Commentary

Fox's O.J. Simpson Show: If He Did It, Will Advertisers Buy It?

So Fox is giving O.J. Simpson two hours at the end of the key November sweep period to mull over what he would do if he were to commit murder. The title of the show is "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened."

That's what I call a November sweep stunt--something that would no doubt bring high ratings and much interest, but maybe not from all prospective TV business partners.

Judith Regan, publisher of Regan Books, will conduct the interview of Simpson, which will focus on his new book with the working title, If I Did I, Here's How It Happened, published by Regan Books, which is owned by News Corp., the owner of Fox.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers, now on to bigger questions--those potential sponsors. What advertisers will be affixing their names to this illustrious event, produced by Fox's reality maven, Mike Darnell?

In the past, murderers, alleged murderers and other nefarious underworld characters have made their appearances in news programs in prime-time TV--on "60 Minutes," "Dateline," or a host of other talk/news shows like "Oprah Winfrey." Those events had advertising support. But they were all under the guise of news programming. Their programs weren't billed with O.J. Simpson's name in the title.

Perhaps this is indeed a test to see whether Simpson can make his big return. Yes, I said return. Since the day he was cleared, Simpson has said that he would get back all that he had lost--his career as a sportscaster, his career doing major sponsorship endorsements.

He said he would get all that back, "in spades."

Simpson must feel he is close to drawing that flush. A true test will be what advertisers come on to support this show with his name attached.

Financially, the good news for Fox is that this supposedly isn't costing the network much money to produce. Maybe Fox will only need to sell this to a few advertisers or a single sponsor.

Then the press will have a story to tell, with the headline: "Simpson's TV Sponsors: If they buy it, here's how it happened and what it cost them."

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