New Orleans -- Funding programming themselves is one way advertisers can reach targeted audiences that are difficult to reach, and networks and stations are becoming
more interested in the model as they face a tight economy and a fragmented
audience, panelists said at a National Association of Television Programming Executives session in New Orleans Monday.
"The economics in the marketplace are very conducive to this way of doing
business," said Robert Riesenberg, executive vice president/director of MAGNA
"The networks are feeling the financial pinch, and they are very receptive to
this. And the advertisers are in a world of diminishing returns."
That said, it's a model that is only used in limited circumstances, as well
as one that can be difficult to put together.
Producers must find distributors and advertisers, and they don't often run in
the same circles.
The model also doesn't work when the programs are advertising-driven and not
"People don't watch cross-platform marketing opportunities. They watch
programs," said Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment.
But more and more, advertisers are turning to sponsorships and
product placement to get the word out about their products. This summer, NBC
will air unscripted drama The Restaurant, created by Survivor's
Mark Burnett, which is full of opportunities for advertisers, Riesenberg
A restaurant is a natural environment to find products such as beer, soft
drinks and credit cards, and that product placement can lead to off-air tie-ins.
"We often get requests from advertisers who are looking beyond the
traditional spot ad," said Toni Erickson Knight, founder and CEO of
"They want to forge a strong brand identification with