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NATPE Panel Discusses What Works in Daytime

It's still possible to come up with a hit idea for a daytime television show, but programmers can't just rely on a prominent host or star to launch a durable show, said syndication executives at a National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) panel on the basics of the television business.

A great host will gain samplers, but if the show idea isn't compelling, those viewers won't be back.

“You have to have a name and a game. They won't fall for it,” said Terry Wood, president of creative affairs and development, CBS Television Distribution.

Addressing the challenge of finding a successful daytime show, Wood said the viewer in that daypart is different today. She's busy and making smarter choices in entertainment. "They're there, they just aren't as available,” she said.

Her company is looking online to see what kind of conversations viewers are conducting about their shows, to determine what content they want, she said.

The remedy is to create a "can't miss" syndicated series like Entertainment Tonight or Winfrey's talk show, programs that viewers will want to talk about with their friends tonight.

The speakers, who participated at a panel at a luncheon sponsored by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, spoke about the challenge of building a TV series out of successful web content, and the wisdom of investing program development dollars that way. For instance, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is spending money to turn the TMZ celebrity gossip site into a viable TV show. The division's president, Ken Werner, said programmers should embrace ideas from the Internet, adding his company is willing to take the risk.

But Mort Marcus, co-president of Debmar-Mercury, said that, from a programming standpoint, the Internet is not a business. Debmar-Mercury will let studios invest in the web and  “we'll get in it when it's a business.”

“The best you can get out of the Internet is an idea,” he said.

“It's an interesting place to start,” Wood said of the Web, adding she'd use her TV instincts to cull content ideas though. TV viewers may sample content on the web but Internet and TV users are very different audiences, she said.