NBC News: There We Are Are
Network plans new plug to promote newsgathering
NBC News plans to launch an advertising campaign this fall bearing the slogan: "NBC News: Wherever you go, there we are".
The slogan, which comes out of NBC's internal advertising division, The NBC Agency, is slated to debut as current NBC News darling Katie Couric begins anchoring the CBS Evening News. It also comes as NBC, like all TV networks, strives to highlight the availability of its content on emerging digital platforms.
“That means on-air, on cable, online, on your telephone,” says NBC Agency Senior VP, Advertising and Promotion, Frank Radice (see Fifth Estater, page 32), who coined the new slogan. The campaign is slated to debut nearly a year after NBC News created a digital task force under Senior VP Cheryl Gould and VP of Digital Technology Mark Lukasiewicz.
NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker has said NBC's upfront promotional lingo will be “Television 360,” promising advertisers that every program in development will have a digital component.
The network does not regularly employ a singular catchphrase for its news content, like CNN's “The most trusted name in news” and ABC's “More Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source.”
The news division last made headlines with an ad campaign in late 2004 when it promoted Brian Williams' arrival to the Nightly News by taking out full-page newspaper ads calling him a “seasoned reporter with a passion for the story.”
Digital Short To Preview FX's 'Rescue Me'
FX and Sony Pictures Television will promote the third season of Rescue Methrough a 15-minute short available on video-on-demand, broadband and cellphones in advance of the series' return to TV.
The stand-alone short episode, “Rescue Me 2.5,” was written by the creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan and will star the regular cast of Rescue Me, whose new season begins May 30.
Between May 8 and 29, AOL will offer 2.5 for free as the exclusive broadband provider of the short. In the same period, Adelphia, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox and DirecTV will offer the promotional program for free to their VOD subscribers. A wireless deal for 2.5 is still being finalized, according to the network.
Rescue Me, produced by Sony Pictures Television, is one of FX's highest-rated original dramas.—A.B.
CBS Tests 'Survivor' Online
While ABC recently announced a two-month experiment with streaming four shows online in a fully ad-supported model, CBS has been quietly testing different pricing strategies for online re-airs of Survivor at CBS.com.
For most of the season after each network airing, CBS made that week's episode available for $1.99. But recently, CBS lowered the price to 99¢ and added advertisements into the stream, making the move without any marketing or promotion. “We're just testing things out,” says CBS Digital Media President Larry Kramer.
Declining to disclose specific figures, Kramer says the move has increased downloads. “It hasn't been a massive change, but the numbers are a bit higher,” he says. “And we didn't get a lot of kickback because there were ads.”
Kramer also says CBS may look at a completely ad-supported business model, charging users nothing in exchange for watching ads they cannot skip. “We want to work with the affiliates to test every model,” he says, “and ad-supported is definitely one of those.”
That model gave CBS more than $4 million in ad revenue from online airings of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament games. After making the games available free, the “March Madness on Demand” Webcasts drew about 5 million users, roughly double the number CBS had projected.
And while the next tournament is nearly a year away, CBS is already holding meetings to discuss how to increase revenues for its online coverage of March Madness. It will undoubtedly see a leap in ad revenues based on the number of users this year.
“We charged conservatively based on a lower base; we did not build in the ability to charge more because more people came,” says Kramer. “It should make a lot more money next time because we have experience with how many people watch and how much time they will spend.”
Many viewers who logged onto CBS.com during the tournament this year were forced to wait when too many users logged on at the same time. Kramer says one option would be to offer a premium service where users could pay a fee to guarantee immediate entrance into the Webcast of their choice.—Ben Grossman
E! Plans Slate Of Reality Shows
E! Entertainment Television will launch a reality series about Backstreet BoyNick Carter, his younger brother and fellow pop singer Aaron, and their three sisters as part of a handful of reality shows debuting in the coming months.
The Carters, from producers Rob Lee (Bravo's Blow Out) and J.T. Taylor (MTV's The Osbournes), will follow the oft troubled siblings as they live together in a house with eldest Nick taking care of the others. The eight-episode half-hour series will join E!'s schedule this fall.
In June, E! will premiere other series—including 7 Deadliest Hollywood Sins, a seven-part half-hour series about Hollywood transgressions—and the new season of The Simple Life: 'Til Death Do Us Part. New specials include Uncovered: Hidden Lives of Miss USA, an inside look at the pageant's 2006 contestants.—A.B.
NFL Bolsters Its Network
The NFL Network has added condensed re-airs of weekend games, hired Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth to call live games, and acquired college football's Senior Bowl in its continuing effort to boost distribution.
The league-owned network can currently be seen in about 40 million homes, but the NFL passed up offers in the $400 million range from Comcast and others to keep a late-season package of eight regular-season games.
Although one of the major holdouts for the NFL Network is Time Warner, the two sides are in “ongoing discussions,” says NFL Network President/CEO Steve Bornstein.
“We currently are distributed on three of the largest cable and satellite distribution systems: Comcast, DirecTV and EchoStar,” he says. “I am hopeful that, by this fall, we will have deals with those few operators that we don't have, and Time Warner is the largest of those.”—B.G.
Fox Picks New Shows, NBC Renews Vets
Fox has picked up 13 episodes each of one new comedy and one new drama for next season, while NBC announced plans to bring back six veteran dramas.
The shows are Brad Garrett comedy 'Til Death and political thriller Vanished.
'Til Death, from Sony Pictures TV, stars Garrett and Joely Fisher as a long-married couple living next door to newlyweds Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster. It is produced by Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith.
Vanished, from 20th Century Fox TV, stars Rebecca Gayheart and Ming Na in a drama about the disappearance of a senator's wife. It is produced by Josh Berman, Paul Redford and Mimi Leder.
Meanwhile, NBC is bringing back all three shows under the Law & Order umbrella, as well as Medium, Las Vegas and Crossing Jordan.
Law & Order returns for a 17th season in the fall, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for season eight and Law & Order: Criminal Intent for a sixth season.
Although all three shows are from Dick Wolf, NBC did not announce plans for his other show on the network, rookie Conviction, which is not part of the Law & Order franchise.
Medium comes back for a third season, Las Vegas for a fourth and Crossing Jordan for season six.—B.G.
New Fox Net Gets LIN; CW Adds 15
My Network TV has signed four more affiliates, all from LIN TV.
The stations are WNDY Indianapolis; WCTX Hartford/New Haven, Conn., WXSP Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.; and KNVA Austin, Texas, all in top-60 markets. The sign-ups boost the programming service's national clearance figure to 68% of the country for a September launch.
The service will be anchored by nine News Corp. stations being abandoned as UPN merges with The WB to create The CW. But News Corp. executives have also been rushing to sign up orphans or even snag strong stations that might otherwise sign with The CW.
The CW has topped 85% clearance of the country with the addition of stations in 15 medium to small markets from Anchorage, Alaska, to Yakima, Wash.
The network, which launches in September, now reaches 19 of the top 20 markets and 34 of the top 40; none of the additions, though, crack the top 75.—John Eggerton
Rosie Heads To 'The View'
Rosie O'Donnell was expected to be named as the replacement for Meredith Vieira on The View during ABC's airing of the Daytime Emmy Awards last Friday. She hosted her own talk show from 1996 to 2002. ABC declined to comment.
More Novelas for My Network TV Adds
My Network TV has added three new prime time strips based on Spanish-language telenovelas to its roster, bringing the tally of those announced for 2006-07 so far to five. It plans to produce four cycles of the 13-week dramas next season, with eight slated altogether.
The three series in development are A Dangerous Love, Watch Over Me and Art of Betrayal. No decision has been made yet whether they will air under the Desire or Secret Obsessions umbrella. Both series begin Sept. 5 with different storylines.
My Network TV named actress Sean Young, along with Maria Conchita Alonso and Dayanara Torres, to the talent roster. Young (No Way Out, Wall Street) is the second onetime film actress to sign on, with Bo Derek appearing in the inaugural Secret Obsessions: Fashion House. Young is the lead in Art of Betrayal, portraying a woman who plots revenge when her husband abandons her and their two sons to marry another woman for money.
Alonso, who recently appeared in Desperate Housewives as Gabrielle's (Eva Longoria) sexy and up-to-no-good mother, Lucia, has been cast in A Dangerous Love, a story of a fierce rivalry between two families.
Torres, a former Miss Universe, stars in Watch Over Me, chronicling a love triangle.—Jim Benson