Daily Marauder



Beatrice Arthur, 86, star of two iconic television series, died peacefully Saturday at home. Beatrice won Emmy Awards for her role in the 1970s television series Maude and also for her role as Dorothy in the 1980s series The Golden Girls. (Cynopsis 4/27)


With an average prime-time delivery of 2.26 million in the first quarter, Fox News Channel with relative ease locked up the No. 2 spot among ad-supported cable networks. But now, the right-leaning news outlet is even looking to oust general-interest network USA as the top cable programmer. Mediaweek (4/27)

President Obama’s communications handlers acknowledge that today’s evolving media landscape works to their advantage. Both network television and newspapers are “bleeding” and are “less powerful.” And Obama is “more popular” than all of the media “combined.” (Iwantmedia 4/27, http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/27/new-media-no-match-for-popular-president 4/27)


The major television networks are said to be unhappy with President Obama’s frequent primetime speeches, which are costing them some $10 million per hour in lost advertising revenue. Their revenue models didn’t “anticipate monthly State of the Unions.” (Iwantmedia 4/27, http://www.nypost.com/seven/04252009/business/an_obama_overload_166061.htm 4/25)

NBC says Jay Leno is its top marketing focus for 2009. “Leno is the single most important marketing priority of the year,” according to marketing head Adam Stotsky. The network is considering positioning the new primetime Leno show as a companion to its news programming. (Iwantmedia 4/27, http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/209983-NBC_Leno_Top_Marketing_Priority.php 4/27)

Fox is facing an uncomfortable future, as Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell — the two biggest stars on its No. 1-rated show “American Idol” — openly discuss leaving, which could send viewership plummeting in future seasons. Millions of dollars in advertising revenue could be at risk. (Iwantmedia 4/27, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSTRE53M0NB20090425 4/24)


CNN, whose strategy is to steer the middle course in its news coverage, is ranked fourth among the cable news channels. Even CNN’s own staffers say its news formula may be preventing the network from competing effectively. (Iwantmedia 4/27, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/business/media/27cnn.html?_r=1 4/27)

CNN uses less opinion than its competitors. Lou Dobbs is an exception.


MTV on Tuesday is expected to announce a new reality show called “The Stylist,” an occupational-competition series about fashion and accessory designers who will vie for a major contract. According to published reports, the show is a bit of a departure for MTV because its format will be reminiscent of series on Bravo, the CW and TLC. The Hollywood Reporter (4/26)

Two financial earnings reports to be released this week — Time Warner on Wednesday and Viacom on Thursday — are expected to provide the first detailed indication of how the cable industry fared financially in the first quarter of the year. Time Warner owns cable networks such as TNT, TBS and CNN, and Viacom’s channels include Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. The Wall Street Journal (4/26)

Analysts are blaming Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman for everything from MTV’s sagging ratings to the 44% fall in the company’s share price since he started. Some investors say they hope that “someday a CEO will come along” who can get more out of the company’s assets. (Iwantmedia 4/27, https://home.crainsnewyork.com/clickshare/authenticateUserSubscription.do?CSProduct=newyorkbusiness-web&CSAuthReq=1240855640:373352450840243&CSTargetURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crainsnewyork.com%2Fapps%2Fpbcs.dll%2Fsection%3Ftemplate%3Dlogin_response 4/27)

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Harking back to its heyday, ABC made a deal to bring back Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for a limited two-week stint this summer, in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. Regis Philbin will also return as host for the 11-night run beginning August 9. The one-hour show will air Sunday-Thursday at 8p, ending on August 23. ABC saw interest in the game show revive based on the successful feature film Slumdog Millionaire which features the Indian version of the game show. (Cynopsis 4/23)


Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, collectively, are becoming the face of NBC Universal‘s Oxygen cable network. “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood” on May 26 will begin its fourth season on Oxygen, the network is developing a new show titled “Mr. and Mrs. Makeover” that the two will host, the pair are in talks with the network to star in a telepic and Spelling is set to produce content for Oxygen’s Web site based on her book “Mommyhood.” Variety (4/22)


NBC exiled drama series Kings off its schedule entirely. Beginning this Saturday, NBC will air repeats of Law & Order: SVU, followed by the new Southland and Law & Order. The network will allow Kings to bow on its schedule again starting June 13 at 8p and finishing its run through July 25. (Cynopsis 4/23)


NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox are facing both growing competition and dwindling advertising dollars. The 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. prime-time period is likely to become shorter and networks may start turning over programming to outsiders on some nights of the week, say industry execs. (Iwantmedia 4/23, http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/apr2009/db20090422_256972.htm 4/22)

The hostility between Fox News Channel and MSNBC reached a fever pitch when Fox producer Jesse Waters infiltrated the GE shareholders meeting and asked company execs about an alleged leftward political slant at their cable news channel. Waters’ microphone was cut off. (Iwantmedia 4/23, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/finance/news/e3i888016761f9ec8245aee50586df5ba1a 4/22)

ABC is heading north of the border for a new series to add to its primetime lineup, picking up a Canadian cop drama titled Copper, cites THR. The 13-episode series about rookie cops is described as being similar to Grey’s Anatomy. (Cynopsis 4/23)

African-American-skewing BET is creating a new network that will launch in October. The new network, to be called Centric, will complement BET, executives said, by targeting a slightly older and more affluent demographic. The New York Times (4/23) , Multichannel News (4/22)

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The NBC drama “ER” will air its series finale Thursday after 15 seasons, leaving behind a splintered prime-time landscape as the networks struggle to compete in a digital world. Executive producer Neal Baer admits: “I doubt we will ever see the likes of a show like ‘ER’ again.” (Iwantmedia 3/30, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-er28-2009mar28,0,1083134.story 3/28)


Time Warner’s CNN is set to finish March third in prime-time ratings behind Fox News Channel and MSNBC, the first time this has ever happened for the channel that pioneered the cable news genre. CNN is suffering more audience erosion than its rivals. (Iwantmedia 3/30, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090328/ap_on_en_tv/tv_cnn_in_third 3/27)

NBC sliced the cooking competition series Chopping Block from its primetime schedule after airing episodes for only three weeks. NBC told affiliates last Thursday night the series will be off Wednesday nights as of next week, replaced with reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent previously seen on NBC. Chopping Block, featuring Chef Marco Pierre premiered March 12 and NBC will likely air the remaining episodes at a later date. (Cynopsis 3/30)

MTV is adding more music videos to its schedule — at 3 a.m. The Viacom network is launching “AMTV,” a six-hour block for music videos and related programming, harking back to MTV’s origins as a 24-hour home for music videos. The new schedule gives MTV a “palette to experiment.” (Iwantmedia 3/30, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/business/media/30mtv.html 3/29)

Tiffany “New York” Pollard returns to reality TV in a new series for VH1 titled New York Goes to Work opening May 4 at 10p. Viewers will vote via their mobile phones each week on three possible job opportunities for Tiffany. If she does well and impresses her employers, she gets a $5,000 weekly bonus, but if she quits, gets fired or messes up, she gets nothing. Episodes will be available at VH1.com the day after each air on the network. (Cynopsis 3/30)

CBS dropped the most in four months in New York trading Monday after UBS analyst Michael Morris recommended selling the shares because the advertising slump may be deeper and longer than expected. Industry-wide ad sales in 2010 will be “very similar” to this year. (Iwantmedia 3/30, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=awY0atdMmecA 3/30)

As expected, Charter Communications has filed for bankruptcy as a way of restructuring its debt. As a result of the move, the country’s fourth-largest cable company will gain about $3 billion through refinancing and new equity investment and pare back its debt load by about $8 billion. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (3/28) , Light Reading (3/27)

Comcast is reconfiguring its video-on-demand architecture and, according to this article, is developing two centralized libraries for its VOD assets, one in West Chester, Pa., and the other in Denver. The initiative apparently will enable the cable firm to offer more than 100,000 VOD titles and a platform for serving personalized ads on a national basis. Comcast officials declined to comment. Multichannel News (3/30)

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March 26, 2009, 7:48 PM
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE | Tags: , , , , , , ,


President Obama’s second primetime press conference Tuesday night culminated a week-long whirlwind of media appearances. The one-hour event at 8p aired live on 11 networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC and mun2  with a combined audience of 40.4 million viewers and a combined HH rating of 25.9. (Cynopsis 3/26)


Nearly a third of young Americans believe Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are taking the place of traditional news sources like CNN, according to a new Rasmussen poll. The “CBS Evening News” is being “replaced” by “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show.” (Iwantmedia 3/26, http://www.popeater.com/television/article/stewart-colbert-replacing-old-news-guys/397294 3/25)


Discovery CEO David Zaslav is seen as cable television’s “fastest rising star,” with a media empire across 173 countries. Zaslav’s boldest move may be the new Oprah Winfrey Network, a channel he will launch by early next year. Oprah is expected to be Discovery’s “biggest brand.” (Iwantmedia 3/26, http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/23/david-zaslav-discovery-communications-business-media-zaslav.html 3/24)


Fox Broadcasting’s move to offer the new drama “Fringe” with limited commercial interruption is finding success, with audiences showing better-than-average ad recall, according to Magna Global. Viewer ad recall is “enhanced” by fewer, shorter breaks. (Iwantmedia 3/26, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Fringe-limited-ad-experiment-shows/story.aspx?guid=%7B7560BA2F%2DE1E8%2D40F6%2D9E2D%2DAA9A2553410A%7D 3/25)


Tuesday night’s season finale of Bad Girls Club on Oxygen was the top telecast for the day with W18-34 among all cable networks and became the series’ most watched telecast among total viewers. Bad Girls Club’s final episode also generated a lot of online activity as it was one of the top ten topics on Twitter. (Cynopsis 3/26)Bad Girls Club


Cable and telephone providers are thinking local, with programming under way or in the works that spotlights community news, traffic updates and weather reports. “Hyperlocal content is a big draw because people really care about what happens right around them,” said Neal Polachek, chief executive of research firm Kelsey Group. The Wall Street Journal (3/25)


Turner Networks’ research indicates that the top 35 ad-supported cable networks gained 7% in total viewers in prime time during the first quarter. According to Turner, which based its findings on Nielsen data, cable networks such as Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, Cartoon Network and Food Network showed some of the biggest gains. Variety (3/25)

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is hiring Time Warner exec Kelli Turner as CFO. She succeeds Howard Hochhauser, who left at year’s end for the parent firm of Ancestry.com. At Time Warner, Turner held the position of senior VP of operations in the office of the chairman and CEO. (Iwantmedia 3/26, http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Martha-Stewart-Living-names-apf-14752821.html 3/26)

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President Obama’s first address to a Joint Session of Congress this past Tuesday in primetime reached nearly 52.4 million total viewers. The speech was carried live on 10 television networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. (Cynopsis 2/27)


Bravo’s season five finale of Top Chef: New York Wednesday night at 10p cooked up 2.77 million A18-49 viewers and 3.74 million total viewers. According to Nielsen, this season ranks as the highest rated ever as Top Chef: New York averaged 2.14 million A18-49 viewers and 3.02 million total viewers, up 18% and 19% respectively versus Season #4. (Cynopsis 2/27)


The Golf Channel on Wednesday attracted 1.7 million viewers to its first-round coverage of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the largest audience ever to have tuned in to a first round of golf televised by the network. Not coincidentally, it was also the return to action of Tiger Woods. The New York Times (2/26)


FOX ordered two more seasons of The Simpsons ensuring the longest-running primetime series in history goes through its 22nd season. The network approved 44 additional episodes, taking the total library episode count just under 500 at 493. Currently the show is in its 20th season and a global year-long celebration called “Best. 20 Years. Ever” is underway through January 14, 2010, the actual 20th anniversary of the show’s premiere. (Cynopsis 2/27)


CBS confirmed it will continue reality competition series Survivor through the 2009-2010 season, serving up the 19th and 20th editions. Jeff Probst will also remain as host. (Cynopsis 2/27)

General Electric is slashing its quarterly dividend by nearly 68%, a move expected to save about $9 billion a year. The parent of NBC Universal has been paying a regular dividend for more than 100 years. Shares of GE have fallen nearly 70% since mid-September. (Iwantmedia 2/27, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/GE-slashes-quarterly-dividend-save/story.aspx?guid=%7B618EAEEE%2DE61D%2D4522%2DA8B3%2D21D8DE89E8FE%7D 2/27)

Discovery Channel on Wednesday will debut “Hudson Plane Crash: What Really Happened,” the story of the US Airways flight that crash-landed in the Hudson River in January without the loss of life. The one-hour documentary will feature interviews with passengers, rescuers and aviation experts as well as a new computer animation that will break down the miraculous landing. Broadcasting & Cable (2/26)


Comedian/producer Jerry Seinfeld reunites with NBC for a new primetime comedy-reality series created by Seinfeld’s Columbus 81 Productions and executive producer Ellen Rakieten (The Oprah Winfrey Show) called The Marriage Ref (wt). The series will feature celebrities, comedians and sports stars all judging and offering advice to real-life couples dealing with typical marital problems. In describing the show concept Seinfeld said, “This is not a therapy show, it’s a comedy show.  After nine years of marriage I have discovered that the comedic potential of this subject is quite rich.” NBC so far has not indicated when the show will premiere or be scheduled. (Cynopsis 2/27)

Time Warner says it will complete the spinoff of cable unit Time Warner Cable on March 27. The spinoff is intended to transform the conglomerate into a company more focused on movies, TV programming and magazines and to make both companies more competitive. (Iwantmedia 2/27, http://www.smartmoney.com/news/ON/?story=ON-20090226-001239-1731 2/27)

The cable division within highly diversified Cablevision Systems Corp. reported that revenue grew 7.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008. The cable provider added a total of 101,000 revenue-generating units during the period, including 53,000 VoIP subscribers. Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge announced that the company had a wideband service for residential and business customers in the works, but he did not give a specific release date. OneTRAK (2/26) , The Wall Street Journal (2/27) , Light Reading (2/26)

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February 25, 2009, 6:52 PM
Filed under: BROADCAST/CABLE | Tags: , , , , , , ,


Comcast will serve up on its video-on-demand platform in March an exclusive music video package featuring the rock band U2 and its new album, “No Line on the Horizon.” The company, which has more than 1,000 HD offerings via VOD, already has premiered one song off the new album. The Boston Globe (2/24) , NewsOXY.com (2/24)


The CW has announced a handful of renewals for Fall 2009 – five dramas and one reality show. Among the early pickups for next season are Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill; frosh series 90210; a ninth season of Smallville; a fifth season of Supernatural; in addition to cycles 13 and 14 of America’s Next Top Model. (Cynopsis 2/25)

Spotted: Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford last night in the meatpacking district looking as good as I thought they would.


Fox News and MSNBC are seeing big audience gains, while CNN is shedding a large share of its audience. CNN shows hosted by Anderson Cooper and Lou Dobbs are losing viewers; MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is bringing in 134% more viewers than the time period had last year. (Iwantmedia 2/25, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2009/02/fox-news-and-ms.html 2/24)

“Army Wives,” Lifetime’s most successful series, has been picked up for a fourth season on the female-friendly network even before the third season has premiered. Lifetime ordered 18 new episodes for Season 4, which will debut sometime in 2010. Broadcasting & Cable (2/24)


Summer reality competition series So You Think You Can Dance is scheduled to open its fifth season on FOX with a two-night, four-hour premiere May 21 and May 27 at 8p. (Cynopsis 2/25)

Turner Networks, the big cable programmer that last year made headlines when it scheduled its upfront presentation for ad executives in the midst of the broadcast sessions, and drew comparisons between its lineup and that of NBC, is at it again: The company, with powerhouse networks TNT and TBS, will stage this year’s upfront event on May 20, the same day as CBS. Variety (2/24)

The CW approved a drama pilot order for The Beautiful Life, a drama from executive producer Ashton Kutcher. Featuring an ensemble cast, the drama follows a group of young models living together in New York City. (Cynopsis 2/25)

An updated version of Melrose Place also received a pilot order from The CW. CBS Paramount Network Television will produce the drama about a group of twentysomethings living in the upscale Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Cynopsis 2/25)


Andy Richter is joining Conan O’Brien as NBC’s The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien begins June 1. Richter will be show’s announcer and also be involved in live and pre-taped comedy sketches. (Cynopsis 2/25)


Nickelodeon has the No. 1 ad-sales organization in television, according to results of the 25th annual “Myers Survey of Advertising Executives on National TV Value and Sales Organization Performance.” The Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group bested more than 35 other national TV sales groups from cable and broadcast to win the competition for the first time. Multichannel News (2/24)

Cable provider RCN added 12,000 customers in the fourth quarter of last year and generated revenue of $188 million, a 12% increase. News of the company’s better-than-expected quarterly results sent its stock 14.7% higher in Tuesday trading. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (2/24) , CED Magazine (2/2009) , OneTRAK (2/24)

The latest data from Nielsen show that 15 ad-supported cable networks increased their prime-time ratings — nine of them by double digits — from Jan. 26 to Feb. 22. USA Network was the top network with 3.41 million viewers in prime time during that period, a 13% increase, and made a strong showing in all the key demos. Mediaweek (2/24)

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President Obama’s first primetime press conference Monday night, airing live from 8p to 9p drew in nearly 49.5 million viewers over eight networks – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Univision, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. The hour also posted a combined 30.8 HH rating. (Cynopsis 2/11)


Details of the programming philosophy behind Epix — the premium cable channel formed by Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate that will launch online in May 2010 and on TV that October — are beginning to take shape. According to this report, Epix this summer will begin shooting “Tough Trade,” an original scripted drama about the high and low notes of a family musical dynasty in Nashville, Tenn. The Hollywood Reporter (2/10)

Showtime gave a renewal nod to The United States of Tara for a second season. The drama starring Toni Collette as a woman with multiple personalities has averaged 2.1 million viewers per week, including repeat airings. (Cynopsis 2/11)

As this is my favorite show this season, I praise the TV gods over this announcement.


NBC approved a new series featuring peak performance strategist Tony Robbins. The series is described as life-changing as Robbins will mentor participants through personal challenges offering them a chance to refurbish their futures. Reveille will produce the series. (Cynopsis 2/11)


NBC selected two more comedy pilots: The first called Community is billed as similar to the movie Stripes set though in a community college and the second one is a cast-contingent pilot order for 100 Questions for Charlotte Payne. (Cynopsis 2/11)

MTV is giving rapper/record producer Snoop Dogg his own weekly variety show called Dogg After Dark. Premiering next Tuesday at 9p, the Los Angeles-based series will highlight interviews, sketch comedy and music performances. (Cynopsis 2/11)


Anne Heche will co-star in upcoming HBO comedy series Hung, playing the ex-wife to Ray (Thomas Jane) who is remarried. Production for the series begins mid-March with a premiere date expected in June. (Cynopsis 2/11)

The CW is moving the twelfth season premiere of America‘s Next Top Model to March 4 at 8p, a week later than planned. The opening episode also expands to two hours. (Cynopsis 2/11)

Shares of Time Warner shares dropped nearly 8% in New York trading Tuesday after Sanford Bernstein analyst Michael Nathanson downgraded the media giant to “market perform” from “outperform,” driven by declines at AOL and the Time Inc. magazine publishing unit. (Iwantmedia 2/11, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=auIz_yeGg_xw 2/10)

Up until very recently, the prevailing wisdom among media analysts was that “content is king.” Now, movies, television shows, magazines, radio programming and Internet content are being devalued. “No one knows to what extent content will be ‘re-valued’ as the economy improves.” (Iwantmedia 2/11, http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1878711,00.html 2/11)

An increasing number of Americans are cutting their ties to cable companies and traditional DVD outlets in favor of the growing availability of free or low-cost video content that can be found online at places such as Hulu.com and Netflix.com, according to this story. Estimates suggest that cable subscriptions are down more than 1 million U.S. households and that DVD sales fell 8% last year. CNNMoney.com/Dow Jones Newswires (2/9)

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