Advertisers are chomping at the bit to advertise on Jersey Shore, but the advertising recovery is happening faster at older-skewing networks. There’s a reason for that, and though it has to do with relativity, you don’t need to be an Einstein to figure it out.

Interesting coverage from Joe Flint at the LA Times on Viacom’s quarterly results (which were good with a 52% increase in profits versus last year).  While I wasn’t surprised to read that despite all the controversy, advertisers are now lining up to jump on the Jersey Shore train, I cringed a bit when reading that the advertising recovery has been quicker at the older-skewing networks:

While “Jersey Shore” and Viacom’s other controversial shows including “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” are drawing viewers, Viacom Chief Financial Officer Tom Dooley acknowledged that the resurgence of advertising that has boosted many media companies has been slanted more toward networks that attract older viewers. Networks that skew younger have had a slower recovery, Dooley said.

That hurts some Viacom channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Spike, but the company also has channels that attract older viewers including TV Land and CMT, which is a country themed network. It is a similar story overseas, where shows that appeal to older viewers tend to generate more revenue, Dooley said.

I cringe when reading stuff like this not because it isn’t accurate, but rather because of fear of how people will interpret it.  While it may be true that MTV has had a slower recovery than, say, TV Land, it is not true that CMT and TV Land are making generating revenue than MTV.  MTV is crushing them. It’s just that those networks didn’t fall off as much to begin with because relatively speaking hardly anyone was watching them.

These relative comparisons are tricky for people to grasp, and I don’t think that it’s that the media covering this stuff doesn’t understand it, it’s just they know if they take the time to explain it people’s eyes will roll into the back of their heads  and generally that’s a bad outcome for publications.   But hey, that’s what we’re here for!

Let’s say I’m TV Land and for discussion purposes I made a dollar last year.  This year I made $2.  I have increased profits by 100%!   Let’s say you are MTV, and last year you made $10, and this year you made $12.  You have only increased profits by 20%!  My “recovery” is going better than yours, but, you’re in way better shape than I am.

Do I believe that the recovery at say, USA (different owners), which skews older than MTV is happening quicker than at MTV?  Yes, absolutely. But I buy the direct cause and effect of volume and not age skew.

USA typically averages  over 50% more 18-49 viewers than MTV in primetime. And while younger (say 18-34)  may be good, more 18-49 is still better.  I’d much rather be USA than MTV, but I’d much, much rather be MTV than TV Land.

Last week MTV averaged well over twice as many 18-49 viewers as TV Land in primetime, and more than five times as many 18-49 viewers as CMT.  So don’t go thinking things are rosier for TV Land (even with Betty White!) and CMT than they are for MTV.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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