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Scripps Upfront Urges Buyers to SURG To Reach Cord Cutters

E.w. Scripps Upfront
E.W. Scripps upfront video features Chris O'Donnell and Tony Hale (Image credit: E.W. Scripps)

E.W. Scripps’ new national networks unit has a secret weapon advertisers can use to reach those elusive viewers who have cut the cable cord.

At upfront presentations, Michael Teicher, named head of ad sales for the Scripps National Networks division in January, is introducing buyers to SURG, the Scripps Unduplicated Reach Generator.

Scripps earlier this year acquired Ion Media and combined that with the Katz Networks it bought in 2017 and Newsy. Much of Ion’s and Katz’s distribution is over the air, which is growing, versus pay TV, which is eroding.

Cord cutting has Scripps doubling down on over-the air. “We capture the free TV homes and the SVOD homes,” Teicher said, noting that 45% of Scripps Networks viewers don’t subscribe to cable and 71% of them have SVOD services. Scripps is also looking to add over-the-top distribution to its networks.

“The current migration to SVOD creates the most commercial avoidance by consumers in TV history,” Teicher said, and heavy TV viewers are seeing the same commercials over and over, which isn’t efficient for advertisers seeking reach. 

Teicher’s pitch is that the Scripps networks can help advertisers achieve unique reach by getting to the cord cutters, effective reach while reducing frequency and diverse reach based on a diversity of programming that may attract different types of viewers.

To prove that, Scripps created SURG, which is a tool that shows how much incremental reach an advertiser can achieve by adding Scripps to its media plan.

In one example, an advertiser planned to buy 300 gross ratings points against adults 25 to 54 across 12 broadcast and cable networks. The reach for that campaign was 37.8%. SURG found that by taking 60 of the ratings points and putting them on the Scripps networks, the campaign generated 5% additional reach.

“In today’s day and age, a 5% reach is very substantial,” Teicher said.

Scripps started doing its presentations earlier this month and Teicher expects to conduct about 250 to 300 of them.

Part of the presentation is a film that features stars from some of the acquired programming on the Scripps networks, including Tony Hale, Chris O’Donnell, Vivica A. Fox and Allyson Hannigan.

Scripps is also increasing the number of original movies on Ion and Bounce to eight each. Many of those films will air around the holidays so “we can create a unified marketing program for clients across channels,” Teicher said. Another cross-channel opportunity will come when the Bounce Trumpet Awards moves to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and airs on Ion and Laff in addition to Bounce.

Teicher also said that Scripps’ Court TV will be able to provide clients with Nielsen C3 ratings later this year.

Many of the company’s relatively new networks, such as Grit, sell all of direct response advertising. Others like Bounce sell the majority of their inventory in the general market.

As the industry turns towards buying and selling audiences, Scripps isn’t yet set up to do that, “but that is on the roadmap,” Teicher said.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.