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Taking Care of Business
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Old November 29th, 2007, 08:48 PM   #1
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With regards to buying air time on local networks, is it necessary to deal with 3rd parties? Or can you go directly to the network?
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Old November 29th, 2007, 09:17 PM   #2
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What do you mean by "local networks"? Do you mean local stations that are network affiliates?

If the latter, just call their sales department.
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 05:03 PM   #3
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You mean like your local TV station/ Big Network Affiliate? If that's what you mean, then yes, you can go directly through them. In my opinion, it would be cheaper than going through a 3rd party, since that 3rd party will add in an appropriate surcharge to make it worth their while- since they'd be doing the work for you. Just do what Peter above here says and call 'em up and ask for someone in sales. There will usually be someone willing to help you before you even get that first sentence out. Some stations have packages you can buy into to save money in the long run, so make sure you ask about that in addition to seeing their rate card.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 09:37 AM   #4
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You gotta shop around

The simple answer to your question is: try both.

The 3rd party companies you refer to buy airtime in bulk, thus the base prices they pay are much lower to begin with and may even be lower for you than what you can negotiate directly with the stations.

But you really have to call the stations directly and play hardball with their sales people. I have done this before and I will tell you one thing: prices are very much not set in stone. I have seen producers pay twice for a timeslot what I know other producers pay. Play one station off another, saying what you can get on Station A to Station B has worked for me in the past, especially if you are going for late night timeslots.

The key is volume: if you want to put together a weekly show that airs at the same time every week (as I did for 4 years), and you sign a contract for a certain minimum number of episodes (usually 4-13), then you will get a better price.

Unless you sign a bulk contract for a certain number of airings and you say you don't care when it runs, just plug me in the holes, then you get THE BEST price. Two caveats though: this absolutely won't fly if you are trying to put together a regular show and want to build viewership, and many of your airings will be in crappy dead-of-night slots no one wants for a reason.

And of course timeslot is also key. Saturday and Sunday mornings are "primetime" for paid programming, and you will pay (in my market) up to $2500 for 30 minutes, maybe more, depending on the station (which also has A LOT to do with it). Yet 30 minutes a 3:00am on a Saturday night on the same station will run $300.

So, in short: call everybody, try to wheel and deal, and see what you come up with. When you call a station, just ask for "paid programming" so you get the right sales person, and pretend you're buying a car. Good luck...
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 09:42 AM   #5
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Oh and by-the-way, everything I said about 30 minute paid programming holds true for :30 second commercials, except they will not play hardball with you unless you are dropping MUCHO dinero. Otherwise, they stick pretty close to the ratecard and the best you can do is buy one of their packages.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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Brain's advice is all good. The prices are flexible and will depend on how well they've been selling time recently.
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