Pepsi's WB Summer Show Didn't Hit the Spot

The WB's Pepsi Smash was anything but. The network's live music show, sponsored by Pepsi, had a tough time in the ratings in six outings, ending up at No. 139 out of this summer's 158 shows in adults 18-34.

In total viewers, it was The WB's second-lowest-performing show of the summer, in front of Boarding House: North Shore, although The WB doesn't place much stake in total viewers.

The show also underperformed its Wednesday 9 p.m. ET time period in all key demos, with a 1.0 rating/3 share in adults 18-34. Last summer, the time slot logged a 1.5/5 in that demo. With an average 1.748 million viewers, Pepsi Smash was down almost half from last summer's 3.145 million.

Still, executives from both The WB and Pepsi say they are happy with the show's performance—their first joint programming project—and are considering doing it again next summer.

"The expectations were less about getting a big rating than pushing the platform," Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco explains. "We did it for branding purposes, number one, and to reinforce our connection with music. Pepsi's advertising and marketing has been about music for years."

The WB and Pepsi have another major programming venture due in September. Drew Carey and Jamie Kennedy will host Pepsi Play for a Billion on Sunday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. In that show, 10 contestants, narrowed down from 1,000, will compete for $1 million and the opportunity to turn that into $1 billion if a chimpanzee picks the right numbers.

"The WB and Pepsi have very similar tastes, demands and standards in terms of quality," says Jed Petrick, The WB president and COO. "We certainly share a target audience. And in Pepsi, we've found someone who understands the risks and rewards of event programming."

They certainly understand the risks.

The WB hasn't been much of a programming destination in the summer because it's mostly in repeats. This summer, it offered only Boarding House: North Shore and Pepsi Smash. For next summer, it already has ordered 13 episodes of scripted drama Summerland.

In recent years, viewers have been leaving broadcast in the summer and going to cable. This year, the broadcast nets endeavored to retain viewers. NBC and Fox scheduled a great deal of original programming, mostly unscripted and much of it fairly successful. CBS offered its regular summer reality programs in Amazing Race and Big Brother and ran new reality series Cupid, while ABC tried its hand at several reality shows.

Paige Albiniak

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.