HOLLYWOOD — If advertisers approve, the WB may soon further blur the distinction between the broadcast and cable webs.
The Frog net hopes to convince media buyers that dollars earmarked for the WB could also be applied to “Charmed’s” dual window on TNT. The second dose of the Spelling supernatural drama will run at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on TNT — five days after its initial WB airing — starting Oct. 2.
Because the cable run of “Charmed” still lands in traditional primetime (but after the WB signs off for the night), Froglet execs are looking at the TNT run as a way to extend the reach of the web’s primetime schedule — and sell it accordingly.
“That’s a time period screaming for an adult 18-34 property,” WB chief operating officer Jed Petrick said. “We think ‘Charmed’ on TNT may be able to do just that.”
As a result, the WB approached a handful of major media buyers last week about taking the ad units they bought at the Froglet during the upfront sales season, putting some of their commercial inventory into the TNT run of “Charmed” and letting it count against their network ratings guarantees.
WB studies dual windows
WB execs believe the TNT edition of “Charmed” will garner around a 0.5 Nielsen rating, on top of the WB’s 3.0 rating. Having studied the dual windows of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” on NBC and USA, and “Once and Again” on ABC and Lifetime, WB execs believe there will be little viewer duplication between both runs of “Charmed.”
According to the WB’s plan, advertisers appearing in the Thursday WB edition of “Charmed” will be asked to also buy additional time to let those same ads run two days earlier on the Tuesday TNT run of “Charmed.” Although those would be two different episodes, WB execs don’t expect content issues to vary from seg to seg.
“The object is to build reach if you’re an advertiser,” Petrick said. “Because duplication is virtually non-existent, this is great reach for advertisers looking for adults 18-34 by letting the same sponsored spots run in both episodes. This concept brings more ratings to a shrinking pool in a quality environment.”
TNT run as insurance
The TNT run would also serve as a sort of insurance for the WB in case the net doesn’t quite reach the number of young adults it guaranteed during the upfront sales season. Petrick admitted it would take time for the TNT run to match the demos of the WB run; TNT’s median age currently hovers around 40.
WB execs also said they were still pitching the idea and hadn’t yet determined the charge for a unit on the TNT edition of “Charmed.” Media buyers were cautiously examining the proposal last week. One buyer said he believed buying cable vs. broadcast remained an apples-and-oranges proposition — even when dealing with the same show.
“We don’t just buy eyeballs,” said one buyer. “If you’re just buying eyeballs, this is not as big a deal. But cable is cheaper and doesn’t reach the same way. They’re simply trying to raise what TNT gets (per 30-second unit).”
The WB also plans to approach Nielsen about including the TNT run in the weblet’s ratings by cuming the two airings of “Charmed.” Selling two runs of an episode as a package isn’t new in the syndication world, where distributors frequently cume double runs to maximize reach.
Although UPN affils aired (and cumed) a second run of “Star Trek: Voyager” on the weekend for years, it’s still virtually unheard of in primetime, which is just starting to flirt with multiple runs as an economic model. Should the “Charmed” experiment work, Petrick said multiplexing may eventually expand to other dayparts.
“Three years from now, this is going to be the way it is,” he said.
Meanwhile, across town at UPN, the netlet’s biggest advertisers will receive a package of “value-added promotions” in exchange for buying traditional air time at a premium for the upcoming season, a source said Friday.
The promotions, which could run the range from product placements to show sponsorships, are part of a recent deal between UPN and the media-buying arm of ad agency Omnicom Group.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)