Magazine article Marketing

Papers Bruised in Game Show Battle

Magazine article Marketing

Papers Bruised in Game Show Battle

Article excerpt

For two years newspapers have fallen over each other to sponsor game shows and boost slack summer sales. Will the Today disaster dampen the market?

When ITV last week confirmed it had pulled Wheel of Fortune from its summer schedule in order to boost its ratings in the autumn, it delivered a crushing blow to News International.

The newspaper publisher had signed a [pound]1m sponsorship deal and planned to use its links with the game show to help support Today newspaper during traditionally slow summer sales.

The paper should now be running a massive summer promotion with a gamecard linked to the Friday evening showing of Wheel of Fortune. Instead, it has been left high and dry, with no programme to pin its marketing to.

It's not the first time ITV has taken such action. News International pulled out of a deal last year when ITV decided to move Family Fortunes from its pre-arranged Friday slot to Saturday.

Everyone's a winner?

The Daily Star paved the way for such tie-ins when it partnered Pot of Gold in the summer of 1993 and saw circulation rise by 15% during the course of the game. Ever since, national newspapers have been hammering on ITV's door to sign up lucrative game show sponsorships.

In a feeding frenzy the newspapers snapped up the sponsorship of games across the ITV network, including Play Your Cards Right, Family Fortunes, and You Bet. The Daily Mirror took Pot of Gold away from the Daily Star in a straightforward bidding war.

For a while, it looked as though the newspapers couldn't lose. But despite the popular success of many of the sponsorships, the relationship between the country's biggest commercial TV broadcaster and the tabloid press has become increasingly strained.

To the newspapers' frustration, they have discovered that even when deals are signed and sealed, they are not the masters of their own promotions. ITV has the final say and is prepared to use its veto.

ITV has done little to appease the newspaper groups, with one executive last week saying the postponement of Wheel of Fortune was "no big deal" and the broadcaster remaining adamant that it has no obligation to consult sponsors about changes in scheduling.

Yet the ultimate losers in the Wheel of Fortune debacle and ITV's approach to the sponsorships could be the broadcaster itself.

The newspapers have recently discovered the power of nailing their colours to the National Lottery and its Instants cards, with their own in-house lottery competitions and scratchcards.

They are also looking at other broadcast promotion options outside ITV, including the Daily Mirror striking a deal with the BBC over its Big Break programme, and a Mirror gamecard based on Channel 4's Brookside. …

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