• Product Placement – On the Anchor Desk!

    July 22nd, 2008

    You knew it had to happen – a McDonald's iced coffee prominently sitting on the anchor desk for a morning newscast in Las Vegas.  Product placement has made its way to local TV news programs.

    The Las Vegas Sun reports that KVVU – Fox 5 – started placing the plastic cups with the McDonald's logo on their morning news set a couple weeks ago.  The KVVU news director calls it a “nontraditional revenue source.”   Capital J journalists may refer to it as something else.  But is it a really big deal?

    It made me chuckle to read that the news director noted the McDonald's coffee cups were not placed on the set until after 7 a.m. when harder news apparently goes away, and the station presents “light lifestyle news.”   I chuckle because for some reason many of you still believe that local TV viewers draw such distinctions.   Let's be clear – they NEVER think like that – NEVER. 

     The anchors never acknowledge the cups on the set, and my guess is that most busy morning news viewers pay them little attention, much less thinking – “Isn't it appropriate how the station waits until the hard news is over before putting them on the set.”

    Apparently local newscasts in Chicago, Seattle and New York city are also getting into product placement on their newscasts.   I 'm not sure if there is much difference between having a coffee cup with a McDonald's logo sitting on the set, or saying “this portion of the news brought to you by McDonalds.”  Probably the person most upset by this is the set designer who thinks it ruins the ambiance.  

    One more note which leads me to believe that viewers pay little heed to those little cups on the set.  The Las Vegas Sun asked in an on line poll what other brand name products should be placed on anchor desks.   As of this morning there were 77 votes – and 53% of them said Spam!  You'd think this was the Honolulu market.  Obviously, readers are having some fun with the whole concept.

    Dunkin Donuts came in second with 20% of the votes, and Jimmy Dean 6 Layer Breakfast Casserole with 15%.   Cheerios was a distant third at 6%.

    What do you think about product placement on a local TV news desk? 


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  • WSPA DTV Test Drives Ratings

    July 12th, 2008

    WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, South Carolina spiked their 6 p.m. news ratings by 30% this week by offering a DTV home test for their viewers.  I have written about a similar test in Honolulu during the May sweeps that was also a big success.  This is an excellent public service for your viewers – and it drives viewership.

    WSPA has been averaging a 9.1 rating/16 share during the July sweeps.  They popped a 12 rating and 21 share with their DTV test, which ran at 6:20 p.m.

    They used a phone bank to answer viewer questions during the test that received over 300 calls.  There were also dozens of calls into the newsroom.  Many viewers wanted info on exactly how to hook up their set top box for DTV.  The station also found out that a lot of viewers had their coupon for the converters, but stores are out of the boxes, and now the coupons have expired.   News director Alex Bongiorno says they will be doing follow-up stories on both of these issues.

    WSPA also heard from many Dish Network customers that they were not getting a digital signal from the satellite service.  The station called Direct TV and were assured that they would be ready by February.

    The station also put a special display on their home page about DTV that answers the Top 7 Questions about the conversion.  You can check it out at http://www.wspa.com/.

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  • Owning A Community Event On Air and On Line

    July 8th, 2008

    When was the last time your television station popped “Super Bowl-Like” ratings – outside of a Super Bowl?   For WCMH-TV in Columbus it was just a few days ago.

    And with a stronger emphasis on the Internet and mobile devices, the station had a record day in cyberspace too.

    The occasion was the annual “Red, White, and Boom” celebration in Columbus on July 3rd.  Tens of thousands of people flocked downtown for food, games and a spectacular fireworks display.  WCMH has owned the event for years.

    This year the station put an added emphsis on their web site, and it paid off with over 213,000 page views last Friday – nearly 60,000 more than a year ago.  Unique visitors for the big day increased by nearly 50% – to almost 47,000.

    They had visitors on their station web site from almost every state in the union, as well as emails from users in 14 countries saying they were watching the live streaming of the event.  The countries ranged fom Australia to Brazil to Iraq to China.

    WCMH also offered traffic and other alerts on cell phones.  I signed up to check it out – and the information was timely and easy to follow – even giving tips on where to park.

    On the broadcast side, WCMH did a 2 hour live preview before the fireworks blasted off at 10 p.m.  It was filled with stories of local heroes, as well as anchors and reporters stationed in numerous spots all around downtown.  The station also showcased their new downtown studio.  The anchors interaction with the people at the event was fun, and very natural.

    Then at 10 p.m. WCMH carried the 27-minute fireworks show live on air and on the web.  It too, was well-produced, and really took you to the event.

    The TV ratings for the first quarter hour of the fireworks display earned a 28.1 rating and 47 share.  The second quarter hour was a 27.6 rating and 47 share.

    The entire three hour live show on WCMH averaged a 13.1 rating and 24 share. 

    It was a truly spectacular show – and made the point to me that owning a big community event is still a viable TV showcase in this world of fractured viewing.  So, before you off-handedly reject the next idea for owning such a community event in your market.  Think of the success of NBC4 in Columbus.

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  • AR&D Clients are Overall Excellent

    July 2nd, 2008

    Two AR&D clients swept the National Edward R. Murrow Awards for “Overall Excellence.”   Congratulations to KOMO in Seattle, the winner of the large market award, and WJAR in Providence, winner of the small market Murrow.

    Both of these stations have excellent news operations and it is great to see them recognized with the national award for overall excellence.  It is truly an award the entire station can take pride in achieving.

    Also a tip of the hat to AR&D client WKRG in Mobile which won a national Murrow for Continuing Coverage.  KOMO captured a second national Murrow for writing.

    Great work.  We are proud of you!




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