Channel 5 aims to deliver half the adult impacts of Channel 4 by Christmas, after faster than expected growth during the summer.
The channel says it is already 40 per cent the size of C4, in terms of the number of its adult impacts (impacts measure the number of times a viewer has seen an ad) and has been bigger than BSkyB since April this year.
Its average share of total viewing is 3.9 per cent so far this year, but in the past six weeks it has been above four per cent, with a peak of 5.8 per cent.
C5 sales director Nick Milligan says viewers are “flirting with the channel” as ITV and BBC show repeats this month, traditionally one of the worst for attracting big audiences.
Ian Lewis, broadcast director at Zenith Media, comments: “There is a possibility that there will be a lag between C5’s audience going up and the money coming in to match it.”
Under the current system of airtime trading, a large proportion of annual budgets is locked into deals struck in October and November for the following year. This means relatively little is money available for short-term deals at this time of year.
C5 will try to attract “per item” deals, for example for a record or a video, direct response advertising and development work from first-time advertisers.
Milligan claims the big audience increases will give C5 a much better planning base for its 1999 deals.
Nick Theakstone, head of broadcast at MediaVest, adds: “Longer term, C5’s growth has to be consistent. Then agencies will plan for it.”