Studios Use Summer to Build Audiences for Fall Launches

Working with stations for on-air, digital and social campaigns
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Just because only three new first-run series and one new off-net sitcom are launching this fall doesn’t mean studios and station groups are working any less hard to promote them.This fall, Warner Bros. will debut its one-hour strip, Crime Watch Daily, while Disney-ABC launches FABLife and NBCUniversal has Crazy Talk in the offing. Warner Bros. also has the only new off-network sitcom—2 Broke Girls, starring Kat Denning and Beth Behrs.

Studio marketing departments were headed last week to PromaxBDA’s Station Summit in Las Vegas to meet with station group creative service directors and marketing executives to fill them in on promotion plans for these shows as summer nears.

Warner Bros. is putting a lot of firepower behind Crime Watch Daily, which landed all-important 4 p.m. time slots on Tribune-owned stations in big markets. Part of Crime Watch’s appeal to TV stations is its emphasis on local. In fact, the show is integrating local stories, reported by local teams, into its nationally distributed program. In cases where a station’s news department works with Crime Watch on a story, Crime Watch will in turn give the station the exclusive on that story, allowing it to run first in that market and then the next day on the national show.

“One of the best ways to help Crime Watch Daily is if your people would participate in the storytelling and in the promotional efforts,” Smith Geiger analyst David Smith told Station Summit attendees. “The research was clear that if your talent endorsed the program, it would have a far higher degree of acceptance. Tying those two together is a real opportunity.”

Crime Watch Daily’s producers also are constantly looking for ways to work even more closely with local TV stations, including producing daily vignettes and pieces that can seamlessly be integrated into local newscasts.

“We also might team up with stations and do investigations in tandem,” said Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, the show’s senior executive producer.

Crime Watch also will not run credits or vanity cards at the end of its show in order to pull viewers directly into newscasts.

Absolutely FAB

On the opposite end of the spectrum comes Disney-ABC’s FABLife, starring Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, Leah Ashley and Lauren Makk. Each of the show’s panelists will cover a specific lifestyle vertical. Banks is the show’s beauty specialist, Teigen is focusing on food, Zee is fashion, Ashley will help viewers DIY, while Makk transforms homes.

“The best marketing plans are really built around a show’s strengths,” said Tom Connor, VP creative marketing, Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution.

Disney-ABC will begin rolling out promos after the July 4 weekend, initially introducing viewers to the show’s hosts and focusing on fun, inspiration and transformation.

“The first phase of this campaign is more about the audience than it is about us,” added Connor.

FABLife’s hosts already have large social media followings so Connor plans to incorporate that into both the show’s rollout and into its content going forward.

Finally, Warner Bros. will launch 2 Broke Girls this fall, after having set a record with its early sale into syndication when TBS paid upwards of $1.7 million per episode for the show in 2012.

The studio is wearing the show’s adult humor on its sleeve, pitching stations on the fact that audiences love the raunchy humor of one of Warner Bros.’ most successful shows ever, Two and a Half Men, and they are likely to love it in this show as well. The studio has created “red band” promos for stations that are a little on the blue side that they can also either run or not.

“We did red band for Two and a Half Men and it worked out great,” said Lisa Gregorian, Warner Bros. Television Group’s chief marketing officer. “It’s for you to decide how and when you want to use them.”

Warner Bros. also has created some experiential marketing to promote the show, including a pop-up coffee carafe that houses a coffee shop, a 2 Broke Girls-branded carnival ride and a takeover of the Brooklyn Diner.

The studio also has created tons of custom-branded spots for local stations, featuring Denning, Behrs and Jonathan Kite, who plays dirty-minded cook Oleg on the show.

With Labor Day falling late this year, most of syndication’s new shows will launch in mid-September.

LONGTIME SYNDIE LEADERS KNOCKED OFF THEIR PERCHES

Two of syndication's long-established leaders saw themselves fall to second place in their genres—Family Feud beat typical game leader Wheel of Fortune to take both the game and overall syndication lead, while InsideEdition pushed Entertainment Tonight into second place for the first time in many years.

Overall, June has been a month to remember for Feud host Steve Harvey. Family Feud, which has been steadily rising since Harvey took over the show, notched a 6.1 live-plus-same-day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, down 3% for the week ended June 14 but up 33% for the year. Debmar-Mercury’s Feud also led all of syndication in households and tied with Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory for the lead among women 25-54 with a 3.2.

NBCUniversal’s The Steve Harvey Show also is on the rise, hitting a four-week high 1.8 in households and leaping 20% from last year, daytime’s largest annual gain.

Finally, Harvey also scored with Celebrity Family Feud, which premiered on ABC primetime on June 21 to 8.5 million viewers and a 2.4 among adults 18-49.

Meanwhile, the steady performance of CBS Television Distribution’s InsideEdition knocked genre leader and sibling series Entertainment Tonight out of the lead, with InsideEdition holding steady at a 2.9 for the third week in a row and ET down 3% to a 2.8.

Just because only three new first-run series and one new off-net sitcom are launching this fall doesn’t mean studios and station groups are working any less hard to promote them.This fall, Warner Bros. will debut its one-hour strip, Crime Watch Daily, while Disney-ABC launches FABLife and NBCUniversal has Crazy Talk in the offing. Warner Bros. also has the only new off-network sitcom—2 Broke Girls, starring Kat Denning and Beth Behrs.

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