ION Media Networks Upfront Unveils Fresh Wave of New Programming, Attracting Boomer Demo via Unparalleled Distribution Platform
Partnership with RHI Brings Diverse Slate of Original and Quality Library Programming; "Killer Wave" to Debut in July, First of 12 Originals
High Growth for Primetime and Weekend Schedules; Track Record of Innovation in Digital and Mobile TV
Firebrand on ION: New Interactive Entertainment and Marketing Platform Features TV Advertising as Pop Culture, Weeknights 11 p.m. to Midnight
Special Appearances by Timothy Dalton, Darrell Hammond and F. Murray Abraham, Along With Beloved Performers from Classic Series: Vicki Lawrence of "Mama's Family," Tracey Gold of "Growing Pains," and Bronson Pinchot of "Perfect Strangers"
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- At its first upfront presentation as ION Media Networks, Inc. (AMEX:ION), the company today presented the advertising community with an impressive, multi-platform blend of hot new programming from RHI and Firebrand and the network's signature quality content. Led by ION CEO Brandon Burgess and President of Sales and Marketing Steve Appel, ION's presentation highlighted how the network's unparalleled national reach, strong programming and ongoing content and technology innovation can powerfully connect advertisers with audiences in the lucrative and growing "baby boomer" demographic.
Held today at the Prince George Ballroom in New York, the event also featured live appearances by Vicki Lawrence of "Mama's Family," Tracey Gold of "Growing Pains" and Bronson Pinchot of "Perfect Strangers." Veteran "SNL" comedian Darrell Hammond was on hand with a brief performance. Timothy Dalton and F. Murray Abraham were also in attendance.
"This is an exciting time for ION, and we look forward to updating the advertising community on the dramatic programming and content changes we've instituted across our distribution network," said Mr. Burgess. "In addition to our success in growing our weekday primetime ratings with our signature quality programming, our partnership with RHI brings exclusive original content and award-winning library titles that will attract even more consumers."
Leveraging its national network of over 60 stations reaching more than 92 million households in an advantageous channel position (95 percent under Channel 32), ION Television is hitting new milestones in creating and deploying content relevant to its lucrative target demographic. Compared to the first quarter of last year, the network's weekday primetime average is up 37 percent in households for the first quarter 2007, reaching its highest ratings ever with target audiences.
"ION Television is a unique platform for advertisers to reach the adult 35-64 demographic � a powerful consumer group wielding over $3 trillion in purchasing power," said Mr. Appel. "Our growth has been a phenomenal 26 percent this year compared with declines for our key competitors. And with the exciting programming we're adding, we see that momentum continuing and accelerating."
Mr. Appel showcased how ION's signature quality programming is creating value for advertisers by expanding an audience that is growing, affluent, culturally influential and digitally connected. The strength of classic programming like "The Wonder Years," "Charlie's Angels," "The A-Team," "Alice" and "Diagnosis Murder" � among many others � is demonstrated in strong audience growth � especially in adults ages 25-54, which experienced a 31 percent gain in Monday to Sunday primetime. And new programming deals are on the horizon. Stay tuned!
The centerpiece of the presentation was an explosive new programming partnership with RHI Entertainment, the award-winning producer and distributor of groundbreaking miniseries and movies for television. RHI's exciting lineup of programming for ION will include the creation of exclusive original programming as well as quality library titles. The first of a promised 12 originals per year is "Killer Wave," a political-thriller miniseries featuring a multi billion-dollar conspiracy that will have audiences at the edge of their seats.
"'Killer Wave' is the first miniseries event that we will be premiering on ION Television," said Robert Halmi, Jr., President and CEO of RHI Entertainment. "This is a big action production completely in the vein of our other recent successes in previous seasons. We look forward to elevating the weekend ratings of our new network partner ION with these original productions."
The upfront included a sneak peek at ION's partnership with Firebrand, a first-of-its-kind multi-platform experience that gives consumers interactive access to their favorite brands, products and promotions, set to launch in the fall. Firebrand programs only the best TV commercials as a reflection of pop culture in an environment rich with consumer touch points.
ION also highlighted its leadership and innovation in digital and mobile digital broadcasting. The company has launched exciting new digital TV brands, including qubo, a television and multimedia network for children formed in partnership with Scholastic, Corus Entertainment, Classic Media and NBC Universal, and ION Life, a television and multimedia network dedicated to health and wellness for consumers and families.
More recently, ION Media spearheaded the movement toward accelerating the development of mobile digital broadcast TV. Through the formation of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, the company, along with numerous other broadcasters, is leading the way in realizing the full potential of the digital broadcast TV spectrum via handheld and portable devices, to reach consumers wherever they are.
About ION Media Networks
ION Media Networks, Inc. owns and operates the nation's largest broadcast television station group and ION Television, reaching over 90 million U.S. television households via its nationwide broadcast television, cable and satellite distribution systems. ION Television currently features popular television series and movies from the award-winning libraries of Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Television, CBS Television and NBC Universal. In addition, the network has partnered with RHI Entertainment, which owns over 4,000 hours of acclaimed television content, to provide high-quality primetime programming beginning June 2007. Utilizing its digital multicasting capability, ION Media Networks has launched several new digital TV brands, including qubo, a television and multimedia network for children formed in partnership with Scholastic, Corus Entertainment, Classic Media and NBC Universal, as well as ION Life, a television and multimedia network dedicated to health and wellness for consumers and families. For more information, please visit www.ionmedia.tv.