Outlook '05: More Idol Worship. A Reconstructed Radar. the iPod Effect. What the Ad Industry Can Expect This Year in Four Key Media, Politics and Research

ADWEEK, January 3, 2005 | Go to article overview

Outlook '05: More Idol Worship. A Reconstructed Radar. the iPod Effect. What the Ad Industry Can Expect This Year in Four Key Media, Politics and Research


NETWORK TV

The broadcast networks are cautiously optimistic about 2005, despite dark clouds on the horizon--among them DVRs, threats of government regulation and continued experimentation with alternates to the 30-second TV spot. Dave Poltrack, evp of research and planning for CBS, points out that spending was up in 19 of the top 20 ad categories in the third quarter--"a very strong foundation going into 2005."

NBC, which is shedding 1849 viewers, could lose big money to CBS and ABC in the upfront. Conversely, CBS's prime time worked pretty much every night in 2004, and ABC got buzz with Desperate Housewives and Lost. ABC's fate in the first and second quarters, and how it's seen in the upfront, will depend on its new and returning midseason shows. Meanwhile, Fox is down 7 percent in adults 18-49 and 13 percent in adults 18-34, but American Idol returns in January, as does 24. But if Fox can't find some drama successes, it could have a big image problem heading into the upfront.

The Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill grew key audience demos dramatically this season, but the WB is having trouble getting people to watch its sitcoms and freshman dramas. UPN is flat across the board in adults 18-34 and 18-49, and in viewers, and that's good, considering the network has Nielsen investigating a mysterious disappearance of black female viewers from its Monday and Tuesday ethnic sitcoms.--JOHN CONSOLI

CABLE TV

Coming off a slow-scatter ad market in fourth-quarter 2004 and thousands of dollars in first-quarter 2005 inventor,/cancellations, many cable sales executives are less optimistic about this year's media economy than they were five months ago. The good news is that cable networks continue to attract healthy-sized audiences, while broadcast networks lose viewers in an increasingly fragmented TV landscape. "We do look at alternatives ... but we don't want to abandon our bread and butter," notes Andy Donchin, director of national broadcast buying for Carat USA.

Though the future looks bright tot cable in terms of creative output and audience levels, a slowdown in ad spending at the end of 2004 put a dent in many executives' post-upfront optimism. Moreover, Procter & Gamble cancelled 25 percent of the first-quarter inventory it ordered in the upfront, drawing attention to the effect of high oil prices.

Cable did lose video customers to satellite earlier last year, but held sub counts relatively steady by rolling out digital set-tops capable of high-def TV and video-on-demand, as well as high-speed Internet. The number of digital cable customers grew to 24 million at the end of the third quarter, and the number of high-speed Internet users hit about 19 million, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Cable has 61 percent of the 30.9 million broadband users.--MEGAN LARSON

Magazines

Women's titles were last year's hot category, with launches like Hearst's Shop Etc., Hachette Filipacchi Media's For Me and American Media Inc. and Wal-Mart's Good Living Now, among others. And they will continue to be the main event in 2005.

Fairchild will spin off a women's version of Vitals in February and is testing Cookie, a parenting magazine. Hearst is developing a low-cost service title. Mad TV Guide is toiling away on the tentatively titled Inside TV,, which will be geared to young women. Meanwhile, Rodale will publish five issues of Women's Health after a successful test last year of the Men's Health spinoff. Conde Nast will introduce a home-shopping magazine called Domino.

And readers of any gender looking for an edgy pop-culture fix can look forward to the April relaunch of Maer Roshan's Radar.

For the first time in several years, many publishers actually experienced optimism in 2004, and the numbers backed it up, with ad sales in key categories like automotive and toiletries/cosmetics up in the high single digits over the previous year, and retail sales ballooning by 18 percent. …

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