Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and P&G (NYSE:PG) are fed up with the violence and sexual content in television programs. The Wall Street Journal reports that they have joined forces to create a two-hour TV special that will run on NBC in April. The title of the program is “Secrets of the Mountain.” The paper reports that be based on characters and plot will be based on themes which include “generosity, honesty and togetherness.”
Wal-Mart will sell DVDs of the program in its stores. If the test is successful, two of the world’s largest marketers will create similar content.
The real risk in the project is cost. Network television time is expensive, although the cost of a few programs per year will not burden the marketing budgets of the two giant companies–at first. If Wal-Mart and P&G elect to continue creating feature-length content in any volume, the costs could go well into the tens of millions of dollars.
The other risk that companies face is that TV viewers may believe that the two companies are “manipulating” programming and taking time away from producers who create content based on the interests of the broader public. Wal-Mart and P&G could hurt their reputations by taking time that would otherwise go to programs that the network approves based on commercial appeal.
Wal-Mart and P&G may well be able to get large numbers of programs on the air, but they do so at the risk of “sanitizing” network TV.
Douglas A. McIntyre