[CHARLOTTETOWN, PE] — P.E.I. tourism officials met with four major U.S. television networks in New York earlier this year, but turned down pitches from CBS due to their high costs.
Tourism Deputy Minister David MacKenzie and Tourism P.E.I. Marketing Director Brenda Gallant traveled to New York City in February to meet with NBC and the Golf Channel and negotiate media ad buys during optimal air times.
While in town, they also met with ABC and CBS.
In an interview with The Guardian, Gallant said CBS pitched three proposals for television shows to travel to P.E.I., similar to Live with Regis and Kelly when it filmed episodes of their show in P.E.I.
Gallant would not say what TV shows specifically were pitched by CBS, but would only say they were too expensive compared to the returns they could provide.
"If the amount is too high for the value that we see, we just don't proceed with it, but we do want to keep the doors open because we are very fortunate to have these major networks who are willing to work with us," Gallant said.
This may put to rest speculation the CBS show The Amazing Race may be coming to P.E.I.
Gallant said Tourism P.E.I. is trying to encourage networks to use more integrated footage of P.E.I. into their productions as a more cost-effective way to promote and feature the Island on U.S. television.
The department was able to strike a deal with NBC to do just that with a television show called First Look, which appears on the NBC-owned LXTV. This luxury travel channel airs only in New York. As part of an advertising purchase deal between NBC and P.E.I., the network flew a small number of crew and the show's host to film last year's Fall Flavours in P.E.I. Because Tourism P.E.I. was buying ad time on the network, the department only had to foot the cost of meals and accommodations for the film crew, Gallant said.
"They basically didn't film the entire show here, but they took some clips which they then integrated into their show," she said. "We're looking for more of that kind of broadcast integration... where we're looking at (networks) taking a show and integrating Prince Edward Island footage into their show. That's what we were looking for from CBS and NBC."
The department did, however, spend $30,000 to bring Come Dine With Me Canada to film five episodes in P.E.I. this year. But Tourism Minister Robert Henderson called a good investment due to the 1.5 million viewers and its focus on food — one of the priorities identified in Tourism P.E.I. marketing strategy.
Gallant said this strategy was also considered when turning down the CBS proposals.
"We want to ensure whatever we're doing fits within the realm of what we've developed together with the industry as being the direction we want to go in," Gallant said. "It's never just financial, there are many other factors. It has to be a strategic fit, it has to be the right market, it has to be the right timing. There are many different criteria that we look at before we say yes to move forward with anything."