Clearances for Big Shot Roll In

CBS Television Distribution Show Has Over 60% of U.S., Nine of Top 10 Markets

CBS Television Distribution (CTD) cleared new online talent search Big Shot on local-broadcast-station Web sites 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," CTD president and chief operating officer John Nogawski said 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 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. Wanna-bes 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 trips will be shot and produced into short segments that will also be streamed online.

Stations signing up commit to both prominent Web-site placement and on-air promotions, and they 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 said.

Madison Road managing partner Jak Severson said 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 added. "Relying on viral alone is never a smart idea."

The contest will air on top-10-market station Web sites 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 Television, Belo, Post-Newsweek, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Scripps-Howard, Clear Channel Communications, Gray Television, Barrington Broadcasting, Raycom Media, New Vision, Morgan Murphy, Local TV and LIN TV.