In Broadcast Booking Wars, A Shift In Power

By Alex Weprin Comment

TV news booking wars are nothing new, but on the broadcast side of things there is something of a tidal shift. With “Good Morning America” topping “Today,” and most networks now reluctant to give big payouts for exclusive stories, the big “gets” are less predictable.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Marisa Guthrie and Alex Ben Block take the recent dustup between CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg and parlay it into a story of how the times are a changing.

Today recently lost Amanda Knox, the student who was jailed in Italy for the stabbing death of her roommate, to ABC. Sources say NBC’s Matt Lauer was working hard to land Knox, whose memoir hits April 30, the same day ABC rolls out Diane Sawyer‘s Knox interview across broadcasts including GMA and a primetime special. “I have had at least two book publishers tell me that they think Diane Sawyer sells books,” says one source, citing her 2012 sit-down with kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard, whose memoir sold close to 200,000 on its release date.

And while exposure matters, bookings often come down to an emotional connection with the anchor. “Jaycee felt Diane’s empathy” when the two met as part of the courting process, says Dugard’s publicist Nancy Seltzer.

Book promotion is the new “licensing fee,” and ABC is more game to provide coverage on multiple programs and platforms than NBC has been.