All Katie, All the TimeIs OK With Affiliates

Stations set to air new fall talk show are happy with star’s publicity blitz, including a Yahoo show that initially raised concerns
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Between Katie Couric's turn as guest host on Good Morning America last month and her weekly series that debuted last week on Yahoo, the star TV personality has been hustling to get her name and face back into everyday conversation before her daytime talk show’s fall debut. While some executives at partner stations were initially skeptical about the Web program—they say they didn’t know about the project in advance, and some expressed concern that the online and broadcast shows would share content—they say they now feel better having seen the first episode. And the appreciation for Couric’s marketing savvy seems almost universal.

The Yahoo program, Katie’s Take, explores “health, nutrition, parenting, and wellness” issues, among others. The first installment, promoted prominently on Yahoo.com in advance of its debut last week, saw Couric venture to a grocery store to discuss the health benefits of snack foods. It ran just short of three minutes.

The episode seemed to allay skepticism some affiliates had about buying her syndicated show, only to learn later (at the same time as much of America) she would be rolling out a Web show months earlier.

One insider with knowledge of Couric’s strategy said the Web series will help promote the daytime show, and noted that all parties have the same goal of giving Katie the best chance possible to thrive.

After seeing the Yahoo show, station partners are taking Camp Couric at its word. “It appears to be part of an online and social media play, which is an important component for this program and everything we do on the local level,” says Mike Devlin, president/GM of WFAA Dallas.

Couric’s week-long run on GMA was a factor in the morning broadcast scoring some rare wins against the star’s former workplace, NBC’s Today. The many ABC affiliates and Disney-owned stations in her Disney/ABC Television-syndicated show’s distribution network are delighted to see Couric back to her less-formal self. “My feeling is, the more exposure Katie has right now, the better,” says Dave Boylan, VP/GM at WPLG Miami.

“The ABC network appearances are important to get her back in front of viewers,” says Bill Hoffman, executive VP of Cox Media Group and chairman of the ABC affiliates board. “Yahoo is another marketing platform that should help the same cause. I think both the ABC appearances and the Yahoo exposure should help the fall launch.”

While Couric’s network appearances will not help their morning shows, even some non-ABC affiliated stations that are signed up for Katie applaud her promotional efforts. “We think it’s fantastic that she’s been proactive about her brand and her approach to the show this fall,” says Joe Cook, president/ GM of WVUE New Orleans, a Fox affiliate.

Disney/ABC has also pitched Katie to NBC affiliates, saying viewers still associate Couric with the network from her Today heyday, skipping her CBS Evening News phase altogether.

Ray Heacox, president and general manager of KING Seattle, credits Couric for deploying a multi-dimensional strategy to cut through the modern media morass. “We see it as, the more digital, the better,” Heacox says. “We do that ourselves to get as much extra coverage as we can. We find those things additive.”

The Katie push will continue this summer when the host launches a station tour starting in earnest in July and continuing into September. The trip will include more than a dozen stops, including stations in Los Angeles and Seattle.

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

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