Picking TV Hits As Easy As Predicting Bonds' Record Run

Barry Bonds hit baseball's record 756th home run, and the first commercial after the big event on ESPN was all fowl.

It was an ad for KFC -- the one where a young waiter in a restaurant who was just fired makes an impromptu announcement to restaurant patrons that the chicken is better and cheaper at KFC.

The second commercial was for Bank of America -- which turned out to be a nice media sandwich, since Bonds' home run traveled over the wall in right center field where there is a Bank of America sign.

Next up was a TV show promotion for the National Geographic Channel's new show, "Taboo," a program about cultures and their unusual traditions. Baseball players have their own fist-pound greetings and celebratory bumps.

And then it's back to the game.

What did these advertisers get -- as well as those local TV and cable advertisers in San Francisco and Washington D.C, as well as in radio?



We have to wait and see when the ratings actually come in. Discount some viewers' malaise -- especially with all those drug performance-enhancing allegations swirling around Bonds.

The lesson learned here is that media planning is hard enough when it comes to figuring out more historical rating trends on prime-time TV.

But determining when one of the highest profile professional athletes in one of the biggest professional sports will break the most hallowed of sports records is always one big swing at the plate.

For the upcoming fall season many TV buyers will try to guess the new surprises. Grab a new gritty new procedural drama at a 7 share, roll the dice and buy the show, and hope it does a 12 share. Go all in for that quirky, under-the-radar comedy at a 5 share and cross your fingers it does a 10.

Most times this betting doesn't work - make-good inventory aside. With a less than 10% rate of success, the odds of picking network TV hits are a little better than betting on craps.

In TV the small wagers are mostly on singles, maybe a few doubles.

Trying for that one big dramatic home run is mostly swinging at a pitch with your eyes closed.

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