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A Hard Look At CNN

Furniture World Magazine


Why furniture retailers should use it every day.

It was a new decade, and a young man in Atlanta took a poor performing independent station and turned it into a superstation... one which reached beyond the confines of his local broadcast area.. What he knew then would revolutionize the television industry and bring television into an era of diversification that it had never known. This was the late 70s, and anything was possible. The station was WTBS and the owner was Ted Turner.

The instant success of WTBS got him thinking about expanding into news. And in 1980, CNN was born. It brought us news twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And for home furnishings, it was magic. As a matter of record, Robb & Stucky was the first documented home furnishings organization to advertise on CNN locally. It might have been the first home furnishings store to advertise on CNN in the world. It was a natural fit. The community of Southwest Florida was heavily wired for cable because of the new growth in the market and the poor reception to the islands which create a barrier along the coast. But the most important factor in the decision to go on cable was the public's hunger for news. Some of the most popular local hours of programming, at that time during a normal week were the 6PM and the 11PM (EST) newscasts.

They were heavily packed with news... most of it local. Out of towners who made up a large portion of Florida's viewers didn't really care about the local Florida news. They wanted to know what was going on back home. And upon that preference was built the foundation for CNN.

Today, the entire world wants to know what is going on... everywhere. And one of the key vehicles delivering that news is CNN. Once criticized for it's lack of journalistic acumen, today it represents the pinnacle of journalistic excellence. Bernard Shaw, Judy Woodruff, Lou Dobbs, Nick Charles, Fred Hickman, Karen Maginnis and Susan Rook are unquestioned professionals who bring the world the news as it happens. And perhaps that strength is the strongest selling point of CNN today. It brings us all the news now... as it happens.

CNN provides us with news we used to get from the newspaper. It gives us all the news all of the time. It allows us to advertise on the section of the newscast we most desire. And it allows us, in many cities, to direct our advertising message to specific geographic sections of our community which are of specific interest to us; to have our ad appear within specific dayparts which are most attractive to our specific buying market; and to advertise without costing us the bulk of our budget.

In an advertising world that is dominated by the principles of reach and frequency, CNN has become the great frequency programming tool for local home furnishings retail stores.

When asked which of the four news networks is their favorite for national news, more than half of American cable subscribers responded "CNN". According to Talmey-Drake Research & Strategy as reported in Cable World, 53% of the respondents indicated CNN was their source for national news; ABC scored with 19%; CBS & NBC tied with 11%. CNN's dominance was even more impressive among key demographic groups: Nearly 70% of homes with household incomes $75,000+ cited CNN as their favorite news network. Nearly 60% of college graduates favored CNN. And CNN performed well in all regions, especially in New England (61%) and the Pacific Coast (59%). Source: Talmey-Drake Research & Strategy as reported in Cable World, March 25, 1991.

According to Equitrend/Total Research Corp in their 1993 Brand Name Quality Perception of Media Properties study, ranking the News Media:

  • #1 CNN
  • #2 CNN Headline News
  • #3 60 Minutes
  • #4 20/20
  • #5 The Wall Street Journal
  • #6 Time Magazine
  • #7 ABC Evening News
  • #8 CBS Evening News
  • #9 Newsweek Magazine
  • #10 The New York Times
  • #11 NBC Evening News
  • #12 U.S. News & World Report
  • #13 Nightline
  • #14 Good Morning America
  • #15 USA Today
  • #16 Forbes
  • #17 CBS This Morning
  • #18 The Today Show
  • #19 Money Magazine
  • #20 Business Week Magazine
  • #21 Fortune Magazine

*In the morning: Daybreak with Ralph Wenge. Also, CNN & Co with Mary Tillotson and Sonya Live with Dr. Sonya Friedman bring lively discussion to the morning dial. Newsday with Cathy Marshall; The Big Story.

*Early Prime: The World Today; Primenews; Larry King Live; Crossfire; Moneyline; Sports Tonight; World News and Newsnight with Catherine Callaway.

*On the weekends, Style with Elsa Klensch is a must to buy if you are the least bit interested in fashion.

A viewer to CNN's lifestyle programming is 17% more likely (than the average viewer) to be a woman in a household with income of at least $40,000 per year and where head of household has one or more years of college education.

Viewers of CNN's business programming are 62% more likely (than the average viewer) to be males in households with incomes of at least $40,000 per year and where the head of household has one or more years of college.

A viewer of CNN's news/specials programming is 55% more likely (than the average viewer) to be an adult in a household with income of at least $40,000 per year and where the head of household has one or more years of college education.

A viewer of CNN's talk/forum programming is 15% more likely (than the average viewer) to be a woman in a household with income of at least $40,000 per year and where the head of household has one or more years of college education.

Saturday morning from 8AM-1PM (EST) is a great time to reach women 25-54 years of age. With women 55+, nearly every daypart of every day is above average. This network is truly their source for news and information.

When you are considering year long buys, remember as in all television, the number of households watching television will be larger in the 4th quarter and the 1st quarter of the year. Inclement weather is the key for much of the country. But many suggest, after the children go back to school, these quarters are when the women have more time to watch than when the children are off from school. For most dayparts within our target audience (women 25-54) the second quarter tends to be slightly stronger than the third quarter but this is not true for Sunday's from 8AM-1PM, where the third quarter is slightly better than the second quarter.

Smallest audiences within our target tend to be Monday through Friday, 7AM-10AM. This is a period when all the networks have morning news programming and the competition is especially keen. But after 10AM, CNN dominates.

Above the norm, viewers of CNN last year have used a home decorating service. And during the past year, viewers of CNN were above the norm in having spent $500 or more on home furnishings.

Of particular interest to those of us in the furniture industry... there is a higher correlation between viewers who watch CNN and those who have Crate & Barrel catalogs in their home than with any other network.

We have limited our article to CNN this month. It's sister network, CNN Headline News is another story and one which we will tackle at a later date. It too is an excellent vehicle for reaching your specific buying target.

CNN, unlike other cable networks, has claimed a legacy in American news. It was there at the exact moment when the missiles were flying into Baghdad. And that legacy of being there when news happens has a huge effect on the tendencies of the American public during breaking news. This past winter, CNN was there when the earthquake hit Los Angeles. This fall CNN will be wherever news occurs. And if you advertise on it, your message will have an excellent chance of being seen by an audience much greater than the audience size for which you purchased the time.

Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at lhanish@furninfo.com.