Which part of "Stop ripping off our ads" don't network execs understand?
First NBC created a promo for its new "Mike O'Malley Show" that was a knockoff of a Nike ad featuring Tiger Woods. Nike complained (translation: threatened to pull ads off the network) so NBC yanked the spot, to the consternation of its promo guys.
Then CBS created an ad for its Kevin Meaney sitcom "King of Queens" that also was a knockoff of the Nike Tiger Woods ad, which features the PGA champ bouncing a golf ball around with his club. Nike called to complain; CBS didn't yank the ad, but did yank its "Just Watch It" tagline--suspiciously similar to Nike's slogan "Just Do It." CBS also agreed never to do it again without consulting Nike in advance, and gave the athletic wear company a free ad or two.
This week, ABC started running a spot to promote "Good Morning America's" move downtown to its new Times Square studio. The ad features a bunch of neutrally clad Gen X-ers sitting around looking very cool and singing the 1964 Petula Clark hit "Downtown." The Gap has a new ad that features a group of khaki-clad Gen X-ers sitting around looking very cool and singing Donovan's 1967 hit "Mellow Yellow."
Gap was not pleased.
Gap spends about $15 million a year in advertising on ABC.
ABC pulled the promo.
Both sides issued statements.
Gap's: "While we're flattered that ABC was inspired by our TV ads, the similarities were confusing to our customers since the promo was running simultaneously with our ad. We had an amicable discussion with ABC about the situation and ABC volunteered to discontinue the promo. No other issues were discussed."
ABC's: "We pulled the promos out of respect for the Gap's concerns. Our ads, while conveying our excitement about "GMA's" move to Times Square, were always meant to be an obvious salute to the Gap and their ads."
So last night ABC News began running Phase 2 of its "GMA" promo campaign. It featured very cool Gen X-ers hanging out in Times Square--singing Petula Clark's finger-snapper "Downtown."
While speculation continues that Jane Clayson is the Cinderella of choice in CBS's "Operation Glass Slipper" search for Bryant Gumbel's "Early Show" co-host, CBS has named Laurie Hibberd a contributor to that new program.
Hibberd will contribute "The Hib List," a twice-a-month report that will give viewers a look at what's hot in popular culture, including books, fashion and what people are talking about in the entertainment industry. "Early Show" is set to debut in November.
Most recently, Hibberd served as a correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America" and "Good Morning America Sunday."
"Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" has really given a boost to WJLA's 9 a.m. time slot since coming to Channel 7 two weeks ago. The week of Aug. 23--the program's first week back after switching from Fox affiliate WTTG--the syndicated talk show scored 78,000 homes on the ABC station (viewer numbers are not yet available). For the first couple of days of this week, it's up to 80,500 homes.
This is great news for WJLA; back in July, it was averaging only about 27,000 homes in the 9 a.m. slot with Howie Mandel's talk show. These "Regis" numbers are also good for the show; its July average on WTTG was only 53,000 homes.
The all-new "Divorce Court" debuted on WTTG (Channel 5) Monday, averaging 68,000 homes--a little better than the Fox station had been doing in the time slot with "Judge Joe Brown" repeats. WTTG aired back-to-back editions of "Divorce Court"; the first, at 10 a.m. (59,000 homes), got sacked by WJLA's "Hollywood Squares" (81,000), but the second "Divorce Court" (78,000) trounced WJLA's "Jeopardy!" (56,000). The court show also beat reruns of WRC's "Roseanne" (31,000) and WUSA's "Sally Jessy Raphael" (32,000) talkers in the time slot. "Divorce" also built substantially on its "Jenny Jones" rerun lead-in audience of 32,000 homes.
ABC is going to broadcast its first bilingual entertainment program Sept. 25 when it airs the feature film "Selena" as the season debut of its Saturday movie block.
The 1997 movie about slain Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez, which starred Jennifer Lopez, will be broadcast with a Spanish audio track on the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel, which is available on most newer television sets. The dubbed track was created by Warner Bros., which produced and distributed the movie, for its initial release. ABC already offers Spanish-language simulcasts of "Monday Night Football" and other sports programs, but has not offered the simulcast on entertainment programming.
Other networks, however, have. CBS, for example, tried out a drama series two seasons back called "Four Corners" and offered a simultaneous Spanish-language feed. The show, which starred Sonia Braga and Kamar de los Reyes, lasted just two weeks.
Fox offers "Simpsons" reruns, "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted" in Spanish, as well as some baseball broadcasts. The network will do the same for football coverage this season.
Though the networks transmit Spanish audio tracks with some shows, it doesn't necessarily mean that TV viewers can hear them with a SAP-equipped set: Some smaller local stations aren't able to pass the signal along. Among the more than 200 CBS stations, for instance, only about 40 have SAP capability.
The Spanish audio track for "Selena's" broadcast Saturday night--when ABC's ratings are dismal--is clearly an effort to boost viewership in markets with large Hispanic populations. If it works, look for the network to do the same with more of its Saturday movies. Virtually every feature film has a Spanish-language audio track created for international distribution.
No scandal is bad news when it comes to cable ratings. Last month, when the earthquake in Turkey was the dominant story, all the cable news networks except Fox News Channel lost a lot of viewers compared with August last year, when the White House sex scandal was really heating up.
CNN lost nearly half its viewership, down to 646,000 after reaching 1.25 million in August 1998.
CNBC also lost half its audience, down from 725,000 viewers to 344,000. MSNBC was hit a little less hard, dropping 12 percent from 235,000 to 207,000.
And Fox News Channel was flat, with 215,000 viewers in the eighth month of '98 as opposed to 218,000 this August.
The story was pretty much the same on a 24-hour basis:
CNN plunged 35 percent, from 560,000 to 362,000 viewers.
CNBC lost nearly a third of its viewers, falling from 369,000 to 258,000.
MSNBC dipped 9 percent, from 150,000 to 136,000 watching.
And Fox News Channel was up 29 percent, from 87,000 to 112,000.
Some might suggest that Fox's numbers are a function of its distribution growth from August to August. It's true, Fox News Channel is now available in 41 million homes--28 percent better than last August. MSNBC has had 21 percent growth in the same period--now available in 50 million homes. CNN this August is available in 76 million homes, up 3 percent vs. last August, and CNBC can be had in 69 million homes--up 6 percent.
CAPTION: ABC entertainment goes bilingual with Jennifer Lopez in "Selena."