Operation Prime Time
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Operation Prime Time
Operation Prime Time
Typeoccasional television network
Country
United States
Founded1976; 45 years ago (1976)
by Al Masini
SloganOperation Prime Time for better programming
Key people
Al Masini
Launch date
1976; 45 years ago (1976)
Dissolved1987; 34 years ago (1987)

Operation Prime Time (OPT) was a consortium of American independent television stations to develop prime time programming for independent stations. OPT and its spin-off syndication company, Television Program Enterprises (TPE), were formed by Al Masini. During its existence, OPT was considered the de facto fourth television network.[1][2][3][4][5] OPT was also called an occasional television network[6][7] and occasional program alternative.[8]

OPT inspired syndication and network models that arose in later years, such as The Disney Afternoon, Prime Time Entertainment Network and today's MyNetworkTV.[]

Operations

Unlike the standard network advertising split, where the stations got the bulk of the ad time with the collective network only receiving one or two minutes of the dozen minutes available to sell, the OPT ad time would be sold at 1/3 of network rates or about $40,000 per half minute with the profits going back to the stations.[7]

Background

With primarily only Big Three television networks providing new programming to TV stations in the 1970s, the unaffiliated stations had little network level quality programming to offer to advertisers. Producers of TV programs were also looking for an alternative to the standard network set up that paid the producers about three fourths of the production costs thus the show would only make money for the production company if it made enough episodes to place into rerun syndication. Advertisers were looking for new advertising outlets due to rising network ad costs with a 30% increase in 1977. Networks' income increased 143% from 1969 to 1974 while network payments to affiliates decreased by 2%.[7]

History

Al Masini, who represented 18 stations for advertising sales through his company TeleRep, discussed the independent stations' problem with other independent stations after a broadcast media meeting in February 1976.[7] Determined to offer an alternative, Masini rounded up a steering committee to form the new venture. Initial members of the committee included Shelly Cooper, General Manager of WGN-TV Chicago, Rich Frank of KCOP-TV Los Angeles,[7] and representatives of KTVU, WPIX and KSTW.[8] At the next broadcaster convention, the committee met to develop the details. The OPT committee then contacted Frank Price of Universal Television[9] for the first program. Price offered Taylor Caldwell's novel Testimony of Two Men as a miniseries with Universal taking on a fifth of the production cost.[7] The committee was initially able to get 22 independent and 53 network-affiliated stations to sign on to OPT.[8]

Advertisers like General Foods and Bristol-Myers abandoned the rival potential fourth network, Metromedia's MetroNet, for OPT, based on Metromedia's near Big 3 network cost per thousand viewers advertising cost and OPT reaching 80% of the country. Masini eventually lined up 93 stations, 73 of which were affiliates of ABC, NBC or CBS; of those affiliated with a network, these affiliates had to preempt part of their regular network prime time programming to make room for specials from OPT. KCOP's broadcast of Testimony of Two Men first installment got a 16 rating and the second installment got an 18, well over their standard 4 rating, but in May, a traditional rerun period for the networks.[7]

Prime Time planned three book adaptions for their shows to air in May, July and November or December 1978 with two of them being John Jakes's The Bastard and The Rebels[10] leading the way for the rest of the book series that OPT optioned including two then currently being written. Martin Gosch's and Richard Hammer's The Last Testimony of Lucky Luciano was the third adaptation scheduled for 1978.[11]

The last time the Operation Prime Time name was used was at the end of 1986, when the Fox Broadcasting Company was barely on the air. At that point, it was just The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers; they didn't launch prime time programming until the spring of 1987. Ultimately, the arrival of Fox as well as original programming for cable networks and stations would eventually make the OPT business model obsolete.

List of programs produced by OPT

Its initial programs were miniseries including adaptations of Testimony of Two Men and Son of the Captains and the Kings, the sequel to the 1976 NBC miniseries Captains and the Kings, also adapted from a novel by Caldwell.[7] OPT also distributed the animated Christmas special Yogi's First Christmas.

The most successful program from both OPT and TPE was, and still is, Entertainment Tonight, now produced and distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Other programs included Solid Gold,[12] Star Search,[13][14] and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.[] It could be common place for OPT's weekly series to be divided between two network affiliates and run mainly on weekends in off hours. In a given market, the local CBS station might carry Entertainment Tonight (in the prime-access slot), Solid Gold, and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous while the ABC affiliate had Star Search.

Stations

See also

References

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  77. ^ WSB The Key to Rebecca promo, 1985 on YouTube
  78. ^ "Retro: DC/Baltimore/Delmarva Tues, May 3, 1977". Radio Discussions. May 3, 2013.
  79. ^ "Retro:Birmingham, Monday, September 17, 1984". Radio Discussions. August 27, 2011.
  80. ^ "Retro: Western Massachusetts Sun, Aug 24, 1980". Radio Discussions. August 24, 2009.
  81. ^ "Boston, MA - Independence Day 1980". Radio Discussions. July 3, 2005.
  82. ^ "RETRO BOSTON/PROVIDENCE TV- THANKSGIVING 1983". Radio Discussions. September 22, 2006.
  83. ^ "MAINE TV- Monday May 3, 1982". Radio Discussions. October 6, 2006.
  84. ^ "RETRO BOSTON/PROVIDENCE/NEW HAMPSHIRE TV- SUMMER 1984". Radio Discussions. May 10, 2006.
  85. ^ "Retro: Hendersonville, NC, Tuesday, April 7, 1981". Radio Discussions. March 11, 2017.
  86. ^ "Retro: Central & Southern Indiana/Eastern Illinois Mon, Sept 27, 1982". Radio Discussions. September 27, 2011.
  87. ^ "Retro: South Florida, Tue. August 9th, 1983". Radio Discussions. December 1, 2013.
  88. ^ "Retro: Kentucky Wednesday, December 2, 1981". Radio Discussions. December 1, 2011.
  89. ^ "Retro: Eugene, Oregon, Tuesday, May 27, 1986". Radio Discussions. March 27, 2019.
  90. ^ "Kentucky Tuesday, December 1, 1981". Radio Discussions. November 28, 2010.
  91. ^ "Retro: Southern Ohio Monday, October 15, 1979". Radio Discussions. October 15, 2012.
  92. ^ "Billy Graham Crusades, Southern Ohio Edition, Nov 30-Dec 2, 1978". Radio Discussions. October 10, 2006.
  93. ^ WKBD Detroit: 1984 8 O'Clock Movie Promo: Blood Feud on YouTube
  94. ^ "Retro: Detroit, Sun. July 31st, 1988". Radio Discussions. October 15, 2016.
  95. ^ "Retro: Gulf Coast Fri, Sept 14, 1984". Radio Discussions. September 14, 2009.
  96. ^ "Retro: Little Rock and surrounding area Thursday, May 26, 1977". Radio Discussions. May 19, 2007.
  97. ^ "Retro: Fort Wayne and South Bend, Wednesday, September 12, 1984". Radio Discussions. February 19, 2017.
  98. ^ "Retro: Dallas/Ft. Worth Thursday, July 12, 1984". Radio Discussions. January 21, 2008.
  99. ^ "Retro: Fort Wayne and South Bend, Wednesday, September 12, 1984". Radio Discussions. January 21, 2008.
  100. ^ "Retro: Spartanburg, SC, Sunday, July 12, 1987". Radio Discussions. March 31, 2019.
  101. ^ "Retro: Pittsburgh, Wednesday, December 19, 1984". Radio Discussions. December 10, 2018.
  102. ^ "Retro: Lexington, MO, Monday, January 6, 1981". Radio Discussions. January 9, 2020.
  103. ^ "Retro: Kansas City/Topeka/St. Joseph Mon, Oct 29, 1984". Radio Discussions. October 29, 2009.
  104. ^ "Retro: Kansas City/Topeka/St. Joseph Sun, Oct 28, 1984". Radio Discussions. October 28, 2010.
  105. ^ "Retro: Louisiana--Thu, Aug 23, 1984--daytime". Radio Discussions. August 22, 2009.
  106. ^ "Retro: Southern Michigan Mon., June 2, 1980". Radio Discussions. June 12, 2014.
  107. ^ "Retro: Toledo/Detroit/Cleveland/Fort Wayne Saturday August 4, 1984". Radio Discussions. August 22, 2009.
  108. ^ KCOP's L.A. Theatre: March, 1982 Commercial Break on YouTube
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  110. ^ "Retro: Los Angeles VHFs, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 1982". Radio Discussions. July 28, 2011.
  111. ^ "KTLA Los Angeles, February 22-28, 1986". Radio Discussions. September 18, 2005.
  112. ^ "Retro: Tuesday, September 30, 1986, Milwaukee, WI Independents WVTV 18 and WCGV 24". Radio Discussions. May 21, 2014.
  113. ^ Solid Gold Hits 1984 WVTV Promo on YouTube
  114. ^ "Retro: Louisiana--Thu, Aug 23, 1984--evening". Radio Discussions. August 22, 2009.
  115. ^ "RETRO: Philadelphia/Scranton/New York - December 11, 1979". Radio Discussions. September 23, 2009.
  116. ^ "Retro: Reading/Philadelphia, Monday, May 3, 1982". Radio Discussions. May 1, 2019.
  117. ^ "Retro: Boston/Manchester/Providence Mon, May 2, 1983". Radio Discussions. June 15, 2009.
  118. ^ "Retro: Reading/Philadelphia, Thursday, May 9, 1985". Radio Discussions. March 3, 2019.
  119. ^ "Cable Superstations, Monday, November 4, 1985". Radio Discussions. July 16, 2011.
  120. ^ "New York TV- Fall 1986". Radio Discussions. September 27, 2005.
  121. ^ WPIX, Munsters Next, "Goliath Awaits" Promo on YouTube
  122. ^ "Operation Prime Time". Radio Discussions. July 20, 2015.
  123. ^ "Retro:SF Bay Area, Friday, June 19, 1987". Radio Discussions. May 11, 2010.
  124. ^ KTVU Jenny's War promo, 1985 on YouTube
  125. ^ "Retro: Nebraska/Central-East South Dakota/Sioux City Sat, July 4, 1987". Radio Discussions. July 12, 2010.
  126. ^ The Top of the Hill 1980 TV promo on YouTube
  127. ^ "MAINE TV- Friday December 21, 1984". Radio Discussions. October 6, 2006.
  128. ^ "MAINE TV- Tuesday December 22, 1987". Radio Discussions. October 7, 2006.
  129. ^ Yogi's First Christmas -- KPTV Promo on YouTube
  130. ^ "BOSTON/PROVIDENCE TV- Friday May 13, 1977". Radio Discussions. November 15, 2005.
  131. ^ "Retro: Central Virginia 9/13/78". Radio Discussions. October 11, 2005.
  132. ^ "Retro: Western Illinois, Monday, May 28, 1979". Radio Discussions. June 22, 2014.
  133. ^ "Retro: Tampa Bay TV - December 1-5, 1980 - Commercial Stations". Radio Discussions. June 8, 2013.
  134. ^ "Retro: This Week in TV Guide, May 2, 1981 - MSP Edition". Radio Discussions. May 8, 2014.
  135. ^ "Retro: Southern California Mon, Aug 16, 1982". Radio Discussions. August 27, 2003.
  136. ^ "Retro: Albany/Schenectady/Troy, Friday, July 6, 1984". Radio Discussions. July 8, 2018.
  137. ^ "Retro: Seattle/Vancouver, Wednesday, October 29, 1986". Radio Discussions. December 13, 2016.
  138. ^ Solid Gold KSTW promo 1984 on YouTube
  139. ^ "Retro: Spokane, WA - Monday, December 20, 1982". Radio Discussions. September 12, 2012.
  140. ^ "Retro: Spokane, WA - Sunday, July 24, 1983". Radio Discussions. July 25, 2012.
  141. ^ "Retro: Meriden, CT, Sunday, December 22, 1985". Radio Discussions. January 12, 2019.
  142. ^ "Retro: St. Louis Thurs, Sept 13, 1984". Radio Discussions. September 10, 2010.
  143. ^ "Retro: Windsor, ON, Monday, October 7, 1985 (6PM/4AM)". Radio Discussions. August 19, 2017.
  144. ^ "Retro: North Carolina Thu., May 17, 1979". Radio Discussions. May 17, 2014.
  145. ^ "Retro: Hartford/Springfield, Wednesday, July 25, 1984". Radio Discussions. April 18, 2017.

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