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Jun 5, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ABC touts sales potential for new shows

At ABC, executives are counting the ways in which “Push, Nevada” is pulling in advertising revenue. The drama from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Sean Moore will be writing in opportunities for product placement. It will have three major sponsors — ABC executives said today that an announcement is days away — who will participate in promoting and marketing the show. There also will be inventory in the show available to other advertisers.

The show has gotten “enormous response from high-end advertisers,” said ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne during a lunch address at the Deutsche Bank Securities Media Conference.

“Eight Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter,” an 8 o’clock comedy starring John Ritter, also is selling well to advertisers, “We could have sold the show five times over,” said Ms. Lyne.

Both Ms. Lyne and ABC advertising chief Mike Shaw took aim at a New York Times article they said under-reported the network’s upfront sales by what Mr. Shaw said was “a couple of hundred million dollars. “It was wrong,” he said of the article.

Ms. Lyne said ABC’s upfront sales had exceeded even the network’s most optimistic expectations. “ABC’s CPMs are still higher than CBS’s,” said Ms. Lyne. “Thank God for robust demand.”

Ms. Lyne showed clips of ABC’s seven new fall series and the Tuesday night comedies clearly tapped the funny bones of the media-savvy crowd. She said the “rebuilding of ABC,” which finished the season in fourth place, is a process that “won’t happen overnight or in one season,” but she promised ABC would be “working harder than the other networks. “We have no margin for mediocrity,” she said.

The work that already has begun includes meetings with producers of new shows to fine-tune premises and casting. Next up, she and her entertainment executives will meet with producers of returning series about how to tinker and reinvigorate them — Drew Carey might get a new “venue” on his sitcom. “The goal here is to make every show better out of the gate,” she said.

Next week also will bring proposals from every division of parent company Disney about how each might help promote the new fall lineup. The California theme parks, for example, will stage ABC promotional events the week before the start of the season, and affiliates will be invited.

“We will be very visible” through cable, radio, print and new media advertising, Ms. Lyne said. Much of the promotion will be off-network, non-Disney spending and the emphasis will be on radio and cable, said Ms. Lyne.

‘Spy TV’ brings demo victory for NBC: NBC’s revamped “Spy TV,” now hosted by Ali Landry (replacing Michael Ian Black), opened its second summer campaign last night by handing the Peacock Network handsome wins for the 8 p.m. (ET) hour and the evening in adults 18 to 49, total viewers and households. Filling the 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (ET) frames, “Spy TV” drew a top-ranked 3.7 rating/11 share average among adults 18 to 49 and 9.5 million total viewers for the full 8 p.m. Monday hour, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data.

“Spy TV,” which grew 31 percent from its first to second half-hour airings in adults 18 to 49 (3.2/11 vs. 4.2/12), also won the 8 p.m. hour by a 38 percent margin over ABC’s special repeat episode of “The Mole II” (2.7/8). The recap “Mole II” special, which sought to reacquaint and update viewers on where the show left off after being abruptly pulled from the schedule last fall, led into the Tuesday launch of “The Mole II: The Next Betrayal,” which won its regular 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frame in adults 18 to 49 over NBC’s “Frasier” and “Scrubs” repeats (3.3/9 vs. 3.1/8).

Unfortunately for ABC, the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. premiere of the hospital-based reality series “Boston 24/7” dropped 33 percent of its “Mole II” lead-in by posting a third-ranked 2.2/6 in adults 18 to 49 — behind “Dateline NBC” (3.7/10) and CBS’s “Judging Amy” repeat (2.5/7).

NBC won Monday night in adults 18 to 49 (3.5/10), followed by ABC (2.8/8), Fox (2.0/6) and CBS (1.9/5). Outside of NBC and ABC largely airing original programming the other networks were in rerun mode, including The WB (1.8/5) and UPN (0.7/2).

NBC gets a nice bounce from basketball: NBC may be pining after losing its hardwood once the NBA moves it basketball telecasts to the Turner Networks and ABC/ESPN next season.

NBC won the week of May 27 by handsome 84 percent margin over second-place CBS among the adults 18 to 49 demographic (4.6 rating/14 share vs. 2.5/7), according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. It marked the largest weekly winning margin for any network since the week of June 4-10, 2001, when NBC aired the NBA Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.

Last Sunday’s see-saw overtime win of Game 7 of the Western Conference playoff series by the Lakers over the Sacramento Kings registered a 14.4/24 average in households (from 7:30 p.m. to 11:01 p.m. ET), making it the highest rated NBA telecast since Game 6 of the 2000 finals between the Lakers and Indiana Pacers.

Additionally, the Lakers-Kings cliffhanger registered the best numbers in adults 18 to 49 (11.0/29) and total viewers (23.8 million) since the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz — marking Michael Jordan’s final game in a Bulls uniform.

Also, last Sunday’s deciding Lakers’ best-of-seven games victory scored almost three times the ratings in households of CBS’s telecast of the 56th annual Tony Awards, which registered a 5.6/9 average in homes and 7.9 million total viewers.

ABC, which also premiered the limited run reality series “The Hamptons” — airing in special two-hour Part 1 at 9 p.m. Sunday — to a second-ranked score in adults 18 to 49(2.8/7), finished the week at a fouth-ranked 2.2/6 in the key demo. Fox took home third-place in adults 18 to 49 (2.3/7), getting a third-ranked score in the demo on Sunday for its 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. “Bachelorettes in Alaska” reality series (2.4/6).

AOL TW aims to prove Lehman analyst wrong: AOL Time Warner reiterated its guidance that its beleaguered AOL online unit will post $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion in advertising revenues in 2002, despite downgraded estimates to the contrary from Lehman Brothers analyst Holly Becker on Tuesday. Wayne Pace, chief financial officer of AOL Time Warner, also reiterated the company’s full year overall guidance of 5 percent to 9 percent cash flow growth on 5 percent to 8 percent revenue growth. He made the remarks at a Deutsche Bank Securities investors conference in New York this morning. The news bumped up the price of AOL Time Warner stock to nearly $18 a share.

As Vivendi faltered, Messier prospered in ’01: Vivendi Universal’s embattled chairman Jean-Marie Messier received nearly $5 million in bonus and stock options in 2001, when the company reported a record loss, according to a detailed filing. The disclosure seems ill timed since Vivendi Universal stock is off by more than 50 percent this year and key shareholders have called for his resignation.

Earlier this week, John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media Corp., indicated he may sell off its 3.5 percent stake in Vivendi Universal, which sent the stock price down another 4 percent. Edgar Bronfman Jr., whose family also is considering selling off some of its 5.3 percent stake in the company even at depressed prices, recently assumed more of a check-and-balance role on Mr. Messier.

ABC Family picks up ‘Last Resort’: ABC Family has picked up “The Last Resort,” Buena Vista’s new half-hour “relationship reality” miniseries. ABC Family will telecast “Resort” over five consecutive weeknights in August. “Resort” tracks four couples, all “at a crossroads,” who have been sent to a tropical resort. The series was produced by Fisher Entertainment in association with Wheeler/Sussman Productions (“Singled Out”), and executive produced by Sharon Sussman, Burt Wheeler, Alan Winters and Mark Stendal. It was shot on location in Hawaii at the Kona Village Resort.

Matthews to host ‘Hardball’ for seven more years: Chris Matthews has signed a new deal that will secure his position as host of M
SNBC’s “Hardball” through June 2009 and includes his anchoring a weekly syndicated show bearing his name this fall. Mr. Matthews also will anchor MSNBC’s prime-time election coverage starting this year. “The Chris Matthews Show,” produced by NBC News and distributed by NBC Enterprises, has been cleared in 83 percent of the country.

Rainbow Media Holding names vice chairman: Hank Ratner has been named vice chairman of Rainbow Media Holdings. Mr. Ratner, who will continue to report to Josh Sapan, Rainbow’s president and CEO, will act as the company’s key strategist and transactional officer. His specific responsibilities will include overseeing the requirements of the RMG tracking stock; managing Rainbow’s existing partnerships, including the company’s alliances with MGM, Fox and NBC; identifying new partnerships and transactional opportunities and overseeing deal negotiations. He will continue to direct Rainbow’s corporate divisions. Mr. Ratner is a Rainbow veteran with 14 years at the company, most recently as chief operating officer.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications