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Field Reports: Cable Network Spotlight-Inspiration Network Delivers Audience to Direct Response

1 Jan, 2003 By: Response Contributor Response

Non-denominational network grows distribution by 23 percent during 2002.

In the face of further media industry consolidation, The Inspiration Network (INSP), based in Charlotte, N.C., has been able to carve a niche as a beacon of religious programming for more than 20 different denominations. Founded in 1990 by C. David Cerullo, the for-profit, independently owned network targets millions of Americans who embrace inspirational values.

Inspiration Network today reaches more than 17 million cable subscribers through 1,600 cable systems. Since the beginning, INSP has also embraced the direct response community, and the network still derives a substantial portion of its revenue through long-form advertising.

"In 1996, the network programmed about 50 percent of the day with long-form advertising," says Larry Sims, senior vice president, network sales for the Inspiration Networks. "Today, the mix is about 30-percent infomercial with the avails being divided evenly through the daypart and overnight hours."

Building Relationships

The Inspiration Network has been represented since late 1997 for long-form sales by Apex Media, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Larry Simms
Larry Simms

Dennis Hart, president of Apex Media comments, "We fit well together because Apex Media has an in-depth background in paid religion as well as long-form sales - that sets the backdrop for us to be able to help execute the network's mission."

"While it is a professional relationship, we consider Dennis Hart and his staff to be friends of the network," Sims adds. "We consider it to be an 'affinity' relationship."

For short form and ministry sales, media agencies are encouraged to contact the network directly.

Dedicated Audience

According to The Inspiration Network, the blended programming strategy, featuring more than 80 ministries, has created a loyal audience of more than 4.4 million people who sample INSP every day. The network contends more than 800,000 viewers tune in for three to five hours a day.

The network is committed to offering exclusive and original programming. For instance, each year INSP produces "The Inspirational Life Awards," a people's choice awards for the best in inspirational music, performers, books, children's products and more. In addition, Sims believes, with Christian bookstores selling nearly $4.5 billion worth of merchandise every year, INSP's demographics are attractive to the direct response advertiser.

"Inspiration has been part of our media mix since 1997. We have had particular success with bigger ticket offers," says Rob Medved, president of Cannella Response Television in Burlington, Wis. "In addition, average orders tend to be slightly higher than the typical cable network."

Growing Distribution

Despite the further consolidation of the cable television industry, INSP steadily grows its cable subscriber base. The network's subscriber households have risen more than 23 percent in the past year. "INSP is firming up and increasing every year - a solid steady growth rate - and clients love it," adds Hart.

Based on these latest subscriber numbers and their attractive demographics, the network, in order to track viewership, recently started subscribing to the Nielsen ratings system. Sims reports that every agency they met with at the Electronic Retailing Association show in October 2002 in Las Vegas requested additional inventory.

"We feel we have some good relationships in the industry," Sims says. "We want to add quality products - and we can deliver the households.'

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