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Women’s Cable NetworksPrep for Upfront Battles

Cable networks targeting women are gearing up for another upfront battle. once again, they will be waging to win a larger chunk of marketer dollars not only from each other, but from the broadcast networks as a whole—particularly in daytime.

Female-skewing channels such as A+E Networks’ Lifetime; NBCUniversal networks Bravo, Oxygen, Style and E!; and Scripps Networks Interactive’s Food Network, Cooking Channel and HGTV; and AMC Networks’ WE tv are readying unique pitches to advertisers, aimed at capturing the attention of a growing number of brands.

“Women today are über-consumers,” says Dan Lovinger, executive VP of cable ad sales for NBCU. “They are focused on by advertisers more than ever, including categories like electronics, home improvement and travel that were traditionally considered mostly male-targeted.”

Lovinger says each of the NBCU women’s cable nets has its unique audience—or, advertisers can buy packages across all of the networks. “The Bravo audience is a little more affluent, Oxygen is a bit younger female-skewing, E! is watched by women for pop culture, while Style targets lifestyle for all women,” Lovinger notes.

Mel Berning, president of ad sales for A+E networks, says Lifetime is once again growing its female audience, which is good timing given the approaching upfront. During the current broadcast season, Lifetime has increased its primetime viewership 8% among women 25-54 and 12% among women 18-49. Amy Baker, senior VP, ad sales for Lifetime, says among all cable nets with audience composition of more than 70% women, Lifetime is tops in primetime viewership for both the women 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

“Most of our competitors have almost all reality programming, [but] we have a mix of reality, movies and scripted drama,” says Baker. “We believe that’s a major differentiation.”

Berning also touts research indicating most of Lifetime’s growth “is coming at the younger end of the spectrum,” noting the net’s women 18-34 demo ratings are up “about 14-15%” this season.

Baker will aggressively go after categories in this upfront that traditionally have not targeted women, such as automotive and financial.

Jon Steinlauf, executive VP of ad sales for Scripps Networks Interactive, says the company’s six cable nets—which all reach a significant number of women—took in more than $1 billion in the upfront last year. Food Network and Cooking Channel each have an audience makeup of about 63% women; HGtV’s is 65% female.

Scripps will again take its unique approach to the upfront, traveling to eight cities to do traditional, six-network presentations, with sales and programming overviews and appearances by on-air talent at a central location in each city.

Steinlauf says beyond Food and Cooking’s viewers, HGTV offers the most upscale female audience total-day numbers, as well as primetime, on cable, according to Nielsen NPower data. He notes the Scripps nets work with advertisers to create short-form custom content for brands either as part of shows or as advertiser-sponsored vignettes during commercial breaks that are related to a show’s theme.

Ad packages can also include print ads in HGTV and Food Network magazines as well as digital extensions.