Big names keep advertisers

Publish date:
Updated on

It doesn't usually work this way. But late-late-night clearances and national ratings that rarely climb above a 1.0 haven't prevented CF Entertainment's six series from getting renewed for next season.

Also seemingly crazy, come fall, Entertainers With Byron Allen will reach the 200-episode milestone after eight seasons; American Athlete, going on year five, will pass 100 episodes; and Kickin' It With Byron Allen, heading into year four, will surpass the 100 mark.

How can CF Entertainment keep financing production of shows that other syndicators might have benched long before now? "This whole company is run by about 12 people," explains President and CEO Byron Allen, who says that, to keep production and distribution costs down, "it's important for people to have multiple responsibilities. This is a great challenge for them."

Also helpful, says Allen, is that his stable of magazine shows, mostly half-hour weeklies—the other three are Every Woman (going into year three), Global Business People (year three) and (year two)—may not technically score high points, but they still catch a premium price from advertisers. With big-name personalities profiled each week—recently, Entertainers spotlighted Michael Douglas; Kickin' It, Madonna; American Athlete, Michael Jordan; and Every Woman, Maya Angelou—blue-chip advertisers like Coca-Cola or Procter & Gamble "say that we want to be a part of these … shows that are family and socially friendly."

Allen is currently pushing stations to upgrade his shows from their typical post-midnight slots. Entertainers, for example, runs Fridays at 2 a.m. on both WNYW-TV New York and KABC-TV Los Angeles. Stations are listening to his pitches in today's consolidating syndication marketplace, with "a lot of weekly shows going away and not getting replaced," he says, referring to canceled Xena.

Art Moore, programming director for WABC-TV New York, has taken the pitch to heart. Athlete "is really compatible with our sports-related network content at that time," he says. "And he gets the biggest people in sports anyway." A-list talent participate because "people respect what he does. He's not cornering them into doing something they don't want to do."