GLOBAL BRIEF: Networks seek next Seinfeld - Rates have dropped as US TV giants wait for the next big thing

The departure of Seinfeld from US screens earlier this year hit the country hard, and nowhere harder than in the pockets of its TV executives.

The departure of Seinfeld from US screens earlier this year hit the

country hard, and nowhere harder than in the pockets of its TV

executives.



When the nation said goodbye to Jerry, the NBC network lost the show

media buyers would pay through the nose to advertise on.



When the autumn schedule begins this week, NBC will fill the Thursday

night Seinfeld spot with another hugely successful comedy, Frasier. But

according to figures just published by the US trade magazine,

Advertising Age, agencies will be paying around dollars 100,000 less for

a 30-second spot during Frasier than the record dollars 575,000 they

paid last year to advertise next to Seinfeld.



NBC’s medical drama, ER, is now the highest priced show of the autumn

season with 30-second spots going for dollars 565,000. While this will

probably be enough to cover the reported dollars 280 million NBC paid to

retain ER, the network will still be suffering.



At least one of its Thursday night shows has reduced its ad rate because

of Seinfeld’s absence. The cost of a 30-second spot in the relatively

new comedy, Veronica’s Closet, is down 5 per cent on last year because

it can no longer be packaged with Seinfeld.



The rival networks, ABC, CBS and Fox, will benefit from NBC’s troubles,

with ad rates for Fox’s Ally McBeal up a massive 121 per cent. But

overall, the average cost of a 30-second ad this season is estimated at

dollars 153,000, a 3 per cent drop on last year’s prices and a decline

on the 6.5 per cent increases the networks have enjoyed in recent

years.



’Very few of the new shows have been successes,’ Larry Cole, the media

director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York, explains. ’The networks are

finding things very hard because audiences aren’t growing and people are

moving away from the networks on to cable.’



While the broadcast networks have traditionally claimed the



lion’s share of ad revenue, cable is catching up. Shows such as Comedy

Central’s South Park look increasingly appealing next to the

comparatively staid offerings of their broadcast counterparts.



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