May 19 - U.S. broadcast networks unveil their new shows for fall to advertisers, with musicals in a starring role, as analysts expect most ads to sell well ahead of the new season. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Fox is hyping Simon Cowell's "X Factor". NBC seems to have found its "Voice". While CBS is betting big on the star power of Ashton Kutcher to replace Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men". It's the annual network upfronts, when the big broadcasters reveal their lineup for next season- hoping advertisers will buy-in well before viewers tune-in. Billions of ad dollars are at stake- and this year the networks are stepping it up. Brad Adgate of Horizon Media: SOUNDBITE: BRAD ADGATE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH, HORIZON MEDIA, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The networks are investing a lot of dollars in original shows. I can't think of a year when they have picked up more original shows than this year. There are over 30 of them." And industry watchers believe it will be a good investment. Ad rates are expected to be up 10% this year. Singing competition shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" are being joined by musicals like NBC's "Smash"- a behind the scenes look at a Broadway musical- hoping to appeal to fans of hits like "Glee". SOUNDBITE: BRAD ADGATE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH, HORIZON MEDIA, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Clearly there's a huge appetite for singing competition shows, there's a huge appetite for singing on TV shows like "Glee," I mean that's one of the top ten rated shows in adults 18-49. So, you know, they will hit a saturation point. I don't think they've hit it yet." Classic sitcoms will remain staples of the networks- and viewers will also find shows aimed at fans of movies like "Twilight" and "Harry Potter": SOUNDBITE: BRAD ADGATE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH, HORIZON MEDIA, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Another theme that I'm seeing is a lot of cult and supernatural shows. It's a lot of, some of these mysterious unknowns and I think it has to do again, you know, they're dramas, but I think that they're bringing in younger viewers." Getting it right could be money in the bank -literally. Media watchers say the big four networks could bring in as much as $9 billion in advertising commitments- if their shows hit the mark. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters