Family ties and advertiser tie-ins were among the subjects discussed by more than 1,000 representatives of affiliates last week at The WB’s regional sales meetings in Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Now part of the Turner Broadcasting System, which is headed by founding WB executive Jamie Kellner, The WB got a late-season cross-promotional bonanza from TNT and TBS, which helped produce a season-high spike for the season-ender of “Felicity.”
Next season-when program exchanges will include “Charmed” repeats at 10 p.m. (ET) Mondays or Tuesdays on TNT along with plugs for “Charmed” originals at 9 p.m. Thursdays on The WB-Turner Broadcasting is dramatically ratcheting up the cross-promotional commitment. “We’re asking you to bring more to the table,” said Dan Spangler, vice president of affiliate marketing. He asked stations to resist the urge to slash promotions expenses in these budget-crunched times.
In addition to cross-promotion on TNT and TBS, there will be plugs for WB prime-time family series and Kids’ WB programming on Cartoon Network and its companion Web site.
More significant is the promise of heavy promotion on America Online, from home-page plugs for WB series to contests and chats with the netlet’s stars to music and video downloads.
The musical bandwagon already is rolling with Eden’s Crush, the girl group phenom created in last season’s “Popstars” that is touring through July. And auditions are already being held for male and female candidates for “Popstars 2.”
Also under way is another nationwide casting call, this time for participants for “Lost in the USA,” the upcoming Sunday night reality series from Bunim/Murray Productions, creator of “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”
“Obviously,” joked Mr. Spangler, “it’s a goal of The WB to give everybody in America a show before they die.”
A general casting call in some 50 markets will be promoted on Clean & Clear facial cleanser packages in September.
Mr. Spangler also promised a big spring event for “Smallville,” the highly anticipated fall series about Superman’s teen years.
KSWB-TV General Manager Lise Markham made the road trip with the team headed by Kenneth Werner, The WB’s executive vice president of distribution. By Day 2 she was hoarse from talking about how her station has doubled its share of audience, more than tripled its share of revenues in the market, built a new building and started a newscast with youthful on-air talent since Tribune Broadcasting purchased it in 1996, when it was also-ran KTTY-TV.
Ms. Markham talked about branding basics (“WB Consistent”), doing more for less (“Remember, we’re a Tribune station”) and the sweeps contest last May, during which the station bought four Volkswagen Beetles, wrapped them in skins promoting WB series and showcased the vehicles at the dealership for a week before giving the WBeetles to viewers, who have to keep the cars wrapped for a full year.
The contest was so successful, Ms. Markham said, five dealer groups are interested in doing variations with her station.
Other WB-affiliate success stories from last season earned Froggies awards: KPLR-TV in St. Louis scored a repeat win for the highest prime-time average; WPIX-TV in New York was tops in weekend kids ratings; and WTWB in Greensboro, N.C., was honored as the fastest-growing affiliate.