Pledge Accountability Report, March 99

Participating stations

This report contains March on-air fundraising results for these 29 PBS station licensees, shown in order of market size:

WNET

New York

NCPTV

North Carolina

KTCA

Minneapolis

KAET

Phoenix

KUED

Salt Lake City

KCET

Los Angeles

WETA

Washington, DC

WPBT

Miami

WFYI

Indianapolis

KLRN

San Antonio

WTTW

Chicago

KERA

Dallas

WQED

Pittsburgh

KOPB

Portland, OR

WYES

New Orleans

WHYY

Philadelphia

WGTV

Atlanta

KETC

St. Louis

KPBS

San Diego

WKNO

Memphis

KQED

San Francisco

KUHT

Houston

KVIE

Sacramento

KCPT

Kansas City

WJCT

Jacksonville

WGBH

Boston

KCTS

Seattle

WMFE

Orlando

WOSU

Columbus

   

Since Pledge Ratings require daily audience ratings, participation in the Pledge Accountability Report is available to each primary-service PBS station in Nielsen’s metered markets (markets for which overnight audience ratings are computed). 29 licensees, owners of 31 of the 46 eligible stations, participated in the March 99 Pledge Accountability Report. (North Carolina PTV owns three eligible stations.)

Pledge Accountability Reports track only pledges taken by live volunteers during the evenings and on weekends. All pledges acquired during weekday daytime programs and evening/ weekend non-live-volunteer breaks are not included in this report, except in certain cases (notably for WNET and WGTV) in which an accurate accounting was available and totals approximated live-volunteer fundraising. Overflows to 800 numbers during live-volunteer breaks are counted.

March 99 pledge dates

The PBS March 1999 pledge drive was scheduled for 16 days – Saturday, March 6 through Sunday, March 21. The 29 participants in this report broadcast pledge drives that lasted an average of 18 days. Pledge Accountability Report participants have averaged 18 March pledge days since 1996.

Half (15) of the participants started their drives prior to Friday, March 5, and twelve pledged between one and seven days after Sunday, March 21. North Carolina PTV, which pledges only once a year, had the longest March drive – 27 days. WPBT/Miami and WYES/New Orleans pledged for 24 days. Stations with the shortest March pledge drives were KUED/Salt Lake City (13), KAET/Phoenix (14), KETC/St. Louis (14), and KQED/San Francisco (14).

Audience levels

The average Nielsen audience rating for the participating stations’ pledge programs was only 1.3 (from 0.5 for WGTV/Atlanta to 2.2 for KAET/Phoenix). Public stations’ audience ratings have historically been lower during pledge drives than at other times (metered stations’ primetime ratings averaged 2.2 in both January and February), and those for March pledge programs appear to be declining further: last March, pledge programs averaged a 1.5 audience rating, while from March 1994 through 1997, they averaged 1.6.

March 99 pledge results

SIP statistics for 62 PBS stations indicate March 1999 was a moderately successful pledge drive. The total dollars raised by these 62 stations increased by 5.3% from March 1998. However, as in most other recent pledge drives, the total number of contributors decreased slightly (-3.8%) while the amount of an average gift increased (9.5%). In this drive, the average gift was over one hundred dollars ($102.21). Last March, total dollars raised increased by 10% over March 1997.

Top-rated pledge programs

Tables 1 through 5 on the next page show the eight most effective pledge programs of March 1999, December 1998, Summer 1998, March 1998, and March 1997. (The Pledge Rating Index represents the Pledge Rating of a particular broadcast indexed to the average Pledge Rating for the top half of that station’s pledged programs. Only programs pledged by five or more stations are included.)

Four of the eight most effective pledge programs were self-help specials (the new Suze Orman money program, Gary Null’s health special and two Dr. Wayne Dyer programs); three were music specials (Andew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration, Irish Tenors, Andrea Bocelli: A Night in Tuscany/Romanza in Concert); and Red Green Live ’99.

The most effective pledge program was Suze Orman’s new financial planning special, The Courage to be Rich. It was pledged a remarkable 138 times by 29 participants. Several stations pledged this particular program numerous times: WTTW/Chicago (11 times); KCET/Los Angeles, WGTV/Georgia, WKNO/Memphis (10 times each); KERA/Dallas, KQED/San Francisco (9 times). Across all 138 plays, Suze Orman: The Courage to be Rich averaged an 11.9 Pledge Rating / 142 Pledge Rating Index. (The program’s Nielsen audience rating was only 0.7.) A year ago during the March 1998 pledge drive, Suze Orman’s first pledge program, Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, premiered and became the most successful program of that drive (13.6 Pledge Rating / 204 Index; 17 stations, 47 plays). The repeat of Nine Steps was also the most successful program of the August-September 1998 pledge drive (8.1 Pledge Rating / 138 Index; 25 stations, 92 plays).

A more traditional fundraising music program, Andrew Lloyd Webber 50th Birthday: A Great Performances Special, was second in pledge effectiveness. Pledged 78 times by 28 stations, it averaged a 8.6 Pledge Rating / 120 Index. Of the top eight pledge programs, Andrew Lloyd Webber had the highest Nielsen audience rating: 1.6. The Webber celebration was the most effective March pledge program for three Western stations: KAET/Phoenix, KCET/Los Angeles, and KVIE/Sacramento. Several stations had strong showings by using it at 8pm on the first Sunday on the drive.

Motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer’s two specials made the top-eight list with third-place How to Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want (9.5 Pledge Rating / 119 Index; 10 stations, 13 plays) and eighth-place Improve Your Life Using the Wisdom of the Ages (7.6 Pledge Rating / 99 Index; 12 stations, 16 plays.) Ten of the 12 stations pledged both Dyer specials. The most common pattern was back-to-back broadcasts starting with How to Get at 8pm ET. Although the same Dr. Wayne Dyer specials pledged well in December (How to Get: 5.0 Pledge Rating / 74 Index, 12 stations, 19 plays; Improve Your Life: 5.4 Pledge Rating / 82 Index, 14 stations, 20 plays) actually had a better overall performance in this, their second drive.

Appropriately scheduled in mid-March, Irish Tenors had the fourth-highest Pledge Rating average, 8.1 / 114 Index; 21 stations, 52 plays. Not surprisingly, this program did best on WGBH/Boston, where it raised $183,443 in three plays. Only seven of the program’s 52 plays were on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day; that scheduling did not appear to boost pledge results.

The two-hour Red Green Live ’99 ranked fifth in March. It was generally aired only once during the drive – a total of eleven times on nine stations. Nine of the eleven plays were on Saturday, March 6 in primetime. Red Green Live ’99 had an 8.0 Pledge Rating average / 112 Index. Excluded from this average is the program’s fantastic result on KUED/Salt Lake City, where its back-to-back play with Red Green’s previous special We Can’t Help It, We’re Men on March 6 from 7:00 to 10:30pm raised $99,306 for a 46.3 Pledge Rating / 578 Index.

Gary Null’s How to Live Forever, in its second drive, ranked sixth with a 9.5 Pledge Rating / 107 Index; 8 stations, 25 plays. WPBT/Miami had the most success, airing the program five times. In its December premiere, this health special was by far the best-performing program with a 13.6 Pledge Rating / 158 Index; 26 stations, 91 plays. Interestingly, Gary Null’s new special, Get Healthy Now!, was not as effective as the repeats of his first one. Sixteen stations pledged Get Healthy Now! a remarkable 60 times for a 7.7 Pledge Rating / 92 Index. (The great number of plays may have had a depressing effect on pledge ratings for this program.) Stations with the best results for Get Healthy Now! were WPBT/Miami, North Carolina PTV, and WGTV/Atlanta (Georgia PTV). While those results were solid, some stations probably expected better.

Seventh-place Andrea Bocelli: A Night in Tuscany/Romanza in Concert has proven to have staying power. It has made the top-eight list in every major pledge drive since its December 1997 premiere. This March, it was pledged a total of 25 times by half (15) of our 29 participants for a 7.9 Pledge Rating / 102 Index. It was most successful for KCET/Los Angeles, KPBS/San Diego, and KQED/San Francisco.

Table 1: March 1999 top Pledge-Rated programs

 

Pledge index

Pledge rating

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

Suze Orman: The Courage to be Rich

142

11.8

29

138

0.7

115

Andrew Lloyd Webber 50th Birthday Celebration

119

8.5

28

78

1.6

126

Dr. Wayne Dyer:How to Get What You Really Want

117

9.3

10

13

0.9

116

Irish Tenors

114

8.0

21

52

1.3

123

Red Green Live ‘99

111

7.8

9

11

1.0

119

Gary Null: How to Live Forever

107

9.4

8

26

0.7

137

Andrea Bocelli: A Night in Tuscany

100

7.9

15

25

1.3

95

Dr. Wayne Dyer: Improve Your Life

98

7.6

12

16

0.7

118

Table 2: December 1998 top Pledge-Rated programs

 

Pledge index

Pledge rating

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

Gary Null: How to Live Forver

158

13.6

26

91

0.7

110

Nature: John Denver

116

6.3

23

47

1.5

89

Nine Steps to Financial Freedom w/Suze Orman

105

7.2

17

49

0.6

124

Andrea Bocelli: Romanza in Concert/A Night in Tuscany

104

6.5

14

18

1.4

84

Jonathan Pond : Finding Financial Freedom

96

6.3

13

22

0.6

106

Jonathan Pond : Your Financial Future

93

6.9

12

16

0.5

96

Feet of Flames

91

5.3

16

31

2.1

117

Roy Orbison & Friends

85

4.7

12

15

1.4

83

Table 3: Summer 1998 top Pledge-Rated programs

 

Pledge index

Pledge rating

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

Nine Steps to Financial Freedom w/Suze Orman

138

8.1

25

92

0.6

148

Roy Orbison & Friends

110

7.5

13

19

1.1

91

Andrea Bocelli: Romanza in Concert/A Night in Tuscany

108

8.1

10

18

0.9

93

Frank Patterson: Ireland’s Golden Tenor

105

7.4

7

13

1.1

101

Sarah Brightman in Concert

103

7.7

15

26

1.3

76

Christiane Northrup:Women’s Bodies Women’s Choices

98

5.8

13

29

0.6

99

Jonathan Pond: Finding Financial Freedom

95

7.2

5

10

0.6

122

Patti LaBelle Live! One Night Only

93

6.0

23

40

1.4

119

Table 4: March 1998 top Pledge-Rated programs

 

Pledge index

Pledge rating

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

Nine steps to Financial Freedom/Suze Orman

204

13.6

17

47

0.9

116

Red Green Live ‘98

161

9.0

13

16

1.1

117

Jonathan Pond Finding Financial Freedom

123

8.2

9

18

0.7

98

Michael Crawford in Concert

116

6.9

25

68

1.6

95

Frank Patterson: Ireland’s Golden Tenor

113

6.6

10

14

1.1

95

Sarah Brightman in Concert

102

5.5

21

32

1.3

70

Andrea Bocelli: Romanza in Concert

96

6.2

19

39

1.1

89

Roy Orbison and Friends

95

5.7

23

51

1.2

93

Table 5: March 1997 top Pledge-Rated programs

 

Pledge index

Pledge rating

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

Finding Financial Freedom w/J. Pond

148

8.5

10

14

0.9

99

Riverdance

130

6.4

29

93

2.6

117

Lord of the Dance

126

6.6

24

92

2.3

112

Lori Line Live!

123

4.7

5

10

0.9

118

Making of Lord of the Dance

120

7.0

7

9

2.8

55

Finding Financial Future w/J. Pond

111

6.4

13

27

0.8

84

From L. Welk to America w/Love

111

5.1

21

33

2.1

120

Red Green Shows

111

4.7

12

24

1.3

109

Other successful pledge programs

The new SIP comtemporary music special, Bee Gees: One Night Only, was a solid pledge performer with a 6.8 Pledge Rating / 86 Index. Almost all (28 of 29) of our participants used the program, a total of 56 times. The more effective plays began in early primetime on a Thursday or Saturday evening. The occasionally maligned new John Tesh special, One World, also had a respectable showing in March. Twenty-five stations pledged One World 36 times for a 6.3 Pledge Rating / 77 Index. Unlike other potentially potent programs, this one was not scheduled repetitively.

In its second drive, the December 1998 nature/music success, Nature’s John Denver: Let This Be a Voice was pledged widely (16 stations, 23 plays) with good results: 6.9 Pledge Rating / 88 Index.

In its fourth nationwide pledge drive, Roy Orbison & Friends continued to be generally effective for the ten stations that pledged it in March (9.6 Pledge Rating / 82 Index; 10 stations, 14 plays). To capitalize on the success of this special, SIP offered Roy Orbison: Anthology, which received significant March carriage: 26 stations, 41 total plays. However, its 4.6 Pledge Rating and 62 Index was actually lower than those of Orbison & Friends. Most stations started Anthology later in primetime, between 9 and 10pm.

The Riverdance pledge tradition continued with 28 plays (14 stations) of Feet of Flames. This Irish dance special premiered in December 1998 with very good results (5.3 Pledge Rating / 91 Index; 16 stations, 31 plays). This drive, Feet of Flames was pledged 24 times by 14 stations for a 5.6 Pledge Rating / 80 Index. It had one of the highest audience ratings (2.2) of the major pledge specials.

The eleven stations that pledged the new SIP program Spirit: A Journey in Dance, Drums and Song were probably not disappointed. They pledged it 26 times for a 7.7 Pledge Rating / 87 Index. Stations that did well with this program included KVIE/Sacramento, WHYY/Philadelphia and North Carolina PTV.

While the Jonathan Pond financial specials may have been somewhat negatively affected by Suze Orman’s programs, they continued to perform well for several stations. His latest, Your Money Matters, had a solid March performance: 6.2 Pledge Rating / 78 Index; 17 stations, 31 plays. However, those good results were not as strong as the track record in past drives of Pond’s previous specials, Finding Financial Freedom and Your Financial Future. (This March, both specials were pledged by a handful of our participants with continued good results.)

Remaining a familiar and effective pledge presence this drive, Jerry Baker earned a 4.9 Pledge Rating / 71 Index in 177.5 hours over 22 stations. Last March, Jerry Baker Gardening Specials earned a comparable 3.9 Pledge Rating / 70 Index in a nearly identical 178.5 hours on 24 stations.

Irish tenor Frank Patterson’s two specials also performed well this March. Songs of Inspiration had a 5.6 Pledge Rating / 82 Index, 11 stations, 16 plays, and Ireland’s Golden Tenor – a 4.1 Pledge Rating / 67 Index; 10 stations, 18 plays. Similarly to the seasonal boost for Irish singing, A Taste of Passover may have benefited from early spring broadcasts. This religious holiday special was pledged 13 times by 10 stations for a 6.2 Pledge Rating / 74 Index. WPBT/Miami did particularly well with the program.

Only two stations pledged A Night with Secret Garden, but both had moderately good results (6.8 Pledge Rating average / 79 Index.) The program could be considered for an early or late evening play in a future pledge drive.

Except for two moderately successful programs with a Hispanic focus, the pledge effectiveness of ethnic nostaglia (Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Greek Americans) has waned. The new SIP special Vicki Carr: Memories, Memorias was pledged by 15 stations, 25 times; 4.5 Pledge Rating / 70 Index. Not surprisingly, the special was played most often and was most successful on Southwestern stations: KLRN/San Antonio, KUHT/Houston, KVIE/Sacramento. Puerto Ricans: Our American Story had a solid 5.2 Pledge Rating / 71 Index; 8 stations, 10 plays.

Less successful pledge programs

Table 6 shows the six new SIP offerings with the lowest Pledge Ratings. Emotional Intelligence with Daniel Goleman may be the most disappointing program on this list. It was scheduled the most times (32) by the greatest number of stations (23), in primetime. There were very few instances of real pledge success with any of these programs. Many stations treated some of them (Wild About Herbs!, Nick Stellino’s Progressive Dinner Party) as how-to programs, with weekend-daytime scheduling and lower fundraising expectations.

Interestingly, there was no difference in audience ratings between the most and least efficient programs. The six low-Pledge-Rated programs discussed here averaged a 1.1 Nielsen rating, while the top six averaged a similar 1.0.

Table 6: March 1999 Low Pledge-Rated SIP Programs

 

Pledge Rating

Pledge Index

Stns

Total plays

Aud rtg

Pgm min

In Search of Tuscany with John Guerrasio

1.9

28

10

11

1.2

63

Story of Golf

2.5

32

20

22

1.0

159

Linda Eder in Concert

2.5

38

15

16

1.0

84

Wild About Herbs! With RogerTabor

2.8

40

20

29

1.1

98

Emotional Intelligence with Daniel Goleman

2.8

39

23

32

0.8

92

Nick Stellino’s Progressive Dinner Party

3.0

32

15

19

1.4

135

Station s’ top-performing programs

In each pledge drive, the range of successful pledge programs among major PBS stations gives an interesting perspective of local fundraising dynamics. Table 7 shows the average Pledge Ratings and audience ratings as well as the top five most effective pledge programs for our 29 participants. The effectiveness of Suze Orman’s new The Courage to be Rich is apparent: It was the most successful program for almost half (14) the stations. Irish Tenors ranked first for four stations; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration – for three. KCTS/Seattle probably had the most unusual list of top five programs, starting with a tremendously successful local presentation of its national production Chihuly Over Venice.

Table 7: March 1999 stations’ top programs

Station

Plg days

Plg Rtg

Aud rtg

First

Second

Third

Fourth

Fifth

KAET

14

4.9

2.2

A. L. Weber 50

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Riverdance Live

Irish Tenors

KCET

23

4.9

1.3

A. L. Weber 50

S Orman Courage

A. Bocelli Tuscany

A. Bocelli Tuscany

S Orman Courage

KCPT

16

5.2

1.0

Irish Tenors

J Baker Lawn

Bee Gees One Night

J Baker Flowers

Eve Roger Williams

KCTS

17

13.1

1.4

Chihuly Over Venice

Making of Feet Flames

Find Fin Free

Roy Orbison

Your Money Matters

KERA

19

9.1

1.1

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

KETC

14

3.7

1.9

S Orman Courage

A. L. Weber 50

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Eve Roger Williams

KLRN

17

6.0

1.5

V Carr: Memroies, Mem

A. L. Weber 50

S Orman Courage

V Carr: Memroies, Mem

Your Money Matters

KOPB

18

14.2

1.4

S Orman Courage

Women's Bodies Minds

A. L. Weber 50

J Tesh One World

J Baker Live Natl

KPBS

23

6.7

1.3

Dr W Dyer How to Get

A. L. Weber 50

A. L. Weber 50

A. Bocelli Tuscany

California Missions

KQED

14

13.4

1.6

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Bee Gees: One Night

S Orman Courage

KTCA

16

9.0

1.3

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Red Green Live 99

KUED

13

8.0

1.6

Red Geen Live

Yellowstone Serenade

A. L. Weber 50

Colours of Infinity

J Denver Let ThisBe

KUHT

19

7.0

1.3

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Improve Your Life

S Orman Courage

How to Get What You

KVIE

18

9.8

1.0

A. L. Weber 50

Spirit: Journey in Dance

Bee Gees One Night

J Denver Let ThisBe

Bee Gees One Night

NCPTV

27

8.3

0.9

Get Healthy w/G. Null

G. Beverly Shea Wonder

A. L. Weber 50

People's Pharmacy

Eve w/R Williams

WETA

15

13.5

0.9

S Orman Courage

Your Money Matters

Get Healthy G. Null

Irish Tenors

How to Get What You

WFYI

15

3.0

1.3

Irish Tenors

A. L. Weber 50

Frank Sinatra Very

J Denver Let ThisBe

Feet of Flames

WGBH

23

7.5

1.2

Irish Tenors

S Orman Courage

Irish Tenors

Improve Your Life

How to Get What You

WGTV

19

21.6

0.5

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

WHYY

18

6.5

1.1

Irish Tenors

F Patterson Songs

A. L. Weber 50

Irish Tenors

John Tesh One Wrld

WJCT

21

6.6

0.8

S Orman Courage

A. L. Weber 50

9 Steps to Finan

Bee Gees: One Night

Puerto Ricans

WKNO

17

6.4

0.9

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

A. L. Weber 50

A. L. Weber 50

Memphis Memoirs

WMFE

16

5.1

0.7

Red Geen Live

Get Healthy w/G. Null

A. L. Weber 50

Bee Gees: One Night

F Patterson Songs

WNET

17

6.9

1.1

S Orman Courage

Get Healthy w/G. Null

S Orman Courage

Korean American Spirit

Irish Tenors

WOSU

19

4.8

1.2

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

WPBT

24

9.8

0.7

Get Healthy w/G. Null

Taste of Passover

Get Healthy w/G. Null

Get Healthy w/G. Null

How to Live Forever

WQED

22

7.2

1.1

How to Live Forever

Q is forQuick & Easy

Pittsburgh Doo Wop

Pittsburgh Doo Wop

Q is forQuick & Easy

WTTW

17

4.4

1.6

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

S Orman Courage

Irish Tenors

WYES

24

4.8

1.9

S Orman Courage

Irish New Orleans

S Orman Courage

Wild about Herbs

Ipi Ntombi

Average

18

7.8

1.3

Conclusion

For most SIP stations, this March drive (the longest, and probably most important, of the year) was moderately successful with an overall 5% total dollar increase for the same group of stations over March 1998. This was an improvement over the previous pledge drive, December 1998, which showed no year-to-year increase in total dollars. However, both the March and Summer 1998 pledge drives had total dollar increases of 10% or more over the 1997 drives.

As in many previous successful pledge drives, one very effective program was pledged repeatedly by a majority of these major stations. Suze Orman: The Courage to be Rich dominated the March pledge fundraising, as have numerous programs in past drives, such as the Carreras, Pavarotti, Domingo Three Tenors concerts, Riverdance, Gary Null’s How to Live Forever, and Suze’s own remarkable success last March, Nine Steps to Financial Freedom. Gary Null’s second pledge offering, Get Healthy Now!, was only moderately effective as a new fundraiser. This spring, Dr. Wayne Dyer’s two inspirational talk specials took second place in that genre.

Several musical performances, appealing to different audiences, which were at least moderately effective in March. These included Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration, Irish Tenors, and Bee Gees: One Night Only. Encores of Roy Orbison and Friends and Andrea Bocelli: A Night in Tuscany also had solid pledge performances.

Familiar pledge motivators Red Green and Jerry Baker also worked for many of our participants. Similarly, the number of local historical and cultural programs continues to decline. This genre seemed to be at its highest point about four years ago. Another genre which may have peaked is specials about ethnic groups (Italians, Greeks, Polish Americans). This drive, several Southwestern stations did have good pledge results with two programs that celebrate the Hispanic American experience.