WMA Brands To Get Reality Check

Wilshire shop pacts with new reality TV net

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% Reality Central, the network launching late this year that will be fueled by unscripted programming, has made a multiyear pact with William Morris Consulting to integrate advertisers across its budding brand.

The deal aims to scare up sponsorships for Reality Central's cable network, its broadband, Web, video-on-demand and wireless content. The agreement will mean advertisers can play a role in creating programming and embedding brand messages throughout the channel's various media plays. As part of the deal, Jim Wiatt, president-CEO of the talent agency, will become an advisory board member.

"We all know that we need to look at the television world differently now," said Larry Namer, Reality Central's co-founder, president-CEO. "We're starting from scratch, so we can build what clients want."

The channel, whose chairman is Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks, also will experiment with traditional advertising formats. It might, Namer said, air 22-second spots instead of 30-seconds, and play around with the length of ad breaks in shows to better reach the 18-34-year-old hard core reality TV fan. "The trend of simultaneous consumption of media is causing us to re-think everything," Namer said.

The unscripted genre provides "more of an organic platform to integrate brands into," said Paul Bricault, senior VP at WMC. "And because the network is new, we have the opportunity to start from a clean slate and develop programming in tandem with the brands." Some of William Morris's corporate clients include Anheuser-Busch and General Motors Corp.

The 24/7 channel will create its own original unscripted shows as well as running popular network reality shows with previously unseen interviews and outtakes. Namer called it "the DVD version" of the show, where contestants will provide commentary.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% Reality Central also will broadcast reality shows that have been successful outside the U.S. If they catch on with audiences, the network would consider creating an American version. The channel also will populate its programming with original behind-the-scenes, news and gossip shows that revolve around the reality TV genre.

There's even a show in the works now about the "making of" a reality TV channel that will stream onto the channel's Web site and air each week on the network. Brands will have the chance to place their products into the project.

And as advertisers consider first-run network reality properties for sponsorship opportunities, they've been having simultaneous conversations with Reality Central about possible off-network runs on the new channel. "If an advertiser knows they'll get more exposure over time, if they'll have a second or third run on cable, it helps them make a sponsorship decision," Namer said.

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