News Articles

Series to star in Nov. sweeps

Fewer stunts and specials set as nets try to hook audiences on regular core fare 10/28/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Dearth of sweeps promos seen tough on syndies

Dearth of sweeps promos seen tough on syndies

Usually, November sweeps is syndication's proving ground, but things could be quieter this year.

It's true that Sept. 11's tragedy, like last year's Olympics/presidential-election goings-on, have put a lot of pressure on shows because they were heavily preempted or just seemed out of sync with the somber national mood, which was fueled by fast-breaking news. The majority of programs, including high-profile The Ananda Lewis Show, The Other Half and Iyanla are at the 1.0 level on the national Nielsen chart, suggesting that it could be make or break for them this sweeps month.

But post-Sept. 11, there isn't the usual money to pump into November sweeps for promotion.

As far as the normal bells and whistles are concerned, "the stations just don't have the budgets to do this kind of stuff," notes Mary Beth MacAdaragh, vice president of marketing at NBC Enterprises.

Besides cutting back on on-air promotions, stations aren't "doing the blitz on radio stations" like they might under rosier circumstances, says Virginia Hunt, KCAL-TV Los Angeles' programming director. "Discretionary spending is one of the things that fall by the wayside."

One exception is Twentieth Television's cross-promotion giveaway campaign, valued at $10 million, featuring several of its series. Twentieth chief Bob Cook calls it "smart and innovative," as the studio reaches out to advertisers, among them Honda, which will give away a car as a part of a World's Wildest Police Videos series.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made the sluggish economy even worse, even a strong performance in November may not save most shows. "You do hear a lot of speculation that, in tough economic times, people aren't going to have a lot of patience with shows," says Marc Shacher, head of programming at the Tribune station group, which is a big carrier of Ananda. "We'll see what happens."

KCAL's Hunt points out that many of the low-rated rookie dating shows, including The 5th Wheel and Rendez-View, were straight barter deals. Syndicators, then, are likely in the red on some of these efforts.

Art Moore, programming director at WABC-TV New York, which runs Iyanla in late night, thinks that viewers settled back to their pre-Sept. 11 routines in October, for the most part. So, if a show is currently on the rocks, it "would be throwing good money after bad."

—Susanne Ault

There will be some of the usual sweeps fanfare with big-name concerts, miniseries and movies across all of the networks, but, for the most part, the 2001 November sweeps (Nov. 1-28) will be filled with original episodes of regular series. The networks are hoping to get viewers attached to the comedies and dramas that will be on their schedules beyond just the month of November.

"The November sweeps is always the odd book because you want to do as well as you can but really what you have to do is reinforce shows that are still early on in their lives," says Jeff Bader, ABC Entertainment's executive vice president. "You want to preempt to enhance your schedule where you can, but you don't want to preempt if it's going to hurt the longevity of a series."

Says Mitch Metcalf, NBC's senior vice president of program planning and scheduling, "The state of our core schedule is in really, really good shape, and we feel confident that, with our core programming, we will be highly competitive on just about every night of the week."

While network programmers are preaching stability, there are a few stunts, starting with the twice-delayed Emmy Awards telecast, now scheduled on CBS for Nov. 4. The World Series will likely push into November, with a possible Game 7 taking place on Nov. 4. NBC is scheduled to air Part 1 of its ambitious miniseries Uprising
on Nov. 4.

Fox, busy with baseball through October, will basically be kicking off its new season in November. At the top of the list are new action series 24,
which will bow on Nov. 6, and new comedy The Bernie Mac Show, which debuts Nov. 14. Fox's Sunday-night lineup will debut on Nov. 11, and both Boston Public
and Ally McBeal
return on Nov. 5.

"We have started certain nights in November before with staggered rollouts, but this is probably the most premieres in the sweeps we've ever had," says David Nevins, Fox's executive vice president of programming. "We've never really had our season pushed quite this far back, but I think there will be some advantages to it."

Fox's big stunts during sweeps include the broadcast premieres of Star Wars: Episode 1—Phantom Menace
(Nov. 25), Lost in Space
(Nov. 1) and Big Daddy
(Nov. 23).

Besides Uprising
(Nov. 4 and 5), NBC specials for November include a Jennifer Lopez concert (Nov. 20) and such box-office films as Antz
and A Civil Action
on Nov. 25. NBC is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of Rocky
on Nov. 17, with Sylvester Stallone hosting.

ABC is starting the month off with a special two-hour concert, United We Stand
featuring the Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson, on Nov. 1. ABC also has The Victoria's SecretFashion Show
on Nov. 15, the network premiere of film Saving Private Ryan
on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, and a Facts of Life
reunion film on Nov. 18. CBS has slated a concert with Michael Jackson (Nov. 13), an I Love Lucy
50-year anniversary special (Nov. 11) and the Country Music Awards (Nov. 7).

Both The WB and UPN are concentrating primarily on regular series with a few exceptions: The WB has Teen People's What's Next
special, profiling up-and-coming stars (Nov. 26), while UPN has Iron Chef: USA
(Nov. 16), hosted by William Shatner.

Dearth of sweeps promos seen tough on syndies

Dearth of sweeps promos seen tough on syndies

Usually, November sweeps is syndication's proving ground, but things could be quieter this year.

It's true that Sept. 11's tragedy, like last year's Olympics/presidential-election goings-on, have put a lot of pressure on shows because they were heavily preempted or just seemed out of sync with the somber national mood, which was fueled by fast-breaking news. The majority of programs, including high-profile The Ananda Lewis Show, The Other Half and Iyanla are at the 1.0 level on the national Nielsen chart, suggesting that it could be make or break for them this sweeps month.

But post-Sept. 11, there isn't the usual money to pump into November sweeps for promotion.

As far as the normal bells and whistles are concerned, "the stations just don't have the budgets to do this kind of stuff," notes Mary Beth MacAdaragh, vice president of marketing at NBC Enterprises.

Besides cutting back on on-air promotions, stations aren't "doing the blitz on radio stations" like they might under rosier circumstances, says Virginia Hunt, KCAL-TV Los Angeles' programming director. "Discretionary spending is one of the things that fall by the wayside."

One exception is Twentieth Television's cross-promotion giveaway campaign, valued at $10 million, featuring several of its series. Twentieth chief Bob Cook calls it "smart and innovative," as the studio reaches out to advertisers, among them Honda, which will give away a car as a part of a World's Wildest Police Videos series.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made the sluggish economy even worse, even a strong performance in November may not save most shows. "You do hear a lot of speculation that, in tough economic times, people aren't going to have a lot of patience with shows," says Marc Shacher, head of programming at the Tribune station group, which is a big carrier of Ananda. "We'll see what happens."

KCAL's Hunt points out that many of the low-rated rookie dating shows, including The 5th Wheel and Rendez-View, were straight barter deals. Syndicators, then, are likely in the red on some of these efforts.

Art Moore, programming director at WABC-TV New York, which runs Iyanla in late night, thinks that viewers settled back to their pre-Sept. 11 routines in October, for the most part. So, if a show is currently on the rocks, it "would be throwing good money after bad."

—Susanne Ault

 

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