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Clearances for 'Big Shot' Roll In

CBS show has over 60% of U.S., nine of top 10 markets 12/02/2007 07:00:00 PM Eastern

CBS Television Distribution (CTD) has cleared the new online talent search Big Shot on local broadcast station Websites in more than 60% of the country, including nine of the top 10 markets.

With the viability of online programming top of mind in strike negotiations, stations are showing an interest in pursuing new models.

“It’s a whirlwind; all of this has happened in the last 30 days,” says CTD president and COO John Nogawski of the first Web-based show he has ever originated. “I’ve been launching TV shows for a long time, and this ranks up there with one of the fastest-paced launches I’ve ever been involved in.”

The contest, from Madison Road Entertainment, Madonna’s Maverick Entertainment and James Bruce Productions, will premiere on Feb. 4 on stations in more than 70 markets. It gives aspiring actors, singers, models and other talent the chance to come to Hollywood and land real entertainment jobs.

During the contest, each day of the week will feature a different performance category. Wannabes can parade their talent videos online, and each day the person with the most online votes wins a trip to Hollywood to audition for a job. The Hollywood trip will be shot and produced into a short segment that will also be streamed online.

Stations signing up commit to both prominent Website placement and on-air promotions, and have the opportunity to monetize the contest by selling local sponsorships.

CTD began by targeting Entertainment Tonight affiliate stations, as the syndicated newsmagazine will act as a promotional partner for the 13-week contest, including pushing it on-air during weekend airings.

“[Stations] don’t have to have the stress of how to position it with advertisers; the first thing out of their mouth is ET and that helps a lot,” Nogawski says.

Madison Road managing partner Jak Severson says the strength of the project is that unlike others that may get lost in the nebulous Internet, Big Shot accesses audiences already present through ET and at the stations.

“We think this is the next generation of distribution platforms, making an experience that doesn’t take them too far from their comfort zone,” he says. “Relying on viral alone is never a smart idea.”

The contest will air on top 10 market station Websites for WCBS-TV (New York), KCBS-TV (Los Angeles), WBBM-TV (Chicago), KYW (Philadelphia), KRON-TV (San Francisco), WBZ-TV (Boston), WSB-TV (Atlanta), WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.) and KPRC-TV (Houston).

Broadcasters on board include CBS Stations Group, Gannett, Young Broadcasting, Cox, Belo, Post-Newsweek, Sinclair, Scripps-Howard, Clear Channel, Gray Television, Barrington Broadcasting, Raycom, New Vision, Morgan Murphy, Local TV and LIN-TV.