Five TV Prime-time Shows That Appear Ripe for Integration

Programs Not Fully Exploited Despite Solid Ratings

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LOS ANGELES -- Now here's a surprise: There are still some great integration opportunities on TV for marketers.
The two-hour premiere of 'America's Got Talent' in June attracted 12 million viewers, becoming the night's highest-rated show among viewers 18-49.

A look at the grids of the broadcast or cable networks reveals a long and almost overwhelming list of shows filled with product placement or boasting major promotional partners, sponsors or more. But Madison & Vine has identified five shows that haven't been fully exploited by their producers or networks, and they provide prime-time opportunities for marketers to plug their wares to a variety of audiences.

The shows chosen were picked for their appeal among 18- to 49-year-olds; proven ratings performance; and, most importantly, multiple on-screen and off-air opportunities for marketers. All but one have been on the air for more than one season.

'Deal or no Deal' (NBC)

The premise of NBC's hit game show, hosted by Howie Mandell, basically involves giving away money. And the individual giving the coin away is a banker. So talk about a missed opportunity for the show's mysterious moneyman not to be branded by a major financial institution or services company. The money has to come from somewhere, right? And it's not that such companies aren't interested in entertainment -- Washington Mutual is sponsoring Mark Burnett's "Gold Rush," and Genworth Financial backed "Treasure Hunters" on NBC.

Here's how the game is played: Contestants choose from 26 metal briefcases, held by models on a platform. Inside each case is a dollar figure, ranging from a penny to $1 million. Special episodes have upped the dollar figure to $3 million. But marketers could get a little creative with the cases. What's inside could change. Instead of money, think big-ticket items -- a new Mercedes, a vacation sponsored by Starwood Hotels & Resorts or Delta Air Lines. We're just throwing out ideas.

Viewers, from children to older adults across all income levels, according to the network, are captivated by the concept, making the show a reliable workhorse for NBC at a time when the network needs a hit or two. "Deal" launched last year with five episodes and won its time slot among viewers 18-49. This year, the show has remained strong, growing from two nights to three on NBC's schedule. A two-hour episode in April outscored the NCAA basketball tournament final. The game show attracted a series high of 18.2 million viewers in June, and it held that 18 million figure when it returned this fall. The latest episodes have dipped, averaging around 10 million viewers, though more than 15 million people tuned into "Deal" this week.

'America's Got Talent' (NBC)

Simon Cowell's "American Idol" has long splashed sponsors Coca-Cola, Ford and Cingular Wireless all over its sets and screens. But the executive producer's "America's Got Talent" on NBC was brand-free in its successful first season this summer. There were no official drinks in front of the judges, actor David Hasselhoff, singer Brandy and TV personality Piers Morgan. Video segments were without placements. And the series' $1 million prize didn't come courtesy of a sponsor -- or even with a new car. How American is that?

The show, hosted by Regis Philbin, searches for America's best amateur talent act, pitting singers, dancers, magicians and comedians against one other. Numerous performances wound up on sites such as YouTube. Bianca Taylor Ryan, an 11-year-old child prodigy from Philadelphia, took home the top prize for her singing skills.

The two-hour premiere in June attracted 12 million viewers, becoming the night's highest-rated show among viewers 18-49. The series ended its 15-episode run in August with nearly 12 million viewers, holding the audience it started with and becoming summer's highest-rated new series, especially among young adults.

'So You Think You Can Dance?' (Fox)

The dancing competition has been a winning follow-up to Fox's "American Idol" for two summers, with the most recent outing concluding with 11 million viewers and generating more than 16 million votes cast for the winner (almost 70 million were collected over nine weeks). Online buzz on blogs that posted footage of performances helped make it a solid hit among the 18-49 demo. A demo that's used to buying stuff. A lot of stuff.

"American Idol's" Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe created the show, which is produced by 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions, so the concept of sponsorships and integrations aren't foreign to the producers. And while they did strike deals for the second outing with Disney's dance movie "Step Up" (helping the movie open to a bigger-than-expected $21 million box office) and with record labels for songs and performances, traditional promotional deals have stayed off "Dance's" stage. Broadcasts, which increased to two per week, follow the show's contestants as they make it through the audition process and dance various styles with partners. Where were companies like the Gap? That company's dancers, and now Audrey Hepburn, can't stop dancing.

"Dance's" second season amped up its big prize: Winners in season one received $100,000 and the use of an apartment overlooking Central Park in New York for a year; for the second season the winning dancer took home $100,000, a one-year contract to dance in Celine Dion's Las Vegas show and a car. However, the make and model of the car were not disclosed in the two-hour season finale.

Since the final episode, "Dance" has launched a six-week nationwide tour featuring the dancers from the show. Performances have sold out, providing yet another prime opportunity for marketers to come on board and target the series' young audience.

'Hell's Kitchen' (Fox)

The cooking competition show has dominated Nielsen PlaceViews' weekly product-placement listings with a fake restaurant (designed solely for the show) and chef jackets that aren't meant to be purchased by your average cook at home. Where Bravo's reality rival "Top Chef" boasts brands such as Sears, Toyota, Glad, Food & Wine magazine, TGI Fridays, Kraft, Pepsi, Korbel, Calphalon, Nestle and Bailey's Irish Cream, Fox's series, in which hot-tempered host and restaurateur Gordon Ramsey puts chefs through a series of grueling competitions, does not. Well, not unless you consider the second season's prize: executive chef at the Red Rock Casino and Resort's T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge.

It's not like audiences aren't interested in what goes on in the kitchen -- or whom Mr. Ramsey might verbally chew out next in his high-strung, someone-has-anger-management-issues kind of way. Ratings for the second season improved on the first, and the series ended with a series-best 8.49 million viewers, and 4.0 rating among adults 18-49, up 8% over last year. It was the highest rating for a Fox show since the "American Idol" finale in May.

'Wife Swap' (ABC)

Three seasons in, the show about families that swap wives for two weeks still has yet to tap into marketers looking to connect with everyday households. Potential partners shouldn't worry about the show's concept. The series is more feel-good than the title might imply. And it's much friendlier than Fox's "Trading Spouses." In the show, women from two separate households, and usually from different social classes, try to fill each other's role in the family. For one week, each wife must live according to rules left by her counterpart. In the second week she can make up her own rules and make her adopted family change their lifestyle to fit them. The drama revolves around how the family members cope.

Elements of the show, which airs Monday nights at 8 p.m., are ripe for integrations, especially for the automotive and lodging categories, including weekly scenes showing the families traveling to their new homes or meeting to discuss their experiences. The final meetings have taken place in conference rooms at undisclosed hotels.

This season began with 7.1 million viewers in its time slot, boosting its numbers from last year, and increased to 8.7 million with a follow-up episode an hour later. Not bad for ABC, which was expected to take a hit for kicking off this year without "Monday Night Football" for the first time in 36 years. "Wife Swap" has hovered around 8 million viewers per week since then. Last season, the show ranked No. 2 in its time period among adults 18-34 and led its hour among women 18-34 and 18-49.
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