Entertainment Weekly is intent on grabbing some of the more than $200 million spent by broadcast and cable TV networks each year on so-called tune-in advertising. TV Guide already gets the lion's share of that business.
"We get a lot of tune-in ads for the new fall season and then again in sweeps months," said Entertainment Weekly President Michael Klingensmith. "But most of what we're getting now on a regular basis is event tune-in ads like for [NBC's] 'Asteroid. "
Entertainment Weekly wouldn't specify how much of its current revenue comes from network tune-in ads, but Mr. Klingensmith said those ads account for less than 20% of the weekly's total network TV ad revenues.
USA NETWORKS IN SECTION
The magazine's sales staff, led by Publisher Mike Kelly, is aggressively selling against the "What to Watch" guide and has already secured USA Networks as a sponsor for the section's debut in the May 9 issue.
TV Guide leads the tune-in advertising market. Last year, it ran 1,245 pages of tune-in advertising, representing $156 million in revenue, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures. The figure represents more than 40% of TV Guide's total ad page count.
The four leading broadcast networks spent another $53.2 million combined promoting their shows in local newspapers last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. NBC was the leader, spending $16.7 million, followed by CBS, at $15.9 million; Fox, at $10.7 million; and ABC, at $9.9 million.
Marla K. Goldstein, senior director of media planning for NBC, said the network's tune-in ads try to reach consumers as they are making viewing choices.
"We spend a lot of money in the TV supplement books that come with local papers because we know that people are . . . looking at them to make a decision about what to watch," she said. "If Entertainment Weekly gets the section off the ground, and it's everything they say it's going to be, we would consider using it."
NOT MUST-BUY FOR CBS
CBS Exec VP-Marketing and Communications George Schweit-zer said he'll support the new section, but it won't be a must-buy on a weekly basis.
Entertainment Weekly Managing Editor Jim Seymour said he decided to include a "selective" viewing guide after conducting reader focus groups.
"I've always thought that the coverage of television compared to what's available to cover has been pretty skimpy," Mr. Seymour said. "The business side is very enthusiastic about this, and frankly without the ad sales support we couldn't expand the editorial."
Entertainment Weekly's listings won't be anywhere near as comprehensive as TV Guide's; "What to Watch" will add three pages to its weekly TV section. Jamie Bufalino, former TV editor for Time Out New York, has been hired as staff editor to oversee the new section.
TV Guide Editor in Chief Steven Reddicliffe, a former editor at Entertainment Weekly, said he's not surprised at the new competition. "Everybody wants to be