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Stations, Studios To Sync Up at Summit

From June 23-26, TV station general managers and marketing directors will gather at the Mirage in Las Vegas to do something that’s increasingly rare these days—get together with executives from TV studios, their affiliated networks and their station groups in four days of meetings and presentations.

The PromaxBDA Station Summit, now in its fifth year, is the industry’s only gathering of station executives. While NATPE and PromaxBDA: The Conference have broadened their purview, Station Summit is specifically tailored for TV stations and intended to bring the industry together to discuss how best to market station and studio offerings and other collective considerations.

“That’s what I like about Station Summit over The Conference,” says Mike Mischler, executive VP, marketing, CBS Television Distribution. “The Conference is so broad that the only time you could get into the nitty gritty of something was during a specific panel or meeting. Station Summit is all broadcast and all syndication, so we’re spending the whole week talking to our clients about what matters to them.”

Power of Digital

Besides talking to station groups about its genre-leading shows—including Judge Judy, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next season; Rachael Ray, headed into its 10th year on the air; and Hot Bench, which was this year’s breakout hit—CTD also plans to discuss how they can increase reach through digital promotion.

“We’re inviting our affiliates to come in and see a special presentation on the digital world and how they can use it to promote our shows locally,” says Mischler.

Some TV stations have become very nimble in the digital world, while others still prefer to pretend it’s not there. That is rapidly becoming an untenable option, however, as consumers head first to digital for their news, information and often entertainment.

“In a major market, chances are that with one of our TV shows, a viewer is more likely to see an advertisement for it on Facebook before they hear a spot for it on the radio. That’s a sea change in how you might approach advertising,” says Mischler.

And with Facebook constantly changing the way it reaches people via newsfeeds and pages, social media promises to be a huge Summit topic.

Many syndicators already have activated sophisticated social networks for their shows that stations can take advantage of. For example, Warner Bros. launched ellentube, videos on which now boast more than 2 million views, and it has Facebook pages for its off-network comedies, such as Friends, which premiered on Netflix this year, and 2 Broke Girls, which opens in syndication this fall.

“There’s nothing like on-air. That’s always key,” says Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “We provide our stations with a great deal of content, varying in lengths and creative approaches. Thus no matter how many spots they’re running, it’s always fresh to their viewers. I think we as syndicators need to provide stations with the backbone of a marketing campaign. We try to empower them and give them turnkey tools they can use.”

On a broader scale, stations and syndicators will discuss the lack of product in the market this year. Only three new national first-run shows are on the docket to debut in September: Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, Disney-ABC’s The Fab Life and NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk. All of last year’s freshman class was renewed, which clogged the pipeline this year and meant that TV stations had far less product from which to choose.

“That’s why we have to do it ourselves,” says Sean Compton, Tribune president of strategic programming and acquisition. “We are in talks with other broadcasters, studios and production groups. We have certain needs and we’re handling them. There’s plenty of product out there but you need collaboration to make it work.”

Collaboration isn’t as easy as it sounds. Every station group has its own needs to fill, and it’s challenging to make another group buy into an idea that didn’t originate there in the first place.

On the other hand, studios feel that stations aren’t willing to pay to try new products, so they aren’t willing to take risks on new shows.

Adds Werner: “At Warner Bros., we are always developing new shows targeted for different audiences at different economic levels. That said, the economics are harder than ever.”


Trifecta'sOK! TV has been renewed for a third season, adding WABC New York to its clearance list and renewing the show on CBS-owned KCAL Los Angeles.

The entertainment magazine also has been added or upgraded on stations in Detroit, Denver, San Antonio, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville. Stations in the Sinclair, Raycom, Weigel, Tribune, Hubbard, Gray, Media General and Mission station groups all carry the show.

OK! TV is averaging a 0.2 live-plus-same-day rating season-to-date through May 24, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The show is independently produced by UP Studios and Vector Media, with additional financial backing from American Media, owner of OK! magazine, and ReelzChannel, which carries the show on cable.

OK! TV’s showrunners are Mark Berryhill, Michael Kelley and Denise Naughton. The show is produced daily in New York and from OK! TV news bureaus in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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.