Reality shows get separate upfront pitches

Mar 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

In advance of the upfront market, the four major broadcast networks are for the first time making separate reality-programming presentations to ad agencies, which are wary of some of the steamier shows.
Estimates are that 30 percent to 40 percent of the schedules for ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox may be reality-based next season, despite concerns from many major advertisers that prefer less scandalous scripted fare.
“It’s causing a lot of consternation among many advertisers,” said Doug Seay, senior VP-director of national programming, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney.
General Electronic Co.’s NBC went so far in its presentation as to distinguish between “safe” reality and “problem” reality, a strategy that might work for some shops. Donna Wolfe, director-broadcasting negotiations at Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Universal McCann, said at the Association of National Advertisers’ TV Forum last week, “There are shows that are perfectly acceptable and in demand and there are those that are in less demand. To put them all in one bucket is to do us a disservice.”
A spokeswoman for Walt Disney Co.’s ABC confirmed separate presentations were made. An NBC spokeswoman had no comment, while executives from Viacom’s CBS and News Corp.’s Fox were unavailable at press time.
The move comes amid the backdrop of a TV advertising marketplace that has seen scatter prices for individual network TV shows climb 30 percent to 40 percent in the first and second quarters. Analysts predict a 10 percent growth in overall upfront revenue to a record $9 billion.