Sunday, March 25, 2018


It's become untenable to keep up with the blog regularly, so I've instead turned to retweeting stories at the @N4TVM twitter feed rather than posting here. I may get back to it some day, but for now, this site has become an archive rather than an active blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Doctor Who Activism

Rachel Talalay describes her experience of a powerful #MeToo panel moment at the Doctor Who Gallifrey One convention. Meanwhile, a sector of the Doctor Who fandom is raising money to combat gun violence.

Standout TV Cinematography

Jake Nevins talked with cinematographers from Atlanta, Transparent, Altered Carbon, Insecure, and Glow about how they make their shows look so good.

The Bachelor's Ratings

Kate Aurthur criticizes The Bachelor for an exploitative finale, which did bring ratings results.

Life on YouTube

Joe Zadeh profiles a professional YouTuber and his daily life of online labor. And Todd C. Frankel explains why it's so hard to make a living as a YouTuber.

Epix OTT

Epix is planning to launch a standalone streaming service for its premium cable content.

Fighting For TV in the Net Neutrality Debate

Aymar Jean Christian explains why the repeal of net neutrality rules could be a death blow to independent TV creators.

Black Mirror Renewed

There will be a fifth season of Black Mirror on Netflix.

Fox News Victorious Over TVEyes

Fox News won a court ruling over a TV clip-sharing service and copyright, but there's probably more legal wrangling to come.

Talent Agency Conflicts of Interest

Following a Variety story on conflicts of interest as talent agencies move into production, the WGA West wants to drum up more information from its members.

TV & Digital Advertising

Alan Wolk calls for TV advertising to get more digitally-minded.

Roseanne's Marketing Campaign

Jason Lynch introduces us to Roseanne's nostalgia-themed marketing campaign, which includes a decked-out NYC subway train.

Univision's Upfronts

Univision is planning an immersive, experiential gathering for advertisers this year, rather than a traditional upfronts presentation.

Ad Reductions

NBCU announced a goal to cut prime-time ad loads by 20% across all of its channels. As Brian Steinberg writes: "NBCU’s commercial cutback shows the far-reaching effects the viewing habits of a rising generation of new-tech couch potatoes are having on the business of television." Will Richmond offers analysis of this move on his blog and in his podcast. Meanwhile, Fox Networks Group has also announced an ad reduction strategy, setting a target of two minutes per hour by 2020.

Sinclair's Shenanigans

Sinclair continues to amaze and astound with its latest plan to sell two stations but continue to operate them in order to get around FCC ownership rules. Sinclair is getting some pushback in Washington over its Tribune deal. Meanwhile, the company continues to scare viewers with "Terrorism Alert Desk" segments across its local stations.

de Havilland’s Lawsuit

Paul Brownfield details Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit against FX and Ryan Murphy Productions and considers its larger symbolism: "Few expect her to win, but the action is nonetheless reverberating as a kind of last stand against the current bricolage approach to facts."

Escobar's Fame

Jon Lee Anderson explores how Narcos and other pop culture depictions have helped lead to problematic posthumous celebrity for Pablo Escobar.

Jane the Virgin is a No-Guilt Pleasure

Emily Nussbaum revels in the joys of Jane the Virgin and decries the "guilty pleasure" characterization.

ESPN's New President

James Pitaro is will move from heading up Disney's consumer products and interactive media divisions to being president of ESPN. One thing he'll have on his plate is a sexual harassment and discrimination suit involving anchor John Buccigross.

Oscar Ratings

Ratings for the Oscars hit an all-time low, and Josef Adalian wonders how much that really matters.

Meanwhile, Ryan Seacrest's ratings on E! plunged substantially compared to last year.

Net Neutrality in Washington State

Washington has become the first state to institute its own net neutrality rules. In the article, Cecilia Kang notes that lawsuits over the issue are certainly also on their way.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Good TVeets

Merger Scale

Bruce Tuchman explains the logic of scale behind recent merger deals like Disney-Fox, AT&T-Time Warner, and Discovery-Scripps, the latter of which just received Department of Justice clearance.

Casting Diversity in 2018 Pilots

Joe Otterson says casting for this season's pilots could be as diverse as ever before.

ACR Data & Measurement's Future

Alan Wolk explains why ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) data offers a potentially revolutionary future direction for TV measurement.

New Flow Issues

Posts from the last two issues of Flow: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture:

Issue 24.5:

Issue 24.4

Szechuan Sauce is Back

McDoanld's is back with more Szechuan sauce for Rick & Morty fans, plus a podcast as a creative way to address the previous release gone awry.

Auditioning for MasterChef

Offering revealing reality TV details, Jessie Glenn details his experience of auditioning for MasterChef.

Starz's Strategy

Curt Wagner covers the executive and programming strategies Starz has used to accrue the second-highest number of premium channel subscribers: "Starz is securing its insurgency by putting even more women and people of color in charge, with new lanes of programming aimed at Latino, millennial and LGBTQ viewers."

Engaging With The Bachelor

Hannah Jewell explores the question of if watching The Bachelor makes you dumb, both from the perspective of science (an MRI!) and in terms of cultural judgments. And Kate Aurthur considers reasons why ratings are down for the current season.

M*A*S*H* Finale Oral History

Marc Freeman offers an oral history of the legendary M*A*S*H* series finale.

Facebook Problems

Mathew Ingram delves into Facebook's threat to journalism, while Wired's Antonio García Martínez uncovers how Trump's election campaign was able to take advantage of Facebook's ad system to buy many more ads at cheaper prices than Clinton's campaign.


The New York Times is reportedly developing a TV news program.

CBS Sports News Streamer

CBS has launched a streaming service for sports news called CBS Sports HQ. Peter Kafka has analysis.

Net Neutrality Update

The FCC officially published the repeal of net neutrality rules last week, opening the way for legal challenges. Senate Democrats insist they have a viable plan to rescue net neutrality.

 Meanwhile, a federal appeals court has ruled that the FTC can regulate ISPs, a win for Ajit Pai, who  was in Barcelona yesterday defending net neutrality repeal.

Comcast Bids for Sky

Comcast has thrown a monkey wrench into Rupert Murdoch's full takeover bid of Sky by making a bigger offer for the satellite service. Mark Sweney considers what this offer might mean for Murdoch and for Disney, and Bloomberg has analysis. Fox, Disney, and Comcast shares dropped on the news, while Sky's soared. Brian Stelter analyzes the CEO thinking behind Comcast's bid.

Monday, February 26, 2018

American Idol Sponsors

Brian Steinberg reports on Macy's and Johnson & Johnson getting on board as the major sponsors of ABC's American Idol.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations

A personal stylist that Ryan Seacrest employed at E! is speaking out with sexual abuse allegations against him, while the assistant whose claims of harassment and abuse helped to usher Jeffrey Tambor out of Transparent is also talking publicly. E! and ABC are standing by Seacrest.

Also this past week, USA Today released results of a survey of women in the entertainment industry and found an overwhelming volume of experiences of assault and harassment. Late Night writer Nell Scovell discusses her experiences of sexual discrimination in the workplace. The Television Academy has announced a new code of conduct pledging zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment.

Olympics Ratings

Guess the Olympics ratings for NBC are all in how you look at it, per these headlines:

Olympic Ratings, Boosted by Streaming, Barely Stumbled in Pyeongchang

Winter Olympics Ratings Were Down From 2014, but NBC Still Dominated Its Network Competition

2018 Winter Olympics Close Out as Least-Watched on Record, Down 7% From Sochi Games

NBC's $12 billion investment in the Olympics is looking riskier

Oliver Wins

John Oliver has emerged victorious from a defamation suit brought by a coal baron, though an appeal is coming.

Reboot Economics & Pressures

Michael O'Connell outlines the economic incentives driving TV's reboot craze, while creators try to focus on making good shows. Robert Lloyd also assesses the trend.

Deals Updates

AT&T has had a setback in the legal case over its Time Warner merger review, while Wall Street apparently isn't high on the idea of CBS-Viacom getting back together.

Over in the Disney-Fox deal world, 21st Century Fox's TV outlets say they'll carry on as usual through upfronts, given how far away closure of any deal will be. But we're free to carry forth with speculation, and Jason Lynch considers how edgy FX and its CEO John Landgraf could operate under the Disney umbrella. Meanwhile, over in the UK, Rupert Murdoch is trying to shore up his Sky takeover bid by promising guaranteed support for Sky News. And then back over here in US broadcasting land, 21st plans to buy six Sinclair stations, as Sinclair tries to complete its Tribune deal. Sinclair is also looking to unload WGN.

Finally, two new deals: Imagine Entertainment has made a controlling investment in Jax Media, the company behind such shows as Broad City, Full Frontal, and Roseanne. And AMC Networks is acquiring majority control of Robert Johnson's RLJ Entertainment, which owns Acorn TV.

Fox Nation Going OTT

Fox News has announced plans for an ad-free OTT subscription streaming service called Fox Nation. Will Richmond has analysis.

Streaming Battles

Tim Goodman assesses the streaming wars between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. John Koblin looks at Hulu's efforts to challenge the others. Scott Porch considers what Apple could bring to the table when it launches a TV slate. And Koblin covers NBC's argument that it should be part of conversations about success in the streaming universe too.

Netflix News

Netflix has announced three new Indian originals, part of big hopes for subscriber growth in that country, but Colin Dixon is skeptical of Netflix's prediction of 100 million new subscribers in India. Netflix has also signed a Middle East pay TV partnership.

Daniel Holloway considers how Netflix's Ryan Murphy deal challenges traditional TV to keep up.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Drag Race's Race Problem

Garrett Schlichte is critical of RuPaul's Drag Race and its favoring of whiteness.


Hadas Gold reports on the Justice Department's insistence that its lawsuit against AT&T-Time Warner merger is not related to Donald Trump's CNN animus.

What is John Oliver?

Brian Steinberg contends with the question: Is John Oliver a journalist?

Tambor Fired

Jeffrey Tambor is officially out of Transparent, and he's not happy about it. Indiewire critics talked about what could happen to the show without Tambor.

Ellen's Successful Shows

Michael Schneider covers Ellen Degeneres' big success as reality TV producer with Ellen's Game of Games and Little Big Shots.

Fox's Thursday Night Football Deal

John Ourand explores why Fox was willing to pay so much to snag Thursday Night Football rights.

Carpool Karaoke Renewed

Apple wants a second season of Carpool Karaoke.

Olympics Coverage

Olympics ratings started strong for NBC, indicating makegoods won't be necessary, but viewership has declined in the last few nights. Streaming is going strong, though, especially among youth audiences.

Choe Sang-hun points out that most North Koreans aren't able to watch the Olympics on TV.

Adam Rippon has become a breakout start of the Games, and Richard Lawson shares what Rippon's outspokenness as an openly gay figure skater has meant to him personally.  Chris Schleicher sees in the skating of Rippon and Canadian Eric Radford a fierce rebuttal to homophobia. Spencer Kornhaber also sees in this Olympics the power of gay visibility. Daniel Fienberg sees challenges for NBC's preferred coverage in figures like Rippon and Shaun White.

CBS Earnings Call

Les Moonves relayed good news for CBS in its latest quarterly earnings report, as well as positive OTT streaming subscription figures for both CBS All Access and Showtime.

In other CBS news, the CBS All Access comedy No Activity has been renewed for a second season.

NBC Scripted Heads

NBC has replaced Jennifer Salke, who recently departed for Amazon Studios, with Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta as co-presidents of scripted programming.

ER's Lesson

Oriana Schwindt has rediscovered the greatness of ER and explains what new shows could learn from it: "The real reason we don't see broadcast shows like ER anymore is that creative teams think the word 'gritty' applies to 'edgy' characters and plotlines, rather than describing the depth of the world they've built."

Hulu's Success & Losses

Jill Disis covers Hulu's success but also its concurrent financial losses.

Questions About the FCC & Sinclair

An FCC watchdog group is investigating Ajit Pai's moves to grease the wheels for Sinclair Broadcasting's expansion.

Netflix News

In the wake of the Ryan Murphy deal, Lesley Goldberg wonders who could be the next mega-producer to move over to Netflix, and James Ponewozik hopes Netflix strives for creativity, not just money.

Wayne Friedman reports on estimates of what Netflix viewership has cost networks in lost ad revenue: $3-6 billion. That is also a topic on the weekly Richmond-Dixon podcast. Lacey Rose talked with Netflix's VP of content Bela Bajaria about developing unscripted content for the service. And Netflix has actually launched a dating app featured in Black Mirror's "Hang the DJ."