Daily Marauder



TV viewers will see more of Al Roker on weekday mornings as he signed on to host a new program for The Weather Channel called Wake Up With Al. The 60m program, with TWC’s Stephanie Abrams as co-host, will begin each weekday at 6a starting this summer. Wake Up With Al will offer an in-depth look at the day’s weather and Roker will appear in the studio, chatting with guests and viewers as well as in the field, reporting on weather where it happens. (Cynopsis 4/30)


NBC picked up another season of The Celebrity Apprentice slated for Spring 2010 from Mark Burnett Productions in association with Trump Productions LLC. Currently, this season The Celebrity Apprentice is averaging a 3.5/9 among A18-49 with 8.6 million overall viewers. (Cynopsis 4/30)


Viacom says its first-quarter profit fell 34%, hurt by falling advertising and entertainment revenue. But CEO Philippe Dauman is pointing to signs of an ad turnaround, a critical factor for the company’s cable assets. “Over the past few weeks we have seen the ad market stabilize.” (Iwantmedia 4/30, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090430/ap_on_bi_ge/us_earns_viacom 4/30)

Sumner Redstone says he has no plans to step down anytime soon or give up his controlling positions in CBS or Viacom. “I have no intention of dying.” Also, newspapers are one business “I’d never be in.” (Iwantmedia 4/30, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSTRE53S9C520090429 4/29)

Peter Chernin is keeping his cards close to his vest about his post-News Corp. plans, but dismisses talk that he is being wooed by Viacom. “Nothing, no conversations,” says News Corp.’s president and COO. (Iwantmedia 4/30, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2009/04/panel.html 4/29)

Time Warner Cable during the first quarter beat analysts’ expectations by adding 36,000 basic-video subscribers, 121,000 digital-video customers, 225,000 high-speed Internet subscribers and 166,000 phone lines. The country’s second-largest cable provider reported that revenue was up 5%, to $4.4 billion, but net profit fell to $164 million. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (4/30) , OneTRAK (4/29) , Reuters (4/29)

Powered by its “Waking the Baby Mammoth” special, National Geographic Channel recorded its best April performance during prime time. From March 30 to April 26, the network averaged 445,000 total viewers as well as a 0.28 rating in the 25-to-54 demographic group, the latter of which was a 17% gain. Multichannel News (4/29)

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Increasingly iconic online video-rental firm Netflix has announced that it has crossed the 2-billion-delivery mark. The company, founded in 1999, has more than 10 million subscribers and ships about 2 million discs every day. Reuters (4/2)


Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is defensive of the company’s “TV Everywhere” premise. The industry “can’t just blow up the revenue structure” that cable operators and programmers have come to rely upon by continuing to stream shows free online to people who don’t pay. (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/time-warner-ceo-you-cant/story.aspx?guid=%7B5D0E3B69-73D0-408D-AA5E-2DA7BE4EB96B%7D 4/2)

(Below)  It’s a VERY interesting discussion.  In fact, I think this discussion regarding the online subscription model without commercials vs. the free ad-supported model is the most interesting discussion in the digital distribution world these days.  Here’s the thing.  I think that most people won’t pay for content unless that content is connected to a television screen.  If content is provided on a monthly basis for online, that content needs to be easily connected to a television environment which these days is still narrowed to the tech elite.  As the connections from online to the television increase in simplicity and allowance, I think this model will make a whole lot more sense.  But unfortunately, the revenue structure can blow up.  In fact, it already has.  Now, it’s a question of what that revenue structure will become as the pieces come back together.  The race to making money is one of that I find most interesting and the most critical to content providers.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman says that there is unlikely to be a negative consumer backlash against the Time Warner-led “TV Everywhere” plan. “People are used to paying for video subscriptions. They’re used to paying for broadband service, so there’s nothing new there.” (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Viacom-CEO-sees-no-backlash/story.aspx?guid=%7B52C63A77%2D6EED%2D45EB%2D85D6%2D5A39F02B4139%7D 4/2)

Disney CEO Bob Iger has reservations about walling off online content on a subscription basis, particularly content from broadcasters like ABC, which he notes is free over the air and depends on advertising. Such a move “could be viewed as anti-consumer.” (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.smartmoney.com/news/ON/?story=ON-20090402-000767-1047 4/2)

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone appeared on The Colbert Report last night. In case you haven’t seen it already, the video is embedded above. Stone describes Twitter as “The messaging system that we didn’t know we needed until we had it.” To which Colbert responds: “That sounds like the answer to a problem we didn’t have until I invented the answer.” (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/03/biz-stone-plays-it-cool-on-colbert/ 4/3)


Digg may have 19 million unique visitors and nearly 85 million pageviews (Comscore worldwide, Feb ‘09), but one thing it’s never had is a decent search engine. There’s no rhyme or reason to the ordering of results. A lot of stuff just seems to disappear. And the filters are overly complicated.  That’ll change in the near future, the company noted in a blog post today. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/02/digg-to-finally-fix-search-see-the-screenshot/ 4/2)

The new Digg toolbar product called DiggBar launched yesterday. If you want to try it out immediately, just add “digg.com/” before any URL at all (the image above is using the techcrunch domain).  The toolbar is made for the new Twitter generation, which has a desperate need for very short URLs to fit in the tiny space allotted per message. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/02/diggs-toolbar-is-here-go-shorten-those-urls/ 4/2)

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Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid




Digital Hollywood

Being that I’ve just come from SXSW in Austin, it’s a bit of a culture shock arriving at Digital Hollywood this morning in NYC.  Before I give you the highlights from today, how about I start with a top ten list on the major differences between SXSW and Digi Hollywood?  I tried to make it a mix of pros and cons for both but by and large, my mission here is simple humor.  I’m good for that.

The Top Ten List: SXSW vs. Digital Hollywood

1) Digital Hollywood attendees think ‘monetization’ whereas SXSW attendees think ‘audience size’…by and large.

2) DH peeps rock a suit.  SXSW…more like whatever they rolled out of bed in after a night of binge drinking at Pure Volume.

3) DH: Wine. SXSW: Beer and the more the better.

4) DH: Dell  SXSW: Apple

5) DH: More coat check. Less filler.  SXSW: More stickers.  More graffiti.  More idea generation.  Less shampoo.

6) DH: No Wi-Fi (except in the conference center using some convoluted means to log on)  SXSW: Wi-Fi convention-wide (with small exceptions) AT&T…not so much.

7) DH: Overheard in the bathroom: Nothing.  SXSW: Overheard in the bathroom… Friend1: I just joined twitter this morning. Friend 2: JUST this morning?!? Friend1: Yah. (obvious embarrassment)

8) DH: What’s twitter? SXSW: Holy sh#t! Did you see that last guy’s tweet?! Someone just won SXSW Bingo.

9) DH: Keynote: Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC)  SXSW: Keynote: James Powderly (Co-founder Graffiti Research Lab)

10) DH: The entire traditional media universe peppered with some digi distribution folks.  SXSW: The entire web development community with little to no content creators.

In case you need another visual to drive this one home, have at it…





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MTV’s recent ratings hurdles can be attributed in part to the poor performance of reality competition series in repeats, says Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. “We are aiming to have more diverse genres of original programming.” He adds: MTV is “still an extremely vibrant brand.” (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=101322 3/2)


Live viewing at CBS, Fox, NBC, My Network TV and The CW are dropping, according to a report from Los Angeles-based advertising agency RPA. Ratings are being hurt by fewer new shows and the return of shows that typically wouldn’t have been renewed, among other factors. (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/189241-Report_Ratings_Picture_Not_Pretty.php 2/27)

The deflated economy may have created one bright spot for ESPN: More sports-loving men are taking a larger role in making household financial decisions. “Most of the research now shows it is a dual decision,” said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports customer sales and marketing. “A guy is very much involved in that, so I think there’s a change in the male consumer — there’s a change in the economy — and we like our position based upon that going forward.” MediaPost Communications (3/2)

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says the media company will consider making acquisitions that do not present “stupid prices and execution risks.” Also: While the Time Inc. magazine division is translating well online, separating it from the rest of the company could “make sense.” (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090302-712580.html 3/2)

U.S. television networks may sell fewer advertisements before the start of the 2009-2010 season, according to CBS chief Les Moonves. Prices for such “upfront” ads are expected to rise. He adds that CBS is producing fewer pilot TV programs to cut costs. (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aDNf1HCStaWo 3/3)

Lionsgate has officially closed its $255 million acquisition of TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online from Macrovision. The cable TV channel currently is available in about 83 million homes. Home Media Magazine (3/2) , Variety (3/2)

Google TV Ads, a program aiming to improve the relevance of television advertising, is signing up CNBC, the third network to be added as a result of a partnership with NBC Universal. The Internet giant says is “looking forward to launching MSNBC, Oxygen and SciFi in the coming months.” (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/03/02/google-tv-ads-scores-cnbc-deal 3/3)

While Dish Network is posting a 24% increase in fourth-quarter profit, the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider is losing thousands of customers, reflecting intensifying competition. Similarly, EchoStar is reporting a quarterly loss of almost $700 million owing to a handful of one-time costs. (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Satellite-TV-firms-take-hit/story.aspx?guid=%7BEF69AD28%2DDA23%2D4C7F%2DBF04%2DFCB0136AD12B%7D 3/2)

Via deal with DirecTV, CBS College Sports Network has expanded its overall household reach to 30+ million subscribers, and has been moved to DirecTV’s Choice Xtra package, making it available to a wider audience. CBS College Sports is also available thru DirecTV’s Premiere package and Sports Pack. (Cynopsis 3/3)

Charter Communications has introduced a new cross-platform package of sports content called Sports View Plus. The new offering, which costs $10 a month, combines linear digital-TV channels such as CBS College Sports, ESPNews, Fox College Sports and Fuel TV with access to Web sites such as FOXSports.com, MLB.com and NASCAR.COM. OneTRAK (3/2)

TiVo lost 611,000 net subscribers in the last 12 months, to stand at 3.3 million as of Jan. 31, says CEO Tom Rogers. However, cable giant Comcast is making progress in deploying its DVR service, he adds. Plus, Comcast “is in the process of adding and sharpening offers.” (Iwantmedia 3/3, http://www.multichannel.com/article/189366-TiVo_Loses_611_000_Subs_Over_Last_Year.php 3/3)

RCN has formed a partnership with SnagFilms.com that will give the cable provider access to nearly 600 documentaries available on the Web site. In return, SnagFilms will get a widget on RCN’s Web site and a SnagFilms movie of the week on RCN’s linear and on-demand channels. Broadcasting & Cable (3/2)

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MISC by Marauder
June 23, 2008, 6:30 AM
Filed under: MISC | Tags: , , , , , , ,


Viacom‘s Paramount Pictures may benefit from a split with Steven Spielberg‘s DreamWorks film studio, says JPMorgan Chase. Paramount may improve profit by making lower-budget films under the Nickelodeon and MTV labels, the strategy of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. (Iwantmedia 6/23, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=agUyhWkMHbjo 6/20)

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Manhattan-based CKX, led by CEO Robert Sillerman and “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, is agreeing to a management-led buyout for $1.2 billion, 13% less than a previous agreement. The lower price means that Sillerman and Fuller will pay $150 million less for the company. (Iwantmedia 5/29, http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080528/FREE/332689091/1084 5/29)

Ever since word of Katie Couric’s supposed lame-duck status at CBS News spread far and wide across the Internet last month, the ratings at her evening news show have continued to drop. CBS “Evening News with Katie Couric” is said to have hit a new low last week. (Iwantmedia 5/29, http://www.observer.com/2008/deja-vous-cbs-evening-news-hits-another-record-low 5/29)

Viacom expects a slower rate of U.S. advertising growth in the second quarter than in the first quarter, according to CEO Philippe Dauman. The company’s second-quarter domestic ad revenue is expected to grow 3% to 4%. “Right now, we’re in an economically uncertain environment.” (Iwantmedia 5/29, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSWEN594720080528 5/29)

A consortium led by NBC Universal is putting the final touches on a financing package that could turn its proposed acquisition of The Weather Channel into a reality. According to this report, NBCU, along with private-equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone, would put up between $3 billion and $4 billion, with more than half — $1.8 billion — in equity. Financial Times (5/29)

Disney President and CEO Bob Iger, during an investor conference, said he would consider upping the company’s stake in Lifetime and A&E, but likely would not be interested in acquiring any more broadcast-TV stations. Disney currently controls 50% of Lifetime and 37.5% of A&E. Broadcasting & Cable (5/29)

MTV Networks and NBC Sports are teaming up to expand the Action Sports Tour, a global, youth-focused, action-sports business. The franchise includes the Dew Tour, which was created by NBC in 2005 and encompasses action sports like skateboarding and freestyle motocross. (Iwantmedia 5/29, http://www.worldscreen.com/newscurrent.php?filename=mtv052808.htm 5/29)



Speaking at a news conference in New Orleans at the opening of The Cable Show,Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman told reporters that he’s having “good conversations” with cable companies about carrying the pay-TV channel being developed by Paramount, MGM and Lions Gate. Dauman jokingly said that he kept a blank contract sheet for the upcoming venture in his pocket, just in case executives such as Comcast’s Brian Roberts have a pen that’s ready to write. (The Hollywood Reporter 5/19)

Sci Fi Channel has effectively expanded the boundaries of the science fiction genre and, not incidentally, the channel’s role in parent NBC Universal‘s global strategy. “For an international standpoint, we really have two global brands. We have CNBC … and Sci Fi,” said NBCU Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Zucker. “Business is universal. And science fiction is such a well-known global genre.” (The New York Times 5/19)

“Battlestar Galactica” is one of the Sci Fi Channel’s biggest hits.

Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons says he will probably step down after this year, a move that will allow CEO Jeff Bewkes to take over the position at the world’s biggest media company. “I am leaving the company in good hands,” says Parsons at Time Warner’s annual meeting in Atlanta. (Iwantmedia 5/19, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=admbfjxH4tAU 5/16)

Comcast agreed to carry linear network MGM HD across its footprint and offer MGM HD movie titles to customers via VOD. The service draws from MGM’s library of over 4,100 films. Additionally, Multichannel News report MGM HD also landed a deal with Time Warner, its fourth cable carriage deal in addition to Comcast, Dish Network (both signed this week) and DirecTV. (Cynopsis 5/19)


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