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Fast Track

8/11/2006 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Everybody Dance: 'Ellen' Renewed

Telepictures' The Ellen DeGeneres Show will go up against The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 p.m. on WNBC New York. The first-run talk series has been renewed for three years by NBC Television Stations in the top 10 TV markets.

Ellen had been airing at 10 a.m. in the nation's top market, but reports surfaced last week that NBC was considering expanding the Today show to 11 a.m. Although the network later said there were no immediate plans to do that, the Ellen relocation has nonetheless raised some eyebrows.

The show replaces a double run of Judge Judy, which is returning to WCBS in the same hour.

Ellen has also been renewed in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington, Miami, San Diego and Hartford, Conn., through the 2009-2010 season. Though not a top performer in household ratings nationally, it
has improved the performance of the NBC O&Os. Jim Paratore, executive VP of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and president of Telepictures, says it draws “upscale, suburban soccer-moms that advertisers pay a premium to reach.”

NBC Television Stations President Jay Ireland concurs, saying the talk show is advertiser-friendly.—Jim Benson

NBC Offers Online Football 'Fix'

As if eager NFL fans didn't already have enough to root for, NBC Sports is rolling out an online show meant to win the hearts of the 11 million fantasy-football fanatics.

TheNBC Fantasy Fix will air three times a week during the football season on NBCSports.com as part of a new deal with New York-based fantasy-sports company Rotoworld.com. It is expected to debut later this month, pegged to the first season of NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcasts.

The five-minute shows will air Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday mornings, hosted by NBC's Tiffany Simons along with Rotoworld's Rick Cordella and Gregg Rosenthal. “We thought of using our NFL talent, but while the Rotoworld guys aren't big media stars, they know their stuff,” says Kevin Monaghan, VP of business development for NBC Sports, which will produce the shows.

NBC is also creating an aspect to the game that can allow for local tie-ins with affiliates. It will use the same model as the NBCOlympic Zone programming, which gave stations the opportunity to attach local talent, branding and ad sales to Olympic content. Monaghan says 80 NBC affiliates have already signed up.

The fantasy game will give fans the chance earn points based on how well players do during Sunday-night games. Prizes including trips to New York to watch a game with NBC's studio team: Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Sterling Sharpe and Jerome Bettis.

NBC's Monaghan says the game will be promoted heavily in the NBC studio shows, which may include the NBC talent's participating in the game. He also states the network is close to finalizing a title sponsor.—Ben Grossman

Fox to Kids: “Pause” To Think

The Fox Networks Group and the Kaiser Family Foundation are partnering on a new youth-targeted, multi-platform campaign to promote smart choices and healthy lifestyles.

The Pause campaign will consist of public-service announcements (PSAs) on broadcast and cable, as well as across other Fox platforms, most notably MySpace.com. It will urge young people to “pause” before they make a bad decision.

The campaign will debut with the first batch of PSAs during Fox's broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards on Aug. 20. A second round will follow in early 2007 in conjunction with the new season of American Idol. Fox plans on running the spots in heavy rotations across its range of networks.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is an organization dedicated to providing information and analysis on health-care issues.—Ben Grossman

Viacom Rallies on Earnings Report

Shares in beleaguered Viacom popped following the company's second-quarter earnings report that featured a rebound in U.S. cable-ad sales.

President Tom Freston said he was happy with the ad-sales growth, particularly since it's “within the context of an ad-sales environment which we all know has been fairly challenging.” Freston said MTV has pretty much completed its sales for the upfront market, which he noted was “difficult and drawn out and not as robust as a few years ago.”

Company-wide revenue rose 24% to $2.8 billion, but most of that gain came from the acquisition of movie studio DreamWorks. Without that deal, Viacom's revenues would have risen 9%.

The cable unit generated $1.8 billion in total revenue, up 8%. Domestic ad sales rose 10%, better than the alarming 6% posted during the first quarter.

—John M. Higgins

 

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