Lady Networks Bleed Viewers

The New York Post points out that ratings at Lifetime and Hallmark are slipping, while other networks like the History Channel and MTV are gaining shares of women viewers.

Without the raw numbers, it's hard to know how much of a big deal this is — the History Channel may have had a 31 percent "jump" among women 18-49 because of Pawn Stars, but more women probably still watch Lifetime, where "primetime ratings slipped 17 percent in the first quarter." Oxygen and Oprah's new OWN are also making plays for this demographic. (We all know women ages 18-49 are identical anyway. Thanks, marketers.)

What is interesting is which shows happened to pique female interest: Pawn Stars, plus the fact that "Investigation Discovery has seen a 47 percent increase in female viewing for its slate of crime-themed shows, including Who the Bleep Did I Marry?. The Post also claims MTV among the winners with women, but doesn't specify whether its 67 percent rise, which it attributes to Jersey Shore, is among women or overall. And it doesn't speculate why ESPN might have risen 35 percent in women viewers for the first three months of this year.

You won't find any insight from ad buyers, either, unless it's the fact that women like to watch dumb TV.

Brad Adgate, Horizon Media's SVP research, told The Post, "Women just want to be entertained. They're balancing careers and motherhood and sometimes don't want to do a lot of thinking — this is just a moment to themselves.

This would be in contrast to the scintillating and intellectual entertainment aimed at and consumed by men.

Incidentally, it's not new to wonder whether networks devotes exclusively to women are the best way to build a lasting female audience. The New York Times asked in 2000, when Oxygen launched, "Do women really need another cable network? Do they really need another Internet site?" We can at least answer affirmatively to the latter.

Fem Net Exodus [NYP]