|Kristin Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of 'Sex and the City' in May.
"This is virgin territory," said David Levy, president of entertainment sales and marketing at Turner Broadcasting. "For advertisers. This show has never had any commercial attachments to it until now."
Sex and the City will start airing on TBS in June, and while the exact schedule has not been finalized, it is likely to air twice weekly in primetime, on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. Though the original HBO program was a half-hour long, the TBS version will run an hour, including commercial time and additional footage.
Nudity, foul language removed
A spokesman at Turner said the added footage will include scenes that did not appear in the original broadcast. The TBS episodes are not identical to the original HBO program in other ways. TBS has acquired a package of programs that were created by the producers for syndication. Nudity and foul language have been edited out or substituted.
"Where there was a nude scene, the producers shot another take with the actors in clothes," the spokesman said.
"It will be advertiser friendly," said Mr. Levy.
TBS has acquired all six seasons of the show for 15 months for an undisclosed sum, to begin airing following the end of the show's run on HBO in April 2004. The cable network has an exclusive window to air the series before HBO puts the series out to syndication in September 2005.
Broadcast syndication prices
Mr. Levy said the cable network expects to sell spots at broadcast syndication prices, which are 25% higher than average cable prime-time rates. TBS is looking for one major advertiser to sponsor the show for the full 15-month period. The same sponsor would be involved in launching the show, creating vignettes and tune-in spots for the program, in promotions, and would also have an advertising presence throughout the network. They are also looking for three additional and lesser "exclusivity sponsors."
"They are taking a very proactive approach," said Ray Warren, managing director of Omnicom Group's OMD. "It's like selling the title sponsorship to a ballgame. It's big bucks. It's a monster number, but it's over a long period of time. I'm sure the pricing reflects the value they are bringing to it, which is more than just spots in the show. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in terms of who can use it and who can't."
Actually, Sex and the City has had fleeting commercial connections in the past. It featured product placement of the Absolut vodka brand through entertainment agency Ketchum, and Grey Goose Vodka through Hero Product Placement of Sun Valley, Calif.