Gannett, Debmar To Test Interactive Programs
Gannett Broadcasting and Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury today formed a partnership to develop, produce, test and distribute first-run broadcast series for a variety of dayparts.
Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, and Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury, made the announcement, saying the partnership gives Gannett Broadcasting the ability to create, test and perfect broad appeal first-run syndicated television programming across all genres on many of its stations beginning in 2015.
Interactivity will be a central concept of the programming developed by the partnership. In addition, Gannett will use the digital presence of its stations — including mobile — to reach viewers wherever they are.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the talented team at Debmar-Mercury to produce the programming our viewers want,” Lougee said. “We will work together to design shows to take advantage of how television has changed and create a new genre of syndicated programming. With more than 40 stations across the country, we will have the ability to experiment, test and refine programs throughout the development process. Local broadcasters, like Gannett, have an opportunity to tap into the organic relationship between television viewing and social media.”
As a result of the partnership, Debmar-Mercury — an independent media company offering many 10-90 sitcoms, talk and game shows — gains distribution for its shows from a top-tier broadcaster. Gannett operates the largest independent TV station group of major network affiliates in the top-25 U.S. television markets. Excluding owner-operators, Gannett Broadcasting is both the No. 1 NBC and CBS affiliate group, with stations covering nearly a third of the country.
Bernstein and Marcus commented: “We are thrilled to be partnering with a premier station group like Gannett. With its strong roster of major-market affiliates and cutting-edge digital capabilities, we will be able to jointly create programming that is designed to meet both Gannett’s needs and those of network affiliates throughout the country. We are big believers in the on-air testing model, because it gives stations concrete information on which to base their buying decisions before making long-term commitments to a series.”
(One such Debmar-Mercury test that turned into a series is its talk show hosted by Wendy Williams, which the syndicator announced last week will remain in production in June and July following the sophomore show’s best May sweeps performance in the metered markets.)
The companies said that one of the key aspects of the partnership “is flexibility. It has been structured so, as Gannett and Debmar-Mercury agree on the concept and timing of their first project together, they will be able to test the series on various Gannett Broadcasting stations and at various times throughout the year. The on-air tests will all be of various durations.”