In Movies & TV Commentary

Savannah Guthrie joins Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.

Notes from TV land: Sit there next to Matt

The big broadcast stations know when playing the ratings game, only two things matter for a winning strategy: reach and frequency.

Savannah Guthrie is part of the latest strategy with the "Today" show on NBC. Guthrie made her regular co-hosting debut Monday morning, sitting next to long-time host Matt Lauer. She replaced Ann Curry, who was fire ... ahem ... reassigned to other duties at the peacock network. You see, the fine people at ABC's "Good Morning America" won the ratings for a few weeks earlier this year for the first time in ages.

Morning talk is a big deal ... in the hundreds of millions big. You see, as technology advances and our lifestyles change, networks know that audiences are not as big for the evening news and prime time as they used to be. There are so many more viewing choices these days than there were when your set was lucky to get a clear signal from four stations in the market.

Here's where reach and frequency come into play: To charge the rates they need to for audiences, TV networks do their best to track the number of people who actually watch. As more of us watch different things, the networks know they have to rely on huge events to get the reach they are looking for. Another way to amass "eyeballs" is to boost the frequency and get the same people to watch more often. Morning talk and news is the network's best chance to create brand loyalty. The mix of stories, the nature of the delivery, the ability to "like" the person delivering the information ... they all come into play.

For "Today" and NBC's ability to keep the same people who watch and to get them to watch more often, they need to have a team (cast) of people that the masses will tune in each day for. Guthrie is the network's latest attempt to keep people watching.

Packers Reporting: Those of you who regularly listen to Packers game broadcasts on the radio have an idea who Larry McCarren is. The former Packers lineman has been in the announcer's booth since 1995 and has been working with Wayne Larrivee since 1999. For some of you, like me, who catch enough TV in the Green Bay market, you may have seen McCarren's reporting for WFRV-TV Ch. 5, where he is the sports director. Now, when you are in Milwaukee, you can see his TV reporting on WTMJ-TV Ch. 4. The Packers Hall of Fame member will be contributing regular reports starting this season.

"Packers fans have enjoyed Larry's work on the radio for many years and will now have the chance to see his detailed analysis and reporting on television in Milwaukee and online from anywhere in the world," Journal Broadcast Group Executive Vice President Steve Wexler said in a statement.

Win Free Gas: Yep. If you are a follower of area TV stations on Facebook, you can't miss the newest banner WDJT-TV Ch. 58 posted in its page here.

Contests, giveaways and other ways-to-win campaigns are commonplace for local TV and radio outlets. It's nothing new to create something to get people to pay attention to what a broadcast outlet has to offer. However, in the social media space, because of the opportunity to interact with an audience, just about every outlet in our market gives away something. It's become pretty common.

I'm not sure the newest photo by the CBS 58 staff fits within Facebook's rules regarding cover images, while the app used for the contest clearly abides by the rules. I have to admit though, the huge "GAS" did catch my attention, probably for my inner fourth-grade humor level alone.

Magazine TV Producers Sad: I could hear weeping when news came out Tuesday that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have reached a settlement in their divorce. You see, the producers of celebrity-driven magazine shows like "Access," "Entertainment Tonight," "Insider" and others would have loved a long, drawn-out court proceeding to help fuel headlines and ratings for a number of more months. Since word of the celebrity split, the story has been a segment daily for each of these shows. Most of us don't care, but I'm sure there are producers out there who are sad that they will have to "work" and find another story to cover.



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