Upfront 07

Looking to Build on Its Ratings Comeback

Road to the Upfront: Discovery Networks

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Believe it or not, the TV upfront is right around the corner, and Advertising Age is here to help you keep track of the players in both broadcast and cable. This week we look at Discovery Networks.
2006 was a ratings comeback year for Discovery, which grew 13% year-to-year from January 2005 in household ratings and ranked ninth in total day viewing among adults 25-54.
2006 was a ratings comeback year for Discovery, which grew 13% year-to-year from January 2005 in household ratings and ranked ninth in total day viewing among adults 25-54.

The players: The company has 13 ad-supported networks in total, but the five with the highest ratings and carriage are Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel and Discovery Health.

Key execs: New President-CEO David Zaslav, formerly the head of cable and new-media distribution at NBC, who joined Jan. 1, and Joe Abruzzese, president-ad sales.

The ratings game: 2006 was a ratings comeback year for Discovery, which grew 13% year-to-year from January 2005 in household ratings and ranked ninth in total day viewing among adults 25-54. TLC also saw a ratings spike, while Animal Planet dropped 5% among its core of adults 25-54 but grew 6% in prime time in 2006.

What you'll hear: In 2007, Discovery will return to its roots as the go-to channel for event-based science and history programming. TLC can still deliver women 25-54 and significant brand recall. Animal Planet and Travel are both rich in baby boomers and parents watching with kids; Discovery Health will continue to be a destination for medical programming.

The buyer's verdict: John Moore, senior VP-group media director for Mullen's Media Hub in Boston, said Discovery was smart to focus its male programming, taking shows like "American Chopper" off female-friendly TLC. "When people think about reaching young men, you don't think about Discovery; you think Comedy Central, Spike, ESPN. They are absolutely a key network in reaching young men but could do a better job of being top of mind" for that demo.
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