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ET Spinoff, The Insider , Is Firm Go

Paramount Domestic Television has already cleared its new entertainment magazine The Insider in 65% of the country and 25 of the top 30 markets for fall 2004, according to John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television.

And, with the clearances completed 17 months before it is due to launch, Paramount can begin helping affiliates promote the show by giving them Insider-branded clips to run within their newscasts while they ramp up for a 2004 launch.

Clearing the Entertainment Tonight spinoff so early is unprecedented in syndication, Nogawski says. "In my entire history of doing this, I can't remember a show that was sold 65% in advance. We're done! Now it's cleanup."

He also says that Paramount is getting top-notch license fees, second only to those for ET
in the magazine genre. ET
makes about $100 million a year for Paramount, including advertising revenues and minus production costs, according to published reports.

clearances so far include seven of the top CBS owned-and-operated stations, and stations from the Belo, Scripps Howard, Gannett, Sinclair, Hubbard, McGraw-Hill, Capitol Broadcasting, Midwest Television and Meredith station groups. Paramount also has signed up one ABC-owned station, WTVG(TV) Toledo, Ohio.

That both ET
and The Insider
are produced by Paramount is a big selling point for stations. It gives the studio flexibility in how it produces both shows, mainly for East and West Coast affiliates that are running both shows.

For ET
stations that are picking up The Insider, Paramount is thinking about different ways to make sure that viewers stay with both magazines for the entire hour. One possibility is having an ET
anchor talk about an Insider
highlight at the close of ET
and then starting The Insider
as soon as the ET
credits stop rolling. That way, viewers are less tempted to change the channel. It's a marketing and promotional trick that networks have used in the past to get viewers of a popular show to test a new program that needs the lead-in. Paramount also might try the idea in reverse, leading from The Insider
into ET. And, of course, Paramount will produce stand-alone versions of each.

Entertainment Tonight
executive producer Linda Bell Blue will oversee the production of both shows, although the spinoff
will have its own executive producer. No talent has yet been selected for The Insider.

The show's successful launch has another marketplace significance: It means no other access time periods will be available until 2006, because King World's Wheel of Fortune
and Jeopardy
are already renewed for years on most of the ABC-owned stations and the NBC O&Os carry NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood
and Warner Bros.'Extra.

"We gave an early commitment to the show because there's no advantage to waiting. The earlier you get started, the more sense it makes," explains Dennis Swanson, chief operating officer of the Viacom Television Stations Group. "I think it's almost like taking a page out of the Dr. Phil/Oprah
book. We can use Entertainment Tonight
over the 2003 season to build an identity for The Insider."

Swanson also expects the pairing of ET
and The Insider
to help CBS O&Os in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and Philadelphia by boosting those stations' access time periods and local news shows while bringing more young- adult viewers into CBS's prime time. King World's Hollywood Squares, thus, will be bumped from access in all those markets, giving stations the option to run the game show in another daypart, Swanson says. The CBS O&Os' contract for Hollywood Squares
expires in late summer 2004.

Paramount has double-access clearances for both shows on Midwest's KFMB (TV) San Diego and Young's KRON-TV San Francisco. Nogawski expects 35%-40% of the country ultimately to pair the two shows in access.