Marketing

Inspiration Makes ‘Leap’ In Nielsen Status

6/13/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Inspiration Network has moved up the
audience-measurement chain to the biggest currency:
daily C3 ratings from Nielsen, as of June 1.

“We’ve been working on this for 18 years,” John Roos,
the senior vice president of corporate communications
and research at the Christianthemed
network, owned by Inspiration
Ministries, said. “The
big issue is to be able to justify the
cost.”

Roos and chief strategy officer
Bill Airy said the justifi cation has
come from measureable gains in
viewers as seen from two years
of Rentrak set-top data and from
weekly Nielsen ratings the network
began getting last September.

“We’re a small independent, and
for us it’s a huge jump,” Airy said.
“We’re taking a leap of faith, as they say.”

FIRST UPFRONT

“We’re in the midst of our first upfront,” he said, making
presentations to advertisers and media buyers in New York,
Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit, particularly touting
numbers in women 35 and older and similar demographics.

Advertisers are gaining appreciation for buying power
held by women in older age groups, he said. “It seems as
if the market is moving towards us as we are moving towards
the market, and we’re feeling pretty good about it.”

Inspiration’s biggest gains have come in and around
primetime, and the biggest catalyst was the acquisition
last October of The Waltons. Yes, the 1970s series about a
mountain family in Depression-era Virginia.

Inspiration, which counts distribution of 69 million
homes, does not have a very big
audience. But getting The Waltons
and adding family-friendly movie
fare such as Sally Field’s Places of
the Heart
has helped it grow. “We’re
proving that people want to watch
wholesome television,” corporate
communications manager Melissa
Prince said.

Based on weekly Nielsen data,
Roos said, the
network (which
airs a lot of Christian-
themed fare)
over the total day averaged a 0.04 rating in
April 2011, compared with a 0.02 in October
2010.

In viewers, the network averaged 44,000
over the total day the week of May 23, 2011,
compared with 15,000 the week of Sept. 27,
2010, before the network made schedule changes, including
adding The Waltons.

Nielsen figures provided to media outlets by The Walt
Disney Co. indicate that Inspiration’s total-day audience
the week of May 30-June 5, 2011, averaged 43,000, which
was No. 94 out of 99 ranked networks.

In primetime, though, the Disney-provided Nielsen
ratings put Inspiration Network’s average audience during
the May 30 week at 161,000, which was tied for 45th
place, just above MTV2 and Galavisiòn and just below
Golf Channel and Bio. This is the first time Inspiration has
qualifi ed for these lists.

Roos said the network also closely follows Rentrak reports
on the total amount of time viewers spent watching
over the course of a week. In the last week of September
2010, he said, the figure was 1.65 hours. The week of May
23, 2011, that had risen to 2.86 hours. That was 56th out
of 219 networks measured by Rentrak National TV Essentials,
he said.

RENTRAK PIONEER

Roos said Inspiration was the first national network to purchase
Rentrak’s set-top data, beginning
in February 2009. “We still like Rentrak a
lot” and use it particularly to watch “audience
flows” and make changes, as needed,
to the schedule.

But what advertisers really want are daily,
C3 ratings from Nielsen, Roos said. “We
understand that community very well,
and they have certain rules, and one of the
rules is you have to have Nielsen ratings.”

Inspiration recently expanded a sales office in New York
City to five people, supporting ad sales groups in Denver
and Charlotte, N.C., Airy said.

September