Encountering infomercials at 3 a.m. is no surprise. But running into infomercials at 3 p.m. earlier this month—and on a major station like KNBC Los Angeles, no less—was positively startling.
Viewers could have been excused for thinking that the heavyweight NBC owned-and-operated station was in desperate straits, but it turns out that KNBC was simply doing some schedule-juggling necessitated by Dr. Phil’s moving to KCBS prior to Martha’s Sept. 12 premiere. So KNBC called in some unlikely substitute programming during the week of Sept. 5.
Afternoon viewers were treated to a variety of paid-up content, including Travel Café and an infomercial about St. Jude Hospital.
Station President/General Manager Paula Madison says the solution was not ideal: “As a rule, I would not do it again on a weekday at that time.”
When King World’s Dr. Phil came up for renewal last year, KNBC balked at a license-fee increase—from an estimated $185,000 per week to $225,000 per week—and KCBS swooped in. That left KNBC without a 4 p.m. show. KNBC shifted The Ellen DeGeneres Show from 3 to 4 p.m., planning to run Martha Stewart’s syndicated show at 3 p.m.
But that presented KNBC with a weeklong gap. The station could have pulled another show off its shelf, Madison says, but “we were looking to generate revenue without having to pay a license fee for five days.” Madison wouldn’t specify how much the station made from the paid programming, but she did say it was a “pretty good bit.”