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After the Upfront: CMT Brings Country to Times Square

Country Music Television got an early start this year by
strutting its new slate of shows in front of advertisers on March 5 at Times
Center's auditorium near Times Square. It was clear that while the network
remains firmly in the country music trenches, it's branching out to include
four new series including Cops Reloaded, Hillbillies for Hire,an
untitled project with Cassadee Pope and The Dirty South. CMT also
announced during it's launching a new division centered on news and
documentaries. In what's becoming de rigeur when it comes to luring advertisers
to the annual parade of networks, CMT brought out singer Sheryl Crow, who
performed a mini, four-song concert to set the tone and mood for the event.

Cops Reloaded is a rebooted version of Fox's Cops that
will premiere March 25. The untitled Pope project will star Voice winner
Cassadee Pope and offer a behind-the-scenes look into her career. The Dirty
will be styled after sister network MTV's Jersey Shore and
will premiere in the fall. Hillbilliesfor Hire will premiere in
the summer and center on the owners of "Hillbillies for Hire," a
custom prank shop in Polk County, Fla. Advertisers got glimpses of CMT's new
slate as well as those previously announced including new series Dog and
Beth: On the Hunt
, Guntucky and Bounty Hunters.

Broadcasting & Cable's K.C. Neel caught
up with Viacom's Ellen Dominus, senior VP, entertainment sales, to get a bird's
eye view on how CMT's third upfront presentation was received. She oversees
CMT, Comedy Central, Spike and TV Land's sales efforts. She's well versed in
these dog-and-pony shows, having served as national broadcast buyer for BBDO
before joining Viacom two decades ago. Below is an edited version of the
electronic interview:

What message were
you trying to get across at the event?

Last year, CMT delivered on our promise to launch new, broad-appeal series
that would become definitive hits for the channel. We laid the groundwork for
2013 to be a breakout year, and will continue to deliver bolder, louder series
like My Big Redneck Vacation and Swamp Pawn, along with must-see
music specials CMT Crossroads and CMT Music Awards.

What's the most
important thing that people don't know about your network?

CMT is on a roll. In 2012, we launched three of our top four original
series in network history, including our highest-rated series ever, My Big
Redneck Vacation
. The numbers of originals on-air increased 43% last year
and there are more shows in development than ever before. We just announced a
News & Docs division, which will give us new opportunities to cover topical
stories through the CMT filter. It's a busy and exciting time for us.

What goals did you
set for the network with this presentation? Did it achieve what you wanted it
to achieve?

It's always our goal to bring a little bit of Nashville to Madison Avenue
to ensure that our city friends feel the power of country -- both the music and
the lifestyle. Between the reaction we got to our content and Sheryl Crow's
performance, I'd say we hit it out of the park!

What questions did
you get from buyers?

How do I get my clients first crack at the Cassadee Pope project? And how
do we get them involved in your new Documentary properties?

What kind of
follow-up will you have with buyers?

We're already having in-depth meetings with our clients, bringing their
brands even more meaningful ways to partner with CMT.

Was there more party
than presentation, or vice versa? Would you do it that way again?

We kept the event tight to two hours which included the reception, and
received great feedback from our guests about that.

Did you get to
sample the food?

I did -- and enjoyed some of the best
lemonade I've had in years!

will you do again next year and what will you change up?

We're expecting to see big growth for CMT this
year, and I wouldn't be surprised if that helped fuel a bigger event next year!