Turner Develops Ad Meetings

Feb 23, 2004  •  Post A Comment

For the first time in its history, Turner Broadcasting Co. will hold meetings with advertisers and their media agencies next month to discuss first-run programs they are developing, agency executives said.
The meetings will be held in New York and are similar to presentations the broadcast networks have traditionally held in Los Angeles each spring. The aim is to give potential advertisers a preview of future programming plans-and entice them to make an early marketing or advertising commitment.
Development meetings give advertising executives an opportunity to talk at length with network programming executives. Unlike meetings in May tied to upfront ad sales, these development meetings aren’t intended to offer specifics as to exactly where shows will run on their future schedules.
“It’s an image thing,” said Steve Sternberg, executive VP of programming for Magna Global USA. “Cable is trying to elevate itself so people will think of them as interchangeable with broadcast. Turner has been taking the lead in all of this. Turner [with all its networks] could have a lot to talk about.”
In broadcast presentations, network executives will discuss up to 40 programming projects-some accompanied by video. “A lot of this stuff doesn’t make it to air,” Mr. Sternberg said. “But it gives us an idea of the direction they are going into. It gives us, for example, how many dramas they have in development, whether they are going to concentrate on comedies, and what producers they have deals with.”
Other media agency executives have been scratching their heads about Turner’s development plans. Historically, Turner has not had a large development slate of first-run shows to discuss. Mostly the Turner programming discussions have been about its off-net comedies and dramas. “They might only have two shows to talk about,” said one media agency executive. “It could be a very short meeting.”
A Turner spokesman said, “It’s not just new shows-we are talking about a little bit of everything. This is something that is hitting the marketplace a little bit early.”
Other cable networks such as MTV Networks and USA Networks say they have no plans to follow suit this year.
While Turner is looking to show off future programming plans, the broadcast networks appear to be cutting back. Only three networks-Fox, ABC and NBC-have scheduled big development meetings this year.
Fox will do a presentation March 24 at its Los Angeles-area studio. “It is a benefit for us, since we have year-round development,” a Fox spokesman said.
NBC will hold its presentation March 25 at its studios in Burbank. An ABC spokeswoman would say only that meetings will be held in New York and Los Angeles “sometime in March.”
CBS and The WB will have lower-profile affairs. CBS, which hasn’t done any big development meetings in years, prefers one-on-one meetings with agencies. The WB, which has held meetings in recent years, also will meet with agencies separately.