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Highly Visible + Desirable Audience = Success

By Daniel Edwins on March 22, 2011

For those of us who live and breathe March Madness, an important new media outlet surfaced this year: TruTV. I admit it… I’d never heard of TruTV prior to this week (although their tagline is actually pretty good: Not Reality. Actuality.). But being part of the broadcast effort that reaches millions of people in a highly desirable target demographic likely means that a whole lot of us will be pretty familiar with TruTV by the end of the month.

TruTV – formerly Court TV – has long been associated with live homicide trial coverage and other criminal justice programming. In 2008 it changed its focus to “caught on video” programming and last year was part of the $11 billion deal for the rights to broadcast the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s how it worked: in April of last year, the NCAA took advantage of an opt-out clause in its deal with CBS to work out a new joint contract between CBS and Turner Sports (which owns TruTV as well as TNT and TBS). CBS had long been the only TV outlet for March Madness, and – while CBS still hold the exclusive rights for the Elite Eight, Final Four and Championship Game through 2016 – Turner Sports’ involvement makes it clear that the tournament audience is a highly valuable one.

But many of you still probably find yourself wondering about the price tag. Really? $11 BILLION? It can’t possibly be worth it, right? There’s no way they can sell enough advertising to be profitable, right?

Well, the short – and short-term – answer is no, they can’t. But look back to 1993 when Fox significantly outbid CBS for a portion of the rights to NFL coverage (exceeding CBS’ bid by more than $100 million). Why? Fox was still a bit of an upstart player in television in 1993 and was not yet considered to be on-par with CBS, NBC and ABC. Acquiring the rights to highly desirable NFC conference games gave Fox the opportunity not only to sell space to outside advertisers, but more importantly to market their own product, i.e., their other programming. Essentially, every game became a two-hour advertisement for The Simpsons, Married With Children, Beverly Hills 90210, etc.

Fox used the NFL coverage to vault themselves into households where they’d not previously had a presence, and were soon considered in the same breath as CBS, NBC and ABC.

By paying big money to get involved with March Madness, Turner Sports is making the same move on behalf of TruTV, TNT and TBS. And while TNT and TBS are well established, Turner reportedly sees TruTV – and their pioneering “actuality” television – as a growth area worthy of a hefty investment.

It’s easy to appreciate the importance of achieving high visibility with a key audience. But getting there isn’t always easy. Whether you’re investing billions into a two-week “blitz” or tens of thousands on a more drawn-out trickle approach, successfully capturing eyeballs doesn’t happen by accident.

About Daniel

Daniel joined Neuger Communications Group in 2008. He is an experienced web designer and developer with a passion for creating functional and user-centered custom websites and mobile apps. He enjoys creating and employing websites and other technology-based solutions to help clients meet their goals. Daniel is a friendly guide for our web development clients, effortlessly translating tech-speak into language they can understand. Read More »

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