SBJ/November 19-25, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Unleash the hounds: NBC adds prime-time airing for dog show

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Terry Lefton
Thanks to a lockout that has claimed more than a quarter of the NHL season and the Winter Classic, you won’t see any NHL hockey on NBC or NBC Sports Network any time soon.

However, the Peacock Network is airing The National Dog Show twice over this holiday weekend, including in a new prime-time slot on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

For the past 10 years, America’s most-watched dog show has held down a spot on NBC from noon to 2 p.m. ET on Turkey Day. Helped by a lead-in of NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the National Dog Show has performed like a champion, averaging a 5.3 rating and 19 million viewers. By way of comparison, the NHL regular season averaged a 1.0 rating and 1.58 million viewers on NBC last year. The Winter Classic was tops in the regular season, earning a 2.1 rating and 3.733 million viewers.

The National Dog Show has become a Thanksgiving afternoon tradition on NBC.
Photo by: NATIONAL DOG SHOW
With NBC’s mystical series “Grimm” ending its fall season last Friday because of an early start right after NBC’s Olympic coverage, the network was looking for some programming on the Friday after Thanksgiving — so a doggie encore for the 177 breeds on display at this year’s show was set for prime time. Advertisers include presenting sponsor Purina, which gets vignettes and enhancements, along with retailers that are locked out of the Macy’s broadcast — including JCPenney, Kohl’s and Petco. Additional advertisers include Microsoft and Smucker’s.

“It has kind of become the little engine that could,’’ said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, recalling colleagues’ barking in meetings and kidding about the “Doggie Olympics” when he first proposed the idea after watching the cult movie hit “Best in Show” in 2002. “We’re happy to help out our entertainment division.”

Miller was reluctant to predict a rating for the dog show’s move to prime time. And while the show hasn’t quite become the holiday staple that the

Macy’s parade is, Miller said, “It’s reached the point where I have 30-somethings telling me they’ve watched the dog show on Thanksgiving since they were a little kid. That can’t be true, but I’m not correcting them.”

> INDUSTRY MARCH: We have long said that the annual March of Dimes sports luncheon has more top-level sports marketers per square foot than any industry gathering. So anyone looking to influence the industry may never find a better room than the Waldorf-Astoria, which will host the 29th annual March of Dimes event on Nov. 28. As such, Allstate, looking to keep mayhem to a minimum, is back as presenting sponsor, while Anheuser-Busch is the luncheon sponsor.

No, we can’t figure out the difference either.

Also sponsoring the event at a top level is pretty much every sports league you can name, along with American Airlines, HBO Sports, the New York Mets and SportsNet NY, NBC Sports, YES Network, Turner Sports, and commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

This year’s luncheon will honor New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg with a Sports Leadership Award, which comes amid the controversy surrounding the cancellation of this year’s NYC Marathon. MLB Network President and CEO Tony Petitti will receive an award for corporate leadership. On the athlete side, beach volleyballers Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, each of whom has three Olympic gold medals, will share Sportswoman of the Year. Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin will be honored as Sportsman of the Year.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Molly Mullady Arbogast rejoins the Philadelphia Eagles as vice president, corporate partnership development. Since working for the team from 2000 to 2006 as director of new business development, Arbogast has been vice president of business development at the WNBA and, most recently, senior director of business development at Learfield Sports. … Stu Crystal, MLS vice president of marketing and consumer products, has quietly departed the league after 12 years. The handwriting on the wall presaging that move has been evident since February, when MLS hired Maribeth Towers to the new position of senior vice president of consumer products. Crystal, a former Starter and Adidas marketer, is consulting and looking at new opportunities.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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