MyTV Angling for Product Placements

May 15, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Even before holding its first upfront presentation Fox’s MyNetworkTV is close to some upfront ad deals that include product placement.

Jack Abernethy, who oversees the new network as CEO of Fox Television Stations, said that while MyNetworkTV hasn’t fully presented its programming to buyers and clients, “We’ve been out selling the concept since January, so a lot of people were aware of the product placement opportunities.”

The English-language versions of popular Spanish-language telenovelas the new network plans to strip in 13-week prime-time cycles lend themselves to branded entertainment opportunities, Mr. Abernethy said.

“Given our production cycle, we can make it very advantageous to advertisers and you can be on every night,” Mr. Abernethy said. “People who want that frequency are going to have a real efficient way to look at it.”

Aaron Cohen, executive VP and director of broadcast for Horizon Media, said offering product placements would help make MyNetworkTV ad buys attractive.

“[MyTV is] an interesting opportunity, but I don’t think it’s going to do huge numbers,” Mr. Cohen said. “It’s almost niche. We’re calling it a network because its [programming] is time- and date-specific,” unlike syndication. “What we anticipate is a network with syndicated-level ratings.”

Mr. Abernethy declined to provide an estimate of what ratings MyNetworkTV would generate but vowed, “We expect to do better than UPN. That’s for sure.”

UPN generated about $375 million in ad commitments in last year’s upfront. Mr. Abernethy wouldn’t say what MyNetworkTV’s goal is.

“We want to get a sense of the marketplace and see what happens,” he said.

At its upfront Tuesday, the network will show off its programming and describe the story arcs its shows will start out with.

Mr. Abernethy said the network expects ratings to build as the shows near the end of an arc.

“We’ll be original prime-time television in high definition every night, so I guess you can argue that the many times when the competition is in repeats, presumably we would do better,” he said.

Lame-Duck Nets Trying for Ad Sales

The networks that are about to disappear-The WB and UPN-are still trying to do advertising sales business in their last days of existence, according to Harry Keeshan, executive VP and director of national broadcast for PHD US.

“They were on our radar for the finales, but as far as after that, I think they’re going to have a tough time generating a lot of buzz until September,” he said. “They’re stewarding their schedules, but those guys are focused on one thing, and that’s launching The CW.”

Mr. Keeshan said The CW is a different animal from either of its predecessors.

“It’s a new [programming] lineup, a new station lineup. Their issue will be to price it so that people stay with them and not look elsewhere to place their money.”

Other options for advertisers looking to reach that young-skewing audience include MyNetworkTV and cable. “It’s a good opportunity for the buying community to reassess their youth-targeted money,” he said.