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From live cut-ins to radio tie-ins: Stations move beyond the 30-second spot

Apr 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ABC affiliate WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, has taken a bold step to add nontraditional advertising revenue to its coffers. The station is doing live remotes and producing half-hour infomercials on local advertisers.
“We’ve just started doing this last year, and it’s been very, very successful. We’ve created a marketing team that will go out and do anything from live remotes to special prime-time packages,” said WCPO General Manager William Fee.
For example, an association of homebuilders signed a deal with WCPO to do live remotes from various subdivisions on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, doing a two-minute cut-in every 30 minutes for about four hours.
“This is not a new idea. It’s retro-TV,” Mr. Fee said. “Radio stations do remotes all the time. We’ve found you can go out and find a nontraditional advertiser that will not necessarily buy spots, but they [want to] have a presence on TV.”
WCPO, owned by Scripps-Howard, also sold a local association of colleges and universities a half-hour in prime-time for an infomercial called “The College Tour.” It aired March 20, pre-empting ABC’s “According to Jim,” which ran during overnight hours. The special gave five minutes each to six universities. During the last week of March, WCPO aired another half-hour commercial, “Senior Living,” in which it profiled five retirement homes.
“You don’t go for ratings in that case, you go for revenue,” Mr. Fee said. “The sponsors are delighted. We produced the infomercials, and we make more money doing that than if we sold that half-hour with units. Each network gives its affiliates a certain amount of time to pre-empt programming. The beauty of it [is] you reach advertisers you wouldn’t normally reach. The bottom line is the cash flow is better than if we would normally sell spots. This allows us to do both.”
At CBS affiliate WKRC-TV, General Manager Chris Sehring said his station’s greatest focus now is synergy. Being a Clear Channel-owned station, Mr. Sehring said the station is working with the eight Clear Channel radio stations in the market, which is also the headquarters for Clear Channel Radio. WKRC has been No. 1 for the past three years. The eight radio stations and WKRC swap promo time. Radio personalities appear on the station and WKRC talent also broadcasts on the radio.
Cindy Jarrell, associate media director at Northlich, a large Cincinnati ad agency, said it has become a necessity to buy television in the market.
“One thing that has to work is when you do a TV buy, you need to get added value from the TV station,” Ms. Jarrell said. “Everything from on-air billboards where we can sponsor the weather, news or sports, or we can get local IDs.”
She said stations are coming up with creative ways to give added value, including tying in an advertiser to their Web sites.