of highly-scrutinized data confirms the continued erosion of traditional viewership for broadcast-TV news, NBC is pitching its “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” to advertisers with a new angle: TV-news audiences may be older than others, but their interest in and receptivity to advertising is slightly stronger. And, oh yes, advertising on the nightly newscast is significantly cheaper than, say, “CSI: New York” or “The Big Bang Theory.”

“One could argue that, given the long-held perceptions” about evening newscasts, “we haven’t gotten the full value that I think we perhaps should have for ‘Nightly News,'” said John Kelly, senior VP-ad sales, NBC News/MSNBC. NBC has primarily been pitching marketers other than those in the pharmaceutical and personal-care categories, which make up almost two-thirds of “Nightly’s” ad base, he said.

Would any advertiser really want to trade in the scores of viewers between 18 and 34 who tend to watch prime time for the pill-popping crowd marketers tend to believe tune in to the daily evening newscast? Since 30-second spots in the three broadcast network evening news shows run anywhere from $23,000 and $45,000, according to media buyers, that’s less than a quarter of the about $200,000 it costs to run an ad on Fox’s “House” and substantially less than the about $135,000 price tag to run an ad in NBC’s own “30 Rock.” Indeed, some news veterans think the NBC effort makes sense in an industry where technology is scrambling many preconceived notions.

This new sales pitch is a bit of  a stretch. Just because the ads on the news program are cheaper doesn’t necessarily make it a better buy. If the advertiser’s target audience isn’t watching the news then why should they waste their money on the program?

Also, during the time that the Nightly News airs, many of the coveted 18-34 year old viewers are either still at work or on the road and unable to watch even if they wanted to.

The potential silver lining for NBC, besides being able to sell their ads cheaper than the network does in prime time  is that according to its own tests 94% of viewers watch the news live and are 10% more likely to watch commercials.  This is the DVR effect as the  evening news viewer demographic is less likely to even own a DVR and thereby record the news. Besides who wants to watch old news?

Even so the strategy, while being praised by some news veterans, is unlikely to succeed leaving NBC depending on Depends for ad revenue.


Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.