This year's fall TV season, filled with new shows, veteran favorites and a resurrected classic, is being supported more than ever by online campaigns in addition to TV ads.
The heavily promoted live season premiere of NBC drama "ER" last week combined a weeklong live chat component online with TV programming through a partnership with Warner Bros. Online and Talk City, the Chat Network. Advertisers on the site included Discover card and Pepcid AC.
"I think it's pretty far-sighted to embrace cross media," said Peter Friedman, president-CEO of Talk City. "Based on my experience with Talk City, people who come to the Internet and chat are usually watching TV," he said.
Viewer erosion is an issue many broadcasters face. However, the Internet could be seen as an opportunity to recapture viewership for broadcasters.
"The more they chat about it, the more they watch it," Mr. Friedman said.
Disney's classic weekly program, "The Wonderful World of Disney," which returned to ABC on Sunday evenings beginning Sept. 28 with the movie "Toy Story," also has a Web presence that will be updated weekly with in-depth information about upcoming movies such as "The Lion King," "Babe" and "The Santa Clause."
General Motors Corp. and Hitachi will advertise both online and during programming.
And Berkeley Systems, an online entertainment software company and creator of beZerk's weekly online game "You Don't Know Jack the Netshow" has created a special "Must See TV" online series, which begins today.
The online program, which was created in collaboration with NBC, is a game featuring NBC programming trivia.
Charter advertisers include 7UP, Amstel Light, Yahoo! and Jack Daniel's.
"We're cutting edge entertainment on the Internet, and NBC is doing some of the best entertaining on TV," said Jim Stoner, product marketing manager for beZerk. "Combined, that creates a very entertaining online experience."
The grand prize winner gets an all-expenses paid trip for two to see a live taping of the sitcom "Friends" in Los Angeles.
Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.