Marketing New TV Shows Requires Sacrifice

It wasn't too long ago broadcast networks talked about off-line marketing. They realized shrinking broadcast network ratings points were getting them nowhere in marketing new TV shows.

Now the word among network marketing executives is sacrifice. Launch seven new shows for a network in the fall season, but only promote two or three of them. The other four? Sink or swim.

New TV network marketing is using your very limited resources in the best way. It gives you "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" on ABC. Mike Benson, senior vice president of marketing, advertising, and promotion for ABC Entertainment told Daily Variety : "We love all of our children, but it's just impossible to feed them all."

Some advice: Use birth control.

Now some networks - taking the cue from ABC's ground-breaking fall season marketing approach developed last year - are following ABC's lead, focusing on a show or two, maybe three.



So what are left-out TV producers supposed to do? Sooner or later they will take marketing into their own hands; little chicks kicked out of the nest forage for themselves. TV producers might say, "You, the network, don't want to market our show, but want them on the air? Well, we'll market it for you, but in return that might include selling some advertising time to your advertising clients. All this to get some additional, off-air promotion."

ABC won't have any of this. It doesn't allow producers to do any deals with advertisers unless the network is involved. All the branded entertainment and product integration deals flow through its advertising department.

But how much longer can this last? Only until some top-flight TV producers --perhaps Marc Cherry ("Desperate Housewives") or J.J. Abrams ("Lost") -- agree to, say, develop a new show and sell it directly to General Motors; if they don't like it, producers can take the show elsewhere.

Show business! There's always a better deal. Creatives with immediate, big-hit programs will have the power.

Think TV producers want branded entertainment deals? Far from it. That's not the real value (though a piece of it is, for sure.) It's about the smaller pool of valuable broadcast advertising time that advertisers - at least in the next five years - will still need for their messaging.

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