ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - Advertisers make Friends a priority as TV bidders prepare for comedy war

Last week it emerged that a war is about to commence in the broadcasting world over the sitcom Friends. Rights to its seventh series and beyond will soon be up for grabs and ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all look set to fight for them. Recent data showing the amount of ad revenue generated by comedy programmes gives some idea of the importance of the US show.

Last week it emerged that a war is about to commence in the

broadcasting world over the sitcom Friends. Rights to its seventh series

and beyond will soon be up for grabs and ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all look

set to fight for them. Recent data showing the amount of ad revenue

generated by comedy programmes gives some idea of the importance of the

US show.



The data, compiled by CIA MediaLab/Admap, shows that Friends is by far

the most popular television comedy for advertisers. Between August 1998

and July 1999 the series attracted almost pounds 33 million of

advertising revenue, an increase of almost 30 per cent since last year

In a distant second place, another US sitcom, Frasier, took almost

pounds 15 million.



Friends is currently broadcast on Channel 4 and Sky One, and it is these

two channels that have the strongest comedy portfolios in terms of ad

revenue. Advertisers spent pounds 91 million on Channel 4 comedy in the

past year, while Sky One received almost pounds 17 million. For UK Gold,

the genre is also performing well - in the year to July ad revenue from

comedy increased by 24 per cent.



Despite having the strongest comedy portfolio in terms of ad revenue,

Channel 4 does not have the highest-rating comedy show. So far this

year, Friends has trailed in second place to ITV’s Barbara, which has

attracted average audiences of over eight million. Friends pulls average

audiences of around four million. However, Channel 4 does have a

stronger comedy portfolio, with four of its programmes featuring in the

top five comedy shows, by audience, shown on commercial channels so far

this year.



Channel 4’s high comedy profile is matched by the percentage of its

total ad revenue taken by comedy. In the year to July 1999, 16 per cent

of the station’s revenue was made by comedy shows. The strength of its

comedy bodes well for E4, the new entertainment channel planned by

Channel 4.





MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-4397575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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