Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Advantage: HDNet?

Mark Cuban knows how to leverage the pop culture better than the geniuses at Time Warner. I didn’t even know Dan Rather was doing some investigative journalism for HDNet until Mark’s blog post this morning.

I am not a huge fan of “The News” on television. In fact, I try to avoid it whenever possible (which believe me, is every time) taking my news in from the New York Times, Google, Yahoo, etc, and a large, large dose of ESPN.
Anyway, Mark capitalized on all the press about Dan Rather saying Moonves at CBS was “tarting it up” in an attempt to attract younger audiences. Moonves has apparently said if they don’t attract a younger audience, the nightly news will die. Moonves shot back that Rather was being sexist in his “tart-ing it up” comment and Rather responded that he wasn’t calling Katie a tart. Just commenting on CBS’ approach.

I look at this chart at and see that the nightly news (in the aggregate, this chart represents total viewers across all 3 major broadcast networks) has been in a steady free fall for over 25 years. It’s not turning around. The overall audience for nightly network news shrunk in half during a 25 year period where there was definitely a bit of population growth. The good ship “Nightly News” has sailed and isn’t going to turn around and come back.
We know for sure, advertisers are willing to pay more for the coveted 18-49 demographic. I only have about 5 years left to be coveted and I want to know WHATS IN IT FOR ME? (I mean besised ads trying to whip me into a frenzy that I need this or that product or I’m a total loser). But beyond that, all that’s clear to me is that that chart is going to continue to trend down. CBS will ultimately have less viewers than they do now. So will ABC. So will NBC.
This speaks to some of the same fragmentation issues I wrote about yesterday, and is every bit as inevitable.

The interesting thing to me is that it does seem that the advantage has shifted to the smaller guys like HDNet. If HDNet could attract even a million viewers to one of its broadcasts I believe that will be a profitable piece of content for HDNet. I do not believe there is any chance in it current set-up that CBS can produce a nightly news show and make money on it for one million viewers, for an audience of one million.

The HDNets do seem to have an advantage with the "smaller" market fragments.

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