Puppy Bowl XIII
Rooting for the underdog has always been an American tradition. But Animal Planet’s decision to mix puppies with football on Super Bowl Sunday has created quite a dilemma for the average American: Which adorable puppy “underdog” do we root for?
In what has now become a classic in counter-programming strategy, Animal Planet is hosting its 13th “Puppy Bowl” (February 5th, 2017), where puppies battle it out in a miniature football stadium for one purpose and one purpose only: to see how many heart-felt “awws” can be elicited from the audience.
With a bunch of puppies running around, grabbing hold of various stuffed animals, footballs and several “whatchamacallits”, you wouldn’t think this is a high production value show. But that would be wrong. Animal Planet takes this annual event seriously. Very seriously. Filming takes place over several days, with “announcers”, “referees”, half-time animal entertainment, cheerleaders, stadium signage and piped-in fan noise, not to mention the on-site vets and Humane Society to ensure the directors at Animal Planet aren’t over-working their “players.” Then there are the unusual camera angles, including one dog-cam embedded underneath a see-through puppy bowl so that we get to see our tired warriors taking a much-needed water break.
The viewers are certainly lapping it all up as last year’s Puppy Bowl XII delivered a solid 1.0 Live U.S. household rating and a 2.1 share, and although these levels are not quite as high as the past two showings, the viewership is still impressive in light of overall declines in TV usage:
Practically everyone knows about the dramatic ratings pulled down by the NFL Super Bowl Game, but you’d be amazed at the “Power of the Puppy” in the context of its own 3:00 – 5:00pm Super Bowl Sunday time slot. On the Sunday before the Super Bowl (January 31st), Animal Planet was the 52nd ranked network from 3:00pm – 5:00pm, delivering a .32 U.S. household rating. And on the Sunday after the Super Bowl (February 8th) – the 36th ranked network with a .38 rating.) But on the Sunday of the Super Bowl, Animal Planet was the 5th overall ranked network and the #2 cable network when the Puppy Bowl aired:
Local Market Viewing Skew
Unlike the Southern market viewing skews of so many ad-supported cable shows we’ve reviewed in this space, the “Puppy Bowl” on Animal Planet breaks the mold by appealing to the three Northern Census Regions: the East North Central (containing states such as Michigan and Ohio); the Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania and New York); and New England (Massachusetts and Connecticut.) Below we’ve selected the Top 25 highest DMA ratings over the past five Puppy Bowls (2012 – 2016.) We’ve identified the State and U.S. Census Region that each market belongs to. Fifteen out of the Top 25 markets (60%) are in the East North Central Census Region alone. Only one Southern market (Tri Cities, Tennessee) made the list at #25:
Local Cable Advertising
The “Puppy Bowl” has a significant impact on local cable advertising for Animal Planet. Over the past three airings (Puppy Bowls X, XI and XII), the network accrued one-half to eight-tenths of one percent of total Viamedia revenues on the Sunday before and after the “Puppy Bowl.” But on the Sunday of the “Puppy Bowl”, the network’s share of revenues rose two to three-times that amount:
Over the past two Puppy Bowls, forty advertisers across 22 Viamedia markets have ordered 130+ :30-second spots. That comes to an average of 1.6 spots per advertiser (per year.) And in terms of local cable categories, the one that really stands out is “Retail & Department Stores” at 46% — which is ~10-times the share level we normally see for this category company-wide. But in digging through our internal sales record, it became very obvious why this category is so high– 44 share points (out of 46) accrue to pet-related advertisers and services. The second largest category (Automotive) at 26% is slightly below share levels we typically see for this category:
The Most Adorable Football Game
The 51st NFL Super Bowl is set to air on February 5th, 2017 in NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas), but will either the Patriots or the Falcons really claw their way to victory? Probably not like the participants of the thirteenth Puppy Bowl where small dogs reign supreme on the gridiron and in the hearts of millions who’ll tune in to watch the most adorable football game of the season!
Written by Jonathan Sims
VP Media Research, Viamedia