Don Imus’ advertising shoe dropped yesterday, when the biggest TV advertiser in the land, Procter & Gamble, said it would pull all its advertising from his show. And the upfront market is only five weeks away.
P&G said it was pulling all “daytime rotation” advertising from MSNBC where the “Imus in the Morning” show is aired. That might mean, for the moment, a little more hurt to other shows on the cable news network schedule.
Another advertiser, office supply retailer Staples, also said it would sit out the Imus show. Others are naturally thinking about it. There is some real money at stake here.
With the show representing some $20 million to CBS per year, and another $30 million to MSNBC, the stakes are high. Neither CBS nor MSNBC is ready to give up -- probably one reason why they gave Imus only a two-week suspension for his disparaging racial comments about the RutgersUniversity women’s basketball team.
For CBS, heavy ad losses would be another blow after Howard Stern’s defection last year to Sirius Satellite Radio. MSNBC, which only recently has gained some traction with its prime-time shows, will now have to focus back again on early morning programs.
The big question is, with the upfront process set to start in a few weeks, how does this affect MSNBC? Typically, advertisers buy plenty of broader “rotation” schedules that can place ads on virtually any program on a cable network.
As with P&G, that typically includes the Imus show. Now, advertisers will continue to make those deals but will have to consider whether to include Imus in the mix.
From an image perspective, the conversation continues to go badly for Imus. ESPN News, for example, ran and re-ran the lengthy Rutgers press conference for almost the entire morning.
Other talk and news shows also got a heavy dose of the Imus story. Even NBC’s own Matt Lauer was hard on Imus during a “Today Show” interview yesterday.
That will be key for the rest of the week and the next: whether the spin will continue against Imus, and what effects it will have on MSNBC’s daytime advertising activity.