Monday, November 30, 2009

Spanish Lost Promo

I haven't embedded something here for awhile, but I finally came across a worthy clip, a fantastic Lost promo from Spanish TV.

Movies On TV

The New York Times predicts that the rumored Comcast-NBCU merger, which is now one step closer, could bring even more movies-on-demand to our TV sets.

Kurt Sutter Interview

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune interviewed Kurt Sutter, the Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner, and unearthed some great production, network and thematic info surrounding the show.

PGA Awards

No, not that PGA, and this isn't a Tiger Woods story. The Producers Guild of America has announced its nominees for episodic and non-fiction television for the 21st Annual PGA Awards. Winners will be announced in late January.

CSI Effect Questioned

A study says that the "CSI effect," the idea that juries are obsessed with convicting based on forensic evidence because television has so made them, isn't so real after all. If you want more info, here's an older New Yorker piece about the phenomenon and real versus TV forensics.

Kids & TV

The FTC will mull over redefining children's programming due to marketing concerns, kids are getting lots of TV at daycare, and one media analyst is introducing ad-skipping to his child.

Late Night Talk Show Ratings

If you're curious about how many are tuning in to the late night talk shows these days, TV By the Numbers has, well, the numbers, as well as a chart depicting Conan's drop and Letterman's rise.

Time Warner Cable Crusade

The Wall Street Journal reports that Time Warner Cable is launching an ad campaign to draw attention to the high costs of television programming, which is part of a much larger battle between networks and cable operators over rights and licensing fees that will soon come to a head. This is a crucial issue for the future financial state of broadcasting (it's tied in with the retransmission fee issue I posted about earlier), so we should keep an eye on how it develops.

UPDATE: The LA Times assesses the Time Warner website for this, which is pretty funny.

More Hulu Analysis

VideoNuze delves deeply into the Hulu consumption stats.

HDTV Spread

Nearly half of all homes own an HDTV set now, though not all of those have figured out the HD part yet.

Prime-Time Ratings: Sunday

Sunday's results: NBC wins a night! Fox's animation block did well too.

More Reality TV Blame

Reality TV has been taking it on the chin lately. Vanity Fair's James Wolcott blames it for ruining, well, just about everything.

Don't let him see this, then: the scheduling line-up for reality TV debuts over the next few months. Also, Slate's Troy Patterson attempts a defense of The City.

The Reality of Manly Men

The LA Times looks at the spread of reality shows featuring "manly men", like Deadliest Catch and Ax Men. My favorite title of the bunch: Gator 911.

Sitcom Successes

Broadcasting & Cable reports on the rising success of sitcoms in prime time and in syndication.

Soap Stardom and Fandom

Many have written about the implications of James Franco's appearance on General Hospital from the star perspective; Racquel Gonzalez at the University of Texas at Austin provides us a fascinating analysis of the fan perspective: "People not engaged in soap opera discussion or fandom may assume that viewers were verklempt and moon-eyed that a famous movie star came down from the heavens of Hollywood to guest star on their lil’ daytime show. While some were, I found other reactions a bit more complicated."

TV Futures

AdAge provides speculation about the technological and financial future of television: "TV/web convergence will lead to us ordering up movies, pizza and even advertising while watching custom-tailored content and interacting with social-network buddies at the same time. The question is how these services will work together and who will manage and monetize them in a world where the TV networks operate with a mass-media mentality and are anxious to keep $60.5 billion in ad revenue from going the way of Philco." Some interesting predictions and very useful stats here.

AdAge also looks at the future potential of "addressable advertising," highly targeted advertising campaigns.

Elsewhere, Sony is pushing the future of 3-D TVs, and experts discuss the need for local stations to beef up their online content to stay relevant in the future.

Finally, is the future of local TV weather in jeopardy?

TV Women

Variety looks at the apparent rise of strong females in TV today, both in front of and behind the camera.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Revamped NewsHour

NewsHour With Jim Lehrer will soon be unveiled anew as PBS NewsHour, with a revamped look and form onscreen and online and as part of a larger overhaul of PBS's news and public affairs offerings.

Prime-Time Ratings: Saturday

The usual Saturday blah: football, CBS crime, Cops.

Russian TV Concerns

Variety reports that Russian TV today is still heavily controlled by the government: "Champions of media freedom in Russia have recently expressed concern over plans by two independent stations, St. Petersburg's Channel 5 and Moscow-based Ren-TV, to combine operations and cut the workforce. Ren-TV is reputed to be one of the last sources of independent news on Russian TV."

Leno's Nemesis: DVRs

The AP reports that many viewers are rejecting Leno in favor of their DVRs at 10pm. In fact, most 10pm shows are down in the ratings, as is Friday viewing, as viewers turn to time-shifted shows then. The article also notes of Leno's ratings thus far, "NBC has said publicly that it needs Leno to achieve a 1.5 audience rating among its target audience of 18-to-49-year-old viewers for the network to make a profit. During Leno's first 40 shows, the ratings dipped below that number 10 times, and equaled it five times."

Hits and Niches

The Economist looks at the bifurcation of contemporary media into blockbuster hits and niche properties and also considers why blockbusters still rule in a media world of expanded choice.

More U.K. TV on U.K. TV

Variety reports that the BBC will cut spending on US imports and instead shift that money toward local production.

Reality TV Fame

The story of Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashing a presidential party to court reality TV has generated the requisite hand-wringing over the allure of reality fame. The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley and Bill Carter both offer their thoughts, as do Patrik Jonsson at the Christian Science Monitor, Josef Adalian at The Wrap, and Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune. Offering numerous counter-points, Gawker says the Salahis have generously helped America.

Scrubs: Med School

Scrubs will return this week in what is essentially a spin-off of the Zach Braff version. The New York Times and LA Times preview the show and give some good info on production and industry economics along the way.

Publicity on the Cheap

The New York Times looks at how the Hollywood studios are developing cheaper ways of marketing their projects: "As studios cut 'paid media' (newspaper ads, television spots and billboards) they are leaning more heavily on armies of publicists generating what they call 'earned media,' free coverage in magazines, newspapers, TV outlets and blogs."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Espenson and Minear Talk Process

TV writer-producers Jane Espenson (Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Warehouse 13) and Tim Minear (Wonderfalls, Firefly, Dollhouse) appeared at a recent con and talked about the process of writing for television, and someone has been nice enough to post the presentation on YouTube for us (note that there are six segments in total; the link starts you at part 1).

Glimpses of Boardwalk Empire

Curious about what HBO has in the works and what some are calling the next Sopranos? Check out these articles, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and Alan Sepinwall, on the production of Boardwalk Empire, slated for airing in late summer/early fall 2010 and launching with a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese.

UPDATE: The LA Times just took a look at Boardwalk Empire too.

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday night's results: Friday's are usually lackluster anyway, but a post-holiday Friday means especially dreadful ratings. No network averaged more than 5.31 million viewers (CBS drew that figure).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hulu Realities

TV By the Numbers thinks that Hulu might be irrelevant soon, if it doesn't make some major changes: "From a product perspective, Hulu is a much, much better product than you would’ve gotten if you’d have let NBC and FOX (and now ABC) design it to begin with. And having fewer ads definitely makes for a much better customer experience. But barring some amazing shift, it’s not going to work for Hulu. Having a great product that customers love doesn’t matter much if you can’t make much money from it. Especially if its investors don’t like its direction or worse, feel threatened by its existence."


Hollywood Reporter observes that Jay Leno's ratings have stabilized, which is an improvement over the show's previous steady decline. But the cable network USA just announced a rejiggered line-up for spring which puts its current hits (White Collar, Burn Notice and Psych) at 10pm. Myles McNutt tweets that this "demonstrates post-Leno approach to 10pm scheduling - wonder if SyFy will follow suit."

Prime-Time Ratings

I was too occupied with eating myself sick yesterday to post Wednesday night's ratings, so here's a double-post. Wednesday night's results: CBS's procedural train continued to roll, but NBC scored a second-place finish thanks to The Biggest Loser. Thursday's overnights: CBS at the top once again.

Friday Fun

The Onion has delivered multiple bits of TV fun over the past week:

American Voices: Oprah to End Her Talk Show

The Office Ends as Documentary Crew Gets All the Footage It Needs

AV Club: This Thanksgiving, Throw A Lasso Of Cheap Silver Around Your Frightened Girlfriend So She Can Never Escape. Thanks, Kay Jewelers

CNN's Strategies Reviewed

Variety's Brian Lowry assesses CNN's apparent attempts to offer an ideological middle ground between Fox News and MSNBC: "CNN wants to be the media equivalent of Switzerland, professing neutrality at a time when everyone else looks to be choosing sides. But being impartial doesn't mean simply letting partisan advocates slug it out without analysis or context, which happens with disheartening regularity."

Midseason Report

Variety looks at the broadcast networks at the season's midpoint and finds a lot to like (which isn't surprising, since it's in Variety's bottom-line interest to like the networks), as well as some new lessons established: "Perhaps more than any time since the 2004-05 season produced four megahits, there's a sense that auds are looking for something fresh -- and liking what they see from the broadcasters this fall."

Value of Niche Demos

Variety points out that network success doesn't always mean having the most viewers; it can also come from having the right viewers, in terms of drawing a valuable niche demographic.

TV Still in Demand

On this Black Friday, the Denver Post's Joanne Ostrow argues that despite the prospect of new digital gadgets increasingly luring us from our TV screens, it's still going to be television sets most in demand during the holiday season: "The idea of 'home entertainment' now means many things. But the TV set remains the center attraction."

Lambert, Rock & TV

You may be sick of hearing about the Adam Lambert thing already, but this article is still worth a glance. LA Times music critic Ann Powers uses the Lambert kerfuffle to reflect on the historical relationship between rock and television: "Rock music and television emerged and blossomed together, and their symbiotic relationship has been marked by productive scandal."

Worst of the Decade

Here's a fresh spin on decade rankings: brings us the worst TV ideas of the past ten years.

Comcast-NBCU Legality

The Washington Post looks at the role federal regulators might play in the coming Comcast-NBCU merger, including the question of if the FCC will get a say in controlling online video: "A combination of the two would create the prospect of a single company controlling how customers access information--through cable and online -- and what they watch there."

Ad Market Getting Healthy

The Los Angeles Times looks at the rising ad market on TV: "After pummeling traditional media companies for nearly two years, the advertising recession is showing signs of a recovery." And the USA Today reports on how local stations have gotten a boost from health care debate advertising: "The congressional debate over health care has produced an unexpected recession windfall: a television advertising boom in the home states of pivotal lawmakers."

Web Series on the Rise

The production of web series, particularly ones underwritten by advertisers, is growing, according to the New York Times: "Webisodes — part of a trend called branded entertainment — are growing because marketers feel compelled to find new methods to reach consumers in an era when the traditional media are losing eyeballs, ears, hearts, minds and perhaps other body parts to the Internet."

UPDATE: NewTeeVee responds to this story, taking it to task for not looking at advertiser-funded webisodes with more of a critical eye.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Golden Age DVD

Criterion has just released a DVD set of 1950s live anthology dramas, including Marty, Requiem for a Heavyweight, and The Comedian. I'm hoping Criterion gave this collection their usual impeccable treatment, because it would be nice for students to finally see these episodes without concluding from the visual quality that they must have been shot underwater. Criterion's website offers a collection description and a striking clip from The Comedian and an informative essay about Golden Age drama from Ron Simon.

UPDATE: The LA Times has reviewed the set, and they call it a knockout.

Thanksgiving TV

Just one holiday post, a list of good TV airing on Thanksgiving and the rest of the weekend. Enjoy your turkey and TV!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Lambert Reaction

Two TV critics offer their opinions in the wake of Adam Lambert's Early Show appearance: Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times and James Poniewozik of Time.

News Footage Value

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes about a recent murder of a local boy and the debate within area newsrooms about the news value and ethics of airing surveillance footage related to the crime.

Glee/Buffy/Veronica Mars

Jack Patrick Rodgers just posted an essay on The House Next Door about the future potential of Glee and the lessons it needs to learn from a pair of successful predecessors: "Glee is still only really good, and I think it has the potential to be great, to enter the same league as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars, two shows that mashed up adolescent angst and genre tropes and used that weird synthesis to drill deeper into the sometimes nightmarish pain of growing up."

Future of Hulu

More Hulu predictions, from Business Week.

iTunes for Magazines

Not directly TV-related, but similar to what TV companies have done lately with iTunes and Hulu: magazine publishers are putting together an online newsstand of sorts.

Prime-Time Ratings: Tuesday

Tuesday night's results: CBS's NCIS and its spin-off continue to roll, while ABC wins in the 18-49 demo thanks to Dancing With the Stars finishing up and V finding some consistency. And NBC wasn't fourth!

Bad Food Ads on Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon's ad breaks are full of junk food advertising.

Biggest Loser Controversy

The New York Times reports that contestants in The Biggest Loser are living dangerously for television: "The series highlights the difference between the pursuit of engaging television and the sometimes frenzied efforts of contestants to win, perhaps at the risk of their own health."

Digital Television Essays

The first issue of a new scholarly journal, International Journal of Digital Television, is being offered for free online by Intellect Ltd. It includes an essay by Jeffrey A. Hart about the transition to digital in the US and one by Graeme Turner and Jinna May about what international television is becoming in the digital age. The essays are available for download in .pdf form.

Local Live-Plus-Same-Day Debate

Starting January 1, Nielsen is planning to apply the Live-Plus-Same-Day measurement to local television ratings (meaning a program watched on a DVR within a day of its airing will be factored in). Local advertisers and ad buyers are not happy about this, but stations believe it's a good deal for them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fox FTW!

Fox wins November sweeps for the first time ever, thanks especially to the World Series (second-place finisher ABC comes in first if you take sports out of the equation). And NBC? I'm telling you, they need to patent it: fourth place.

Dream Crossovers

Here's a fun post from, proposals for TV episode crossovers. Example: Glee and 24, "Jack Bauer saves William McKinley High School from terrorists just in time for the glee club’s next competition."

Fox Midseason Schedule

Fox has announced its midseason schedule, and while we knew Glee would be on hiatus a little while...four months?! Yes, it won't be back til April 13th. And it'll be up against Lost?! Thank God for the DVR. Televisionary has some analysis, the Fox press release, and a scheduling grid.


According to the San Francisco Chronicle, our TVs may soon have apps: "Instead of being just a gateway for broadcast and recorded video or a gaming display, the TV is on its way to being a third Internet screen, following the PC and smart phone, delivering on-demand news, information, entertainment and games." The article also introduces a new term: "swivel potatoes."

Hulu Viewing Up

AdAge points out that Hulu's visits are up thanks to the new fall season and the addition of ABC content, and its viewing patterns echo that of traditional network TV, including being driven by the same hits: "The top-20 shows over the month included clips from Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, The Office, Glee and V -- not the same list as TVs' top-20 but an indication that while a Hulu viewer's taste is different than your average TV viewer, they're still partial to broadcast over the limited library of cable and other niche programming." Elsewhere, TV By the Numbers has the rankings for the most popular episodes, clips, trailers and search terms at Hulu.

Lambert Off Again, On Again

In the wake of his AMAs performance, Adam Lambert was dropped from ABC's Good Morning America, but now CBS's The Early Show has picked him up. Time's James Poniewozik comments: "Notwithstanding the fact that Lambert groped dancers of both genders onstage, fat chance ABC would have canceled the performance had some of them not been male."

Prime-Time Ratings: Monday

Monday night's fast nationals: ABC's Dancing With the Stars finale scored, as did CBS's comedies, while NBC continues to struggle with the night.

Google TV Ads & TiVo Hook Up

TiVo and Google TV Ads have partnered up to glean more info about how DVRs users consume TV commercials. Digital Journal describes, "The two companies will use data collected from millions of digital video recorders across the United States and track which commercials are being viewed and which aren't...The goal is to measure and enhance accountability of advertising impressions. "

Best of the Decade

The rankings keep coming: here's's best TV series of the 2000s (some very odd omissions, primarily no Wire or Arrested Development), and from a British perspective, here's 100 TV shows that defined the decade (which is apparently called the "noughties" over there).

Matthew Weiner Interview

If you're a Mad Men fan, you'll definitely want to read the second part of Jace Lacob's interview with Matthew Weiner. Here's part one, if you missed it.

TV Not on TVs

A few pieces on the future of TV-related entertainment online and on mobile devices: a panel of TV executives last week discussed the challenges of free online streaming, Hulu is getting picky about allowing the embedding of clips from its video library, and a former Nickelodeon chief is turning to the iPhone to start a new children's entertainment franchise.

News Corp. and Microsoft Alliance?

This isn't about TV directly, but the New York Times says it could change how business is done online and it's analogous to the cable TV model: News Corp. is negotiating to have Microsoft's Bing search engine exclusively carry all links to its content, thereby shutting out Google. Tim Arango and Ashlee Vance note, "If such an arrangement came to pass, it would be a watershed moment in the history of the Internet, and set off a fierce debate over the future of content online." From the Old Media perspective, Financial Times sees this as a potential watershed moment for struggling newspapers.

Network Analysis

Media Life Magazine recently presented a series of media analyst profiles of the networks, including ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and (just added today) The CW.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jon & Kate Finale

I think most feel the sooner Jon and Kate go away the better, but EW's Ken Tucker was a fan of their show, and in this review of the show's series finale (yes, it's all done), he explains why. 4.3 million tuned in for the finale.

Henry Jenkins Profiled

Genius media scholar Henry Jenkins recently moved from MIT to USC, and the LA Times has welcomed him to their territory with a revealing profile. Jenkins says, "I spent the first 20 years of my academic life at MIT in the midst of the digital revolution, and I thought it would be fascinating to spend the second 20 years in Hollywood, observing the other side of the equation." The article also focuses on Jenkins' revolutionary concept of transmedia, which he frequently explores on his blog, Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

Cable Ratings

More for the ratings file: cable ratings from last week show ESPN's dominance. The top five was rounded out by USA Network, Fox News Channel, TBS, and Nick at Nite.

Rich Folk Love Glee

According to Media Post, affluent viewers (also known as 18-to-49 viewers in $100,000-plus homes) are watching more network TV this season, and Fox in particular has gotten a big boost from Glee's ratings among the upscale.

Prime-Time Ratings: Sunday

Sunday's results: the AMAs and football led the way (and as a Bears fan, I'm sorry you all had to watch that), while Fox's line-up performed below its norm.

SNL & the Downside of Viral Video

Chris Albrecht at NewTeeVee wonders if the web will kill off Saturday Night Live, the TV version at least: "Thanks to video embeds and on-demand video services like Hulu, making sure you tune into the actual show just isn’t as important anymore. If there’s some pop culturally significant moment you missed, twenty of your friends will tweet about it and you can catch up right away."

Adam Lambert's AMAs Performance

If you're wondering what all the fuss is about this morning, it's this.

UPDATE: The complaints have begun to roll in, but ABC has called the response "moderate." But the fallout continues: Good Morning America has canceled a scheduled Lambert performance.

Iraqi Reality on the Line

NPR looks at an Iraqi reality show of sorts, "a call-in show that allows viewers to take their problems directly to the highest government officials. The show, called Hotline, offers an unprecedented chance for ordinary Iraqis to confront their government."

Project Runway Ratings

Andy Dehnart at Reality Blurred says it was a mixed ratings bag for Lifetime's version of Project Runway: it was the highest-rated cable reality show for 2009, but down from its Bravo years. We'll soon see which is the dominant direction, as the next season is right around the corner, premiering January 14.

The Appeal of Court Shows

Michael Wilson of the New York Times provides a profile of a New York court show called Street Court and along the way considers what makes a show in that genre tick.

More on Oprah

Two more good pieces on Oprah today from the New York Times: David Carr retracing her impressive business moves through the years and Brian Stelter considering what post-Oprah daytime will look like. Elsewhere, Alan Sepinwall chimes in, while Broadcasting & Cable looks at the financial prospects for Winfrey's upcoming cable channel.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fame on Kids' TV

Denise Martin of the LA Times wonders if Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are featuring too many shows about fame and celebrity: "Whether hawking the lifestyles of the rich, young and famous to kids is fair game for entertainment channels -- both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel target kids 2-11 and tweens 9-14 -- depends on how it is presented within the shows, producers say."

Prime-Time Ratings: Saturday

Saturday night is pretty much all about football, Cops and reruns, but CBS's 48 Hours Mystery took the night with 7.26 million viewers.

Glenn Beck To Organize

Providing fodder for the ongoing debate over what's news and what's editorial content on the cable news channels, Fox News host Glenn Beck is setting out to be even more politically active, turning his TV audience into a political base.

Comcast & Hispanic Market

Broadcasting & Cable's Claire Atkinson looks at the potential value awaiting Comcast in one of NBCU's properties, Telemundo Communications Group: "Telemundo is in a growth business as marketers look to target multicultural consumers more seriously."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Soap Opera Ratings

If you're wondering how many people are still watching the daytime soaps these days, here are some ratings numbers from the previous week. I'm looking forward to the unveiling of this week's numbers to see if there was a "Franco bump" for General Hospital.

Glee & American Idol

More intriguing musings from Myles McNutt (inspired from afar by discussions taking place at the Futures of Entertainment conference via twitter feeds), who provides us with narrative comparisons of American Idol and Glee. In addition to the insightful analysis, there's this awesome suggestion: "Jane Lynch in character as Sue Sylvester as a special guest judge (replacing Kara, clearly) on Idol."

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday's fast nationals: CBS wins overall, splits 18-49 with ABC. Ghost Whisperer topped the night.

Broadcasting's Future?

Reflecting on Oprah's decision, the Comcast/NBCU negotiations, and Leno, the New York Times' Tim Arango and Bill Carter question the future viability of the broadcast model for television: "Most analysts and many executives agree that the economic model of broadcast television — which relies much more heavily on advertising than cable — is severely fractured. What they are wondering now is if it is irreparably broken." CBS chief Les Moonves's feelings on it: “My model isn’t broken."

Meanwhile, TVNewsCheck's Harry A. Jessell says the way to save broadcasting is to make cable operators give networks (via affiliates) retransmission fees, per-subscriber money for the right to carry the networks on cable line-ups, thus giving them a dual-revenue stream akin to cable. (If you're not familiar with the retransmission fee issue, here's a decent description of its development and a recent assessment of where things stand now. And if anyone knows of a better link for a good basic explanation of the retrans issue, please post it in the comments.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cable Ratings

For comparison to the network ratings I've been posting, here are the top 15 cable shows from last week.

Fan Management vs. Fan Facilitation

Using Chuck as an example, blogger Myles McNutt discusses how it's in a network's best interest to carefully facilitate fan activities without overly managing them.

30 Rock Writer Interview

Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe has a good interview with 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock.

Zucker Assessed

Joe Flint at the LA Times attempts a fair assessment of NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, who's been fired on repeatedly in recent days.

Friday Fun: Honest HBO Warnings

Warning: The following link contains irreverence about "quality television" Honest HBO Warnings

Smart Move, James Franco

NPR's Linda Holmes analyzes the logic behind James Franco's surprising decision to do General Hospital, a set of appearances that starts with today's episode: "This is a legitimately surprising thing to do, and there are fewer and fewer things like that in existence. He's probably not going to hurt himself -- even if it's terrible, everyone will just blame the fact that it's a soap. And in return for three days of work, he gets attention, he gets exposure to some of the most devoted television viewers in existence, and he gets to do something that most of his peers have never done."

Prime-Time Ratings: Thursday

Thursday night's results: CBS in control again, NBC might want to patent "fourth place."

This Just In: Oprah Still Alive

The way the news media's reacting to this, you'd think she was dying. She's just moving to cable, people! However, as this NYT summary points out, she doesn't even mention her cable future in the "farewell" speech (a eulogy for broadcasting?) she just gave to her audience. Here's video of her statement (following an annoying ad, of course).

NFL & Advertising

The NFL and advertising go together like Brady and Moss: official sponsor Coors Light has a deal with TiVo to pop up the beermaker's ads when users delete, pause, fast-forward or rewind NFL content, and an NFL Touch Women’s Fashion Collection advertisement ranked #1 in a recent Nielsen survey of most liked ads.

Oprah: Goodbye Broadcast, Hello Cable

Ophrah Winfrey will end her talk show in 2011 in order to focus on the January 2011 launch of her cable channel, OWN. Here's Variety's instant take, one from the New York Times, and a consideration of winners and losers from the LA Times.

UPDATE: More, more, and more: here's the NYT print story, the LA Times' story, a look at the battle to replace her in syndication, thoughts on the long goodbye that will lead up to the end of her show, another take on winners and losers, and a list of greatest moments from her show.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yo Gabba Gabba!

The New York Times profiles Nick Jr.'s Yo Gabba Gabba!, which is still awaiting word on its season renewal from parent network Nickelodeon. While the show is a hit in many ways, Nickelodeon licenses it from an outside producer, giving them less financial interest in its future. But it might turn out that Brad Pitt, of all people, has helped save it.

Meanwhile, Slate praises Yo Gabba Gabba! and says it surpasses Sesame Street as the best preschooler programming on TV.

Chuck Back Jan. 10

This announcement will get completely overshadowed in the Lost and Oprah swirl, so I'll try to give it a little love: NBC's delightfully fun Chuck will return on January 10 and begin airing regularly on Monday nights at 8e starting January 11 for run of 19 episodes. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune has your latest Chuck news.

NBC in the News...A Lot

From a look at what controlling NBCU would mean to Comcast to a suggestion for Comcast to turn NBC into a cable channel to Tina Fey telling funny jokes about the impending ownership change ("Will I have to change the name of my show from 30 Rock to Industrial Park Along the Schuylkill River?), NBC's getting a lot more attention in the news than on the TV screen these days.

Lost Back Feb. 2

The Twitters are ablaze: Lost's final season will premiere on Tuesday, February 2, from 9-11 PM ET (preceded by a clip show) and after that will regularly air Tuesdays at 9-10 PM ET. Bookmark the countdown clock!

Here's a take on what this means for ABC's other shows.

Zucker Speaks

NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker chatted with CNBC anchor Erin Burnett earlier today about NBCU's current position and future moves and said some interesting things, including "Quality content wins out." We can only hope. (Insert Jay Leno joke here).

Futures of Entertainment Conference

MIT is hosting a great conference this weekend, Futures of Entertainment 4, which "brings together scholars and key thinkers from television, advertising, marketing, and entertainment industries to discuss the unfolding future of the entertainment landscape." The program shows the fascinating, pivotal topics that will be discussed, while those of us who can't be there can at least get a taste from the panelists' Twitter feeds.

Coke Targeting Multiculturalism

Coca-Cola will rely heavily on TV as it strives to advertise to multicultural audiences. As MediaPost says, Univision and BET should take note.

Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday

Wednesday's fast nationals: CBS's procedurals lead the way, Glee leads in the coveted 18-34 demo.

The Resurrection of Parks & Rec

Many dismissed NBC's Parks and Recreation as an unfunny Office knock-off after its first six episodes aired last spring, but the show has made a major creative comeback this fall. Denise Martin of the LA Times chronicles how executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur made subtle changes to the show this season but also stuck with their original vision (including inspiration from The Wire. Really.). While the critical community is now behind it, viewers unfortunately still aren't on board in significant numbers. So get watching, people. To help you realize that you should be tuning in Thursdays at 8:30e, take a look at this, a descriptive photo gallery of Pawnee's delightful City Hall murals, which are "by any standard horrifying at a level it is difficult to comprehend." And here's Amy Poehler's 10 favorite Parks and Rec moments, complete with clips.

Efficiency Standards for TV Sets

California has decided to impose efficiency standards on TV sets. The New York Times reports that the rule "would require that most television sets sold in California consume 33 percent less electricity by 2011 and 49 percent less by 2013."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best Live TV Moments

The decade rankings keep coming in. This one's via Paste Magazine: the 25 best live TV moments from 2000-2009. Complete with clips!

WGA Underemployed Writers Report

The Writers Guild of America, West has just released its latest report on employment and earnings trends for traditionally underemployed writers, specifically women, minorities, and older writers. The results are not heartening. Variety summarizes, "women scribes remain stuck at 28% of TV employment and 18% in features while the minority share has been frozen at 6% since 1999." And Gawker pulls out all the nifty charts from the report.

Best Episodes & Best Seasons

In the process of generating his best-of-the-decade lists, TV critic Alan Sepinwall has launched a lively discussion of the best seasons and best episodes of the 2000s.

Syndication Ratings

As long as we're on a ratings roll, here's a look at recent ratings for syndicated shows. Judge Judy dominates, Oprah gets a Palin boost, and Wheel of Fortune wins the game show competition.

Prime-Time Ratings: Tuesday

Tuesday night's fast nationals: CBS dominates with NCIS and The Good Wife, while ABC's V drops off.

Prime-Time Ratings: Monday

A day late and some electricity short, here's Monday's ratings: Fox and CBS tied the night while ABC led among total viewers.

MyNetworkTV Performance

You may have forgotten that it exists, but MyNetworkTV is actually doing ok in the wake of its recent shift from a broadcast network airing original programming to a programming service focusing on syndicated fare.

Sutter Podcast

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter talks to Tim Goodman, touching on such SOA issues as "how fans get both the emotional family strands as well as the more visceral action elements; how FX stood by the series and how that paid off in the ratings; how some characters surprised him and which of the non-main characters turned out to be his favorites."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Social TV

Television networks are trying to determine advantageous ways to integrate social media into the TV experience. AdAge describes, "News Corp.'s Fox boldly tested the technology on its own air in September. The network aired reruns of Glee and Fringe with tweets from fans and creative people involved with the show at the bottom of the screen, but admitted the idea needed some retooling when some viewers expressed displeasure at having the screen covered when they were trying to watch the on-screen action." Indeed. Don't go putting tweets all over my Glee.

Live Plus 7 Day Ratings

No Nielsen ratings for last night; apparently they were done in by a power outage. To tide you over, here's a look at the Live Plus 7 Day Ratings for the week of Oct. 26, 2009 (in other words, this includes DVR usage for a week after the "live" airing). Thursday night shows make up the top six, and out of the top thirty shows, The Office gets the biggest boost at 23.6% more viewers over just live ratings.

Teasing Lost Without Teasers

Damon Lindelof insists that ABC market Lost's last season without showing any scenes from it -- "I think even a single scene from the show would basically tip what it is we're doing this year" -- and says that he "intends to answer every mystery the show intentionally created."

Daily Show and Media Criticism

Daily Show producers discuss their form and process of news media criticism.

Fox's Fall Success

Media Life Magazine interviews a communications analyst about what's behind Fox's status as the most improved network this fall (though even as the best, he says they're still a 6.5 out of 10).

Ugly Bettys

An EW photo gallery showcases eight global versions of Betty, including from the original telenovela, Columbia's Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, and our very own Ugly Betty.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Television's Global Revolution

I'm a few weeks late on this one, but it's worth catching up with. Charles Kenny argues that from a global perspective, television is more important than ever. His take seems more optimistic than realistic, but it's worth considering nonetheless.

The piece also has a fun sidebar of the world's most popular shows. Winner: House.

NBC's Past and Future

This AP story puts NBC's impending takeover by Comcast into historical perspective.

MSNBC Pressing Obama

Whether or not it's the liberal counterpart to Fox News, MSNBC has apparently been putting pressure on Obama too.

1990 TV Show Openings

You've seen 1983. Now check out 1990's credit sequences. There's one for Parenthood at 5:08 into Part 6, so you'll be able to compare that to whatever the new version coming in the spring offers up.

Theatrical Glee

Thought you'd escape another day without a Glee post? Fat chance. This one was too shocking not to post: it turns out that theater people really like Glee. Love the photo; a great snapshot of the glee Glee seems to generate/invite.

Midseason Report

Scott Collins of the LA Times looks at winners, losers, and lessons learned as the networks approach the halfway point in the season. Scoreboard: Procedurals 17, Leno 0.

Oprah's Future

Variety considers the pros and cons for Oprah Winfrey of moving her show from syndication to cable or possibly ending it altogether.

Old V / New V

Amanda Ann Klein at East Carolina University serves up some great clips and revealing thematic and production analysis in comparing the original V with the current V.

Fighting Within and About Hulu

There's some internal bickering at Hulu, as its various partners' interests collide, and NewTeeVee highlights the issues at stake.

Clio Healthcare Awards

Because pharmaceutical ads are under restrictions that other ads don't have to deal with, the Clio awards administration felt it necessary to give Big Pharma their own night, and thus, the first-ever Clio Healthcare Awards were held on Friday night.'s Ad Report provides an entertaining assessment of the winners, including Ambien, GE, and NuvaRing. (Side effects of clicking this link may include inappropriate laughter, nausea, and carpal tunnel syndrome)

Prime-Time Ratings: Sunday

Sunday night's results: Football's a winner.

Murdoch vs. Google

Rupert Murdoch says he's going to remove all News Corp. content from the reach of Google's search index in the coming months. Bluff? Stupid? Necessary move? A precursor to launching his own Google?

Update: AdAge looks at what it would potentially cost Murdoch and concludes, "The risk of irrelevancy should prevent level-headed media owners from withdrawing completely."

Even Ugandans Love AD

Notre Dame alum and television executive Katie O'Connell is currently on a volunteer service trip to Africa and is blogging about her experiences. In her most recent entry, she gives a compelling description of two-day workshop about television she and Elisa Roth offered to a group of Ugandan people. She not only puts to rest the notion that Arrested Development is merely niche entertainment; she also presents a compelling portrait of the way that television can inspire: "One of the participants said, 'we have issues to deal with that people need to address.' They want to tell their stories locally but bridge them globally. Having spent time in the poor and remote villages in Kenya prior to this workshop, I was so moved by that sentiment. These young people want to entertain and educate and, most importantly, inspire to make a difference on their continent through the arts."

John J. O'Connor Obit

This obituary for John J. O'Connor, longtime TV critic for the New York Times, provides a thoughtful look at some of his most notable critical judgments and, in turn, some nice glimpses at the past few decades of TV history.

TV Script Archive

One of the best ways to learn how TV scripts are written is to read all the TV scripts you can get your hands on. This gateway to a thousand scripts (or so, I didn't actually count) is like a college class on its own, then.

Green Week / Observer Week

A couple of network marketing gimmicks will pop up on your TV screens in the coming days. It's Green Week again at NBC, and five shows will feature environmental themes (sadly, no appearances by Greenzo). Then Fox gives us Observer Week. Slightly less magnanimous than Green Week, it's a viral marketing campaign for Fringe and will include "subliminal shots of Fringe's observers...via hidden images in the net's night opens, as well as via seven-frame graphics flashed throughout the evening." Hidden? Sounds like a great idea. Who doesn't love working even even harder to find ads on TV today?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prime-Time Ratings: Saturday

Saturday night's results: Notre Dame lost on the field, but they did ok on TV.

The Daily Show and Truth

From University of Toledo professor Kelli Marshall: Jon Stewart’s (Healthy) Obsession with Facts and Truth

Studying The Wire

College courses examine one of the best shows ever in the history of television (no, not Gilligan's Island, though I for one would be happy to take a class in that too). Notre Dame will be added to this list next fall.

A few months ago, Jason Mittell blogged about his experience of teaching a course on The Wire.

Change the World, Joss

Devin Faraci makes an impassioned plea for Joss Whedon to change television as we know it by using his niche popularity to bypass traditional distribution outlets: "This is the direction that things are headed no matter what, and Whedon can serve as the person who breaks down the wall, who takes the shameful connotation off of content created just for DVD or On Demand or the internet. If Whedon brings his A game, gathers his usual band of collaborators and gets his fanbase fired up and involved (which he did for Dr. Horrible), he could drag the rest of the industry kicking and screaming into a new world where niche programming can find its level and survive. I'm not in denial about how tough it would be or how slow it would start out, especially budgetarily, but it's beyond time that someone major took a serious step into bringing content directly to fans instead of relying on a middle-man."

PBS Online

Long Island public television station WLIW is testing out a new web portal, part of a trend of PBS stations putting programming content online. PBS's online portal is here; New York City's WNET is here.

What Price Free?

Musings by Nicholas Carr about how TV could change if free online streaming of shows continues to progress.

Relatedly, News Corp. COO Chase Carey says Hulu will have start charging soon.

But Erik Flannigan, an MTV Networks executive who oversees the websites for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, says advertising still has the potential to support online content.

Anti-piracy notices in the mail

At the behest of content providers like NBC Universal, broadband service provider Verizon has begun sending out nasty letters to users accused of illegal file-sharing of TV shows and movies. This appears to still be at the finger-wagging stage, but the larger implications of this move are discussed here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Glee & Music Sales

Now, your obligatory Glee post of the day: the show and its soundtrack are giving the music business a shot in the arm.

Arab Idols

This is a fascinating (if likely reductive) look at American Idol-type performance competitions in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Go to comments on this video and the bio of the speaker.

Naughty Language in Prime Time

The New York Times discusses the increase in profanities on network television and highlights the debate over presenting mature content during the so-called family hour.

It also does what these studies always inadvertently do, make you laugh at "swear counts." For instance, "jackass" is up to a new high of 34 this year.

UPDATE: A website devoted to analyzing NYT reporting has responded to this article, calling the reporter out for relying too heavily in the piece on Parents Television Council-generated stats and complaints.

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday night's fast nationals: CBS's procedurals rule

The Evolution of Fox Television Studios

The LA Times describes how Fox Television Studios, applying strategies it used to develop basic cable shows like Burn Notice into profitable hits, is transferring that low-budget, high-efficiency strategy to broadcast programming, thus providing a "new model for network TV production that other studios are closely watching."

Nielsen's "TV Everywhere"

A presentation by a Nielsen exec discussing the company's "TV Everywhere" concept, which will incorporate online viewing into ratings. The site that embeds the video also provides analysis.

Fatherhood in Drama

From FLOW, a postfeminist analysis of the representation of fatherhood in contemporary dramas.

FlashForward: Pacing and Script

From FLOW, an analysis of the storytelling on FlashForward.

What a showrunner does

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter describes what a showrunner does, providing a great account of the writing and production process on a TV show. This is a great blog to bookmark, by the way, as Sutter has plenty of revealing opinions about TV and doesn't hesitate to share them.

Friday fun: Giada disaster

Just to illustrate that this blog will sometimes have random fun stuff thrown in for little good reason (a weekly feature I've dubbed "Friday fun"), here's an old TVgasm post that never fails to leave me in hysterics.

Friday, November 13, 2009

1983 TV Show Openings

Wonder what the credits sequences to TV shows in 1983 looked like? Besides much, much, much longer than the ones we have today? This blog highlights some gems.

My favorite: Just Our Luck (4:17 into Part 3). In addition to the always cringe-worthy "magical Negro," it also features a robot shooting lasers from its eyes. Well done.

Family viewing

A Nickelodeon study says that 82% of families watch TV together. Really? I'm a bit skeptical, especially given the source of the study.

Black & White TVs

30,000 in the UK are still watching TV on black & white sets.

Glee & Gay Representation

Don't worry, I won't make all the entries about Glee (blog retitle: Glee News for TV Majors). But clearly people are quite taken with the show. Here's a Newsweek discussion of its representation of gay identity (and that of a few other shows -- but really, it's all about Glee right now, isn't it?)

Glee & Disability

A couple of insightful responses to the recent Glee episode "Wheels" and its depiction of the disabled:

The latter entry's comments section raises a central issue for television series analysis: some of the commenters say they're going to reserve judgment until they see how the show develops these storylines. The long-form nature of TV storytelling poses a unique challenge for scholars in that regard.

Could movies become TV?

This article discusses possible distribution changes for movies in the future, including on-demand.

Via Twitter, Time's TV critic James Poniewozik responds: "What if movies were on-demand on release date ? 1. movies become TV shows 2. Bye bye, Friday nite TV." Then adds: "Flip-side of 'theatrical window' question: would you pay $10 to watch the Lost finale on a massive screen in a theater?"

AMC's next move

An analysis of how AMC will try to build on the critical success of Breaking Bad and Mad Men with The Prisoner, for a slate of "sophisticated, high-end-viewer-targeted dramas."

Prime-Time Ratings: Thursday

Thursday night's fast nationals: ABC wins 18-49; CBS wins overall viewers.

Comcast & NBCU

Some speculations about what Comcast will do with NBCU once the deal is finalized.

Baldwin Hills

Another FLOW article, this one an analysis of race and class issues in BET's Baldwin Hills:

American Idol

A lengthy conversation about American Idol and its larger meanings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cultural Value of TV Stardom

An essay from the always excellent Flow blog about TV stardom, via an analysis of Ricky Gervais's Extras:

Glee's "Defying Gravity"

I wanted to test out clip embedding on the site, so here's "Defying Gravity" from Glee:

Guide to TV Online

A description of Clicker, which aims to be a "TV Guide for the Web," helping you to locate (legal) online postings of TV shows.

Product placement

A revealing article on the challenge TV writers have with trying to incorporate product plugs into episodes.

Future of TV

Media studies genius Henry Jenkins has written an excellent piece about the future of TV in a new media world:

"Is it television if it doesn't get distributed by the networks? [Joss] Whedon [Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog] and [Felicia] Day [The Guild] are demonstrating that television may be a genre or format of entertainment -- which looks and feels "like television" even if it is never broadcast. Here, television may refer to a form of storytelling which comes in short chunks which are organized as part of longer series which unfold across seasons. We may not know what television is but we recognize it -- in this case, with an Emmy -- when we see it."

TV Tweets

A great list of a whole bunch of TV people on Twitter.

Ad rates

AdAge recently released their annual estimate of prime-time ad costs. I've seen some grumbling elsewhere about the inaccuracy of these numbers, but it's the closest you'll find out there at least:

Best of the decade

As the end of the year approaches, lists of the best TV shows of the decade are starting to come out. Here's one from the always astute AV Club.

NBC's Challenges

A great analysis of where NBC's at right now.

News of TV's demise exaggerated?

According to a Nielsen study, we're watching more TV than last year and 20% more than 10 years ago.