Q&A With Tim Spengler

by Nov 18, 2002, 12:00 AM
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Spengler is Executive Vice President, Director of National Broadcast, for Initiative Media. In that spot he is responsible for co-managing the operations of the company's National Television Division, which manages nearly $2 billion in national billings and more than 100 clients. In addition to playing the lead role in upfront negotiations, he is also an integral part of the company's new business team. A seven-year veteran of Initiative Media, Tim joined the company as Vice President/Network Supervisor, having previously worked in New York for Lowe and Partners and NW Ayer.

Mediapost: Has anything surprised you so far in terms of the shows that have been successful, or shows that have underperformed?

Spengler:Nothing has surprised me a lot. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the numbers on the Bonnie Hunt Show. Creatively I think a lot of shows have done . I thought Girls Club would do much better than it did.

MP:What did you think of Ford’s exclusive sponsorship of 24?

TS: Thought it was great. We did that with Nextel and the 9/11 special on CBS. It’s a great way to integrate the brand into the content, but having said that you can’t do it all the time.

MP: Does the cross-pollination of cable shows on networks concern you? For example, Discovery now resents most of NBC’s kids programming.

TS: I think it would be a lot better if the networks could do it on their own. The networks should be specialized enough that they can do that on their own, or maybe with the help of some partners. But they want to spend their time and energies elsewhere. I guess using cable programming can be a good short term economic strategy.

MP: Speaking of short-term strategy, there were some quotes from Michael Eisner last week that showed he was growing thin with the quality of network’s shows. Any thoughts?

TS: Well I always think any comments like that are reflected in the list of the top 20 shows. It’s hard to contradict what your network programming executives are doing if they’re creating seven or eight top 20 shows. The highest rated shows are the best shows. The last time I looked at the top 20 it seemed to me that Eisner’s comments justify his impatience. They don’t have many top 20 shows.

MP: How does someone in your job deal with audience fragmentation?

TS: You embrace it. You take the macro view in your approach to all outlets. You put together a recommendation for your clients and you try to spread out effectively. For example, I’d rather make sure I’m reaching three different viewers than reach the same viewer three times. It means not just buying sports for men. And not focusing on one or two networks for women. TV has become more of a magazine model.

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