Meredith is celebrating the first birthday of its Better program with a flashy, televised bash in Las Vegas. Meredith will air a live primetime special from The Strip, called Better at Night, on March 18. The special will air on nine Meredith stations, and is being offered to partner stations owned by Journal Broadcast Group, LIN, Fisher and Northwest.
Better is the somewhat unusual idea of a mid-level station group creating its own syndicated programs, using its stations as the launching pad. Fox has done that, but it is much larger than Iowa-based Meredith, which ranks as the nation's 19th largest broadcast group, whose biggest market station is Atlanta's WGCL. (It also owns KVVU in Las Vegas.) But the show is an example of a station group taking a chance on its own, rather than relying on traditional syndicated fare.
Better—the title comes from Meredith-owned Better Homes and Gardens— was hatched as a local morning program on Meredith's KPTV Portland (Ore.) last March, and launched as a broadband network (Better.tv) a month later. The latter features dozens of channels drawing on Meredith's strengths such as family, food and homes. It also owns Family Circle magazine.
In September, Meredith took the hour-long TV show national on nine of its 12 stations and three more owned by Journal. Meredith, which shopped the show at NATPE, announced last month that 12 additional stations were coming on board with Better later this year, including ones owned by Fisher, this March. Right now Better reaches 10% of the country, but by September, that will almost double.
The show offers up to eight minutes for local content insertions, similar to local windows carved into the old PM Magazine shows popular in the 1970s. The live special will feature two segments for local flavor. Partner stations have the option of premiering the special after March 18.
Hosted by Kimberly Maus, Better at Night will feature celebrity interviews and the best bits from the various Better programs around the country. If it's a hit, Meredith Broadcasting Group President Paul Karpowicz says a primetime version may air every quarter.
"It will expose a broader audience to Better," says Karpowicz, "and direct people back to the show in daytime."