- After its strongest ratings year of 2011, A&E began 2012 with its best quarter ever in Q1. Year to-date, cable net Arts & Entertainment (A&E) currently ranks fifth among all entertainment cable networks in adults 25-54, adults 18-49 and in total viewers. The network was up in adults 25-54 (819,000 vs. 807,000) and up in total viewers (1,608,000 vs. 1,574,000) edging out the previously record-setting first quarter 2011 as the best in network history. Led by such original hit series as “Storage Wars,” “Storage Wars: Texas,” “Shipping Wars,” and “Duck Dynasty,” the network introduced eight original series that averaged more than one-million viewers in adults 18-49 and seven original series that averaged more than one-million viewers in adults 25-54. (The original programming is far heaver on the entertainment than the arts.)
- Elsewhere on cable, History also secured its best quarter ever in key demos in Q1 2012, with key adults and total viewers. History claims to have been the #1 network on cable (excluding sports) for the quarter among men 25-54, with offerings like “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” and “Swamp People,” as well as “Larry the Cable Guy” and “Ax Men.”.In addition, HISTORY had nine series average over 1.0 million A25-54 impressions and 11 over 850,000. As well, the network had three of the top seven series (vs. all cable scripted/unscripted) among Adults 25-54 (“Pawn Stars” at 3.1 million; “American Pickers” at 2.6 million; and “Swamp People” at 2.5 million). “Pawn Stars” was the #1 non-fiction cable series among total viewers (5.8 million) and adults 25-54 (3.1 million) in 1st quarter. Missing among all those top-rated series on History, which follow contemporary pawnbrokers, migrant workers and swamp residents? Anything historic.
- AMC launches its newest unscripted series, “The Pitch,” with a sneak preview of the premiere episode, featuring Subway restaurants, on Sunday, April 8 at 11 P.M. ET/PT following the network’s award-winning series “Mad Men” and “The Killing.” The Pitch” chronicles the incredible lengths, intense stakes and tight deadlines top advertising agencies encounter when they take aim at a major new piece of business. The series follows the best creative shops as they prepare campaigns knowing that in the end, it all comes down to the pitch. The eight-part unscripted series will then return on Monday, April 30 with a new episode, featuring Waste Management, at 9 P.M. ET/PT followed by an encore showing of the premiere in its regular timeslot at 10 P.M. ET/PT. “The Pitch” Subway restaurants episode will also be available on AMCTV.com, iTunes and YouTube following its sneak peek.
- After four weeks of what Deadline Hollywood calls “miniscule ratings” on Saturday night, Fox is yanking the Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony reality series “Q’Viva: The Chosen” from primetime and moving it to Saturday late night. Q’Viva original U.S. broadcasts air on Univision, the Spanish-language network, then debuted on Fox with a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 in the 8-10 P.M. Saturday slot, and has since dropped to a 0.5. Fox will replace the last two episodes of “Q’Viva” with perennial favorite “Cops,” which had averaged a 1.2 rating in the period. “Q’Viva” will be trimmed to 90 minutes to run on Fox’s Saturday late-night block from 11 P.M.-12:30 A.M.
- Proving the power of syndication, Adweek opined that “Mad Men may be the ultimate critical darling…but the most transformative show on basic cable is actually a broadcast hand-me-down,” being “The Big Bang Theory.” It is now the most-watched comedy on cable, drawing more than 3 million viewers per episode on TBS, and has “sent TBS’s fortunes soaring.” In the first quarter of this year, TBS accomplished something officially upended USA Network as the top-rated cable entertainment channel among adults 18-to-49; through March 25, TBS averaged 1.22 million members in the 18-49 demographic, a 33% improvement from the same period in 2011.
- There is “a new kids' kingpin,” declared Multichannel News. In March, and for the first time in its history, Disney Channel topped Nickelodeon in ratings and total viewers among kids aged 2 to 11. Disney tied Nickelodeon with a 2.7 total-day cable rating (a 2.3 national mark) in February, then took a 2.6 total-day rating for the ratings month Feb. 27 to March 25, versus 2.4 for Nickelodeon. “As such,” said Multichannel News, “Disney ended Nick's 17-year run as the most-watched basic-cable network in the total-day measure.” True—but Nickelodeon with its aging inventory has been ailing and easy to beat. It has yet to launch its aggressive new slate of 650 new episodes for the 2012-2013 season.
- Tiger Woods has CBS “Looking Forward to the Masters,” reports TheWrap. Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament Sunday in Orlando, and CBS will broadcast the final rounds of The Masters golf tournament from Augusta, Ga., on Saturday and Sunday, April 7-8. This was Woods’ first win since 2009, and his first victory in 30 months. Love him or hate him, viewership was down 13% last year on the Masters’ final day, after Woods fizzled. CBS took a still giant 10.4% of households in the top 56 U.S. markets, down from 12.0 in 2010, when Woods returned to the green after his marital troubles.
- Primetime documentaries are rare, but CBS will air “What They Believe: Hindus, Zoroastrians, Bahá’ís,” an interfaith religion special, on Sunday, April 15. The special will examine the beliefs of the three religions, particularly how they are observed in the U.S. The documentary was produced in cooperation with such religious organizations as the National Council of Churches, the Islamic Society of North America and the New York Board of Rabbis. Hinduism is the most conspicuous of the three faiths; Zoroastrianism is a 3,500-year-old faith tradition based on the teachings of the prophet Zarathustra in ancient Persia, now Iran. The Bahá’í faith is that there is only one religion which has been progressively revealed by a series of Divine Messengers of which their prophet, Bahá’u’lláh, is said to be the latest in a succession that includes Krishna, Abraham, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed. The documentary was overseen by executive producer John Blessington and producer Liz Kineke.
- Perhaps basketball killed the party for Fox, and NBC. CBS easily won Saturday night in both total viewers and adults 18-49, reports TVByTheNumbers, with its coverage of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at 8 p.m.; the network took a 3.4 in adults 18-49. At 10 P.M., “48 Hours Mystery” garnered a 1.4 in adults 18-49, down from a 1.6 last week. Over on Fox, “Q’Viva” plodded along with a continued 0.5 among adults 18-49 for the two-hour show, up from last week’s 0.4. NBC’s “The Firm” went soft, with an 0.4 among adults 18-49, down from 0.6 for its last episode on March 10.
- ABC Family has acquired network TV premiere rights to the blockbuster “The Hunger Games” in a deal with Lionsgate. The announcement comes on the heels of “The Hunger Games’” (a dystopian adventure about teens hunting one another in a reality TV show) record-shattering debut, with an estimated $155 million at the North American box office this past weekend, the third highest-grossing opening weekend of all time. The network has moved away from its strictly “family friendly” image in recent years, balancing edgier original programming like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Pretty Little Liars” alongside syndicated episodes of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
- Disney XD will launch the Season Two of its series “Kickin’ It” in April 2, reports Multichannel News. The karate-themed series stars “Hannah Montana” alum Jason Earles, and is ranked as Disney XD's most watched series last in 2011 in total viewers (873,000), kids 6-14 (578,000) and tweens 9-14 (393,000), reports Disney XD. Among the highlights of the second season is an appearance by the Harlem Globetrotters. The series runs on DisneyXD as well as via DisneyXD On Demand, DisneyXD.com, Disney XD Mobile, Sony Playstation, Xbox Live and iTunes, said the network.
Upfront TV: OWN “Saddles” Discovery | WWE’s Wrestlemania Event | MLB/Fox Pregame Show | No “Office”?
- The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) could “Saddle…Winfrey and Discovery Communications with a $142.9 million loss this year,” reports Broadcasting & Cable, citing SNL Kagan data. Kagan’s Derek Baines listed the challenges; bad press that scares off advertisers, and having to renew carriage deals with cable operators in 2012 and 2013, versus the three-year (at least) contracts it could have expected with better ratings. As Baines described, “[Discovery’s] hope for license fees of 20 cents to 25 cents per sub may now be unrealistic." Baines expects Discovery to ask Winfrey to cover the losses, if the partnership is to move forward. Meanwhile, both the LA Times and RadarOnline (a gossip outlet that tends to be accurate) report that Winfrey is courting her long-time friend Maria Shriver to step into the network with a show, to add journalistic credibility. Her Kennedy/Schwarzenegger connections aside, Shriver is a Peabody Award-winning journalist, and has anchor experience on CBS and at “NBC Dateline” and “NBC Nightly News.”
- Numerous ad opportunities, on a handful of networks, for this wrestling matchup. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and NBCUniversal are joining forces to televise “Once in a Lifetime – Rock vs. Cena,” a one-hour special that follows WWE Superstars The Rock and John Cena on their respective roads to WrestleMania XXVIII. This first ever behind-the-scenes special premieres Monday, March 26 on USA Network at 8 P.M. ET, 7 P.M. CT and will also air on NBCUniversal networks including Syfy, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, G4, Style, NBC Sports Network, mun2, CLOO and Universal HD leading up to WrestleMania on Sunday, April 1 at 7:00 P.M. ET. WWE and NBCU promise “a candid and compelling look at two of the biggest icons in sports entertainment history as they prepare for their Once in a Lifetime main event match. From touring and training on the road to Hollywood movie sets to the 54th Annual Daytona 500, this in-depth look with exclusive footage gives viewers unprecedented access and a glimpse into the personal lives of these men.”
- Major League Baseball (MLB) Network is partnering with Fox Sports on an expanded pregame show before Fox’s game of the week, reports Multichannel News. The Fox Saturday Baseball Pregame Show will run 30 minutes live from MLB's Studio 3 in Secaucus, N.J., hosted by Fox Sports and MLB Network veteran Matt Vasgersian. He will be partnered weekly with a roster of MLB Network analysts, incuding Harold Reynolds, Mitch Williams, Eric Byrnes and Kevin Millar. The first airdate will be April 7 at 3:30 P.M. ET, before a Boston Red Sox/Detroit Tigers contest, which is the first broadcast of Fox's 2012 regular-season schedule.
- Yet another original series from Netflix. Netflix will offer the horror series "Hemlock Grove," from director, producer and “torture horror auteur” Eli Roth (“Grindhouse,” “Hostel,” “Cabin Fever”). Netflix promises “a gripping tale of murder, mystery and monsters set in a ravaged Pennsylvania steel town,” starring Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard. “Hemlock Grove” will be available for Netflix members to watch instantly, beginning early in 2013. The story line begins with the mangled corpse of a young girl, with suspects ranging from a biotech executive to a teenaged gypsy who claims to be a werewolf. This is the third original Netflix series, after David Fincher's "House of Cards" and the mobster-in-Norway series "Lillyhammer." Netflix is also producing a fourth season of the previously canceled Fox cult hit "Arrested Development."
- Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and a Peabody Award-winning star of stage and screen) will host the 71st Annual George Foster Peabody Awards ceremony on Monday, May 21, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The winners of the Peabody Awards for original broadcast, cablecast and Webcast programs presented in 2011 will be announced via Webcast on April 4 from the University of Georgia. The Peabodys, the oldest awards in broadcasting, are considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media. The Peabody Awards recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals.
- More signs that “The Office” will close, reports Deadline Hollywood. Paul Lieberstein (who plays bland HR director Toby Flanders on the show) is stepping down as executive producer and showrunner,. He will devote his time to a spinoff series, “The Farm,” starring Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute). Elsewhere, Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor) is leaving for her own sitcom on Fox, and head writer Daniel Chun is likely defecting to ABC. As Hollywood Reporter describes, the remaining core cast members (Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer) are still “in talks” about returning for the ninth season, and have been in talks for more than a month.
- MundoFox, the Spanish-language TV netowrk formed by Fox International Channels (FIC) and RCN Television Group, has appointed Emiliano Saccone its president. As Multichannel News reports, Saccone is a 13-year veteran of FIC, where he was president of entertainment and EVP of content. Saccone is credited with spearheading ratings growth in FIC’s Latin American channels, for Fox, National Geographic and FX.MundoFox will launch this fall, and has signed affiliates in 20 DMAs covering 40% of U.S. Hispanic households.
- CW Television Network has signed a TV Essentials contract with Rentrak, the measuring service for the advertising, television and entertainment industries. The contract includes Rentrak's census-based TV ratings service as well as the company's proprietary information including Polk Automotive and Exact Commercial Ratings. Rentrak’s National Television President Chris Wilson calls the deal a not to Rentrak’s “unrivaled granularity, stability and targeted advertising ratings.” CW President Mark Pedowitz cited the need for a larger sample size for precise and stable audience measurement, that is “complementary and supplemental to what we see today” (read that: Nielsen ratings), “thereby giving us a more complete picture of the CW’s readership.” TV Essentials is Rentrak's census-based television ratings measurement service that provides daily measurement of all TV networks nationally and at a granular level for TV stations in all 210 media markets nationwide. The service incorporates information from over 19 million televisions and, the company claims, is the only fully integrated system of detailed satellite, telco and cable TV viewing data commercially available.
- In just its second week on air, Fox News Channel‘s “Fox And Friends First” at 5 A.M. averaged 146,000 viewers among adults 25-54, reports Deadline Hollywood. Not surprising given Fox News’ already strong viewership, but what is a surprise is that its 5 A.M. show topped most of CNN‘s evening programs last week, which includes “John King USA” with 117,000 viewers; “Erin Burnett Outfront” with 126,000; and “Piers Morgan Tonight” with 133,000, at 10 P.M. Only “Anderson 360” with 156,000 viewers edged “Fox and Friends First” by 10,000 viewers. To be fair to CNN, Piers Morgan was absent most of the week (March 11th through 16th), with guest hosts sitting in, including “Glee’s” Jane Lynch, Arsenio Hall and Rosie O’Donnell.
- It was an off week for syndicated shows for the week ending March 11, reports TVNewsCheck, largely because of “post-sweeps malaise.” One exception—“Big Bang Theory,” in its first year of syndication, topped the chart with a 7.4 rating. “Two and a Half Men” drew a 5.9, “Family Guy” was flat at a 4.5, “How I Met Your Mother” drew a 2.9 and while Seinfeld lost 4% for a 2.5. Among first runs, Dr. Phil took the #1 spot among talk shows for the 20th time this season, despite a 9% drop from the last week of the sweeps, for a respectable 2.9. “Judge Judy” continued to reign supreme among court shows, with a 7.1, up 58% from last year at this time. Among game shows, “Wheel of Fortune” dropped 3% from the week before for a 7.1, and “Jeopardy” lost 2% for a 6.0.
- Monday nights have become a slugfest between ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and NBC’s “The Voice,” reports Media Life. Monday’s premiere of “Dancing” drew its lowest ratings every, with a 3.5 among adults 18-49, down 13% from last fall’s premiere and the lowest-rated debut in 14 seasons. “Voice” skidded 13% from the week before among adults 18-49s to a season-low: but at a 4.5 it still topped “Dancing.”
- The cable nets have more luck with period dramas than the Big 4: think “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire,” versus "Pan Am” and “Playboy Club”). Starz is banking on that, and has announced a 10-episode, second season order for its original series “Magic City,” ahead of its April 6 worldwide premiere at 10 P.M. ET/PT. “Magic City” is a stylish drama set in Miami Beach in 1959 (around the Cuban revolution), starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Max Payne) and Danny Huston (The Kingdom, Children of Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Why such confidence in a series that hasn’t aired yet? Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said “‘Magic City’ is a beautifully written, superbly acted, and visually stunning series, and we feel the quality of the work accomplished deserves a second season. It has already been sold in more than 70 territories worldwide, and represents the kind of premium entertainment the Starz brand is seeking to create.”
CBS became the first broadcaster to announce renewals for the 2012-13 season, saying Wednesday that it will bring back 18 series,
The renewals include four comedies, nine dramas, three reality series and two newsmagazines. “The returning shows encompass every night of the week and every hour, many of which are #1 in their time period and some #1 on the entire night,” said the network in a release.
The renewed comedies include the previously announced multi-year pickups of “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory,” which was the first scripted program to top “American Idol” in viewers and adults 18-49. Also returning, “2 Broke Girls” and sophomore hit “Mike and Molly.”
No surprise that the Navy crime drama “NCIS” will be back; it is TV’s top-rated scripted drama for the third year running. Also returning is “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Criminal Minds” and “Person of Interest,” among others.
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is a bit of a surprise. After the defection of its two leads, William Peterson and Marg Helgenberger, and a false start with Peterson’s replacement Laurence Fishburne, it appeared time to stick a fork in “CSI.” But new lead Ted Danson appears to have kept the series afloat, if not swimming against the current. But neither of the other two CSI franchises, “CSI: NY” or “CSI: Miami,” was named. Bill Gorman of TVByTheNumbers predicted that at least one of the two would be canned to make room on the fall schedule. “Sadly, syndication economics (and show costs) will tip that decision,” said Gorman. Season eight of “CSI: New York” drew an average 1.5 on Friday night, and the 10th season of “Miami” a 2.0. CBS has already given the “Miami” slot to “NYC 22,” a police procedural produced by Robert De Niro. Gorman had also predicted the demise of "The Good Wife," but it will return.
Among reality shows, “Amazing Race,” “Undercover Boss” and “Survivor will be back; and among news magazines, “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours Mystery.”
Still a mystery: “Two and a Half Men,” which has yet to sign Ashton Kutcher for a second season. Kutcher famously replaced the exiting Charlie Sheen. CBS and Warner Brothers are still trying to hammer out a deal for a 10th season, and “it’s hard to imagine that either side wants to torpedo the comedy,” says Adweek. “When first-run episodes and encores are factored in, 'Men' is averaging 13.9 million viewers and a 4.7 in the [18-49] demo."
Season-to-date, CBS claims to be first among adults 25-54 (4.1/10) and a strong second in adults 18-49 (3.1/08). The Network is posting across-the-board year-to-year growth, up +1% in viewers, +2% in adults 25-54 and +3% in adults 18-49.
Nickelodeon at its upfront presentation held yesterday at Lincoln Center unveiled plans for an unprecedented 650 new episodes—the most in the network’s history—of both brand-new content and returning hits (like “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “iCarly”).
As Adweek describes, “Nick pulled out all the stops at a svelte hour-long show,” but said as well that the network needed to demonstrate innovation. Nickelodeon “made headlines with a 19% year-over-year slip in November,” which parent company Viacom tried to blame on poor math by the Nielsen Company.
Nonsense, countered Nielsen, and the broadcast industry at large. The slip came down to 1) aging inventory and too many reruns; 2) stronger and more new offerings by rivals Disney and the Cartoon Network; 3) possibly losing young viewers to gaming and over-the-top (OTT) content; and 4) upset parents. (One parent we reached for this article, who is also in charge of programming for a midwestern cable provider, described Nickelodon content as “nasty” compared to its early days.)
Nickelodeon may be onto something, when it blames OTT content. It looms particularly large in on-demand viewing. When Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service tallied its most-watched series for 2011, Nickelodeon took two of the three top-requested kids series, with “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer,” and all three of the most-requested non-animated series by kids aged 7 and up, with “iCarly,” “Big Time Rush” and “Victorious.” But neither Disney nor Cartoon Network suffered the same plummet, and their offerings too are available on demand. Right alongside them in the Xfinity tallies are Disney Channel with “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” PBS’s Sprout with “Barney” and “Sesame St.,” and the Cartoon Network winning the top three spots in animated series among kids 7+. Every one of those three series debuted in 2010, where Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob” debuted in 1999, and “Dora” in 2000.
Nickelodeon seems to have moved beyond trying to blame multiscreen viewing and bad math by Nielsen. "Nickelodeon has no intention of letting the recent ratings slip slow down our creative momentum," said Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami at the upfront. “Kids have a ferocious appetite for new content and it is our intention to serve them more, innovative work than ever before.” Among other new offerings:
- “The Legend of Korra,” based on a character from the film “Avatar”
- A stop-motion SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas special
- Several original primetime TV movies
- “Hollywood Heights,” based on a teenager’s life as she achieves singing fame
- An animated series based on the Raving Rabbids video games It has not tossed out “SpongeBob” or “Fairly OddParents,” but, will roll them into a portfolio of more than 300 new animated episodes in 2012
- Not that buying early would make the ads cheaper, but ABC announced that next years 85th Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, February 25th, 2013. Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 15. The Oscar ceremony will take place at the Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by ABC to more than 225 countries.
- “Community” is going to Comedy Central. The network has inked a multi-year deal with Sony Picture Television to syndicate the show, starting with three seasons, beginning in the fall of 2013. “Community is a perfect fit for the COMEDY CENTRAL audience,” added John Weiser, president, US distribution for Sony Pictures Television. Currently in its third season on NBC, “Community” stars Joel McHale as a fast-talking lawyer whose degree has been revoked and who now attends Greendale Community College sitting at the center of a study group comprised of a cookie-cutter blend of sitcom misfits (elderly odd ducks, comical foreigners, etc.).
- Elsewhere in syndication news, Hallmark Channel has acquired the sitcom “The Middle,” and will begin airing the first 88 episodes beginning March 2014. Additional seasons will join the rotation as they become available. The first-run, off-network comedy is “a perfect fit in Hallmark Channel’s line-up of family-friendly programming,” said the network in a release. Hallmark also runs “The Golden Girls” and “Frasier.”
- “Dr. Phil” has actively rebooted to attract viewers to the Oprah Winfrey Network, and it appears to be working, reports TVNewsCheck. As the show became more sensationalistic (e.g., featuring “Octomom” and a hospitalized Britney Spears), its household rating fell from a 3.3 in 2008 to a 2.7 in 2009. Season to date, “Dr. Phil” is up 14% in total households to a 3.2 and13% among woman 25-54 to a 1.8. CBS Television Distribution President John Nogawski chalks it up to more personal, practical stories, the kind “That Oprah used to be in the first position to get.” “Dr. Phil” is routinely in the top five syndicated shows in ratings, alongside “Judge Judy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
- Tuesday’s NBC debut of “Fashion Star” failed to excite, reports Media Life. "Star" took a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49 from 9:30 to 11 p.m., losing 20 percent of lead-in "The Biggest Loser's" 2.0 rating. "Star" finished first at 10 p.m. with a 1.6 but, but against a rerun of “Unforgettable” on CBS and an ailing “Body of Proof” on ABC. “Fashion Star” pits designers against one another to have their ideas picked up by buyers. Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie act as co-hosts and judges.
- The National Hockey League (NHL) is attempting to raise its viewership and prestige by airing every game of the 2012 playoffs (which could last 10 weeks), reports the New York Times. The NHL renewed its media partnership with NBC last year after the network was bought by Comcast, and can offer programming across Comcast’s platforms, including NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and the NHL Network. “We’ve spent the last five years talking about building national scale,” said NHL’s John Collins, the league’s chief operating officer, in a Times interview. “If you can’t get the games on national television, you’re not going to be able to relate to it.”
Aero, the fledgling broadcast antenna/digital recording subscribership, has filed a countersuit in New York against broadcasters and studios. Those networks and studios sought an injunction against Aereo’s proposed $12 per month subscription service in New York City which would use an antenna to stream broadcast TV digitally, and a cloud-based service to record it (a sort of digital DVR).
Those networks and studios claim that the service would infringe upon their content. But as Broadcasting & Cable describes, Aereo vigorously denies it has broken any copyright law—despite the fact that the service would pay nothing to broadcasters and rights holders for their content. Aereo’s defense is that broadcast content is essentially free, and that Aereo is charging $12 for the value it adds to that service. Consumers would use the Aereo technology to do what they do anyway—watcha nd record television.
Aereo filed its Answer and Counterclaim against one of two suits brought against it. This suit involves ABC, Disney, CBS, NBC and Telemundo, among others. A second was filed by PBS, Fox, Univision and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., among others.
While Aereo in its Answer and Counterclaim admits not having received written authorization from the networks, it argues that no such authorization is needed.
For advertisers, the service would add time-shifted reach for its TV placements, but time will tell. Because of the injunctions against it, Aereo was unable to launch on March 12th as it had hoped.
Aereo is a startup, funded in part by media heavyweight Barry Diller, who created both Fox Broadcasting and USA Broadcasting.
- Suddenlink Communications subscribers could lose access to AMC Networks programming later this week, over licensing fees disputes, reports Multichannel News. AMC's contract with Suddenlink expires at midnight on Wednesday (March 14), which may mean that Suddenlink subscribers will lose AMC, IFC, Sundance and We TV. Suddenlink on its website complains that AMC is asking a 50% increase over last year, and a 100% increase over the term of the proposed deal. AMC counters that the network which delivers Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, deserves a monthly subscriber premium of 75 cents.
- Saturday Night Live took a dive, after last week’s season-high ratings, reports TVByTheNumbers. Actress Lindsey Lohan likely delivered a curiosity factor that actor Jonah Hill (“Moneyball” and the upcoming “21 Jump Street”) could not. SNL drew a 4.3 rating in the metered-market households, says Hollywood Reporter, down sharply from last week’s 5.5.In the Local People Meters, the Hill-led late-night show averaged a 2.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, down double digits from last week.
- Actress Claire Forlani (long-time love interest of the Gary Sinise character on “CSI: NY”) has landed the lead in ABC’s drama pilot “Scruples,” reports Deadline Hollywood in an exclusive. The show will be produced by Tony Krantz and actress Natalie Portman, and is based on Judith Krantz’ potboiler novel by the same name. The show centers on clothing designer Billy Winthrop (Forlani) in a “world of sex, revenge and scandal.” The novel was televised once before in a 1980 miniseries, with the lead role played by Lindsay Wagner.
- Building on the success of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Texas” multiplatform initiative, Bravo TV has announced the release of a “Real Housewives” Facebook game, said the network in a release. “The Real Housewives: The Game” is set to run concurrently with the fifth season of “The Real Housewives of New York City.” It invites players to create a unique identity, interact with their favorite Housewives and construct individual storylines. Fans can build their own virtual environment – from city condo to Hampton’s beach house – and “climb the social ladder by participating in challenges only a Housewife knows how to handle.” Players that excel in a variety of categories such as “Best Apartment,” “Hottest Wardrobe” and “Highest Social Standing” will be awarded with on-air recognition during the live series.
- With speculation of layoffs of 1000+, Yahoo is pushing further into original programming, and seeking partnerships with TV networks beyond its current deal with ABC News, reports Ad Age. That five-month-old partnership created original web series with journalists from both Yahoo News and GoodMorningAmerica.com. ABC News announced last week that the combined series reached more than 89 million people online last month (ComScore data), putting the joint entity ahead of CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post and CBS.
- Yet another singing competition announced. But this one is different, because it’s “Duets.” ABC has announced the competition show for Summer 2012, says Hollywood Reporter. Hosts include “American Idol” alumnus Kelly Clarkson, plus Jennifer Nettles, Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke combing the country to find and mentor undiscovered talent—much like the CW’s upcoming “The Star Next Door,” with mentors Queen Latifah, Gloria Estefan and John Rich. ABC’s first foray into a singing competition was last summer’s “Karaoke Battle USA.”
- The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has “taken NBC to task,” reports MediaPost. Last week, NBC ran a story on “Today” about disasters on Carnival Cruise Lines, then aired an upbeat commercial for Carnival, playing the Todd Rundgren track “I Don’t Want To Work” while inviting vacationers to “totally unwind” on a cruise vacation. ANA Group EVP Bill Duggan said “Advertisers deserve better,” blaming the gaffe on a lack of coordination between the “Today” editorial and traffic department. A Carnival ship lost power in the Indian ocean, stranding vacationers for three days, and of course, its Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy in January.
- Just two days after Fox cancelled the time-traveler-battles-dinosaur drama “Terra Nova,” Netflix has expressed interest in picking it up, says Hollywood Reporter. “Terra Nova” was executive produced by Stephen Spielberg of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, and kicked off strongly last fall, but declined to just over a 2 rating among viewers aged 18 to 49. , but Ratings for “Terra Nova” started strong last fall, but declined over the course of its run. By the time it ended, the show was averaging about 7 million viewers and just over a 2 rating in the advertiser-preferred category of viewers from the ages of 18 to 49. Still, production company 20th Television pledged to shop the show elsewhere. Time will tell: as Hollywood Reporter observes, the name Netflix “tends to surface any time a bubble series is canceled…as a potential savior” for shows that don’t cut it on network TV.
- Time Warner Cable said it has launched Enhanced iTV (for “interactive television”), which offers advertisers in specific markets the ability to deliver targeted messages, says MediaPost. Advertisers will be able to reach demographically targeted audiences on a variety of networks. TWC is testing iTV in New York City, Charlotte and Cincinnati. It successfully tested the capability in Ohio, helping the Ohio Lottery build brand awareness of three games and gain younger consumers, with targeted ads during younger-skewing networks and high-profile shows.
- CBS has renewed its daytime show "The Talk" for a third season, reports the Los Angeles Times, which called the show a “female chat jamboree.” This will be the third season, and the lineup remains the same: host Julie Chen (wife of CBS President Les Moonves), Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler. “The Talk” averaged just over 2 million viewers this season.