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MBPT Spotlight: Looking For Men in All the Right Places—With Broadcast viewership dominantly female, more brands are finding better bang for the buck in male-skewing cable shows

For some time, lots of cost-conscious marketers have been gradually
moving ad dollars out of predominantly female-skewing broadcast network primetime programming
into female-skewing cable
shows. While the strategy has either
saved them money or gotten
them more bang for their
buck, they still reach mostly
women with their ad messages.

But that has started to
change, according to both media buyers and
executives at some of the more male-skewing
cable networks. More advertisers moved
money in this most recent upfront into both
male-skewing cable reality series and scripted
shows viewed by large numbers of men.

Brent Poer, president of LiquidThread
North America, the branded content unit of
Starcom MediaVest Group,
says “broadcast, as a whole,
has just become very female, so
marketers are looking to round
out their messaging by advertising
on programming that has
a denser mix of males.”

While ABC seems to have
a successful new male-skewing drama on its
schedule this season in Marvel’s Agents of
, other would-be freshman hits
for men such as Fox’s Dads and Brooklyn
and CBS’ We Are Men have so far
failed to impress—which could open up even
more dollars for male-skewing cablers.

“For a long time, marketers were moving
ad dollars out of broadcast but into other
female-skewing series on cable, particularly
scripted series,” says Peter Olsen, senior VP
of advertising sales at History. “Now you’re
seeing more broadcast primetime ad dollars
are moving into more male-skewing cable
network series.”

Hoping to Script Success

“In general, outside of sports programming,
the male audience continues to be underserved
on television,” Olsen says, adding that
“there’s still enormous room for growth. Some
of the cable networks are really trying hard to
capture more of that male audience. We are
going to try to own that space going forward
with new scripted dramas.”

History reality series hits such as Pawn
, American Pickers, Ax Men, Ice Road
, Swamp People, Top Shot and Top
have always been a prime destination
for marketers seeking to advertise to men. But
more recently, History has also been drawing
more ad dollars into male-skewing scripted
series such as The Vikings, with several more
series in the development hopper, including
Houdini and Sons of Liberty.

Olsen says instead of waiting until the traditional
program development meetings with the
media agencies and advertisers, which usually
take place in the spring before the upfront presentations,
History is going to hold its scripted
series development meetings beginning in November.
The network will then be discussing
scripted programming plans for 2015.

Marketing to men beyond sports telecasts
also needs to be more than simply moving ad
dollars from female-skewing broadcast series
to male-skewing cable shows. Not only are
men watching TV across multiple screens, but
marketers are finding that the types of prgrams men watch continue to get more diverse.

Stephanie Gibbons, president of marketing
and on-air promotions at FX, says the psychographic
profile of the male TV viewer has
changed over the years. Traditionally, it was
assumed that all men were into action-type series,
but Gibbons says “as the years have gone
by, the gender differentiators have changed.
What comprises male taste is changing, particularly
in younger men who are more open
to many different types of programming.”

FX draws a significant amount of female
viewers, but it still has several shows that skew
male, and some that are among the mostwatched
scripted dramas on cable.

One of FX’s most popular series, the
drama Sons of Anarchy, this season is skewing
56% male. Justified
this season has
skewed 64% male,
while freshman series
The Bridge is
averaging 53% male
and The Americans
is at 56% male. On
the comedy side, animated
series Archer
has a 76% male audience.
The League
which now airs on
FXX, has a male audience
of 72%, and
It’s Always Sunny in
, also
now on FXX, has
a male audience of
70%. On FX, Louie skews 63% male, Wilfred
is 62% male and Anger Management is
watched by 57% men.

Other scripted cable series with sizable
male skews include AMC’s The Walking
, Breaking Bad (which just ended after
its fifth season) and Hell on Wheels; USA’s
Burn Notice and Suits; TNT’s Falling Skies
and Leverage; A&E’s Longmire and Bates
Motel; and Syfy’s Defiance.

“It’s not enough to just reach men by gender
and age anymore,” says Poer. “You have
to follow them across traditional TV, VOD,
digital and mobile, and across shows in order
to reach the [male viewers] who are most
valuable to each brand.”

Poer says while more ad dollars are moving
from broadcast primetime to the maleskewing
entertainment cable networks, those
networks are not automatically going to get
those new dollars. He says the networks that
work with marketers to help them find and
target their prime male customers across all
screens are the ones that will reap most of
these reallocated ad dollars.

Male-skewing networks need to be offering
marketers and their agencies a holistic
approach to reaching men. “Multiple screens,
multiple touch points,” Poer says.

Doubling Up on the Marketing

Olsen says History has also started to get
more involved with reciprocal marketing with
its clients, where both the network and marketers
share their assets across platforms. “We’re
working with them to create websites together
where they can help market our shows,” he
says. And, Olsen adds, more heavy sports advertisers
are beginning to
move dollars into male
entertainment programming,
citing Geico, which
did a major deal with
The Vikings.

“Marketers are realizing
that to fully reach
all of their male targets,
they need to supplement
their sports advertising
on the male entertainment
networks,” Olsen
says. “Sports marketers
are no longer just doing
major sponsorships with
sports networks. We now
have a seat at the table
with those major marketers
looking to reach men outside of TV sports.”

Scott Felenstein, executive VP of ad sales
for Discovery Channel, Science Channel and
Military Channel, says “sports are not the only
thing men watch on television. Programming on
our networks is a good complement to sports.”

Felenstein says because Discovery and the
other networks own their content, “we can
do a lot more with our advertisers. They can
be woven into the content of the shows better
than they can in sports telecasts. Our integrations
offer a different way to break through
the clutter. If a marketer advertises on an NFL
telecast, they can get lost in the shuffle with so
many brands doing commercials.”

Velocity network, also owned by Discovery Communications, has been helped by the recent shuttling of Fox's Fuel and Speed networks that led to the premiere of Fox Sports 1 in August. "With those two networks gone from the auto programming space, Velocity has a great opportunity to pick up viewers and advertisers," Felenstein says. "Its viewership is still relatively small but it is a passion channel for men interested in all aspects of cars. It serves a very focused audience but also one that's very hard to reach."

Felenstein says Discovery network continues to skew about 70% male and picked up close to 20 new advertisers in the most recent upfront with several of them in the insurance, movie and QSR categories. The network is also open for business for Shark Week 2014 he says. Calling it the network's "Super Bowl," Felenstein says sales for next summer's programming sharkfest began in the upfront with sponsorships and integrations currently being discussed.

In a similar vein, Olsen says History picked up some new business from both male-skewing movies and in the insurance category.

Duck Call

A&E reality show Duck Dynasty, now the hottest series on cable, skews close to a 50-50 split on male and female viewership, according to Jim Agius, executive VP of ad sales. Agius says the network has gotten some more male-skewing advertising on the show. A&E, which like History is part of A+E Networks, usually doesn't get truck ads, but Duck Dynasty has a campaign from Chevy Silverado. Other new advertisers targeting men on the series include Sony Playstation, Polaris, Jack’s Links and Bass Pro Shops.

"The size of Duck Dynasty has brought more males into the network, but the show is really more family viewing," Agius says. "It's like a sitcom, wholesome family entertainment and one we can do a lot of brand integrations in."

Joe Hogan, executive VP of ad sales for Adult Swim, says his network is also drawing some marketers into the fold with its willingness to produce advertising "in surprising, different and unexpected ways."

Adult Swim recently worked with Subway to create a 90-second faux infomercial that highlighted the benefits of choosing Subway over other homemade sandwich options. State Farm also partnered with Adult Swim for a series of sweepstakes and contests at the heavily male-attended Comic-Con event in San Diego.

Adult Swim also brought its 40 X 60 ft., 10-room inflatable Fun House to the Con, where it was set up across from the convention center for the duration of the event. Adult Swim now plans to take the Fun House on a 10-city tour during 2014 and Hogan says some sponsors have already been signed up for the tour, which is sure to draw a lot of young men.