Michael interview rakes in advertising moolah

LOS ANGELES: Ever wonder why the media goes into a feeding frenzy over the weird and wacky ways of reclusive pop icon Michael Jackson? It could also be in part due to the kind of advertising TV networks that showcase the superstar pull in.

The latest documentary on the tragi-comic charecter has certainly been no different. British broadcaster Granada's Living with Michael Jackson comes a good seven year's after his last interview in 1995 with Diane Sawyer. He and then wife, Lisa Marie Presley were both featured on it. Since the Sawyer appearance, Jackson hasn't done an extensive interview with an American television network.

ABC, which bagged the rights to Living with Michael Jackson after a fierce bidding war with NBC, is expected to rake in more than $10 million for the show that aired on prime time in the US on Thursday. Certainly makes the $5 million that ABC coughed up for the 90-minute interview seem less outrageous now.

Granada's airing of the documentary in the UK netted an average of 14 million viewers on Monday, around double the usual UK viewer figures for entertainment programmes.

The documentary, consisting of exclusive interviews conducted by British journalist Martin Bashir over eight months with the reclusive star, peaked at 15 million viewers, giving it 54 per cent of the TV audience.

Michael has been quoted as saying he felt "devastated and betrayed" by Bashir's portrayal.

In the case of ABC, advertisers have paid more than $250,000 for each of the 30-second spots during the show, say media reports.

The two-hour telecast had about 20 minutes of network advertising as against the Indian average of 28-36 minutes of advertising in a two-hour period.

Media reports say Michael's interview with Oprah Winfrey averaged 63 million viewers in 1993 and his Sawyer interview earned 38 million viewers in 1995.

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