Media buyers believe Channel 5 could help cut TV inflation in half if ITV and Channel 4 improve their output to compete with it.
The channel launched its young, mass-market programming to buyers this week. Many likened the schedule to satellite channel Sky One and the Fox Network in the US.
The centrepiece of the stripped schedule is the nine o’clock movie which will run against news on ITV and BBC1 and a British soap, Family Affairs, that will compete with regional news magazines on the two big channels.
“The mission for C5 is to entertain,” says programme director Dawn Airey. “Soaps and movies are going to be key. Modern TV is about routine and we are making it easy for viewers to make an appointment to view.”
Other mainstays of the daily schedule include: a late-night chat show hosted by comedian Jack Docherty, followed by a comedy slot; a gossipy entertainment news magazine called Exclusive! at 7pm; “fresher, faster and more entertaining” news at 8pm; and a lifestyle segment covering gardening, cookery and property at 8.30pm.
Mornings will feature pre-school programming, an Australian soap opera for children and a women’s consumer magazine show. Afternoons will be dominated by US soap operas, a repeat of Family Affairs and a news magazine.
At weekends, the schedule will be filled with acquired US action-drama shows, children’s programming, omnibus editions of its soaps and more films.
ITV has announced that it is to strip its soap Emmerdale across the week that C5 launches and will air two films – Ace Ventura and Sister Act II.
“Advertisers would be looking at double-figure inflation this year if it weren’t for C5 and the fact that ITV and C4 will improve their programmes to compete,” says Bill Barker, broadcast director at J Walter Thompson. “Provided they take advantage of C5, advertisers can reduce inflation from eight or nine per cent to four or five per cent.”
“I think the gap in the market C5 is targeting exists,” says Mike Smallwood, media director of Lowe Howard-Spink. “It is crucial they get sampling in the launch period – so expect to see the best stuff first.”
However, some buyers still want more information.
“It was a slick presentation, but short on the detail buyers need before making investment decisions. We want the full April schedule,” says Tim Greatrex, Zenith’s deputy managing director.
Other buyers express concern about how many of its films and acquired US shows will already have been seen on satellite or video.