TV viewers may even see abrupt shifts from 9/11 tributes to
rah-rah sports talk. This year, Sept. 11 marks the first Sunday of
afternoon games from the National Football League (see related
"There is a different tone than in years past," said Harry
Keeshan, exec VP-director of investment at Omnicom Group's PHD. "More so than in anniversaries of the
past 10 years, there is more of a sentiment to support it or pay
tribute to the anniversary than there is to avoid it."
Vacating 9/11-themed airwaves has cost media outlets millions of
dollars. According to an analysis done earlier in the decade by TNS
Media Intelligence/CMR (now Kantar), broadcast and cable-TV
networks lost a combined $313.2 million in ad revenue while they
covered Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath. On Sept. 11 itself, they
lost $84.6 million. In 2002, ad spending on local, network and
cable TV totaled $57.8 million on Sept. 11, according to TNS -- a
whopping 54.6% cut from the average amount spent in the five
weekdays prior to that date.
So if this content was so controversial, wouldn't TV networks
keep it out of prime time, where they rake in the most ad dollars?
One would assume so. Yet the announcement of a two-hour "Dateline"
and a "Children of 9/11" special -- both in prime time on NBC the
days before Sept. 11, 2011 -- suggest this sort of content must be
gaining traction with marketers. An NBC News spokeswoman did not
return an email seeking comment.
CBS, which last broadcast critically praised documentary "9/11"
without advertising five years ago, will air an updated version of
the program, "9/11: 10 Years Later" that will carry sponsorship. In
earlier years, a broadcast of "9/11" was sponsored by a sole
National Geographic Channel is airing a bevy of documentaries
and programs in the days leading up to the anniversary. The network
will air a seven-program "marathon" on Sept. 11, 2011 -- all of it
supported by advertising, said Rich Goldfarb, senior VP-media sales
at National Geographic Networks. "One of the centerpieces of our
collection of programming is a tonality of remembrance," he said,
so advertisers understand the environment shouldn't unduly affect
commercials. The outlet has seen strong support for the specials,
he said, from automotive marketers, technology firms,
financial-services advertisers and telecommunications concerns.
Time Warner 's CNN will air a series of specials about the event
and its anniversary, and all will be sponsored by advertising, a
network spokeswoman said, except for the debut broadcast of a
program produced jointly with corporate siblings HBO and Time
magazine. Ads will appear in reruns of the show, however.
Even live news coverage on the anniversary itself is likely to
be accompanied by some commercials. Fox News Channel will cover the
events of the day with limited commercial interruption, a network
spokeswoman said, with some moments running commercial-free. NBC
and MSNBC are slated to air three hours of coverage the morning of
Sept. 11, 2011, which an MSNBC spokesman said would likely contain
ads, but with long stretches between commercial breaks.