News

POV: Oxygen’s Debby Beece on fine-tuning the sked

Ever wonder when it is time to finagle the sked? Debby Beece, Oxygen Media's president of programming and marketing, talks about the audience indicators she looks for when she wants to know if programs are hitting viewers
January 1, 2006

Ever wonder when it is time to finagle the sked? Debby Beece, Oxygen Media’s president of programming and marketing, talks about the audience indicators she looks for when she wants to know if programs are hitting viewers

How do you know when it’s time to tinker with the schedule?
Declining Nielsen numbers for a show you know was popular would be a huge indicator. Up until recently, our universe was smaller – when I started this job we had about 10 million subscribers, and now we’re at 56.6 million – and our sample is small as a result; there’s a huge margin of error. So we would look for something over a 50% decline. For instance, if Xena is your highest-rated show when you’re at 22 million subscribers, but by the time you’re at 40 million subscribers it’s your lowest-rated show, you’re saying, ‘What’s that about? Is that because the brand and the channel have grown beyond the show’s level of popularity, or does the show need resting, or have we built a new audience that’s come to the channel and they’re not interested in Xena?’

When you evaluate the Nielsen numbers after a sked change, what type of results are you looking for?
Generally, we look at increases to be significant when they’re anything over 10% to 20% and higher. If you’re within the 5% range – again, with our sample size – I think it’s probably statistically irrelevant.

How does research tell you you’ve got a strong brand?
Length of tune. Our average at this point is 20 minutes, up from 16 minutes in 2004, so that’s a good sign. And our aided awareness number – where you ask ‘Which womens’ networks do you know?’ – is 81%.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.