July 20, 2011

THE SKED: Broadcast Network On-Air Promotion

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>Last night in the hit summer shows (NBC’s America’s Got Talent and FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen), we took a look at the priorities for new fall series promotion.  The big winners on NBC were the comedies Whitney and Up All Night.  Each comedy received one minute of on-air promotion across the two-hour telecast (one :30 spot and two :15s for each).  In stark contrast, the Hank Azaria comedy Free Agents received only one spot and it was a :05 spot at that — yes, five seconds.  NBC Marketing will be able to say the show was given a prime position in the network’s best summer show (at 10:48, when ratings peak for the program), but five seconds is barely enough time to mention the show’s title and star.  This is not a very big vote of confidence.  Either they have given up on Free Agents or they are planning a huge campaign in August.  Yeah, right.

The other new shows on NBC that got some attention were Prime Suspect (:45 total; one :30 and one :15) and Playboy Club (one :30 spot).  A few other programs were hit in America’s Got Talent: a generic Today show spot, a couple of hits for the new summer show It’s Worth What?, and a late night spot featuring that night’s guests for Leno and Fallon.  All of this time could theoretically be better spent on the all-important new-show launches, but this is the kind of housekeeping a network must do.

Over at FOX in Hell’s Kitchen, only three spots were made available to new shows.  A :30 spot for New Girl with the theme “See Jess…” (See Jess after Glee, See Jess Be Funny, etc.)  Terra Nova received a :15, and a full 45 seconds were devoted to a “So Fox” network spot about the new fall line-up (So Daring, So Thrilling, So Funny, etc.).  Interestingly FOX did not insert network promotion at the beginning and end of local breaks, leaving a very light format for promo time.  The rest of the available time was given to a :30 for American Idol auditions, a Glee live show tour promo, and some “this-week” spots for summer shows.  We’ll keep an eye on FOX to see if their promo time in the cooking shows increases in the coming weeks.  (Last night simply could have had more non-promo commercials than normal because they needed to “make good” advertisers who experienced ratings shortfalls earlier in the summer.) 

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."