Marketing

Spring Rings In Upfront Season

3/28/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

With last week’s arrival of spring came
cable TV’s annual rite of the season — upfront advertising
presentations.

Last week in New York, five programmers — the comedically-
styled IFC; Syfy, with its unreal realities; familyfriendly
Crown Media Networks; and Cartoon Network
and The Hub, supplying series for kids and their caregivers
— put their best pitches forward in Manhattan ahead
of the annual Madison Avenue bazaar.

Here’s a scorecard of what’s on tap for the 2011-12 TV
season.

IFC: The Rainbow Media-owned programmer peeled
back a second-season renewal of satirical news show Onion
News Network
at its upfront presentation to the press
on March 22. ONN is cuming 2.5 million adults 18 to 49 in
its rookie run, with IFC upping the order for its sophomore
campaign, set to premiere in October, to a network-original
high of 16 installments.

Four new series — Commercial Kings, Young, Broke &
Beautiful, Whisker Wars and Bullet in the Face, will surface.
Whisker Wars
, from Th om Beers’ Original Productions, is
a docu-comedy about the world of competitive facial hair
growing, premiering Aug. 5. Debuting June 24, Commercial
Kings
, from Reveille, is another docu-comedy following
a filmmaking duo as they produce commercials for local
businesses.

Syfy: The NBC Universal-owned channel, which feted media
buyers with a performance of the controversial Broadway
musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark at the Foxwoods Theatre
on March 22 (see Through the Wire), took care of
business first by announcing a slate of 14 new original series
and events, including a trio of reality series.

In June, reality show Hollywood Treasure returns for a second
season, paired with the new unscripted Haunted Collector,
about a family of paranormal investigators who track
down haunted items for their museum.

July is a
big month
for Syfy, as
it will premiere
Legend
Quest,
following
a symbologist
across
the globe
in search
of artifacts
believed to
hold hidden
powers,
as well
t he new
scripted series
Alphas,
the story
of a team
of ordinary people whouse their extraordinary mental and physical
abilities to solve cases. Those newcomers will flank
new seasons of Warehouse 13, Eureka and Haven.

Moving to September, Syfy will debut docu-drama Paranormal
Witness
, which tells the stories of people who have
lived through paranormal experiences.

In development: Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, a
prequel set in the 10th year of the First Cyclon War.

Crown Media Networks: Executives at the new umbrella
name for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel,
as well as other related properties, talked up an expansive
slate of family friendly fare encompassing more than 500
original hours for the 2011-12 TV season at a March 23 press
lunch.

Highlights include a 13-episode, unscripted primetime
lifestyle series, hosted by Maya Angelou, called The Spirit
Table
, with scheduling reservations set for the first quarter
of 2012, and the addition of 52 half-hours of Emeril Lagasse’s
daily cooking show, Emeril’s Table, this fall, when it joins the
“Hallmark Home Channel” block, anchored by the seventh
season of The Martha Stewart Show.

The industry’s leading producer of telefilms has 25 lined
up, with seasonal projects aimed to key its “Countdown to
…” holiday strategy. In 2011, that means returning franchises
for Catherine Bell (The Good Witch’s Family); Billy Ray Cyrus
(Christmas Returns to Canaan); and Debbie Macomber (Trading
Christmas
). And no malarkey: Hallmark will bow its inaugural
Saint Patrick’s Day film, Chasing Leprechauns, next
March, and its first musical, The Music Teacher, in the third
quarter of 2012.

Hallmark Movie Channel will double its original movies
roster to eight next year, featuring the January roundup of
Goodnight for Justice 2, the sequel to the Jason Priestley/Luke
Perry western.

Cartoon Network: Officials at the Turner Broadcasting
System-owned channel aspire to build global franchises in
2011-12. Cartoon announced plans on March 23 to debut 13
new animated series and a new live-action scripted comedy
over the next year.

Through a partnership with DC Entertainment and Warner
Bros., the service will launch “DC Nation,” a multiplatform
block of branded original content in 2012, with Green
Lantern
: The Animated Series (following the Green Lantern
theatrical this summer), plus a revamped Young Justice.

Cartoon is also developing a half-hour series with Dream-
Works Animation SKG based on the film How to Train Your
Dragon
, as well as a new live-action scripted comedy called
Level Up, about three high schoolers, who mistakenly unleash
the world of an online video game into the real world. Level
Up
will launch with a 90-minute original movie late this fall,
setting the stage for the half-hour series in spring 2012.

Another kids network, The Hub, the joint venture of Hasbro
and Discovery, also unveiled its programming plans last
week (see Content).

June