`Access’ improves its Access

Sep 15, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The changes to “Access Hollywood’s”station lineup have NBC Enterprises executives pumped up for the strip’s eighth season.
With nearly 50 upgrades in local markets for the newsmagazine this fall, including more than a dozen new access time periods, “Access Hollywood” entered a new year last week with its best metered market ratings to start the season in more than four years. Boasting a 3.2 primary run score on Monday in Nielsen’s weighted metered markets, the series was helped with clearances in 52 percent of the country this season in access time slots, the most in the show’s history.
“It’s the perfect way to start the new year,” said Rob Silverstein, executive producer of “Access Hollywood.” “We’re coming off a huge summer, and to open the season with record ratings, then break the Ben [Affleck] and Jen [Lopez] story [about the couple’s postponement of their wedding] only shows how we’ve grown and gotten better as time goes on.” Mr. Silverstein said “Access” sent out alerts on the story to affiliated stations and put them online before noon; however, executives at “ET” also claim to have broken the story.
The set received a tune-up in its new soundstage on the NBC lot. The producers lost the desk and glass block background and added a video-projection screen behind hosts Pat O’Brien and Nancy O’Dell. In addition, new music was added.
A newfound relationship with “Entertainment Weekly” will also be a focus this season.
On the distribution side, NBC Enterprises Executive VP Barry Wallach noted that while markets such as Phoenix, Indianapolis and Kansas City, Mo., were among the stations to upgrade this season, more are in line for fall 2004 after a concerted effort by NBC as well as the show’s previous syndicator Warner Bros. in recent years to improve time slots.
“Just a couple of years ago we were in access in only a third of the country,” he said. “It’s only going to get better from here.”