Media Agencies Buzz With Praise for 'Studio 60'

What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Broadcast TV's fall season opened last night, and Watercooler decided to do ring up the media agencies to see what people thought of NBC's brightest hope, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The good news is media buyers were enthusiastic this morning over the hotly anticipated, Aaron Sorkin-penned drama. The so-so news is its premiere charted respectable but not boffo ratings.
In the ad-friendly demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds, CBS's stalwart "CSI: Miami" won the 10 p.m. hour with a 5.7 rating/14 share. "Studio 60" came in a close second with 5.0/12, a solid showing for a new show, according to fast national Nielsen Media Research data. (A rating point for 18- to 49-year-olds is equal to about 1.3 million viewers.)

"Studio 60," which didn't exactly have a compatible lead-in audience-wise with game show "Deal or No Deal," suffered a little in the second half hour as it found its natural audience. The drama about a barely fictional network, NBS, scored a 5.4 rating in the first half hour but dropped to a 4.6 rating in the second half hour, averaging 5.0 for the hour. Still, even if the numbers aren't huge, the media-buying community is predicting a healthy future for the show, which met its 5.0 upfront ratings guarantee to advertisers.

Deutsch's Peter Gardiner, partner and chief media officer, whose second-favorite show is "CSI: Miami," tuned in to get a five-minute taste of "Studio 60" and was immediately hooked. Mr. Gardiner bought the show for his clients. "It's the buzz around here this morning. Everyone is talking about it. The way they filmed it was different; it had a 'West Wing' feel. I liked the chaptering they did with the characters introduced. Everyone here was mesmerized. I took me a few moments to believe Amanda Peet as the network president, but she had me in the end."

NBC gave viewers almost 20 minutes of the drama, about life on the set of a network comedy, show before switching to a commercial break. Dell was the first advertiser to appear in the break, and its ad was introduced with a voice-over identifying it as a sponsor of "Studio 60." Hasbro's Monopoly Here and Now, Chase, Old Navy, and Ask.com were all in the first break, and movies such as Columbia Pictures' "All the King's Men" and Warner Bros. "Departed" had a heavy presence. Others that appeared in later ad pods included Victoria's Secret, Lindt truffles, Jet Blue, Panasonic, Apple's iPod Nano and the Gap.

"I love 'Studio 60,' I believe it will be the most affluent, most educated show on network TV," said veteran TV watcher Shari Anne Brill, Carat VP-programming. "[Writer and creator] Aaron Sorkin is a master storyteller, and the interplay between Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford made it seem like they were the best of buddies." The two play top comedy writers who return to lead an ailing show.

Separately, CBS's new David Crane sitcom "The Class" came in third place last night in the 8 p.m. hour but won a strong 3.7 rating/11 share in the 18- to 49-year-old demo -- not a bad performance given how close it came to the competition. NBC's "Deal" came in first place with 3.98/11, and Fox's "Prison Break" ranked second, with 3.8/11.
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