Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unscripted Interview

Josef Adalian interviews NBC's head of unscripted TV, Paul Telegdy (whose last name calls to mind the words television and tragedy, and given the hilarious denunciation of The Marriage Ref that I saw all over Twitter last night, that might be fitting).

Network News Crossroads

Brian Stelter and Bill Carter team up to report on the troubled state of network news: "With news available more places than ever, on cable channels and Internet sites, and with revenue challenged by heavy dependence on shrinking advertising dollars, the future for the news divisions at ABC and CBS remains deeply insecure."

Prime-Time Ratings: Saturday

Saturday night's overnights: Olympics ratings were down from last Saturday, but still tripled the competition.

Spectrum Switch

The FCC wants to shift some of the broadcast spectrum over to broadband uses. Economics professor Richard Thaler thinks it sounds like a great idea. Jeff Zucker says, not so much.

Media Industry News

Over at Antenna, I supply you with lots of Sunday reading via links to media industry news from the past two weeks, including news about Chatroulette, Redbox, virtual acting and Oscar controversies.

Lost Panel

The producers and a few cast members of Lost appeared in Los Angeles last night for a Paley Television Festival event; Daniel Fienberg recaps what they had to say.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

TV Tropes

The LA Times profiles the TV Tropes wiki.

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday night's fast nationals: The only thing worth reporting beyond the expected -- a lot of people watched the Olympics, more than watched the other four networks combined -- is that The CW had a rare fourth place finish for the night in 18-49s.

In Praise of Silence

Mary McNamara prefers internet coverage of the Olympics Games, where you can stream events without broadcast commentary, over NBC's television coverage, which has commentators jabbering away.

Mobile TV

Mobile TV hasn't yet found success in South Korea, where it was rolled out in 2005, and American entrepreneurs are trying to learn some lessons from that.

International Hulus

NewTeeVee assesses SeeSaw, the U.K.'s Hulu, and it appears China will soon get its own version of Hulu. China already has a Hulu/YouTube entity called Youku, and NewTeeVee has an interview with its CEO.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Breaking Bad Marketing

The Wrap highlights Breaking Bad's comedic marketing for its upcoming season.

DVD News

Jaime Weinman has news about some upcoming TV DVD releases, including one I know many college students will be excited about: season 4 of Boy Meets World.

Pilot Previews

The LA Times has assessments of all the network pilots: ABC drama, ABC comedy, CBS drama, CBS comedy, The CW pilots, Fox drama, Fox comedy, NBC drama, NBC comedy.

BBC Overhaul

The BBC is overhauling its operations: "The BBC will close two radio stations, shut half its website and cut spending heavily on imported American programmes in an overhaul of services to be announced next month." The logic behind the changes is rather fascinating: "Mark Thompson, the Director-General, will admit that the corporation, which is funded by the £3.6 billion annual licence fee, has become too large and must shrink to give its commercial rivals room to operate."

Prime-Time Ratings: Thursday

Thursday night's fast nationals: Did the Olympics or Idol win the ratings battle last night? It's all in how you (or the advertisers, really) look at it. The Olympics had more total viewers again, but Idol had more 18-49s in the timeslot. Dick Ebersol will of course focus on the former.

The End Date Debate

Cory Barker writes about the concept of American TV shows having an end date in mind from the start.

Labor Storm Coming?

The Wrap says that next summer the most explosive action in Hollywood might be seen offscreen: "The current SAG and AFTRA primetime TV contracts end on June 30, 2011 -- the same day the Directors Guild of America’s film and TV agreement times out. A month earlier, the Writers Guild of America’s much-contested deal with the studios expires, too. With the labor bodies beginning to assemble their respective negotiating committees, a broad swath of industry denizens, aversely affected by the last round of labor unrest, nervously waits and watches."

Backpack Journalism

The ABC News cuts are just another sign of "backpack journalism" on the rise, says TVNewser's Gail Shister: "Prodigious job cuts at ABC and elsewhere force more correspondents to shoot their own video, gather their own sound and edit their own pieces in addition to reporting them. Certainly, the consolidation saves money, but at what cost to journalism?"

Sports as Unifier

With all the buzz and high ratings surrounding recent sporting events, Diane Pucin considers the role of sports as a unifier.

Leno's Return

Leno will be back at 11:30 next. Scott Collins looks at what this means for the future, and Michael Brett wonders if late night even matters anymore.


Three good TV articles from the Wall Street Journal today (hope these aren't behind the paywall): a lot of playwrights are writing for TV now, reality stars are now practiced in the genre's lingo, and Modern Family has helped to revive the sitcom with a combination of edge and tradition.

UPDATE: Slate calls BS on the playwrights story.

Friday Fun: Failed Pilots

I've been researching failed pilots lately, so I'll share one of the more fun web postings I've come across on the topic: the Six Best and Five Worst Failed Pilots. Of course Heat Vision and Jack is there in the Best category, but you must also take a look at Steel Justice in the Worst category. In that regard, I might argue that just about any of the pilots in one category could be sent over to the other. After all, who would disagree with the evident fact that Steel Justice is pure, distilled awesome?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indecency Complaints

SNL Kagan's Tim Doyle presents some fascinating findings based on a Freedom of Information Act inquiry into FCC indecency complaints. Not surprisingly, Family Guy has the most complaints still pending (and Fox shows alone make up nearly half of the top 50 programs with pending complaints). More surprisingly, in 2nd place is CBS's 9/11 documentary. Doyle also reports on complaints the FCC gets regarding cable networks, technically outside of the Commission's jurisdiction, which have helped to give the FCC a massive backlog of pending cases. I can't help but laugh at the #2 complaint entry there: MSNBC's repeated use of the word "teabagging."

Adult Swim Pilots

AdAge writes of Adult Swim's innovative pilot/marketing practice: "Over the last few weeks, Adult Swim and presenting sponsor Burger King have been running a "Big, Uber, Network, Sampling" derby online to decide which of eight stoner-friendly pilots to air during its esteemed late-night block. It's yet another inspired, viewer-friendly idea from a network practically teeming with them." And more free labor!! If things keep going this way, TV viewers might have to unionize.

Katims Interview

Forbes' Lacey Rose has a good interview with Friday Night Lights and Parenthood producer Jason Katims, who "discusses the struggles of broadcast, the trouble with Friday Night Lights and the decision to remake the late 1980s film." TV By the Numbers then calls him out on a few points.

NBC: Not So Colorful

California congresswoman Maxine Waters got on Jeff Zucker for the lack of diverse casting in NBC's programming.

ABC Family Succeeds

Melissa Grego analyzes the catalysts behind the rise of ABC Family, including such strategies as the Fambassador program, which uses (exploits?) college students as free marketing labor.

Social Media TV

Max Dawson says forget 3D TV, bring on widget TV.

And Cory Barker chimes in about the Twitter/TV relationship.

Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday

Wednesday night's fast nationals: Idol was in command again (despite, from what I've heard, presenting loads of awful).

Olympics Demographics

Nielsen has released figures and charts (yay!) with gender, age, racial, and regional breakdowns of Olympics viewership. As Hollywood Reporter points out, viewership is older, more female, and less racially diverse than for average programming.

Ovation Rebranding

Ovation TV is now just Ovation, in their effort to rebrand the channel as "smart, surprising and fun." So apparently the "TV" part connoted dumb, pedestrian, and boring.

Hollywood & Autisim

Jace Lacob writes about how film and television have increasingly presented characters that exhibit signs of autism spectrum disorders. Alan Sepinwall writes on a similar topic.

Life as Liz

Aaron Barnhart complains about artificiality in MTV's My Life as Liz, and the LA Times last week pinpointed it as a hybrid reality/drama show: "Watch it as fiction, and it's charming teen comedy. Watch it as reality, and it's deeply disorienting."

Unreal Africa

A Spanish reality TV show is under fire for presenting a distorted and stereotypical view of African tribespeople. There are some additional details at, and clips of the show on YouTube.

Mobile Pay

A few days ago, Reuters reported on the need to figure out how advertising can help pay for mobile TV. But CNN Money says the traditional TV advertising model probably won't work for mobile and online video and subscription models are likely to dominate.


A survey of cable operators revealed that ESPN is considered their most valuable channel, the tenth consecutive year it has sat atop these rankings.

CBS & Five

CBS has reached an agreement with British channel Five in Britain to add Five programming to's online offerings: "The partnership is a coup for CBS, allowing it to steal a march on its US rivals ABC, Fox and NBC, whose video-on-demand portal Hulu has yet to break into the UK market despite long-running talks with rights owners."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Internet TV

Mashable has a handy guide to made-for-internet TV: "With the 2010 Streamy Awards coming up in just a couple of months, we believe this is an ideal time to serve up a quick overview of what web series are and why we’re so interested in covering them."

Internet on the TV

TV set/internet convergence is on the rise.

Greatest DVR Ever

One of these would come in handy on Thursday nights: a 100-tuner DVR.

Layoffs Reflect Reality

B&C's Paige Albiniak says the ABC News layoffs are representative of the state of the industry: "While technology is amazing for consumers, it’s wreaking terrible havoc on our industries. Yesterday, ABC News announced that at least 300 people would lose their jobs at least partly because technology can do those jobs more economically."

Moonves Extended

Looks like Les Moonves will keep on trucking at CBS til at least 2015. Writes Paige Albiniak of his success, "Moonves’ programming strategy seems to be opposite of HBO’s or FX’s and I ain’t arguing with it: give the people what they want."

Cable Chiefs Chat

A group of cable television executives gathered yesterday for a panel discussion of the current state of their business.

Rehab Consequences

AdAge considers what the short- and long-term consequences of Charlie Sheen's rehab could be to CBS and Two and a Half Men's advertisers. And Hollywood Reporter considers the contractual angle.

Proposed Spectrum Auction

The FCC is proposing to have broadcasters share in the sales of their spectrum space to help boost broadband services.

Cable Shopping

Peter Chernin's in the market for a cable channel, while Barry Diller and Ben Silverman are reportedly scoping out FitTV.

Pilot News

Josef Adalian offers his analysis of this pilot season, while Hollywood Reporter says actor contracts for pilots reveal that residuals are getting shaved.

Prime-Time Ratings: Tuesday

Tuesday night's fast nationals: So much for needing that macro: Idol beat the Olympics, and quite handily in the 18-49 demo.

In other Olympics-related news, NBCU's cable channels are benefiting from the Olympics, and Univision is competing well against the Games.

Online Video Spike

Online video consumption grew at an impressive rate last year, and VideoNuze considers some reasons why.

Must-Carry Opposed

C-SPAN wants the must-carry rules, which require cable operators to carry all local broadcast stations on their line-ups, eliminated by the Supreme Court: "The cable public affairs channel, which must compete with those TV stations for channel space, has long argued that the fact that broadcasters have a guaranteed carriage right while channels like C-SPAN have to compete for what space is left violates the First Amendment."

UPDATE: Discovery has joined in on the must-carry opposition.

The Lure of Reality Stardom

From Tehelka Magazine, a fascinating look at the scores of young people from India who leave home and try to find stardom on reality TV: "Drawing them like a psychotropic magnet is not Bollywood, but a newer merchant trading in the old dream: Reality TV. With its tantalising offer — as Sonam Kapoor’s character Bittu puts it so memorably in Dilli 6 — “to become somebody from nobody”. These young people no longer have to act or rely on the whimsy of directors and producers. The dream now trades on raw ability. To sing, to dance, to laugh. Stardom has been democratised and it seems all of India is lining up at the booth."

Olympics Ads

There's been plenty of discussion of NBC's coverage; Stuart Elliot has instead written about the ads.

Late Night Review

Michael Glitz assesses the late night network hosts and concludes that Craig Ferguson stands above them all as the new king of late night.


Cablevision wants to help you get your PC content onto your TV, and perhaps save the future of cable TV in the process.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TV's Friend Twitter

Brian Stelter considers how social media might be helping out traditional media: "Awards shows like the Grammys are attracting their biggest audiences in years. Many television executives are crediting the Internet, in part, for the revival. Blogs and social Web sites like Facebook and Twitter enable an online water-cooler conversation, encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and the big-screen TV." I, for one, can't watch "event TV" anymore without Twitter feeds rolling, and the communal fun of that has indeed made me more likely to watch live TV.

TV By the Numbers responds and says the jury's still out on determining the impact of social media on TV ratings.

Brian Stelter highlights some of the Twitter responses to his article.

Buh Bye, Gen X

MTV wants only Gen Y viewers now, not Gen X. MTV Networks president Van Toffler: "We're slaves to our different audiences, for MTV that's millennials, who are vastly different than Generation X; they're definitely less cynical -- they're more civic minded." I can then only cynically laugh when he points to Jersey Shore as an example of such Gen Y-appropriate programming.

UPDATE: James Poniewozik has a great response to this.

Serious Comedy

Jaime Weinman writes about how sitcoms can tackle serious issues: "I’m talking about small stories that play as comedy, but deal with emotional issues that are very high-stakes for the characters involved. Because TV drama rarely deals with this kind of story, comedy has the field wide open, and some of the most successful comedies focus on things that are really, really significant to the people living through them, no matter how funny they may seem to us."

ABC News Transformation

Tomorrow will be a gloomy day at ABC News, as hundreds of employees will be offered buyouts, only part of much larger changes taking place at the organization that ABC News president David Westin calls a "fundamental transformation." Additional changes, such as bureau closures, are described by the LA Times.

The New York Times reports on the potential consequences of this transformation.

NBC Strategies

Sports Illustrated has a behind-the-scenes look at NBC's Olympics strategies, including network reactions to tape-delay criticisms: "Each morning here at 7:30, inside a compound at the International Broadcasting Center roughly the size of Belarus, NBC Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol gathers a small flock of his key lieutenants to discuss contingency plans and every possible scenario for that day's coverage. Along with everything else on the agenda for the tired executives and producers, Ebserol preaches one mantra: Protect the primetime show."

Also, paidContent shares some thoughts from NBCU research head Alan Wurtzel: "Anticipating the ire of bloggers who have complained that NBCU has been holding back too much live coverage of the games from online, Wurtzel made it clear that the network considers online viewing something for tomorrow, but “TV is still king today.” Still, Wurtzel had a number of stats related to online that he wanted to trumpet, particularly if it suggested that multitudes are watching more digital than before, with a large extent seeing it as an addition to TV." Most striking to me: "93 percent of those who watched Apolo Ohno’s silver speed skating event never saw it on TV." Really? 93 percent?

At NewTeeVee, Liz Shannon Miller speculates on what an ESPN-aired Olympics could look like. The New York Times does the same.

Prime-Time Ratings: Monday

Monday night's fast nationals: I need to develop a macro that can automatically insert: "Olympics dominate, though [insert program] on [insert network] does ok in the demo."

News Media Interviews

Kimberly Butler is considering where Marshall McCluhan's classic "medium is the message" idea stands in today's news media world, offering a series of interviews with media makers on the topic.

Tennis Channel Dispute

Tennis Channel filed a complaint with the FCC last month about Comcast favoring its in-house channels over it in terms of prominent tier placement. Comcast has now responded, basically saying, "Did not, and no one wants your stupid channel anyway." And the LA Times story on highlights Comcast's reply that Tennis Channel needs to be more up front about its own ownership situation.

CBS Wants In

CBS's Affiliate Relations president tells Harry Jessell that CBS wants in on the action that its affiliates have been reaping: "Having watched their affiliates pile up new revenue from retransmission consent over the past few years, CBS has joined other networks in asking their affiliates for what's been called programming fees, license fees or reverse compensation."

2009 Ad Sales

Brian Steinberg analyzes the final figures for 2009 TV ad sales, which were mostly down at both broadcast and cable outlets, though FX, USA, SyFy, and E! were up.

Tiger's Impact

The Associated Press considers how golf coverage on TV might survive without Tiger Woods.

Upfront Return

The upfront process was supposed to be revolutionized a few years ago. AdWeek looks at how it returned to business as usual rather quickly.

Mobile Ads

Before anyone can get mobile TV going, they probably have to figure out mobile advertising first.

New In Media Res Issue

This week’s In Media Res line-up:
  • Monday, February 22, 2010 – Kevin Howley (Depauw University) presents: “Glimmers of Hope”
  • Tuesday, February 23, 2010 – Radhika Gajjala, Samara Anarbaeva and Yeon Ju Oh (Bowling Green State University) presents: “Craft Cultures Online - Can they be ‘global’?”
  • Wednesday, February 24, 2010 – Madison Moore (Yale University) presents: "Real Men Wear Heels"
  • Thursday, February 25, 2010 – Ira Wagman (Carleton University) presents: "Canada's Television Networks Get Desperate, Go Viral”
  • Friday, February 26, 2010 – Anne Moore (Tufts University) presents: "On Tuning in Next Week”
  • Saturday, February 27, 2010 – Virginia Wexman & students in Film and Authorship seminar (Northwestern University) presents: “BABEL and Film Authorship”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Betty White Love

I'm fascinated by the "Betty White for SNL" campaign, so I wrote a little something about it for Notre Dame Magazine.

Dwangela Love

Diane Negra praises the meaningful pairing of Dwight and Angela on The Office: "In celebrating this most perverse of television pairs, I want to argue first that it operates as a bracing “shadow couple” for the wholesome Jim and Pam and second that its meanings are deepened by the fact that Dwight and Angela represent versions of culturally normative modes of masculinity and femininity pushed to pathological extremes."

Time for Interaction

A panel of industry experts says the time is now for interactive advertising.

And Todd Spangler considers the opportunities and current hurdles for addressable ads.

Olympics vs. Social Media

The LA Times reports on the relationship between social media and Olympics tape-delay: "Hearing the news hasn't preempted the viewing. And the news is everywhere." And Sunday's viewership was particularly huge.

Lifetime Problems

Joe Flint and Denise Martin report on how Lifetime has lost its way and is hoping new corporate leadership and programming ideas will help it get back on track: "Lifetime executives say the network's shift away from shows that defined it in the past -- serious dramas and women-in-jeopardy movies -- is an attempt to broaden its reach without alienating its traditional audience. 'Indeed, the current perception of Lifetime is, 'It's great for my mom, but I wouldn't watch it.' That has to change,' said JoAnn Alfano, Lifetime's executive vice president of programming."

Online Enforcement

Al Franken wants to require Comcast and NBC to post all their shows online.

Hockey Ratings

The viewing numbers are in for the U.S.-Canada hockey showdown, and it beat out all American NHL game audiences going back 37 years, even as it aired on cable. And it was the most-ever watched sports program in Canadian history.

Little Genius Investigation

The FCC is investigating allegations of cheating on Our Little Genius, which raises a question about the FCC's regulation jurisdiction given that the show has yet to actually air, and B&C wonders if this negative publicity will kill the show regardless.

Prime-Time Ratings: Sunday

Sunday night's fast nationals: the Olympics doubled its closest competition at CBS, though Undercover Boss on that network seems to be a hit.

All these impressive ratings might mean NBC won't lose quite as much on the Olympics as originally predicted.

In other ratings news, Rick Porter lists some DVR successes, with Lost getting a big boost from time-shifting last week.

More on Olympics

Features from Media Life: like a short-track speedskater in a relay race, the Olympics have pushed NBC to third (ahead of ABC) in the season ratings race; unofficial "ambush marketers" are finding a lot of success in Vancouver; and you can chime in with your thoughts about NBC's coverage via another Media Life survey.

Pilots Assessment

Variety provides detailed coverage of how things are looking during this pilot season. Great stuff here, from economics to casting of pilots.

Mobile TV Rights

One obstacle to the growth of mobile TV: figuring out rights issues.

99 Cent TV

Apple's mulling over a price of $.99 for TV shows on iTunes, but some aren't on board with that idea: "Apple wants to ignite TV show sales, especially as it prepares to introduce the iPad tablet computer next month. But its proposals to lower prices across the board are being met by skepticism from the major networks." And TV By the Numbers doesn't think it'll happen anytime soon.

The author of the New York Times piece also lists some Twitter replies about this issue. And Cory Barker adds his 99...I mean, 2 cents.

Janet Jackson Rererevisited

As yet another group of people debate Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, John Eggerton tells us what this all means for now.

Undercover Boss Defense

Ben Grossman defends Undercover Boss's reality TV manipulations by pointing to their entertainment value: "With reality TV, whether it's Jersey Shore or anything else, I don't find fault with producers or networks that basically script out these shows, or set up situations and then cut them to add drama. It's called show business for a reason."

Game Show Value

Game shows are paying off for stations and networks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Flow Issue

The latest from Flow:

BET Critique

Aaron Barnhart says BET has yet to live up to its promise: "Thirty years is long enough for BET to make some black history itself. But in that time, the length of two Motown eras, BET has had precious little cultural impact, even as black influences have worked their way into every corner of American life."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday night's fast nationals: Not much to say here except Olympics, though ABC pulled in better numbers than it usually does on Friday night.

Tape-Delay Debate

Some are outraged about NBC tape-delaying Olympic events; some don't see a big problem with it.

UPDATE: The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin shares her thoughts: "Most Olympic sports are ones that we never get to see otherwise—or, really, don’t want to see otherwise—and the pleasure of watching them goes beyond the suspense. It has to do with the display of stunning skills and gorgeous bodies, the devotion, and the drive."

Government Access Blackout

The government access channel in Norwalk CA broadcasts city council meetings, but goes dark during the public comments portion. Censorship or just prudent?

Advanced Advertising

Multichannel News says now is finally the time to move forth with advanced advertising techniques: "In 2010, three key areas will start to show critical momentum: interactive ads that let viewers request more information, coupons or product samples; video-on-demand ads that can be served on the fly; and wider availability and use of set-top box metrics for measuring TV viewing."

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Quiz Show Scandal?

The FCC is investigating claims that the never-aired Our Little Genius had producers feeding questions to contestants.

Tiger TV

Perhaps there isn't much TV news today because everyone took time off from reporting on TV to watch Tiger Woods' apology thing on live TV.

Addressable Ads Watched

A trial study of addressable, or highly targeted, ads showed that such commercials reduced the viewer urge to fast-foward past them: "While viewers zapped fewer ads, advertisers gained 65 percent efficiency from the addressable spot buys compared to traditional spot purchases, the trial participants said."

Moonves Predicts Mo Money

Les Moonves, ever the optimist, thinks ad rates will be going up.

Prime-Time Ratings: Thursday

Thursday night's fast nationals: Olympics dominance continued.

In related news, Nielsen has been keeping track of the most viewed (freestyle skiing) and buzzworthy (hockey) sports during the Olympics, as well as the ad viewership.

Friday Fun: Insider Olympics Show

Funny or Die delivers again (as does Pat O'Brien, who manages, at least for a few minutes, to make me forget those voicemails):

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Food Network Two

Brian Stelter profiles a Food Network spin-off, the Cooking Channel, which will launch in late May: "The craving for food programming is insatiable, Scripps executives like to say. The ratings were up markedly for the Food Network last year, and shows set in kitchens have flourished on other channels."

Update: Multichannel's Marc Robichaux comments on the overeating that Food Network programs encourage.

Bundling Questioned

Joe Flint reports on Sen. Russ Feingold's questioning of cable channel bundling as part of the Comcast-NBCU hearings. And Multichannel News details some additional Feingold queries.

Idol Doomed

Matthew Greenberg says American Idol's days are numbered based on the cracks in the show's foundation that are starting to show this season.

Cablevision Survey

As part of their retrans prep, Cablevision is reportedly conducting a phone survey asking subscribers what they'd be willing to pay for the broadcast networks on their cable line-ups.

Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday

Wednesday night's fast nationals: Down goes Idol! Down goes Idol! Daniel Fienberg tweets, "Should Idol go after Shaun White to replace Simon Cowell?" And Joe Flint contextualizes the Olympic victory. Finally, Brad Adgate points out on Twitter: "So far in 2009-10 there have been 11 shows with 30 million viewers, 10 are sports and the 11th was the Super Bowl lead-out Undercover Boss."

Upfront Calendar

Want to plan your next few months around the upfronts? Then MediaBizBloggers has just the calendar for you.


Jezebel looks at the latest trends in "manvertising", or images of masculinity in ads, complete with lots of clips. By the way, if you're interested in this topic, there's a whole website for it: Manvertised, run by a University of Michigan graduate student.

Alec Baldwin = Jack Donaghy

Annie Peterson pinpoints about why many are so quick to forgive Alec Baldwin his trespasses: we see him as Jack Donaghy.

Sports TV Impact

Tiger Woods will apparently be back again soon, and Bloomberg figures TV networks are quite relieved, given his huge impact on advertising revenue.

Elsewhere, Pop Matters assesses the impact that ESPN, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, has had on sports culture: "Since ESPN began, the company has slowly ingrained itself into the culture of sports, dictating and driving the way we consume it. Now, so much of what we do as fans—root for our favorite team on TV, read about athletes online, listen to game analysis on the radio—is intertwined with ESPN’s brand."

Oscar Ad Sales

ABC is still shopping Oscar ad time.

Olympics Performance

NBC's live coverage of the Olympics online is minimal, but it's NBC's insistence on tape-delaying much of the TV coverage that has many doing their grumbling online.

Henry Blodget says NBC is outright ruining the Olympics.

But even with all the complaining, the Olympics continue to rock the ratings, and it looks like last night's Olympics coverage was the first programming in six years to beat out American Idol. (Shaun White rulez!) And Jeff Zucker certainly is crowing about NBC's Olympics ratings.

John Wells Interview

Forbes has an informative interview with former ER and West Wing and current Southland producer John Wells, which discusses "TNT's freedoms, NBC's failures, and how he would save broadcast TV."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Screen Video

Looks like a slow news day today, and I'm away from the computer for the rest of the day anyway, so here's some fun but informative filler to tide you over: a montage of green screen effects from TV shows, which illustrates just how pervasive yet seamless such effects are.

Prime-Time Ratings: Tuesday

Tuesday's fast nationals: the big news: Idol beat the Olympics rather handily, especially in 18-49.

In other ratings news, network news numbers were up.

Online TV Audiences

Sheila Seles, a graduate student at MIT, is sharing her research on online TV audiences: "The paper outlines strategies for understanding how viewership online complements broadcast viewing. Through research and case studies, this paper explains the strategies needed to manage viewer expectations of scarcity in the broadcast space and plenitude in the online space, categorizes types of online content in terms of their appeal to viewers, and outlines strategies for appealing to different types of online viewers."


Soon HBO subscribers will be able to stream the channel's content online.

Peter Kafka reviews HBO Go, says it's nice but duplicates Fancast.

JFK Controversy

A History documentary on John F. Kennedy that hasn't even begun production yet is already mired in political controversy. 24 co-creator Joel Surnow is involved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Diversity on the Way?

Hollywood Reporter says recent pilot orders portend a more racially diverse season to come: "The decades-old taboo that drama series with minority leads cannot work finally might be broken. Halfway through the castings of broadcast drama pilots this season, the top-billed actors on four pilots are non-Caucasian."

Lost and Masculine Mobility

In the wake of tonight's episode of Lost (so: spoiler alert), Liz Ellcessor shares some profound ideas about John Locke, disability, and masculinity.

Gold Medal Ads

NBC says its Olympics ads are more effective than regular ads: "Ads from auto advertisers, financial-services firms, movie studios and retailers during the Olympics are having more impact on viewer behavior than commercials airing in more typical TV programming, NBC said, citing data from Nielsen IAG, which measures likability and recall of ads, programs and product placements."

Mad Men Fine

Apparently you can't show smoking on Turkish TV. That's a problem for the stations airing Mad Men.

Olympics Coverage Reviewed

Tom Shales says NBC's Olympics coverage has been great. Spencer Hall says NBC's Olympics coverage has been awful.

And NewTeeVee says the online experience is a mixed bag.

And Henry Blodget wants NBC to answer for all the tape-delaying.

Fees Up

Multichannel News notes that higher retrans and carriage fees are on the way.

MTV Gets Real

Sara Libby sees 16 and Pregnant as a sign of MTV turning away the glamour of The Hills and toward the challenges of real life. The LA Times had a similar take in a previous article.

But I Saw This One Already!

Ever have the experience where you've only seen a few episodes of some long-running series, and when you happen to randomly catch an episode again, it's one that you've seen already? Alan Sepinwall has and is fishing for a good name for the experience.

Prime-Time Ratings: Monday

Monday night's fast nationals: the Olympics are still dominant, though The Bachelor fans remain devoted.

Will We Pay?

Nielsen has released the results of a study answering this question: Will consumers pay for online news and entertainment they now get for free? The answer: Maybe. Very nice chart here too.

A British Hulu

Next week will bring the launch in Britain of SeeSaw, an online video streaming service that will carry programming from the BBC, Channel 4, Five, and some independent producers. The Guardian speculates on how this and other online services will change TV in England. And paidContent fills us in on why Hulu itself hasn't managed to break into the U.K.

Money Makers

Conglomerate revenues are rising, says Hollywood Reporter.

More on Serial Future

Aaron Barnhart points out that the most successful serials are on pay cable right now: "The reality is that serials and commercial-supported TV are an uneasy marriage at best. The advertisers need people tuning in, not skipping over their ads five days later."

Cory Barker has chimed in by telling all the serial doomsayers to simmer down. There are some sharp comments following that article -- UPDATE: Barnhart has now commented in Barker's comments section -- and a similar post from TV By the Numbers draws one from Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter. And Jaime Weinman chimes in.

If you're looking for more on this, I had links to a few discussions about the future of serial TV a few weeks ago.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympics = Online Future

Brian Dudley explains how NBC's online Olympics strategy points toward the future of such ventures: "Although the technology for streaming video is getting better, it's also enabling content owners to apply more restrictions and controls to online video. In some ways, online broadcasts of the Vancouver Olympics preview what's coming from media companies, as they explore ways to charge for online content that used to be free."

The Wall Street Journal also has a feature on how NBC is trying to measure these online audiences and their habits.

New Network Brand & Programming

Lindsay Garrison at Antenna analyzes the network brand being fostered for a new kids cable channel called The Hub launched by a partnership between Discovery and Hasbro. And Hollywood Reporter reveals some of the programming The Hub will feature.

Website Measuring Spat

ABc and NBC are fighting over who can really lay claim to having the #1 network website, which highlights the lack of consensus on whose measurement numbers to follow with internet ratings.

Prime-Time Ratings: Sunday

Sunday night's fast nationals: The Olympics maintained ratings dominance, though CBS's Undercover Boss did well (so many people got to see the Hooter's CEO state that he was shocked! that women might be objectified in his restaurants).

Remake Rise

James Poniewozik notes the rise in remakes among pilot orders for next season, such as The Rockford Files.

Analyst Candidates

Another article on TV analysts turning into political candidates, this time from the New York Times' Brian Stelter. (I've linked to previous takes on this here.)

Netflix No HBO

Edward Jay Epstein advises against canceling your pay cable service in favor of streaming movies from Netflix.

Upfronts Predictions

The upfronts, where advertisers buy time from networks in advance of the season, aren't til May, but B&C is already making predictions: "While mid-February may be too soon to accurately predict where the market will land, there are already some pointers for those in the TV futures business. The ad market is under the microscope like never before, and for good reason...There's lots of hope and hype, but the jury is still out as investors look to see whether marketer spending will confirm the predicted comeback in the overall economy."

Mobile TV

The New York Times looks at the impending increase in on-the-go TV viewing faciliated by broadcasters: "Beginning in April, eight television stations in Washington, D.C., will broadcast a signal for a new class of devices that can show programming, even in a car at high speed. In all, 30 stations in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington have installed the necessary equipment, at a cost of $75,000 to $150,000."

Incidentally, this week's In Media Res line-up is all about mobile media.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Product Placement Regs

U.K. regulators have put sharp limits on product placements in commercial broadcast television shows.

Live TV Not Dead

AdAge says social media has helped spark the ratings of live TV event programming. And B&C says the huge ratings for recent big-event TV is a perfect storm of factors.

Prime-Time Ratings: Saturday

Saturday night: I haven't found numbers for much else, but the Olympics were the only thing that mattered on the networks Saturday night anyway. And nearly 100 million people tuned in across the first two nights of the Games. Sports also did well on cable, as TNT's All-Star game fun was its second-highest rated such airing ever.

It's Not a TV Director

HBO continues to try and convince us it's not TV by snagging Kathryn Bigelow as the director for a pilot penned by a two-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter.

Networks Developing Games

TV networks are starting to produce original web-based video games, ones that aren't TV show tie-ins: "The result -- and the reason why the Adult Swim team feels it made the right decision to publish original content exclusively -- is that the web site, which is ad-supported, averages over 26 minutes per month per visitor compared to the more typical under five minutes." The article notes that Channel 4 in Britain is doing the same thing for educational purposes.

Antenna Feature

I've taken over a feature for Antenna; every other week I'll post a set of stories that people may have missed relating to media industry news. So while you're covered with TV here, if you missed the news about Google Buzz, the Oscar campaign, and the Facebook push to get Betty White on SNL, head over there and check it out.

Craig Ferguson Profile

The LA Times profiles Craig Ferguson and his show: "He's doing something that, though constructed within the recognizable parameters of a late-night American comedy talk show, is all his own thing: personal and free, mindless of rules and yet in control of the medium. It is direct and intimate in a way that hearkens back to earlier, less frilly days of television, and it is also hilarious."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mockumentary Value

Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert argues in favor of the aesthetic value of the mockumentary format in shows like Modern Family and Parks & Recreation: "Pretending to be a documentary, simulating the air of fact with hand-held camerawork and direct-to-camera interviews, the mockumentary is more welcome than ever. It may be just the perfect foil for reality TV fakery and a still-needed alternative for the sitcom genre as a whole."

UPDATE: Noel Kirkpatrick is not a big fan of Gilbert's argument and sharply defends the conventional sitcom, which in turn reminds me of Ken Levine's Honeymooners experiment from last week.

Prime-Time Ratings: Friday

Friday night's fast nationals: NBC finally found a hit, with a 30 share average for the Opening Ceremonies. Now, if they can only figure out how to turn it into a series at 10pm.

Mogul Money

The Wrap gives us media mogul salary figures. Looks like they're doing ok.

Foreign Arabic TV

Numerous countries are vying to come up with a satellite channel that appeals to Arab audiences in the Middle East: "American, British, French, Russian, Chinese and Turkish satellite TV channels want a piece of the Arab viewers' pie by raising their profiles in the Arab region, with no real guarantees of success."

Addressable Advertising

NewTeeVee profiles a personalized ad technology: "Your cable box could easily measure any of your interactions with NBC and make use of this data to build up its model of your likes and dislikes. You’re regularly watching Heroes and Community? Then don’t be surprised to get some ads targeted towards comic book-loving 30-somethings the next time you turn into a cable channel, even if you’ve never watched that channel before."

Cable News

Cable operators are facing higher carriage fee demands, and cable channels take chances with off-net buys.

Friday, February 12, 2010

DVR Slow Growth

Wayne Friedman analyzes the slower-than-expected spread of DVRs.

Olympics TV

If you're psyched about the Olympics, you might like NBC's handy TV schedule guide and NewTeeVee's guide to watching online.

More Nielsen Super Bowl Analysis

Nielsen's still releasing Super Bowl findings, such as the top performers out of in-game advertisers, the rise in minority viewership for the game, especially among Hispanics (as well as the fact that rich people apparently love the Super Bowl), stats on websites visited during the game, a gender breakdown of Super Bowl ad likability, and an attempt to rank total ad effectiveness.

Prime-Time Ratings: Thursday

Thursday night's fast nationals: CBS rolled: Survivor's return beat Grey's, and The Mentalist won the night.

Sitcom Comparisons

Jaime Weinman explains why Parks and Recreation is to The Simpsons as The Office is to King of the Hill.

The Never-Ending Case

The FCC and CBS are still fighting over Janet Jackson's boob.

Reality TV Upside

James Poniewozik uses Survivor as an entryway into an expansive exploration of what's right with reality television: "There's more to reality TV than fame-crazy lunatics, 'roid-raging meatheads and silicone drama queens wearing little more than craftily deployed censors' pixelation. A decade after Survivor, reality TV has become too vast and diverse a genre to be defined by any one set of especially lousy shows. And for all of everyone's worries 10 years ago, reality TV hasn't crowded 'quality shows' off the air."

Friday Fun: 24 in '94

What would 24 look like had it aired in 1994? Maybe something like this:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sutter on 301

Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter has begun writing next season's opener, and he blogs about the challenge: "The truth is, often premiers are very different episodes from the others in a season. You have to complete, acknowledge and honor the episodic and emotional arcs from the end of the previous season as well as set up new characters, stories and themes. All that, plus it has to 'feel' like the show. In our case that means, it's gotta have some bloody f---ing balls. "

Everybody Loves Ellen

NBC's O&O's will get to keep The Ellen DeGeneres Show on their airwaves for at least through 2014, and Brian Stelter reports on why that's something NBCU finally got right: "Ms. DeGeneres’s star is rising at a stressful time for broadcast TV, when ratings and revenue for syndicated talk shows are far slimmer than they were at Ms. Winfrey’s peak. No one expects Ellen to literally replace Oprah in terms of popularity. But a hit show in syndication can still be a cash cow for its distributors and broadcasters; for Ms. Winfrey, it remains the cornerstone of a multibillion-dollar media empire. Now Warner Brothers is positioning Ms. DeGeneres as the next benefactor of the businesses."

TV Website Hits

Lost had the most visited TV show website last week in the broadcast category, but SpongeBob ruled over all challengers.

Hulu Affiliate

Liz Shannon Miller at NewTeeVee noticed an ABC affiliate logo branded on a Hulu-viewed episode of Lost: "The question I have is: will NBC and Fox feel the pressure from their own affiliates to increase their branding down the line? Or might Hulu one day be considered an affiliate in its own right, one that doesn’t serve a metropolitan area, but instead serves the entire World Wide Web?"

The Bubble

Got a show you like on the renewal bubble, Community, FlashForward, maybe Cold Case? James Hibberd predicts the upcoming renewals and cancellations.

Content = Ads = Content

AdAge's Brian Steinberg: "Never has it been more clear that commercials and content are fast becoming one and the same, wholly indistinguishable from each other."

A Wal-Mart/P&G Production

Wal-Mart is joining with Proctor & Gamble to produce a TV movie for NBC, and, in a blast from the past production models of yore, it will be solely sponsored by those two companies.

Honeymooners Experiment

Writer Ken Levine is conducting an experiment on his (awesome) blog: trying to determine if the young folk today find The Honeymooners (and by extension old sitcoms) funny.

Brand-Specific Ratings

Advertisers are pushing Nielsen to develop accurate ratings measurements on individual ad spots, not just ad breaks.

SyFy For Kyds

SyFy will soon launch children's programming: "The channel has a real chance to continue broadening its brand with the effort, veterans of this industry say, particularly when it comes to boys – an audience that Disney in particular has had a difficult time reaching in recent years."

Survivor's Survival

Survivor will premiere its new Heroes vs. Villains edition tonight. Andy Denhart explains why Survivor has persevered throughout the years: "Survivor has endured for 20 seasons and almost 10 years in no small part because its formula works."

Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday

Wednesday night's fast nationals: Idol won handily, of course, but ABC's The Middle and Modern Family approached series highs. Also, a repeat of SVU on NBC did 13% better than Leno had been averaging.

Mobile TV

Wird looks at the current state of mobile TV: "Mobile TV, which brings television news and shows to handheld devices, could be the next big thing for consumers who want to watch a game while on the subway, or catch up on their favorite TV show while waiting at the DMV. For instance, with Flo TV, you can get Jon Stewart on The Daily Show or live NBA games with a few clicks. The 3-inch screen is small, but it’s more convenient than a netbook."

Olympic Challenges

On the eve of the opening ceremonies, Meg James reports on NBC's challenges with getting people engaged in the Olympics, on TV and beyond.

Twitter stands to be heavily involved.

Snow Coverage

Some stories on the snowmageddon coverage, from New York, Philly, and Baltimore. And LocalNewsers has an overview, with a good story about a 13 year old who schooled some luddite Philly anchors.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Online Video News

Hulu is getting more deeply involved with original Web series; the majority of online video viewing takes place on so-called Long Tail sites; and Apple could be lowering the iTunes price for TV shows soon, hoping to ignite sales.

Public Access Matters

Media advocacy executive Tracy Rosenberg believes public access television is still crucially important today.

Parks & Rec Interview

If you watched last week's Parks and Recreation, you might enjoy this interview with the episode's writer, and even if you didn't, it also gives a good glimpse at the collaborative process of TV writing.

Apple & TV

Sheila Seles offers two ways that Apple ("an increasingly entertainment-focused company that hasn't made an impact on the most popular entertainment of all -- TV") can break into the TV market.

Related news, Hulu might be working on something that will make it work with the iPad.

Critic Podcast

Good snowed-in listening: TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Daniel Fienberg are back with another podcast, "debating and/or discussing the Chuck-pocalypse, last night's Lost, American Idol, Past Life, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, HBO's How To Make It In America, and the end of the DirecTV run of Friday Night Lights."

Disney is Money

Disney is making bank lately, and that will only encourage them to dig up more through retrans cash for ABC and carriage fees for ESPN.

Prime-Time Ratings: Tuesday

Tuesday night's fast nationals: the people love Ellen, and they love NCIS only slightly less.

Oprah is Money

Discovery Communications is envisioning major revenue from their joint venture with Oprah Winfrey's network, particularly in terms of the carriage fees they'll likely demand from cable operators.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Retrans Concerns

Earlier today I posted a few articles about how broadcasters think retrans fees could be great for them. But Larry Gerbrandt reminds us that retrans might not be so hot from a consumer perspective: "The reality is that no cable or satellite operator is going to absorb the expected increases in retransmission fees; they'll simply pass them on to consumers."

iPhone as Mini-TV

Do you like your TV to be really small? Then you'll be excited to learn of AT&T's announcement that you soon could be able to watch live TV on your iPhone.

Much Ado About Chuck

Chuck nation has responded with a frenzy to last night's episode. I won't spoil the plot developments for those still waiting to watch the episode, but the post-episode discussion is too good to not acknowledge. Alan Sepinwall has a recap of the episode, as well as what he termed a Chuck-pocalypse taking place in his comments section. Then Linda Holmes and Myles McNutt defend the show from its own fan attackers, while Jaime Weinman says the creators are now lying in a bed of their own making. I highly recommend the Holmes piece for its awesome "TV viewers are on a bus" metaphor.

Sepinwall has interviewed
Chuck co-creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak about the furor. And James Poniewozk chimes in.


The Wall Street Journal's Martin Peers thinks cable might benefit from copying the iPad's model for books: "A better approach might be for cable operators to get out of the business of packaging channels and simply sell access to their pipes, letting network owners market their programming directly to consumers. That is essentially how Apple's iPad bookstore will operate, as a storefront for book publishers to sell their books. Apple will take a 30% cut."

The Wire Context

In conjunction with his course on The Wire, Jason Mittell has posted an essay about the relationship of The Wire to 21st century television, the "industrial, technological, and aesthetic contexts of television that helped shape The Wire, and enabled it to make it to commercial television in the first place."