Upfronts 2012


ESPN Flanks Sports With Social Media

NEW YORK — ESPN is flanking its sports rights, as
well as some major events it is covering from the
outside, with digital and social-media elements.

At its upfront presentation to advertisers here
last Tuesday (May 15), ESPN said it’s teaming
with Twitter on a
number of crossplatform,
and custom ad
campaigns, around
such events as the
Global X Games,
Road to the BCS
National Championship,
Bowl, World Series,
NCAA Men’s
Basketball Tournament
Chase for the Cup.

First up: “Game-
Face,” which will
tip off during next
month’s NBA Finals, with users asked to post
“game face” photos of themselves during the basketball
games with the #gameface hashtag. When
the buzzer sounds at the end of each championship-
round contest, ESPN NBA Tonight analysts
will highlight the competition and reveal the best
photographs on-air. On Twitter, #GameFace will
be backed by Twitter’s Promoted Products suite,
including a promoted trend during The Finals, and
the experience also will be touted on the
@NBAonESPN Twitter handle.

ESPN again declared its love for sports documentaries
— in both long- and short-form — at its upfront,
which was hosted by Mike Greenberg and Sage
Steele. A second round of its “30 for 30” series will
premiere in October, and it will also let viewers get to
know Bo Jackson, the athlete extraordinaire.

— Mike Reynolds

USA Network Readies Reality, Comedy Fare

NEW YORK — USA Network will add reality programming
and comedy series to its successful lineup of
scripted dramas this fall as it seeks to build on its
standing as cable’s top rated network.

The network was expected to unveil plans to add
two reality shows and six scripted comedies during
its upfront presentation last Thursday in New York.

Among the new reality series USA Network is developing
are Bride or Best Man, a “bromantic comedy”
in which the Groom and his best man plan
the wedding’ and Romancing the Globe, a Mark
Burnett produced series which takes participants
around the world in search of love or in some instances
betrayal. The shows will join previously announced
reality shows The Choir, and The Moment
starring Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner.

On the comedy front, the network will roll out
Regulars, about a misfit group of people expressing
life’s woes through karaoke at a suburban New
Jersey bar; Benched, which looks at the comedic
inner workings of a public defender’s office
through the eyes of a down-on her-luck former
attorney; the Kelsey Grammer-backed The Dicicco
, which follows a dot-com entrepreneur’s
move to Silicon Valley with his unrefined extended
family; and Start-Up, which profiles the lives of two
college grads with big dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.

— R. Thomas Umstead

TNT, TBS Shift to ‘Branded Video Destinations’

NEW YORK — In an emerging multiscreen world,
Turner Broadcasting System said it is evolving
its linear television networks into what it calls
“branded video destinations.”

Turner also announced new original programming
designed to rejuvenate TNT and TBS. Turner said
that TNT has nine original series for the summer, including
the reboot of Dallas. Also on tap are a medical
drama Monday Mornings, and unscripted series
Boston Blue and 72 Hours. TNT will also be airing its
first reality competition show The Great Escape.

TBS is premiering two new sitcoms this summer,
Men at Work and Sullivan & Son. Those will get
leads-in from The Big Bang Theory, which has given
the channel a major Nielsen boost since it was
added to the lineup.

Later in the year, TBS will add Wedding Band and
Cougar Town, which moves over from ABC.

TBS also has in the works King of the Nerds, Deon
Cole’s Black Box
and Who Gets the Last Laugh?

— Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting & Cable