The average network morning shows pop up on your screens bright and early and are full of overly-chipper hosts as they attempt to live up to the obligatory pleasantry that it is, indeed, a “good morning.” As a result, the disturbingly dystopic dealings of hard news tends to be mixed with fluff stories. A recent look at morning shows revealed the programs spend a lot of time plugging other projects connected to the network.

In what was described as “an experiment,” the staff at THR took time to watch the morning shows on the big three: ABC, CBS and NBC. They spent their time watching the respective 7-9 a.m. ET broadcasts from March 9-13, collecting data showcasing just how much time each show would devote to news versus other activities like self-adulation and inter-corporate project promotions. Unsurprisingly, across the board, a large percent of the two observed hours of the broadcast appear to be devoted to fluffing and plugging.

The findings of the study showed some notable nuances on the same basic strategies across the March 9-13 period.

frozen ABC: Good Morning America
This show apparently fulfilled its role as a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, with a serious block of programming devoted to material related to Cinderella, Frozen Fever, as well as network peers like The Bachelor. They would take the corporate synergy crown of the big three, devoting a whopping 36:30 minutes of the 2 hour block to the practice.

csi cyber CBS: This Morning
Somewhat less blatant in their approach, they would still devote a great deal of time to promotions for their show, CSI: Cyber and the network’s March Madness coverage. Plus, the stake the company has in the upcoming Mayweather/Pacquiao mega-fight also showed itself, seeing as the fight’s $250 million deal involved the CBS property, Showtime. 26:12 minutes of corporate synergy would be their tally.

parks and rec NBC:Today
Undoubtedly, the show put together the most diverse cross-promo strategies; especially since the E! network and its culture-coarsening programming are firmly within the NBCUniversal family. Promos for E! shows like The Royals and E! Fashion Police were mixed with internal plugging for Parks and Recreation and Dateline. Yet, at 21:45 minutes, they take the bottom spot in synergy. However, they also make up for that deficit with significant devotion to dogs and cats stories and they were the only one of the big three to cover missing women stories within the research session.

So, what's up with synergy? Citing a 2011 program implemented by NBCUniversal CEO, Steve Burke called “Project Symphony,” the report focuses on the idea of corporate synergy. Apparently, Burke’s mandate as the then-new head of the corporation was to ensure that every aspect of the brands existing under the corporate NBCU umbrella serves to help promote the other like some mandated media Mobius strip.

I suppose these findings aren’t exactly world-shattering to the generalized view of the “subsidiary” system of mass media. However, the study does manage to make clear that the big three networks have crafted cross-promotions to a smiling, “synergistic” science.
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