Other side of the table: Joe Abruzzese
Performance in 18-49s: Aggregate ratings for the top five networks in Discovery's family (Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health) are 1.2, down 14% from last year. Share is 2. (Discovery's target demo of 25-54 pulls in an aggregate 1.6 rating.)*
Performance in total viewers: Total aggregate viewers for the five networks are down 14.7% to 2.9 million.
Best returning shows: Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage," "American Chopper" and "Mythbusters" continue to draw male viewers to the network, as has Travel Channel's "World Poker Tour," which has spawned a slew of imitators. The Discovery Health network, though small, has been a bright spot because of its growth; its top show "Dr. G: Medical Examiner" returns for another season.
New shows: To become a destination network, Animal Planet is launching new programming blocks: "Whoa! Sunday" with host Mo Rocca of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "Wild Wednesdays," which include Jeff Corwin's second series for the network. Travel Channel will launch "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and TLC premieres in April "Sheer Dallas," an expose on Dallas high society. Discovery Channel will mark its 20th anniversary in 2005 with the debut of "Greatest American," a series that counts down the 100 most influential Americans, as voted on by viewers.
Weakest areas: While TLC was cited at last year's upfront as one of the strongest single cable networks, it couldn't deliver on promises. Total TLC viewers are down 28%, prompting Discovery to offer make-goods to many of its advertisers. But there's a new general manager, David Abraham, and a new promise to explore other programming genres, such as forensics and crime, cooking and health.
Most successful product placement/sponsorship deal: Home Depot has been the longtime category exclusive sponsor of TLC's "Trading Spaces" and its spin-offs, "While You Were Out" and "Town Haul," which all feature the retailer's products. World Poker Tour, Travel Channel's highest-rated show, recently signed up Anheuser-Busch's Michelob Amber Bock as its first full-fledged integration partner.
Audience average age: 43.9
Last year's CPM increase: 9% to 11%
Last year's upfront haul: Up 25% to almost $800 million.
The buyer's verdict: "Discovery has a great selection of networks that they can use to cross promote," said Chris Allen, VP-national broadcast supervisor for Omnicom's GSD&M, Chicago, "and they run a good business. But TLC has a difficult time ahead. They put all their eggs in one basket and were relying on `Trading Spaces' to keep building in interest. I don't think they need to change its brand or identity but they need some fresh programming-we're really anxious to see what they've got in development."
*Nielsen Media Research. Season-to-date is Sept. 20 to March 14.