Faced with declining station clearances and a mass exodus to "Kids' WB" and "UPN Kids" in fall 1997, Disney's Buena Vista Television last week entered into a strategic alliance with Kellogg, the largest advertiser in "Disney Afternoon."
"If you look at the way the audience has been shifting toward other vehicles, local broadcast stations are going to have a tough time competing with the Nickelodeons and Cartoon Networks in the future unless they have programming of equal quality," said John Muszynski, senior VP-media director at Chicago-based Burnett.
Kellogg North America President Tom Knowlton was unavailable for comment last week.
Disney and Kellogg will scale back the "Disney Afternoon"-which will take on a new name later-from two hours to 90 minutes for fall 1997 and fall 1998, with Walt Disney Television Animation committed to producing a new half-hour strip each season.
Burnett will distribute the programming on behalf of Kellogg, which now spends about $15 million to $20 million per year in the Disney block, agency sources said. While not unheard of, it is unusual for an agency to handle such duties. Disney will continue to handle all advertising sales.
Kellogg will not receive a reduced ad rate, but will instead have access to more dedicated inventory. How much inventory Kellogg will be allocated has yet to be determined.
The same 3 minute local/3 minute national split per half-hour that is in place for the two-hour block will remain when the block is scaled back to 90 minutes.
Burnett will try to clear the new block weekday afternoons between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. or weekday mornings between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Fox Children's Network, which boasts upfront commitments of about $185 million this year, has become the dominant player in the afternoons, while Kids' WB logged roughly $25 million in upfront commitments and UPN Kids got another $10 million, agency sources said.
Joe Mandese of Advertising Age contributed to this story.