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Nielsen Media Group reported Sunday night that 65% of all Philadelphia-area senior citizens were affixed to CBS 3 from 4 PM ET through the end of primetime, making the Delaware Valley one of the networks best victories on an otherwise slow Sunday of programming. Analysts are crediting the network's success to ch. 3's repeated promotion of the program block as "Celek 'n' Selleck Sunday", aggressively marketing the chance programming coincidence of TE Brent Celek and the Eagles being sandwiched around AARP favorite 60 Minutes and a Tom Selleck Jesse Stone movie usually marketed exclusively to the elderly, those living alone, and/or despondent people with no remaining will to live.
According to network executives, the early indicators were highly impressive for the 1-2-3 punch in Philadelphia: "We thought it would be a novel idea, since the names are so similar, but we never expected this," said CBS 3 Programming Director Jim Webb. "60 Minutes always plays well among the elderly, but even they usually don't watch those awful Jesse Stone movies, so we needed to get creative. Brent Celek's surname really came through for us."
"The fact that Jesse Stone was coming on 2 days after Christmas made things worse," Webb said, "because people who otherwise would have examined their miserable, loveless lives and decided to watch Jesse Stone before committing suicide felt better about themselves because they were with relatives for the holiday. And the people who weren't with someone were so depressed they were going to kill themselves before Jesse Stone came on. We couldn't win."
And CBS affiliates didn't in many markets. However, the realization that the Eagles-Broncos game directly preceded 60 Minutes led to an inspired marketing campaign.
"We thought about it over eggnog and rum, and one of our interns said, 'isn't it weird that the Eagles have a guy named Celek and we're running a movie by another guy named Selleck on the same night?' Brilliant - and from the mouths of babes, as they say. From that point, we simply organized a quick set of promos. Like I said, we knew it was inspired, but also the ultimate success has been a pleasant surprise."
Nielsen noted that while there is some crossover between elderly football fans and 60 Minutes viewers, with some managing to stay awake through whatever crap CBS airs after the venerated news program, older viewers mostly concentrated strictly on 60 Minutes' timeslot. But in Philadelphia, Webb's gambit paid big dividends, with huge increases to the 4 PM slot due to a rare CBS appearance by the Eagles (complete with a 47-yard TD by Celek himself), and the crossover promotion with the Jesse Stone movie.
Concluded Webb, "I guess they tuned in for the Eagles, heard 'Celek', and thought 'Selleck'? Or maybe they thought the Eagles game was part of the Jesse Stone story, with 60 Minutes on during the intermission? The elderly are pretty easy to confuse that way. Whatever the reason, though, I'm glad we were able to put together such a strong showing this week."
"Now, anybody know what in the hell we're going to do about that goddamn Hallmark Hall of Fame movie next Sunday?"