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Mad. Ave. still seeks rich auds

NBC usually on top in upfront advertising coin

HOLLYWOOD — The networks will ask advertisers to show them the money in May, but it’s really a two-way street.

Although there are many ways to measure a program’s value to Madison Avenue, it’s no secret that what advertisers most want to reach are popular shows with well-heeled auds.

Slumping NBC may be poised for an overall fourth-place primetime finish in the key adults 18-49 demo — in part because it’s the only major net that doesn’t receive significant Nielsen boosts from postseason NFL action — but it figures to fare better in the annual May derby known as the upfront.

The Peacock has long ruled the roost when it comes to upfront advertising coin, primarily because its audience has the best mix of adults under 50 with disposable income of any of the nets.

And although it is now on a more level playing field with its rivals in the ratings game (neck-and-neck with CBS and ABC in both regular-program and non-sports averages and behind Fox in overall averages), the under-50, high-income area is where the Peacock maintains an edge.

Through the first week of February, NBC was indexing at a 115 among adults 18-49 earning $75,000 or more, ahead of ABC’s 110, CBS’ 104 and Fox’s 91. And among adults under 50 earning $100K or more, NBC surges to a 118 index, compared with a 107 for ABC, a 101 for CBS and an 84 for Fox, according to Nielsen’s NAD data (National Audience Demographic).

(To arrive at an index of upscale viewers within a demographic category, the rating of upscale viewers within the category is divided by its overall rating in the category. For instance, if the upscale rating is 1% higher than the overall rating, the index is 101.)

NBC possesses six of the top 10-indexing programs among 18-49ers earning $75K (led by “The Apprentice,” “West Wing” and “ER”), and ABC has the other four, topped by Sunday newbies “Boston Legal” and “Desperate Housewives.”

CBS is paced by “60 Minutes” and “Two and a Half Men,” and Fox by “24.”

How much its upscale advantage helps NBC when it comes to collecting coin from advertisers remains to be seen, as the net is without a buzzworthy skein for the first time in years: Steady and first-place CBS has become a magnet for advertisers in recent years, ABC has the watercooler shows and great development, and Fox has slowly been adding good pieces alongside “American Idol” on its sked.

Here’s a look at other nuggets gleaned from the most recent NAD reports:

  • Modest-performing shows that index at a 110 or higher among $100K young-adult earners include ABC’s “The Bachelorette” (130), NBC’s “American Dreams” (120) and CBS’ “JAG” (111).

  • You can understand why “Amazing Race” is a favorite of the Eye sales department and programmers: The Emmy-honored reality skein indexes at a 120 in key categories to rank among the top CBS shows.

  • The WB’s two highest-indexing series in 18-49ers earning $100K, “Gilmore Girls” (116) and “Everwood” (108), might benefit more by airing on the same night next season.

  • Although “Fear Factor” (74 index among 18-49 $100K earners) is a drag on the Peacock’s NAD averages, net’s weight-loss reality skein “The Biggest Loser” comes in at a respectable 106.

  • UPN, lagging in a big way in these categories, is about to lose its highest-indexing skein in 18-49ers earning $75K — “Enterprise” (79). Newbies “Veronica Mars” (67) and “Kevin Hill” (64) both rate low.

In all categories, the WB rates significantly higher.

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