Breezy 'Right This Minute,' Showcasing Web Videos, Blows Into More Markets

5:00 AM PST 09/04/2012 by Alex Ben Block

It isn’t in New York or L.A., but the year-old show backed by three station groups often beats competitors like Dr. Oz and Anderson -- on a much lower budget.

Right This Minute, a fast paced, breezy twice-daily half hour show which showcases Internet videos with viral potential, still isn’t in New York or Los Angeles, but will kick off its second year September 10 by expanding into seven more markets including Detroit, Denver and San Diego.

That will put it in 45 U.S. TV markets, reaching about 30 percent of all TV homes. That isn’t impressive by the standards of  daytime competitors Dr. Phil and Judge Judy, which reach virtually every American TV set, but Right This Minute has shown impressive growth -- and in its markets has frequently matched or beaten those shows in the Nielsen ratings.

To understand why, view Right This Minute as every TV syndicator’s worst nightmare. It is a show produced in Arizona by MagicDust Television for far less than what shows like Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus or Anderson cost, so it doesn’t need to make as much to show a profit.

Also, Right This Minute isn’t from any of major producer-distributor. It is backed by three TV station groups - Cox Media, Raycom Media and E.W. Scripps – who air it on their own stations in places like Seattle, Cleveland and Baltimore instead of shelling out for more expensive syndicated fare.

“These are forward thinking (station) groups that are not looking to replace everything coming out of Hollywood by any stretch of the imagination,” says TV industry veteran Phil Alvidrez, general manager of MagicDust Television, “but to add to the mix some programming that they can own a piece of, that they can have an investment in and that they might be able to eventually make a return on beyond their own stations.”

Right This Minute prides itself on finding videos on the web before they go viral and introducing them to their web-savvy audience. For instance, one recent show spotlighted college student Lexi De Forest ,who broke her ankle while hiking and was stranded on a mountain in Wyoming. At the time they aired it, the video had been viewed 250 times. They tracked down Lexi, and interviewed her on-air. The video then went viral and now has over 403,728 views.

The show, which unveils a new set this fall, features personable, experienced but not high-profile anchors Beth Troutman, a former TV producer, newscaster and congressional candidate; Christian Vera, who worked at E!, KTLA and in Spanish TV; and Nick Calderone, a producer, multi-media journalist and documentarian; along with Gayle Bass and Steven Fabian. It is produced by Dennis O’Neill and former TMZ producer Lisa Hudson.

Alvidrez says MagicDust is considering a syndication company to roll out Right This Minute more widely. It currently airs on only one station not owned or controlled by the station group partners but could begin to expand by fall 2013.

“That’s certainly our hope,” said Alvidrez, “that this show will grow from the partner base we have now to be a show that appears on a lot of other station groups. The economic model then will begin to be not only a good one for the partners but will also begin to make a return on the investment.”

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Alvidrez said one thing that separates Right This Minute from its competitors is that it produces 520 fresh half hour shows a year, at the pace of two a day – even on holidays -  while most syndicated shows create originals no more than about 40 weeks a year (relying on re-runs the rest of the time).

Most impressive is the performance of Right This Minute in San Francisco, where it airs on Fox affiliate KTVU at 9 a.m. and again at 9:30 a.m. frequently pulling a larger audience than better-known shows scattered through the day such as Ellen, Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

“The success of RTM proves that there is a real appetite for this type of content as a new generation enjoys watching fresh new video from all over the world,” said Bill Hoffman, executive vp, Cox Media Group.

“The audience is responding to the immediacy and relevancy of the show,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vp of TV for E.W. Scripps.

“We are an alternative and we are beating a lot of shows with bigger budgets,” said Alvidrez. “And the show is getting better the longer we do it. It is finding its voice. As it goes into the second season, I think it will look better, sharper and crisper because we have learned a lot.

“We’re on the cutting edge,” added Alvidrez, “of a slice of journalism that resonates with more and more viewers.”

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