ABC Snags Sponsors for 2003-04 HDTV Season

ABC sealed sponsorship deals with Zenith and Sears for its 2003-04 primetime season. Like last year, Zenith will provide exclusive HD sponsorship for ABC's scripted series and movies. Sears will be HD sponsor for ABC's NFL "Monday Night Football." Zenith and Sears will be identified on billboards that appear at the start of their respectively sponsored programs.

ABC will serve up more than 800 hours of HD programming in 2003-04, or about 17 hours per week for the 100-plus ABC stations that are broadcasting in HD. Among series that the network is making available in HD: Primetime series that will be broadcast in HDTV include: "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," "I'm with Her," "According to Jim," "Less than Perfect," "NYPD Blue," "My Wife and Kids," "It's All Relative," "Karen Sisco," "Threat Matrix," "George Lopez," "Married to the Kellys" "Hope & Faith," "Life with Bonnie" "The Wonderful World of Disney" "L.A. Dragnet," "10-8," "Alias," "The Practice" and "ABC Movie of the Week."

A total of 14 NFL games are on the HD docket for the season.

Zenith and Sears chiefs see the sponsorships as an opportunity to sell TV sets. T.J. Lee, president and CEO of Zenith, said the deal fits in nicely with the company's existing marketing plan. Sears executive vice president and chief customer and marketing officer, Janine Bousquette, said noted that Sears offers nine brands of HD sets.