ABC's Lee Slots Network In Top Spot, 'Rising Star' Slated For Summer

Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, says the network is No. 1 when it comes to C3 ratings (commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifting), as well as live-program plus seven-days of time-shifting -- when looking only at non-sports ratings.

In particular, NBC with “Sunday Night Football” and Fox with Major League Baseball World Series and playoffs, gained strong ratings in the fall, which contributed to their respective overall results.

Apart from Saturday-night college football, ABC doesn’t have a strong fall sports programming franchise. TV marketers typically segment sports TV advertising dollars, primarily targeting men, from those scripted and non-scripted entertainment TV shows, which can cater to broader audiences.

Overall, ABC -- like a number of other networks -- continues to seek year-round development of shows. While ABC has a number of anchor programs on virtually every night of the week -- “Modern Family” and “The Middle” (Wednesdays): “Grey Anatomy” and “Scandal” on Thursdays, and “Once Upon A Time” (Sundays) for example -- Lee says ABC needs help in various time periods, including Tuesday at 10 p.m., Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m.

As other TV network executives have pointed out, ABC talks up seemingly low-rated shows after one day of viewing -- shows accumulate higher ratings through seven days.

“Nashville” may be getting low mid-1 ratings among 18-49 viewers in its Nielsen live-plus-same-day viewing data, but the show increased to a 3 rating through seven days of time-shifted viewing. “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” started off strong, then dipped -- but now has come back, says Lee. Seven days of viewing have also given the show better numbers -- around a 4 rating.

Some of ABC’s gap shows, such as “The Assets” -- short-episode series that spell the bigger ongoing shows, such as “Scandal” and others -- have not performed well. These shows, says Lee, just need to outperform repeats of ABC’s main stable of shows to be successful.

In fact, ABC pulled “The Assets” -- a recent winter series replacement about CIA traitor Aldrich Ames -- after two episodes. Lee fielded a question about whether the show suffered from a lack of promotion.

He explained that not all ABC shows get the same promotional efforts. Some, like “Shark Tank” on Fridays, find an audience without much on-air marketing. “We always have to make very difficult decisions when it comes to promotion,” says Lee.

For this coming summer, ABC is looking at starting up its own TV singing competition program “Rising Star,” where viewers vote for a performer during the live broadcast of an episode, determining whether performers will make the grade.

Singers perform alongside a live-vote-tally graphic where viewers can see whether a singer can be pushed to the 70% level -- a mark of success. Plus, a full-stage screen in front of the performer fills up with some viewers' faces. Should the performer exceed the 70% level, the full-stage screen rises to reveal a live enthusiastic audience. “It’s like a modern-day coliseum,” says Lee.

“Rising Star” will debut in the summer and get heavy marketing support, starting with in June with TV promotion on the NBA playoffs.

Paul Lee photo credit: ABC
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