Network favors private meetings with ad buyers

Having already given up on telenovelas, MyNetworkTV has now decided to forgo a glitzy upfront presentation as well as it looks to recast itself for advertisers after a disastrous first year.

The network is still seeking to have a new programming strategy in place and a short record of improvement in time for the May upfront sales period, during which advertisers commit the majority of ad dollars for the coming TV season. But newly appointed prexy Greg Meidel said the net will ditch the traditional dog-and-pony show for Madison Avenue in favor of private meetings with ad buyers and marketers.

Last year MyNet threw a big bash in Times Square with a surprise performance from Sheryl Crow.

But the novela concept, touted then as revolutionary, never caught on with viewers. MyNet brought in syndication vet Meidel as president earlier this year and began restructuring its programming in March to look more like a traditional network.

It also said it wouldn’t produce any more novelas beyond what’s been ordered. Meidel on Tuesday said any novela programming left in the can will air online in the fall, and those won’t be replaced when they run their course by late November or early December.

For the coming season, Meidel wants to define the network as “a cool place to hang out” with a variety of cheap, young-skewing reality shows and movies.

Recent stopgap moves by Meidel have including adding professional martial arts on Monday nights and movies on Thursday and Friday. It also started buying specials like the recently aired “Happy Birthday Elton John.”

“Specials turned out to be a homerun for us,” Meidel said. “We are now delivering a much more diverse audience than last year.”

As previously announced, MyNetworkTV will vamp for May sweeps with specials like those produced by “Access Hollywood” on Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears, “America’s Trashiest Weddings” and “Hooters Dream Girl Challenge.”

After sweeps, it will schedule two reality skeins in place of novelas on Tuesdays, and Meidel said the net is talking with reality producers from around the world to find the right concepts.

Bob Cesa, exec VP of ad sales for MyNet, said the broadcaster will pursue advertising aimed at a young-skewing demo, such as videogames, fast-food restaurants and mobile-phone companies.

“We expect to do more business because we are more like a traditional network,” Cesa said.

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