TV Guide says the ABC deal--which will make ABC the sole advertiser of a TV Guide issue--is unprecedented for any print advertiser in its 55-year history.
In the past, TV Guide had been one of the three marketing pillars for a TV network--which also include radio, and a network's own airwaves. But now TV networks have an abundance of media platforms to consider, as well as having to target an elusive audience that has many more media options than in the past. As a result, networks are even hungrier to make big marketing splashes to ensure that their new shows get sampled.
Why TV Guide? "Because nobody watches more TV than TV Guide readers," says Michael Benson, executive vp of marketing for ABC. "It's not just what media platform we are using. It's how we are using it, which is unique. They are still an important part of our marketing mix."
Benson added that there is a stronger emphasis this year, especially in re-launching new shows of a year ago. For example, for the first time ever, ABC will be giving away a free DVD of season premieres in TV Guide of the network's rookie Wednesday shows of last season--"Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice," and "Dirty Sexy Money."
"It's different this year because of the strike," he said.
In the past, ABC has partnered with TV Guide for a promotion that sent life-sized paper hospital gowns with an issue of TV Guide to New York and Los Angeles subscribers to coincide with the fourth season of "Grey's Anatomy."
ABC also sent pocket-sized tissue packets to subscribers in select markets for ABC's Sunday lineup of aspirational reality shows--the premiere of "Oprah's Big Give" and a special episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."