Good Cable News: Keith Olbermann Gets Promotional Help From Other Cable News Competitors

Where are the best places to promote Current TV's new "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" show on television? Not necessarily on Current TV.

The best media plan includes airing messaging on better-rated, more widely distributed news channels like MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, and possible other competitors. And, in fact, it is on these networks where on-air promos for Olbermann's new show (in daytime, in particular) -- as well as on Current TV's airwaves, which go to some 60 million TV homes -- are airing.

Putting promos on competing cable networks may sound strange. But for decades many on-air programming marketing efforts for cable shows have worked this way -- not, as yet, for TV shows on the broadcast networks, who still view this as an incursion of the worst kind.

The truth is many cable TV promos are bought on local cable system advertising avails -- not directly on the networks themselves, thus avoiding any competitive situations.



Much has been made of Olbermann and the placement of his show, running against his former home on MSNBC. Added to this is the fact that the name of his Current TV show is exactly that of his MSNBC program; also the new show is running at 8 p.m. ET, the same time as his old show.

Some general cable industry ambassadors would say using the leverage of other competing networks is a benefit for the whole industry. But in the increasingly competitive cable network universe, one wonders how long this might last.

From Current TV's perspective, it's the right marketing approach. But what if it doesn't work?

Wild rumors are that Current TV may be spending $15 million in marketing (paid advertising?), as well as paying Olbermann a big $12 million a year salary. Given Current TV's financial situation -- only pulling in some $40 million in total national advertising sales, and at a mid-size (at best) 60 million viewers -- these marketing (and salary) numbers wouldn't make sense.

Current TV is an independently owned cable network, one of the few left, and that brings with it specific, higher marketing hurdles.

Current TV is not part of a big TV marketing machine -- like a NBC Universal, Viacom, Fox, Turner Broadcasting -- that can count on broadcast networks, cable networks, TV stations, outdoor, magazines, and digital platforms to blare out entertainment messaging.

But given cable TV's current special marketing nature, it has found ways to use the big guys' assets.

1 comment about "Good Cable News: Keith Olbermann Gets Promotional Help From Other Cable News Competitors ".
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  1. Marla Goldstein from Around The Bend Media, June 22, 2011 at 7:33 p.m.

    Oh, duh. To state the obvious, of course Current TV is advertising off-channel. Every cable network does. As do all the broadcasters.

    And don't forget that cable, unlike broadcast, can count on dual revenue streams. One from advertising and the other from carriage fees that each network earns from the MSOs. Yes, I know that broadcast is going that direction with retrans, but cable's been there a lot longer.

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