Despite Brisk Sales, Is NBC's 'Fashion Star' a "Sell-Out?"

NBC's low-rated Fashion
has been widely panned by critics and viewers alike as being one long
infomercial. But for the three major retailers who are putting the winning
designs in the stores the next day, it's big business.

The show has been only pulling in about a 1.7 rating among
adults 18-49, but despite low viewership, H&M, Macy's and Saks all claim
brisk sales and sell-out situations in their stores and online. Not only have
the advertisers seen increased sales, it is helping them promote their store
name/brand for an entire hour. Who needs QVC, HSN or a time buy?

But do advertisers in general want to be associated with a
low-rated show that may not have longevity? For the advertisers who are
embedded into the show, it's a cost equation, centering on whether or not Fashion Star garners enough sales and
"top of mind" recall to make it worthwhile.

The show may be seen as a poor man's Project Runway, but if the retailers' image isn't being hurt by the
"in your face" product promotion, it may equate to a positive return on

Non-endemic advertisers, however, might be cautious of
airing in it because of its already cluttered ad environment.

As far as this model being the future for some reality competition
shows, the low ratings and negative social network feedback could turn networks
away, as they may not be desperate enough to "sell themselves out."

How Concerned is CBS
About 'Two and a Half Men' Ratings Trending Down?

CBS breathed a sigh of relief last fall when their hit
comedy Two and a Half Men premiered
to huge ratings with new costar Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen
who was very publicly fired from the series, forcing a midseason shutdown in
production. Fourth-quarter ratings remained strong after the enormous premiere
this season.

However, ratings for the first quarter (just completed) show
a declining trend that may be a cause for concern. First-run episode adult
18-49 ratings began trending below year-ago levels in January and remained
below that for the first half of February sweeps. That's where the
Sheen-Kutcher comparisons end, because last year's season ended early due to
the Sheen debacle.

Among original episodes, Two
and a Half Men
in fourth quarter of 2010 with Sheen averaged a 4.5 18-49
rating, while in fourth quarter 2011 with Kutcher the show averaged 5.9.

But in first quarter of 2012, first run episodes of Men with Kutcher are averaging a 4.1,
down significantly from the fourth quarter, and also below the 4.5 that
original episodes with Sheen averaged in first quarter of 2011.

CBS has yet to re-sign Kutcher for a second season, after
the show's major talent was reportedly offered deals without raises. Could the
declining ratings be a hitch in the process?