Audiences, Not Binders


There’s been a lot of talk recently about where women can be found. Clearly, it’s not as simple as just looking them up as if they were office supplies. If you’re looking to reach women – on a commercial basis – there are some cable networks that will tell you that they are the best venue for doing that, since the composition of their programming is nearly all women.

Yes, but just because a French fry is nearly 100% potato, that doesn’t mean that you can eat one and say you’ve had all your vegetables for the day.

Using tightly targeted programming delivered to below-minimum audiences makes about the same logical sense. It takes as much rationalization to consider a potato a vegetable in the first place as it does to accept one small genre of programming will satisfy all women.

For example, if we look at one of the higher-profile shows that airs on Lifetime (“Television for Women”), Project Runway, we’ll see that over 77% of the audience so far this season are adult females. But on average, it delivers 643,000 total women for each episode, on a national basis. That’s a 1.0 W18+ rating.

ABC7 Sunday News in Chicago isn’t what you’d instinctively think of as a “female show” – yet for the season, the 10PM local news broadcast this season is averaging nearly 318,000 adult women for each broadcast, representing 62% of its audience. It’s delivered an average local demo rating of 8.7.

So if you were to buy one local newscast in one market, you’d deliver nearly half of the national female audience that it takes a cable network targeted to women.

But almost no advertiser will be targeting all adult women.

So let’s take a look at a more manageable demo, W18-49.

One of the most female skewing shows on television is Tamar and Vince on WE (Women’s Entertainment). Its average overall audience is 86% female, with 59% being W18-49. This highly concentrated bucket of viewers is pretty small, however. Nationally, 317,000 W18-49 tune in on average. That gives it a 0.5 national W18-49 rating.

Early sampling of new NBC shows Go On and The New Normal delivered over 300,000 W18-49 viewers also – in NY alone. And only 32% of their audience is female.

In fact, if you look at one of the most successful basic cable new shows, Major Crimes on TNT, its audience is 65% adult females, and it delivers about 534,000 total W18-49 for each original episode. ABC’s Once Upon a Time delivers 600,000 W18-49 in just the four top markets of NY, LA, Chicago and Philadelphia – and with a combined adult female audience averaging 59%, it’s nearly as female-driven an audience.

Women viewers aren’t something to categorize and file away in one neat folder, et al. Cable TV might seem to offer a simple option for a simple target, but women are far from a simple target.

And they’re definitely not a one size fits all.

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