Reelz broadcast of Miss USA welcomed, but Baton Rouge’s ROI still in question

This morning’s announcement by independent cable and satellite network Reelz that it has acquired the rights to broadcast the Miss USA pageant live from Baton Rouge was certainly welcomed by city-parish and state officials—who are providing the pageant $545,000—but it didn’t elicit the kind of celebratory statements that came with the initial news that the pageant was returning to Baton Rouge and would be broadcast globally by NBC.

In fact, no city-parish officials released any kind of statements about it. Mayor Kip Holden tweeted the news but didn’t comment on it. Visit Baton Rouge didn’t issue any kind of release or statement, nor did Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, the state’s chief tourism officer.

Metro Councilman John Delgado, who on Tuesday called on city-parish officials to suspend payments to the pageant, tells Daily Report this afternoon there’s no question the news of the Reelz broadcast is welcome. However, Delgado says, there’s also no question that Reelz is no NBC, and its broadcast won’t have anywhere near the reach of NBC.

“Obviously, something is better than nothing,” he says. “I’m glad Reelz was willing to step forward and help not only Baton Rouge, but the women in the pageant who have been put out by all this, but it’s a fairly small news media outlet. So, it’s very welcome news, but are we still going to get what were promised? The answer is no.”

Last year’s broadcast by NBC reached about 70 countries. The broadcast was estimated to be worth $20 million in supporting documents that Metro Council members were provided when they voted to approve a $280,000 allocation to the pageant.

According to the Reelz website, its broadcast reach is about 70 million homes via DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS TV, Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse. Among the carriers that don’t carry Reelz is Cox, which has the largest share of subscribers in the Baton Rouge area.

“So the majority of people in Baton Rouge won’t be able to watch the pageant despite the fact that it’s being held here,” Delgado notes.

—Steve Sanoski

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