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Buzz Favors Fox’s ‘Dad,’ NBC’s ‘Office’

Jan 24, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In time for NATPE, Initiative Media is turning its new hit-predicting tool loose on the broadcast networks’ midseason shows and sees two comedies, Fox’s “American Dad” and NBC’s “The Office,” as potential winners.

That prediction is based on positive buzz detected in Internet chat rooms, blogs, discussion groups and bulletin boards by PropheSEE, a joint venture of Initiative, Trendum and TVTracker.com.

Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive VP and director of global research integration at Initiative, said PropheSEE successfully chose ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” as hits and would be useful again at midseason, especially for international buyers deciding which of the new shows to buy. PropheSEE measures buzz, but more important, it measures positive buzz, which Ms. Koerner said correlates to ratings points.

Buzz isn’t always positive. For example, buzz about NBC’s “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” jumped in December, but that was because of the death of actor Jerry Orbach.

PropheSEE can also detail what people are saying online about what they like and don’t like about shows, which could make it a valuable research tool for the networks themselves. In fact, Ms. Koerner said, Initiative is in third-round talks about selling the data to three of the broadcast networks. The data would help the networks see how well their promotion is working and what aspects of their shows are turning viewers on or off.

Initiative’s clients are also using the data to make integration and product-placement decisions. “It’s valuable to be able to tell clients to outfit this character, not that character,” Ms. Koerner said. “If we can tell our clients what is the most resonating aspect of a show, then they can build an integration that’s going to have more bang.”

Fox’s “American Dad,” which is getting the most positive buzz and a high level of buzz overall, will premiere after the Super Bowl, giving it a huge kickoff. The show is animated, which recently has proved a kiss of death for programs. But Ms. Koerner noted, “Fox is the only network who can make animation work on their air.”

She added that “The Office” has been waxing and waning in buzz since July. She expects buzz over the show to grow as NBC begins promoting it more heavily.

Also getting positive buzz are “Medium,” “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show,” “Point Pleasant,” “Jonny Zero” and “Law & Order: Trial by Jury.”

Ms. Koerner noted that the networks having the toughest season so far, NBC and Fox, are the ones whose midseason shows are generating the most buzz. “It’s not surprising for Fox, because Fox has always done better in the midseason than the fall. But it is [surprising] for NBC.”

She added that the latest survey was taken before “Medium” went on the air and generated good ratings and reviews.