Briefly Noted

Oct 1, 2001  •  Post A Comment

TBS, Kia interact with `Friends’
In the latest bid to add “value” to TV advertising, TBS SuperStation and Kia Motors America have reached an agreement for automotive advertising with an interactive online component that will run nightly during the syndicated “Friends” strip debuting Oct. 1 on TBS.
That agreement calls for “synchronizing” online commercials and promotions with Kia commercials running inside the show. At the exact same time a Kia ad airs on “Friends,” online participants at TBSSuperstation.com will be playing a “Friends” trivia game pitting them against online players nationwide. That game will include questions about the spot then being telecast on the show.
Kia, which will be the exclusive sponsor for the “Friends” online promotion, as well as for the brief interstitial “vignettes” that will be featured during the show, will be able to conduct real-time, live polls of consumers about their products, testing brand awareness and the desirability of various product attributes, while the consumers will be able to request coupons and additional information about Kia’s cars.
The “Friends” deal is an “incremental” addition to Kia’s multimillion-dollar annual Turner media investment, according to a Turner ad-sales spokesman. Kia will sponsor a total of 20 vignettes, one per episode, as well as four weeks of the interactive “Friends.” Two DVD players will be awarded as weekly prizes as well.
Study shows Americans ready for normal TV
The American public overwhelmingly favors a return to television programming and advertising normalcy, according to a “flash” study from Knowledge Networks-Statistical Research Inc. conducted during the weekend of Sept. 22-23. The study shows that 80 percent of Americans feel it is acceptable for the TV networks to go ahead with the introduction of new fall programs and that 77 percent believe enough time has passed to resume advertising on entertainment programs. Advertising during news programming drew more mixed results, with 52 percent of respondents favoring resumption of advertising and 48 percent saying ads were still out of place.
KN-SRI also posed the hypothetical possibility of a five-minute nightly program with the latest news about the attacks and their aftermath. Eighty-two percent of respondents favored the proposal, and 67 percent said they would view companies sponsoring such a program as “industry leaders”; 40 percent said they would be more inclined to buy sponsors’ products. Knowledge Networks recently acquired assets from SRI. The study measuring post-attack attitudes of viewers is the first product since that acquisition.
Off-network `Raymond’ raking in viewers
Love was in the air for stations debuting off-net runs of King World Productions’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” as preliminary metered market numbers showed the series bowing with the highest rookie numbers so far this season at a 3.6 rating and 6 share. That figure is on par with its lead-in and off 5 percent from ratings for the same period last year. The series airs in access in 48 of the top 50 markets. The strip earned a 4.7/8 on WPIX-TV, New York.
Other rookies saw increases over their debuts a week ago. Twentieth Television’s “Texas Justice” rose 11 percent from its debut to a 2.0/6, and Pearson Television’s “Card Sharks” rose 13 percent to a 0.9/3. Among off-net freshmen, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Just Shoot Me” grew 11 percent over its off-net debut to a 2.1/4, while “Steve Harvey” grew 8 percent to a 1.4/3.
Emmis reports steady cash flow
Emmis Communications said in a conference call last week that while its debt will require some flexibility in the third quarter, the company has had “constructive conversations” with its lenders and there is “adequate cash flow” to service the company’s debt. While Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said he doesn’t want to presuppose what bankers will do, he said, “The word has gone out from the Fed to go easy on their best customers,” and he expressed confidence that bankers know Emmis as “guys [who] will do what it takes” to reduce unnecessary costs while adapting to tough times.
In the second quarter, the company-whose broadcast interests include 23 domestic radio stations, two national radio networks and 15 television stations-reported that its radio stations outperformed their markets. Broadcast cash flow grew to $57.1 million, up 26 percent from second-quarter 2000. After-tax cash flow was $22.6 million, down 17.9 percent from second-quarter 2000, to 47 cents per share. Chief Financial Officer Walter Berger said Emmis is still evaluating the impact of recent weeks on the company’s radio and television operations and said “appropriate guidance” about third- and fourth-quarter outlooks will come soon. As for Emmis’ plans to separate the TV and the radio businesses, “We remain committed to the separation as a long-term strategy,” Mr. Smulyan said in a statement issued before the conference call.