TORONTO - Family time spent by Canadian parents with their children around the television is proving to be a golden opportunity for Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX:CJR.B), owner of numerous specialty channels such as YTV, Treehouse and W Network.
The Toronto-based media company's management team said Tuesday at Corus's investor conference that it has found adults are up to three times more likely to remember television commercials if they're watching them alongside their kids, as compared to when adults watch commercials alone.
"This is likely because parents are paying more attention to what's on the screen when their children are there - or because they're engaging in dialogue about the products or services," explained Doug Murphy, executive vice-president and general manager of Corus Kids.
Corus calls the practice "co-viewing" and says the concept backed by the company's research is catching on with advertisers. It's also likely one of the reasons the company plans to launch Nickelodeon in Canada on Nov. 2.
Toronto-based Corus is forecasting an uptick in profits next year as the economy starts to recover.
Corus said Tuesday that it's aiming for a consolidated profit of $255 million to $270 million in fiscal 2010, helped by cost savings across the organization.
"Most of the savings that we've captured will be retained in 2010. What we're thinking about is 2011," chief executive John Cassaday said.
Corus' television holdings include the YTV and Treehouse specialty channels for youth and children, W Network and Cosmopolitan TV, as well as Movie Central and HBO Canada in western Canada.
It also owns several radio stations, the Nelvana animation studio and Kids Can Press, which specializes in books for children.
Executives said the company is reworking some of its channels to appeal to a more focused demographic.
YTV will push a "co-viewing" block in prime time that focuses on live-action sitcoms, while it also pulls the plug on its Discovery Kids channel in favour of Nickelodeon.
The changes come as the company responds to the new Personal People Meter ratings tracker, which monitors the habits of Canadians listening to radio and watching television.
The new technology replaces the traditional set-top ratings box, which was considered by many in the industry to be inaccurate of actual viewing habits.
Paul Robertson, president of Corus Television, told investors the new meter has already shown a change in viewer habits, and proof that more people watch specialty channels than originally thought.
"We're seeing a major shift in the data," he said.
"Speciality a year ago represented about 53 per cent of total television viewing, and now speciality television looks like it's logging at about 60 per cent of total viewership."
He added that female viewers are up 28 per cent while kids are up 55 per cent in specialty channels.
Corus has been pursuing female viewers as part of a longtime plan because they're an audience which tends to attract a steady flow of advertising dollars.
"One of the principal demos (demographics) is women 25 to 54 in conventional TV," Cassaday said.
"We're going after that pie - that's the bucket that represents the most significant growth opportunity for us at Corus."
Cassaday added that the company is working to rebrand its Drive-in Classics cable channel into a more female-oriented station, though he declined to give specific details.
Earlier this month Corus unveiled Dusk, a rebranded version of its Scream horror movie channel, which now focuses more on thrillers than blood and guts slasher movies.
Corus shares rose 45 cents to $17.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.