Eye net looks at product placements for revenue

PASADENA — Marketing issues took centerstage as four of the broadcast nets met with reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour last week.

CBS prexy Leslie Moonves tackled concerns over product placement while ABC discussed its overhauled look, which includes moving away from its reliance on yellow-hued branding.

Turner Broadcasting topper Jamie Kellner, meanwhile, warned that personal video recorders like TiVo might eventually render commercial spots useless. If that comes true, he said, U.S. TV households would have to pony up roughly $250 annually to pay for the kind of programming they see today for free.

“Before American people go on not watching commercials, they have to understand what will happen,” Kellner said during Turner’s session at the TCA. “You will have to pay for programming. Don’t think for a second there’s a free lunch.”

Moonves took issue with Kellner’s dire predictions.

“Unlike Jamie Kellner, I’m not going to declare it’s the death of TV,” he said. “Like the VCR, it may not have quite the effect people expect.”

Moonves said TV was wrestling with how to incorporate product placement, although Kellner called it a drop in the revenue bucket.

“As we look to the future of network television and broadcast television, we have to look at this as another source of revenue,” Moonves said.

The Alphabet web meanwhile was talking about its own product.

“The network will look very different from what it’s looked like in the past four years,” said ABC senior VP of marketing Mike Benson. “Yellow is still very important, but we’re America’s broadcast company, and America is made up of more than just one color.”

During its portion of the tour, UPN said it will break with weblet tradition and launch most of its fall sked opposite the other nets during “premiere week.”

This week Fox and NBC will have their turns at the TCA.

(Melissa Grego contributed to this report.)

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