September 7, 2011

THE SKED: New Fall Show On-Air Promotion — September 6 Update

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>With network on-air promotion activity tracked in hit summer shows (those near or above a 2.0 Adult 18-49 rating) for about seven weeks since mid-July, the networks’ promotional priorities are summarized below.

CBS has given a healthy dose of on-air promotion time to Person of Interest inside the past few installments of Big Brother (which is really starting to hit its ratings stride).  Person is now the #1 new show priority for CBS, passing Unforgettable during the past week.  The other CBS new shows received very little attention last week, except for brief mentions within generic fall schedule promos or nightly line-up spots.  Inside these more generic promos, CBS is using footage of cast members dancing and acting looking silly — kind of a throwback technique reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s when stars would gather and even sing fall theme songs (“ABC is the place!” or “Come Home to NBC!”).  Also, this is the time of year that second- or third-tier new show priorities start to disappear altogether, as more promotion time is allocated to premieres of returning series, to new time periods, or to new cast members (such as Ted Danson on CSI or that new guy on Two and a Half Men).    

At ABC, the push for Revenge is just incredible.  The promo time for The Hamptons soap is now almost double the level for the #2 priority (Charlie’s Angels).  ABC marketing is now in a tough spot.  If Revenge works, the department will be questioned about over-saturating the air with spots, reducing the likelihood of other shows working well.  Believe me, in such a scenario a simple thank you or job well done is rarely in the cards for those who toil making promos and ads.  In a success scenario, all credit will go to the show and those who developed it.  In contrast, if Revenge fails, the target will be the creative approach of the campaign (which has barely changed all summer).  And why, internal critics will ask, did you over-saturate the air with all those same lousy spots?  In a failure situation, the quality of the show will rarely come up as a reason. 

At FOX and NBC, X-Factor and Up All Night remain the big bets.  Also on NBC there has been a big surge in activity for The Sing-Off, including a 90 second promo inside Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent.  A full minute and a half.  This often means a show is not tracking well in the weekly Awareness and Intention to View survey, or it can mean the network is feeling generous toward the producers.  In any case, America is in love with singing shows, and it will be fun to watch how X-Factor and Sing-Off fare in just a few weeks.  By the way, starting Monday (September 12), we will review our ratings predictions for each time period and point out any last-minute adjustments we want to make. 

   Fall Series Promos (in seconds)
  In Hit Summer Shows since July 19

FOX      X-Factor            970++

         New Girl            810
         Terra Nova          610

NBC      Up All Night        710++
         Whitney             570+
         Prime Suspect       475 
         Playboy Club        425
         Sing-Off            395++
         Free Agents         195

CBS      Person of Interest  450++ (up one place)
         Unforgettable       410
         2 Broke Girls       270
         A Gifted Man        230+

         How Be Gentleman    150+

ABC      Revenge             660++
         Charlie’s Angels    355
         Suburgatory         330 
         Pan Am              315 
         Once Upon a Time    120 

         Last Man Standing   105

Note: New fall series not listed
have not been promoted in hit summer
shows during this date span.

To see the list of shows in which
promotion activity is tracked, see
the Summer Broadcast Ratings update.  

For reports on all the new network series (and even busted pilots), go to THE SKED PILOT REPORT!

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."