When the new CW network launches in September, Smallville and Gilmore Girls won't be the only gems from The WB going to a new address. Elizabeth Tumulty, who spent six years managing affiliate relations for The WB, will be on hand as senior VP for distribution at the new network.
“One of the best things about working with The WB was that we did not have a conventional relationship,” says Tumulty, 41. “We understood that, without any O&Os, we really needed our stations, so we always came to a good accommodation with them. It was important that we work together.”
At The WB she launched Operation Opportunity, which created a team of experts at the network level to work with 10 affiliates per year on a range of topics, from marketing to management. “In every place we did this, all of the stations went up by one rating point,” she says. She also got stations to fly their top five advertisers to WB headquarters in Los Angeles to meet the stars, rather than try to get talent to fly in to markets nationwide for promos.
Tumulty was behind The WB 100+, a program to court “cable- only” affiliates in small markets where a broadcast signal was unavailable. With The CW Plus, she will focus on broadcasters who opt to carry the network on an available digital channel.
Tumulty says the big challenge is simply helping WB and UPN fans to find shows like Smallville or America's Next Top Model now that they will air on The CW. To that end, she'll be working closely with the marketing folks at the network and affiliate level.
John E. Reardon, president/CEO of Tribune Broadcasting Co., which partnered with The WB parent Warner Bros. to launch the network, praises Tumulty's effectiveness in dealing with issues like affiliate preemptions: “She's a real pro. Everything is going to be new [with The CW], but she knows how to play it.”