Stations Are Heading Back To the ’80s with ‘The Goldbergs’

Sitcom to premiere on Tribune, other stations on Sept. 11

Why This Matters

Family sitcoms are a rare commodity on television these days, and it’s rarer still that they make it into broadcast syndication.

On Sept. 11, Sony Pictures Television’s The Goldbergs opens in broadcast syndication, giving viewers a reason to don shoulder padding and Michael Jackson gloves and step way back into the 1980s.

On broadcast TV, The Goldbergs is sold in more than 98% of the country, with Tribune Media serving as the show’s launch group in major markets. On cable, The Goldbergs will start airing on Viacom’s TV Land and Nick at Nite as well as on CBS’ Pop TV. And the show has been available on Hulu for years.

Headed into its fifth season on ABC, the show was renewed for two more 24-episode seasons. Overall, The Goldbergs is the third-highest rated comedy in the key demographic of adults 18-49 on broadcast television, behind only The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

They Love the ’80s

“It’s a good family show that feels like a multi-cam sitcom, even though it’s single-cam,” said Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisition, Tribune Media. “It offers great family values that reflect the demographic that we appeal to. Anyone who’s in their 40s or 50s, this was your life, this is where you grew up.

“But my kids also watch the show and if I watch it with them, they laugh their butts off because the show puts me in my place.”

Tribune is putting The Goldbergs in strong time periods across the country. On WPIX New York, the show will likely air as a double run in access, while on WGN Chicago it will be double run in late fringe. On WPHL Philadelphia, the market where the show is set, The Goldbergs will air in access or prime, Compton said.

“It’s the No. 1 show with family co-viewing,” said John Weiser, president, distribution, Sony Pictures Television. “People needed a fresh sitcom and this really felt like a great option.”

To promote the show, SPT is doing several activations both nationally and locally.

It’s making available to stations a 30-minute preview that introduces viewers to the show, its characters and its premise. The episode is narrated by Patton Oswalt and offers lots of funny moments and side by sides in which scenes from the show are compared to creator Adam F. Goldberg’s actual home video.

“The marketing impetus is that The Goldbergs in syndication is mostly on non-ABC affiliates, so we wanted to be able to demonstrate to those audiences what was special about the show and the characters,” SPT president and chief marketing officer Sheraton Kalouria said.

The special — assembled by SPT’s marketing department and overseen by senior VP, creative services Jim Vescera — will be available to affiliates starting Sept. 1 until Sept. 11. It runs for 30 minutes, and includes seven minutes of local advertising inventory. Along with fun scenes from the show, it also includes bumpers with Goldbergs trivia questions.

Beyond the “Mother of All Promos,” as Kalouria jokingly calls the special, Sony also is teaming up with Tribune in local markets to promote the program.

In New York and Chicago, Sony is rolling back gas prices at one select station in each market to what gas cost in the ’80s. In New York, street teams will give away Goldbergs-branded Rubik’s Cubes at both Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, and 16 Handles yogurt shops will be set up with retro flavors.

Taking the Pitch to Philly

The show’s setting of Philadelphia will center a whole day around The Goldbergs, culminating with Adam Goldberg’s real brother, Barry, throwing out the first pitch before a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park to the actor who plays him, Troy Gentile.

“My brother Barry is completely beside himself and stressed out about this and tortured,” said Goldberg. “He’s been sending us videos of him throwing the ball. He’s not worried that he won’t make the plate, however, he’s worried that his throw is too powerful.”

For Goldberg, it’s just more fodder for the series. “We are going to do an episode in which Barry wins a radio contest and has to throw out a pitch and totally melts down. That’s the main reason I’m going to Philly. We’re doing 24 episodes a year, so anything that gives me material for an episode is worth it.”