'Lopez' Primed To Go


TBS will look to carry its primetime audience into late night with the Nov. 7 launch of Lopez Tonight, featuring comedian George Lopez.

With its first foray into the late-night talk show format, TBS hopes to appeal to a younger and more diverse audience that's not tuning in to the current crop of broadcast and cable shows airing after 11 p.m., according to Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming, for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

The comedy-tinged network, which has two of the most-watched comedy series in Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Meet the Browns — and averaged 1.5 million primetime viewers in third-quarter 2009 — believes that the appeal of Lopez can bring many of those viewers to the 11 p.m. time slot.

“It felt to us like the next logical step in the evolution of the network,” said Wright. “We felt this was a great way to expand the reach of the network and to affirm one of the strengths of the network, which is our ability to draw a really young and diverse audience.”

Touting a more fun, party-like atmosphere than traditional late-night shows, Wright believes that the popular Latino comedian will provide a different vibe in the postprimetime hours that will attract viewers.

“The whole notion is to try to make it a street party … it isn't a guy sitting behind the desk telling one-liners, but it's a much more interactive, very upbeat talk show,” Wright said. “It'll feature a lot of music, pre-roll comedy bits and a lot of George dealing with the audience.”

In particular, the network hopes to reach young and multicultural viewers who aren't currently watching a lot of late night. Broadcast-network entries such as CBS's Late Show With David Letterman and NBC's The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien have a median age of more than 50, according to Lopez Tonight executive producer Jim Paratore. Further, Paratore said, white viewers make up nearly three-quarters of the audience for Late Show and Tonight, providing Lopez with an opportunity to reach an underserved demographic.

TBS isn't the only network launching a multicultural-tinged late night show in the fall: BET's recent late-night entry, The Mo'Nique Show (which launched Oct. 7), drew nearly 1.5 million viewers in its first week on the air.

Wright is not worried about the competition. “The Lopez show is so distinctive that even though there are other talk shows out there, this one is a different kind of talk show,” Wright said.

The network has already begun a heavy multimedia promotional and marketing campaign around the launch of the show, running multiple spots during its highly rated coverage of Major League Baseball's Division Series and National League Championship Series, according to Jeff Gregor, chief marketing officer for TBS, TNT and TCM.

TBS will also reach into the Hispanic market with promotional campaigns in several Latino-heavy markets such as Chicago, San Antonio, Miami and Dallas, through spots on local Spanish-language television stations, according to Gregor.

The network will also promote the series via Twitter, allowing consumers to send in comments and questions to the show's Web site, lopeztonight.com, through a public “interactive Twitter board” in a yet to be set location in New York.

“Based on George's popularity and his personality, we really want to leverage social media as part of our media campaign,” Gregor said. “Trying to engage his fans is our No. 1 focus, beyond the broad media that we're going to place in the marketplace.”

Neither executive would predict how well the four-nights-per-week series will perform, but Wright said he's confident that the show will exceed expectations.

“We feel enthusiastic and optimistic,” Wright said.

USA and TBS are among the most-watched ad-supported basic networks among both African-Americans and Hispanics, per a recent Turner Research report: