Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Did The Oscar Campaigns Get a Boost Last Night From Dorner Coverage?

Were the film studios the luckiest beneficiaries of yesterday's crazy Christopher Dorner manhunt coverage? On Tuesday, KABC, KCBS, KNBC and KTLA had all pre-sold half-hour spots to the studios for Oscar campaign informercials.

Why? It's simple. Viewing was expected to be tiny last night, as very little regular network programming was airing in primetime. Because of the time zone difference, the State of the Union Address took up most of primetime in the Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones last night. But out here, the address aired from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. After that, the local stations were free to air whatever they wanted.

Now, the State of the Union address isn't exactly hot fare for regular TV viewers, and isn't much of a lead-in for anything that should grab an audience. Perfect night to sell off some time to advertisers and make a few extra bucks. Hence, KTLA scheduled a "Silver Linings Playbook" infomercial at 7:30 p.m.; KCBS slated "Lincoln: An American Journey" at 8:30 p.m.; and KNBC and KABC were competing with rival informercials at 9:30 p.m.: KNBC had "Argo: Declassified" and KABC had "Lincoln: An American Journey."

All of these infomercials should have received tiny, tiny audiences. But along came all that wall-to-wall Dorner coverage. Suddenly, those 30-minute Oscar ads were given HUGE lead-ins, as viewers were glued to what was happening in Big Bear.

As a result, the feature studios should be thrilled. Here's how the infomercials fared:

"Silver Linings Playbook" (KTLA, 7:30) 254,000 viewers

"Lincoln: An American Journey" (KCBS, 8:30) 219,000 viewers

"Argo: Declassified" (KNBC, 9:30) 158,000 viewers

"Lincoln: An American Journey" (KABC, 9:30) 148,000

I can only imagine how annoyed the local stations' news divisions were, having to stick with airing those infomercials last night!

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