April 10, 2012

The Sked: PROMO WATCH — Huge Scandal Promotion Lures Few Viewers

>The most recent Promo Watch numbers are based on prime time broadcast network programming between April 2 and April 8, with about 8 hours of programming sampled for each network over that period.  (Click “read more” to see the latest chart.)

ABCScandal reached an unprecedented level of on-air promotion the week leading up to its premiere, a full 63 seconds of promos per hour in the most recent week sampled.  On the three nights leading up to Thursday’s debut telecast, the amount of time devoted to Scandal reached a fever pitch of almost 80 seconds per hour.  For anyone watching ABC, it was hard to avoid the spots for the new Shonda Rhimes drama starring Kerry Washington, but viewers largely avoided the show, proving relentless promotion and marketing does not guarantee a good rating.  But give ABC credit for pulling out all the stops.  Still flying under the radar relatively is Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23, stuck at 19 seconds per hour this past week.  ABC is still counting on Modern Family viewers (one of the most time-shifted shows on TV) to find it at 9:30 pm ET — a tough thing to ask if a viewer is not watching the lead-in live. 

NBCBest Friends Forever was the #1 NBC priority this past week, with 35 seconds of promo time per hour on average.  In contrast, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers averaged 13 seconds per hour.  A typical combo spot for the new incarnation of “NBC Happy Hour” (previously the Whitney and Are You There Chelsea? duo) was a 30-second promo with 10 seconds given to Off Their Rockers and 20 seconds to BFF.  Viewers made it clear they preferred the simple, clear concept of the Betty White prank show over the single-camera comedy about a young couple and the wife’s best friend.  NBC could have aired the gag of the two female Best Friends falling into a bathtub at a Scandal-like rate of 60+ seconds per hour and not received a higher rating.  In contrast, more time to Betty White and the old folks punking young adults might have yielded an even higher rating, perhaps breaking a 2-rating, which would be NFL-like numbers on NBC Wednesday.    
FOXGlee has emerged as the #1 promo priority on FOX this past week, up to 25 seconds per hour, a fairly strong commitment for FOX.  The promos concentrate on the upcoming graduation and sprinkle in some nostalgia, which is always dangerous because it can remind waivering viewers or lapsed viewers that the show has seen better days.         

CBS.  Continuing its strategy of promoting almost everything with a limited number of shorter-length spots (a lot of 10-second promos), CBS has a five-way tie for first place, with the most heavily promoted shows receiving 11 seconds of time this past week.  Among the shows receiving this not so bountiful 11 seconds per hour is freshman police drama NYC 22, an indication that there is not much confidence in the rookie cop show.  And CSI: Miami was also among this quintet of shows, as its finale was promoted only to have the episode start almost an hour late at 10:52 pm with a very low-rated repeat Good Wife as its lead-in.  Bon voyage, Horatio Caine.          

                          PROMO WATCH

                    Top Priorities by Network
              On-Air Promo Seconds per Hour Sampled
                   Past Week (April 2-8, 2011)
      ABC                          CBS
     Scandal            63        CSI: Miami         11
     Don’t Trust the B  19        Letterman          11
     Grey’s Anatomy     19        NYC 22             11
     Body of Proof      10        Big Bang Theory    11
                                  Person of Interest 11

     NBC                          FOX
     Best Friends Forev 35        Glee               25
     Smash              21        Bones              20
     The Voice          21        Touch              19
     Community          16        New Girl           18
     Off Their Rockers  13        Finder             12
     Fashion Star       11


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."