By Zach Arnold | August 12, 2013
If you believe Les Moonves, the long-time CBS network executive, the answer to the question headlining this post is: yes.
A recent Bloomberg article titled CBS rediscovers fogey power opines that Moonves is onto something. The long-and-short of the article: the 18-to-34 year old demographic is shrinking in numbers and the “disposable income” argument that has been made for years about this demographic is being dismantled. Why? High/chronic unemployment or underemployment given that the heavy majority of jobs being created in the last several years are part-time. So, the new logic is that the old folks aren’t so bad after all since they’re the ones with cash still and are the most loyal television watchers. “Zero TV” has less of an impact on the old fogey demographic than the youngsters.
Peter Vesey, the Vice President of advertising sales for Fox Media Group, shared a different opinion during a recent Sherdog radio interview with Jack Encarnacao. A few notes from the interview…
- Most sports properties are seasonal, which means advertisers generally are picking specific months to advertise to the 18-to-34 year old demographic on sports broadcasts. However, the UFC is a year-long proposition, which means advertisers have more of an opportunity to reach the 18-to-34 year old demographic. This is considered a plus.
- UFC, out of all sports properties, is the most consistent at drawing the 18-to-34 year old demographic for Fox. 80% of the UFC’s audience is male. And the numbers are consistent throughout the 35-40 live shows being broadcast each year. UFC’s consistency at attracting the 18-to-34 year old demographic is considered remarkable in the television industry.
- Since the UFC airs a lot of live events, Fox Sports values this highly because live events are less likely to be Tivo’d than taped programing. This means advertisers are more interested in spending cash.
- The ratings that UFC is generating during the Summer and Winter for programming is ‘above expectations’ internally-speaking.
- Fox is internally tracking how many people are following weigh-ins, then pre-shows, then post-fight shows. There is very little drop off in the numbers. Consistency throughout.
- There is over 5,000 hours of UFC programming aired on Fuel/Fox Sports 2 each year.
- When Fox sports sell advertising on UFC shows, they sell the brand and not any particular fights in general.
- For the August 17th broadcast in Boston with Chael Sonnen vs. Mauricio Shogun, FS1 will be using “double-box advertising” during rounds in fights. It will look similar to what Versus attempted to do on their UFC broadcasts. The “double-box” ad platform is viewed as a winner with advertisers because the viewers at home pay more attention to the commercials than they would during standard CM breaks.
- Ronda Rousey, Chael Sonnen, and Jon Jones are viewed as the three names that Fox loves in terms of advertising and producing television. Sonnen is viewed as a darling in media circles. Some quotes from the interview that are paraphrased: “That guy is just, he’s awesome. A great personality. Really captivating. Great for TV. … I’m impressed as hell by Chael.”
- As for Jon Jones, “He’s an enigma. He’s very camera-friendly, very people-friendly, someone easy for a brand to wrap their arms around with. If Nike’s behind you…” And the compliments don’t end there. “He’s such a special person. He’s got a great story, comes from a family of athletes. What you see with Jon is what you get. When I pitch the UFC to my clients, I always know I can go right to Jon and it’s easy for them to wrap tehir arms around this guy… he’s such a great personality. I think he’s someone that brands will embrace.”
Vesey also stated that the Culinary Union and other anti-Zuffa political groups are having no impact on chasing advertisers away from buying inventory on UFC telecasts.
One party that is having fun with the launch of Fox Sports 1 is ESPN. Normally, ESPN has employees tight-lipped about the competition and lets the suits handle the trash-talking. Not this time around. Ever since David Hill and other Fox Sports suits have pushed “fun” and “jockularity” as the buzzwords for the new FS1 channel, they’ve been the subject of mockery.
If you haven’t seen the long-promos on Speed for the upcoming FS1 launch, consider yourself lucky. They left a negative impression on me. I’d replace the words “fun” and “jockularity” with “vapid” and “obnoxious” as far as a first-impression goes. Not feeling it.
I'm all for fun. Sports should be fun. Hey…some network should co -opt that. I just think the ship has sailed. But yell all you like
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) August 11, 2013
@richarddeitsch FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!!!!!
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) August 10, 2013
FS1 feels entirely like Best Damn Sports Show Period on testosterone. In the case of FS1, they had one of two choices to be different than ESPN: be different politically or be different in terms of seriousness. Given the heavy percentage of those in sports media who are left-of-center and heavy percentage who are left-of-center in Fox Sports & Fox Entertainment, there was no way that FS1 was going to be “the conservative alternative” to ESPN as a sports channel ala the Fox News Channel.
So, FS1 could either be the hard-hitting serious sports network or else morph into what they are marketing right now – celebrity, pop culture, FUN, flash. And UFC is a cornerstone of what Fox Sports envisions FS1 blossoming into in terms of becoming a serious network player in the next 5-to-10 years.