By Jim Benson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/12/2006 7:00:00 PM
Syndicators gear up to combat the Olympics
With a record 416 hours of Winter Olympics coverage across multiple platforms on NBC, many syndicated shows face the prospect of serious declines during the February sweeps.
In previous years, the competition has come primarily from NBC’s broadcast and cable outlets; now these shows will also contend with expanded HD coverage, real-time Web coverage and a video-on-demand (VOD) package.
But syndicators can minimize the ratings damage, according to studio researchers. If their shows are bumped on a particular day on stations covering more than 10% of the country, they’ll be able to break out the affected strips from their Monday-Friday averages, allowing them to sell higher numbers to national advertisers.
Some syndicators are proceeding as if it is business as usual, despite the average 24.5 hours per day of Olympics set to play on various NBC Universal outlets. Those expecting preemptions on NBC stations, such as NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood, Telepictures’ Extra and, in some cases, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, are taking additional production and promotional steps to sustain their ratings during the sweeps.
Access is cashing in on its family ties, sending co-anchor Billy Bush to Torino and giving the athletes star treatment.
Susan Kantor, senior VP of marketing for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Telepictures Productions, says the syndicator of Extra “is providing customized promos” for stations to air during their local Olympics avails. Extra will be displaced in more than 30 markets, so Kantor’s group has designed the spots to help viewers find the temporarily rescheduled show.
Telepictures has gone further, making selected pre- and post-Olympic radio buys in a few key markets, and stepping up Extra’s sweeps presence on weekday morning and weekend newscasts.
Ellen will be minimally affected by the coverage, moving back an hour to 3 p.m. in only a few markets. But it will poke fun at the Games by sending a correspondent to Torino, as it did to Detroit for the Super Bowl. With the show cleared on many NBC affiliates, the syndicator will capitalize on the host’s humor with specially targeted station promos.
Paramount Ups Sales Execs
Paramount Domestic Television has promoted three sales executives to VP/regional manager: Christopher N. Brooks (Western, based in Los Angeles); Lorenzo Esparza (Central, Chicago); and J.R. McCabe (Eastern, New York).
All three will report to Mark Dvornik, executive VP/general sales manager.
In their new positions, Brooks, Esparza and McCabe will oversee sales of all first-run and off-network library product in their respective regions.
Previously the Western division manager, Brooks started at Paramount in September 1997 as an account executive.
Esparza began there as a law clerk in May 1998; most recently, he was Southeast division manager, based in Miami.
McCabe, previously Eastern division manager, joined Paramount in 2004 from Universal Domestic Television, where he oversaw the New York and Chicago syndication sales offices.
Also, Miami-based Meylin Llampay was promoted to Southeastern division manager from account executive; Jennifer Lowe and Lindsay Strauss have been named account executives.
'NASCAR Angels’ Fly
NASCAR and MagicDust Television will partner with NASCAR’s exclusive distributor, Litton Entertainment, to clear the weekly syndicated NASCAR Angels.
The program, from NASCAR’s Automotive Licensing team, will shoot 22 episodes on location in major race markets and showcase all aspects of auto maintenance, offering advertisers opportunities for sponsorships and product integration.
During the recent NATPE conference, the show picked up five of the 10 largest markets on day one, including the ABC O&Os in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
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