C5 chief bullish in face of poor launch ratings

Channel 5 chief executive David Elstein says he is “relaxed” about achieving ratings as low as 300,000 for some of his programmes, in an interview with Marketing Week. His comments are guaranteed to raise eyebrows among advertisers who are disappointed with poor ratings.

He insists he is happy with the audiences for the station’s home-grown peak-time programmes during its launch week, despite the initial fall-off in ratings. “If these programmes achieve ratings of 300,000 or 400,000 to start with, I’m relaxed. I feel we will expand the audiences from there. We don’t have to do it straightaway.”

He claims C5 is on course to achieve the five per cent share he set as a target for the end of the year.

However, one managing director of a major London media agency says: “He may be relaxed having ratings as low as UK Living but advertisers certainly won’t be. We want to see some improvement, fast.”

According to new data from Western Media International (WMI) and BMRB, C5’s retuning is woefully inadequate.

The research, conducted by BMRB for WMI’s new research unit, Mediascope, surveyed the C5 catchment area. It found that only 57 per cent confirmed their video recorders or TV sets had been retuned.

The research also showed that after retuning, an enormous 43 per cent complained of poor picture quality. Twenty-three per cent of those who had been retuned said that poor picture quality would prevent them from further viewing of the channel. Forty-two per cent of those who said they had not been retuned were never contacted by C5.

And, according to more research called InTouch from Optimedia, viewers think that C5 does not yet stand for anything.

Optimedia managing partner Philip Talbot says: “The people we talked to thought that the other channels had clear identities. For instance, Channel 4 stands for alternative programming and comedy. But they did not think C5 represented anything new.”

However, the groups did like the American-style, stripped-and-stranded programming format and late-night films that would not be interrupted by news coverage.

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