Bellum Entertainment has seen the future of syndication and it is this: go local.
Bellum this fall launched two strips into syndication: Flip My Food, starring Chef Jeff Henderson, and Fix It & Finish It, starring Antonio Sabato Jr. Each show focuses on lifestyle, with Henderson showing viewers how to lighten up favorite dishes, and Sabato renovating homes.
Both shows are currently cleared in 23% of the country, and that’s just fine with Bellum, says Boots Walker, Bellum VP of development and sales.
“This is a true win-win situation,” she says. “This is what stations need during the daytime. They need inventory. The ratings pie is getting thinner and thinner. These shows are ad-friendly and the stations get to keep all of the inventory.”
Both shows offer stations eight minutes of local inventory in each episode as part of a revenue split with Bellum. In the week ended Oct. 12, Fix It & Finish It averaged a 1.3/4 across the households it serves, while Flip My Food averaged a 1.0/3.
Flip My Food and Fix It & Finish It each shoot in the field, using station clients as settings and in segments. They also are working with local companies to showcase products and services.
For example, New Orleans’ Crystal Hot Sauce is integrated into Flip My Food in many ways. The product itself is showcased when Henderson uses it in his recipes. A bottle also often sits on the counter if he’s working in a food truck or on a location.
Beyond the product placement, the show offers sponsors participation in “Flip Tips,” 60-second spots that include a 40-second cooking tip from Chef Jeff and then a 20-second sponsor message. Commercials for Crystal Hot Sauce also air in several different markets beyond New Orleans.
“I went into the client with all guns blazing on this one, and the promises have been way over-delivered,” says Christina Maras, account executive at WVUE New Orleans.
“I try to keep it 100% original with my food,” says Henderson, who came up with the idea for Flip My Food in partnership with Bellum. “If there’s something that I don’t like, I don’t put it in my food. Crystal Hot Sauce has been a great partner. It’s a favorite of many guests who come on the show and we shoot a lot in the South where it’s very popular.”
Other stations are partnering with local restaurants or grocery stores to develop brand integrations. Raycom’s WTOC Savannah created a contest in which viewers voted for their favorite of several participating restaurants via text. The winning restaurant will be featured in an upcoming episode of Flip My Food.
“We position it as an opportunity for a local advertiser to be seen in 23% of the country,” says Marsha Fogarty, WTOC general sales manager.
WTOC also worked with Fix It & Finish It, offering local businesses that don’t usually advertise on television—such as a lighting store, an insulation company, a heating and air conditioning company and others—the opportunity to participate in the show.
“This is a unique opportunity that we can bring to them and our advertisers are responding very well to it,” says Fogarty. “If there’s any way the program can provide us with unique hooks for certain categories of advertisers, that’s definitely going to be of greater appeal.”
MANY HAPPY RETURNS FOR JUDGE MABLEAN
Judge Mablean Ephraim famously raked litigants over the coals on Twentieth’s Divorce Court from 1999-2006. Entertainment Studios this season launched her in a new show, Justice With Judge Mablean. So far, the company is very happy with the results.
“I stalked her for three years, but I finally got it done,” says Byron Allen, Entertainment Studios chairman and CEO. “I am blown away by the numbers. We are seeing her, quite frankly, beat the competition with very little promotion.”
Justice With Judge Mablean launched this fall as part of Entertainment Studios’ four-show court block. ES counts the ratings for all four shows cumulatively—and together they are averaging a 1.7 in households this season, second to CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy—and then sells spots to advertisers across the entire block.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.