Tuesday, November 30th, 1999
Some chunky bits from the recently-vacuumed floor around the Media Desk today …
As the November rating book ends, media buyers, those folks who purchase commercial time and space for advertisers, are complaining that ABC’s liberal airing of the "special"Who Wants to be a Millionaire have "tainted the book." Yep, the show was a big success. Does its "abnormal results" give advertisers any sense of what ABC’s regular schedule (and those of its competitors) will be? Well, no, unless ABC ends making Millionaire a regular thing (and they may well) instead of keeping it as a sweeps twinkie. For those who calculate who will be watching from who was watching in November, well, they’re grumpy, damned grumpy.
Locally, the news operations’ sweeps promos took an interesting turn. Instead of veering off into lurid ("Sex for Sale") or fear-mongering ("Your Kitchen May Kill Your Child") ratings-grabbers, we were instead barraged with a series of heavily-promoted "exclusive" interviews with everyone from Hosea Williams to JonBenet Ramsey’s parents. If they weren’t pushing interview scoops, local news promos take on a ominous-music, teasing, abstract Dateline or 20/20 tone-clearly these tabloidy newsmagazines continue to influence the idea of what is news.
WGNXer..CBS 46’s promos continue to baffle me. They touted something like "only the third exclusive interview recorded on alternate Fridays with JonBenet’s parents where, for the first time, they hop up and down one one foot, barking" (or something like that) and endlessly reran painful promos on circumcision and odd ones on health with annoying actors ("Dr. Mom"). Is this what their research says people want? Most CBS 46 spots conclude with an extremely uncomfortable-looking smiley-shot of their still-new anchors, Jane Robelot and Calvin Hughes. It must be working-I’m beginning to feel very sorry for them.
As we turn the corner on the holiday season, the big easy story to do has always been "holiday shopping." Send a reporter out to the malls, and you’re half done. This year’s popular variation (and you’ll see it in newspapers, magazines, and on TV) is "e-commerce for the holidays". This is even easier, of course, because you just have to send your reporter offto his or her desk. Will this be, they breathlessly wonder, the year that buying presents on the internet makes a big dent in the economy? Will people forsake the mall crowds for the peace and quiet of home? I was in Seattle on the official first-day of the shopping season-the day after Thanksgiving, and I can report that in that extremely e-connected city, news choppers showed the area’s malls parking lots were two-thirds full at 7:30 in the morning. Yow. I’d say e-commerce has a long way to go before it has impact to match the hype.
A quick consumer tip, though: because they want to get your habits to change, some retailers, and, more importantly, credit card companies are offering huge discounts, free shipping, and other incentivesso before you buy online, double-check the Visa, Mastercard, Amex, or Novus sites to make sure there isn’t a clever code you can type in to zap ten percent or so off your bill.
Gosh, I feel so Clark Howard-y. Happy clicking