Journal bows TV, theater listings, ads

NEW YORK — The Wall Street Journal will shortly begin publication of both a daily listing of television programs and a weekly listing of Broadway shows, giving the theater world and the television industry a new forum for both consumer and brand advertising.

Details of the Journal’s plans are expected to be announced today, having leaked in recent days after the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones & Co., sent out invitations to a launch party Sept. 2 at the Museum of Television and Radio.

The listings are not coming from the Journal’s editorial department but are produced by a joint venture between Dow Jones and entrepreneur Peter Price. Price is a former newspaper publisher who recently sold his Manhattan wireless cable TV operator Liberty Cable and has now formed a company called Television USA.

Price is responsible for selling advertising placed next to the listings and is also dealing with the broadcasters, cable networks and theater companies to get the content for the listings, he said Thursday. Details of the venture were confirmed by Dow Jones spokesman Richard Tofel.

Paul Atkinson, VP for advertising at the Journal, said the listings would be both a reader service and would “offer our media advertisers a new forum to expand their audience.”

The Journal has a circulation of 1.8 million, 75% of whom are top and middle managers. Market research done for the venture by Ammirati Puris Lintas found that, contrary to popular perception, professional managers watch more primetime television than the viewing population as a whole, Price said Thursday.

The bulk of the newspaper’s readership is also based outside of New York City, which is suitable for theater advertisers as most Broadwaygoers nowadays are tourists to New York.

Advertiser response to the television listings has been strong, Price said, particularly from cable networks running “branding” advertisements as well as some “tune-in” advertisements typical of newspapers. Dow Jones said the advertisers that have signed up already include ABC, NBC, A&E, CBS Eye on People, CNN, Country Music TV, Discovery Channel, UPN, USSB and Showtime.

The television listing, called Television USA, will appear daily starting Sept. 2, while the weekly theater listing, to be called Broadway USA, will start Sept. 3. Unlike the TV listings, the Journal and Price will charge for the theater listings in classified-advertising style.

Dow Jones says Television USA will include listings on programs on 86 channels, more than any other daily newspaper. While most newspapers publish television listings, space constraints often force exclusion of little-watched cable networks, a frequent source of complaints from the cable industry.

“A lot of newspapers have distribution guidelines. They want certain levels of penetration before they will carry you,” said Howard Polskin, a VP for public relations at CNN, whose financial news offshoot CNNfn doesn’t get listed in every newspaper guide.

“Any new network is thrilled every time a newspaper starts to carry it,” Polskin added.

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