Gaining ‘Access’

Oct 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

“Access Hollywood,” fully utilizing the clout of parent NBC, is extending its brand with projects on network TV, cable, local stations, Telemundo, the Internet and radio and in print.
On the network side plans are in the works for more network specials similar to the post-Emmys “Access Hollywood” special on NBC last month, NBC Enterprises President Ed Wilson confirmed. That telecast earned a 3.1 in New York and a 3.4 in Los Angeles in late-night airings. NBC’s next major awards show is January’s Golden Globes, and while Mr. Wilson isn’t saying, industry insiders speculate that there will be an “Access” special attached to that show.

Friday’s debut of “AMC Access” on American Movie Classics will be the first cable foray for the “Access” brand. On that show host Samantha Harris will focus on movie-related news and features for a half-hour each week. NBC owns 25 percent of AMC.
And NBC’s partner in MSNBC, Microsoft, has put together an “Access Hollywood” site on MSN.com.
On the local station front, “Access Hollywood” is offering specialized inserts for newscasts designed to promote both a station and the series. The inserts typically feature the show’s hosts, Pat O’Brien and Nancy O’Dell, offering insights into one of the day’s leading entertainment stories.
“We give them guaranteed good material for their newscasts that will then drive viewers to the 7:30 show leading into prime time,” said “Access Hollywood” executive producer Rob Silverstein, who noted that a number of stations, including KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, already have started running the segments.
The brand extension strategy “allows us to reach people who may never have had the chance to become acquainted with us,” Mr. Wilson said. “That in turn will help our distribution, where we currently are only cleared in access in 48 percent of the country, compared with `Entertainment Tonight’s’ 90-plus percent.”
Already, “Access Hollywood” is starting to benefit from a series of upgrades made last year while the strip was co-owned by Warner Bros., which offered it to stations at very favorable rates in an effort to get it into more access time slots.
Since launching in 1996 the show has struggled in the ratings as it moved from distributor to distributor. “Access Hollywood” started at Twentieth and moved to Warner Bros. before landing at its current home, NBC Enterprises.
Last season, though, “Access Hollywood” came in second among adults 18 to 49 with a 1.4 rating compared with the 1.3 ratings of “Extra” and “Inside Edition” and “ET’s” 2.7 rating. “Access Hollywood” also bucked most programming trends by growing year to year in that key demo-it garnered a 1.2 rating in the 18 to 49 category for the 2000-01 season.
Higher priorities
“Every year for us has gotten better, and now that we are with NBC Enterprises we’ve found incredible opportunities and freedom with the studio-now that we are finally the priority of the studio,” Mr. Silverstein said.
Other brand extensions include a planned Spanish-language spinoff on NBC-owned Telemundo as well as deals with AOL Time Warner’s People magazine to provide “Access Hollywood” content and with NPB Radio Network to supply a daily two-minute report titled “Access Hollywood on the Radio With Nancy O’Dell.”
Bill Carroll, VP and director of group programming at Katz Television Group, also noted the power NBC can bring to the “Access” brand. “By doing the post-Emmy show on the network, `Access Hollywood’ was able to not only raise their credibility but they were able to take advantage of the opportunities that a studio such as NBC can provide them,” Mr. Carroll said. “Right now, they do not have the same access presence outside the larger markets that can take their ratings to the next level. By expanding their brand and using NBC’s resources they have to be excited about the future of their show.”