Young Women Target Of Blair Handicappers

The smart TV syndicators have placed their bets on talkshow pilots aimed at young women, because the five current strips that are growing the most in the big markets are the ones that skew toward women 18 to 34.

That’s the word from Lou Dennig, VP and director of programming for Blair Television. He’ll discuss this trend in a report to executives of the dozens of TV stations Blair represents on Jan. 23 during the National Assn. of Television Program Executives convention.

The five current talkshows that attracted a substantial proportion of younger women during the November Nielsens in top 50 markets are: Columbia TV’s “Ricki Lake,” 52% of whose total female audience is 18-34; Warner Bros. TV’s “Jenny Jones,” with 45% in that category; Paramount TV’s “Montel Williams” (39% W18-34); Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer” (34% W18-34) and 20th TV’s “Gordon Elliott” (32% W18-34).

By contrast, the older talkshows, which Dennig says are not showing audience gains this year, capture the bulk of their female audience from the 50-plus set. That’s a demographic most advertisers will buy only at a discount.

Distributors have sifted through the same data as Dennig, with the result that at least seven of the talkshow pilots for the 1995-96 season are stressing young-women appeal in their marketing plans. They are Warner Bros. TV’s “Carnie Wilson,” Tribune Entertainment’s “Charles Perez,” 20th TV’s “Gabrielle Carteris,” Genesis Entertainment’s “Mark Walberg,” All American TV’s “Richard Bey,” Buena Vista TV’s “Sephanie Miller” and Columbia TV’s “Tempestt Bledsoe.”

Cannell Entertainment’s morning talkshow pilot hosted by George Hamilton and Alana Stewart is conspicuous in this list because it seeks to be the West Coast version of “Regis & Kathie Lee,” 58% of whose female audience is over 50, and only 19% between 18 and 34.

“The biggest plus for a new talkshow geared to young women is that they’re much more willing to try a new TV series” than older people who are set in their ways, says Dennig. Young women are also the first to run out and buy new products, he adds, or to go back to established products that are touting new ingredients.

Dennig says talkshows have become such a programming staple that more stations are scheduling same-day repeats. The surprising fact about this trend toward double runs of each episode, he continues, is that “there’s no negative impact on the primary run… despite the additional exposure of a second run” of such successful talkshows as “Jerry Springer,” “Ricki Lake” and “Jenny Jones.”

To get an early read on how affiliate switches are affecting the ratings of TV stations, Dennig took the five metered markets where there are at least four weeks of Nielsen monitoring. The stations that came out the happiest, he says, are the ones that did not switch from Fox to one of the Big Three, or vice versa. These pillars of stability grew by one share point in primetime and held their ground in other time periods.

Hurt the worst, Dennig says, were Big Three affiliates that transformed themselves into Fox affils – they lost three primetime share points and fell an average of five share points in early fringe, late fringe and the 7-and 7:30-p. m. access time periods.

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