An 11th-hour surge in ratings at Kids’ WB! shook up last month’s kids up front, but despite the market-share redistribution, at press time, the event was shaping up to be a repeat of last year’s buyer’s market.
‘The only thing of note that really happened was when Kids’ WB! added Batman Beyond in mid-February, and then added Pokémon in late February,’ says buyer Gary Carr, Western Initiative’s senior VP and group director of national broadcast. ‘They were kind of languishing around, not doing much of anything for the fourth straight year, and all of a sudden, they started putting up some numbers, so it’s shaking up the competitive landscape.’
In fact, according to Nielsen ratings from New York-based TN Media, Kids’ WB! has gone from having its former top show, Men in Black: The Series, ranked at 111 among all U.S. kids shows (kids two to 11, September 1998 to November 1998), to having its new star, Pokémon, ranked at number 5 (October 1998 to March 1999), and Batman Beyond at number 17. Kids’ WB! is milking its pocket monsters for all they’re worth, with plans to strip the show weekday mornings, and possibly to repeat it on weekday afternoons too.
Carr says that most of the surge at Kids’ WB! came at the expense of Fox and Disney’s One Saturday Morning on ABC, but other than that, things were shaping up as predicted, with a ratings increase by Cartoon Network the only exception to a general ratings decline.
As the up front broke in the third week of April, buyer Tom Horner, Active International’s senior VP of media services, says it was shaping up to be ‘flat to down, and no feeding frenzy.’ Top shows such as Pokémon, Fox’s Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, Nickelodeon’s Rugrats, Wild Thornberrys and Cousin Skeeter and Disney’s One Saturday Morning were expected to pull in ad rates topping out at about US$35,000 per 30-second spot. Saturday morning spots on the broadcasters were expected to reach about US$28,000, with remaining ad rates falling in last year’s US$5,000 to US$30,000 range.
‘In general, there should be the same amount of dollars out in the marketplace as last year,’ summarizes Carr, ‘and there’s the same total amount of ratings points, so overall, costs-per-thousands should be about the same.’