"Mr. Cavuto can be expected to take a lead in developing the Fox News business effort, perhaps even heading it. "
Oh, lord. no.
Are they naming the channel, "Mr. CEO, Do you still beat your wife and children?"
Thanks for the update, donyoop.
Jet Carrying NBC Official Crashes in Colorado
By RICHARD SANDOMIR The New York Times November 29, 2004
A charter jet carrying Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports, and five other people crashed yesterday on takeoff from an airport in Montrose, Colo., killing the pilot and co-pilot, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Mr. Ebersol was taken to a hospital, but the extent of his injuries was not clear. One of his sons was still missing last night.
The plane, bound for South Bend, Ind., crashed through a fence at the end of the runway at 10 a.m. and burst into flames, said an F.A.A. spokesman, Allen Kenitzer. It crashed into terrain covered with small brush and cedar trees. The airport, 185 miles southwest of Denver, serves the Telluride ski area, where Mr. Ebersol owns a home.
Tom Chinn, commander of the Montrose police department, told Reuters, "It looks like he hit the ground near the end of the runway and then skidded a quarter mile across the road."
Mr. Ebersol, 57, was on the flight with his sons Charlie and Teddy. According to the NBC affiliate in Denver, KUSA-TV, Charlie Ebersol, a senior at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, pulled his father from the wreckage. Teddy, 14, was missing, and a search was being conducted by the Montrose police.
Doug Percival, a tow truck driver, said he had heard the plane explode. He looked out of his dispatcher's office near the end of the airport and saw the jet on fire.
"I heard a kid, maybe 18, screaming, 'Please help my brother, he's only 14, he was in the fourth row, help me get him out,' " Mr. Percival said.
He said he also saw Mr. Ebersol. "He was so banged up, I thought he was dead," said Mr. Percival, who was first interviewed by The Montrose Daily Press.
A spokesman for St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., said that two survivors were taken to the hospital but refused to say if they were the Ebersols. The spokesman, Daniel Prinster, added that at the request of the patients' family, no further details were available.
A third survivor was a crew member, according to a statement by Jet Alliance of Millville, N.J., the company the plane was registered to.
Mr. Ebersol's wife, the actress Susan Saint James, was not aboard the plane, a CL-601 Challenger jet. Jet Alliance said the charter jet was operated for Jet Alliance by Air Castle Corporation and took off about 9:55 a.m. Mountain time.
Mr. Kenitzer said that the N.T.S.B. would assess whether snow in the area contributed to the crash. "This is a plane that can fly in a lot of weather, but we won't know until there is an investigation," he said. Typically, he said, the jet seats 18.
For the past 15 years, Mr. Ebersol has been one of the most influential executives in sports television. A protégé of and former assistant to Roone Arledge at ABC Sports, Mr. Ebersol became the president of NBC Sports in 1989.
He has become best known for deals that led to NBC's acquisition of the rights to the 1996 Summer Olympics and every Summer and Winter Olympics from 2000 to 2012.
In recent years, he has backed away from broadcasting the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association because he did not want to continue to suffer hefty losses.
Instead, he has made deals with the Arena Football League and the National Hockey League. Under Mr. Ebersol, NBC also acquired the rights to Nascar.
In 1975, as the director of weekend late-night programming for NBC, he helped shepherd "Saturday Night Live" into creation.
(Catching up here, late back from Thanksgiving...)
fredfa, thanks for the color changes, much appreciated! (Although I did bring this up weeks ago in a PM to you.
Sunday's ratings have been posted.
Originally posted by fredfa
Monday's ratings have been posted.
Damn you're quick, the show's haven't even aired yet.
Must have Monday on the brain after the long weekend when doing the overnights from Sunday...
Can someone explain this snippet:
though the legal drama's ratings always fall when the final numbers become available
Why are the fast ratings 'always' better than the final ones for Boston Legal?
Fox, NBC Seek Midseason Save
By John Consoli Mediaweek.com November 29, 2004
Despite a disappointing start of the season and November sweeps, the Fox and NBC entertainment presidents are optimistic that their networks, which finished first and second, respectively, in the race for adults 18-49 last season, will once again be battling for that demo's dominance by next May.
Through the first nine weeks of the season, NBC was down 12 percent from the same period last year among viewers 18-49 with a 3.9 rating, third place among the six broadcast networks. Fox was down 9 percent with a 3.8.
The season race, however, is still up for grabs, with CBS the current leader with a 4.1 (up 7 percent) and ABC at 4.0 (up 5 percent). But CBS won the 18-49 race five of the first nine weeks of this season, one more than the number of weeks it won the demo all last season.
Through the first 19 days of the sweeps, CBS was drawing 3.7 million more viewers a night than second-place NBC (14.5 million vs. 10.8 million) and was holding a 12 percent lead over NBC among 18-49 viewers (4.6 vs. 4.1). ABC was third among 18-49 viewers with a 3.9, up 8 percent over last year, and Fox was fourth with a 3.0, down 3 percent.
"We are not where we want to be right now, but we are not where we're going to be, either," said NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly. "If we end up 9 percent down in fourth quarter, that's OK. In the post-Friends era, that's not that bad. We're starting to see some stability from some of our returning shows like Law & Order: SVU and The West Wing, and we have five new scripted shows and five nonscripted shows that we will premiere starting in January. These aren't just shows we threw together, but shows we developed and talked about during last May's upfront."
NBC's ratings problems have not been caused exclusively by the retirement of Friends, but the network did lose a huge chunk of its 18-49 audience as a result of its departure. Friends averaged a 9.5 rating in the 18-49 demo during the first nine weeks of last season, while its replacement, Joey, has averaged a 5.3. Among NBC's returning shows, only SVU and Las Vegas are showing gains in the 18-49 demo.
"The fall has been a mixed bag," Reilly said. "Joey is not Friends, but it is still the highest-rated new sitcom, way ahead of [ABC's] Rodney [which is averaging a 3.8 in the 18-49 demo]." Among the network's other new series, however, three have already been cancelled.
But Reilly remains optimistic about turning the season around. NBC's five scripted shows are dramas Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Revelations and Medium and sitcoms Crazy for You and The Office. The network also has a slew of unscripted shows on deck, including newcomer The Contender and the returning Average Joe. "January is the new September," he said, stressing
that midseason premieres are more important than those at the start of the season. "I completely believe that."
So does Fox entertainment president Gail Berman, who acknowledged that her network still has not been able to find a way to come out of the ratings gate following a month of prime-time baseball telecasts in October.
"We have had the same difficulties as past seasons after baseball," she said. "But if we are flat or slightly down at the end of the fourth quarter, we feel like we have our big guns coming out, ready and poised, while the other networks have used up their big guns."
Fox has new dramas Jonny Zero, Point Pleasant, Athens, The Inside and Lone Star, in addition to the returning 24. It has sitcoms Life on a Stick, animated American Dad and Family Guy, as well as fresh runs of Bernie Mac and powerhouse American Idol for midseason.
"We will absolutely be in the mix for the 18-49 demo title," Berman said. "I think we will give everyone a run for their money."
"I'm still optimistic about Fox," said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, senior
vp/director of Starcom Entertainment. "Fox traditionally has always come up with something unexpected in mid-season, although I agree that there is not much of a glimmer of hope right now."
Caraccioli-Davis was less optimistic about NBC turning things around. "I think NBC could rely too much on unscripted, and it seems like the viewers have said they want more scripted," she said.
For the full-season 18-49 title, ABC also has a shot, based on the strong showing of its two new dramas Lost and Desperate Housewives, Alias returning in January, and three new dramas and two sitcoms waiting in the wings for midseason.
"ABC, NBC and Fox each have a legitimate shot at winning the 18-49 demo for the season," said Brad Adgate, vp of research at Horizon Media. "All have enough new stuff to pass CBS." Meanwhile, WB and UPN are battling for fifth place in 18-49 viewers, with the WB holding a lead of one-tenth of a rating
point (1.6 to 1.5).
But Dave Poltrack, CBS executive vp of research and planning, said the only way the other networks will beat CBS in 18-49 is if they add some midseason scripted dramas that can generate watercooler buzz, like Desperate Housewives has.
"If Fox and NBC rely too much on reality, they might draw more of an 18-34 audience while alienating the 35-plus viewers, who are our core," Poltrack said.
"We feel to have a successful season, we only have to be competitive in the 18-49 demo, while Fox and NBC, to have a meaningful season, have to beat us," Poltrack said.
"If we do win 18-49, it would really be a home run."
thanks for noticing, taz! (It is great to have a few hundred watchful eyes here to help edit.)
To answer your question leesweet:
There are a number of shows which do better in the urban areas (the metered markets) and then slump a bit when the total national numbers come in. On the other hand there are some shows (Joan of Arcadia comes to mind) which generally do somewhat better in the entire national sample.
Ah, thanks for the details on the mechanics of the overnight samplings!
Didn't know it wasn't a national sample, which, of course, explains it. Red vs Blue states.
(oops, my bad...)
'NUMB3RS' ADD UP TO A JANUARY PREMIERE
(Released by CBS Monday, November 29)
thefutoncritic.com--CBS's "Numb3rs," HD a drama about an FBI agent (Rob Morrow, "Northern Exposure") who recruits his mathematical genius brother (David Krumholtz, "The Lyon's Den") to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles, premieres Friday, Jan. 21 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
From two very different perspectives, the brothers take on the most confounding criminal cases. Inspired by actual events, the series will depict how the confluence of police work and mathematics provide unexpected revelations and answers to the most perplexing criminal questions.
NUMB3RS also stars Peter MacNicol ("Ally McBeal"), Judd Hirsch ("Taxi"), Sabrina Lloyd ("Sports Night") and Alimi Ballard ("Dark Angel") and represents the first dramatic television series from three-time Academy Award nominated director Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down," "Gladiator") and Tony Scott (Emmy Award winners for the "The Gathering Storm").
Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Alex Gansa and Brooke Kennedy are the executive producers for Scott Free in association with Paramount Network Television. Cheryl Heuton, Nick Falacci and David Zucker are co-executive producers. Heuton and Falacci co-created the series and wrote the pilot.
Friday, Effective Jan. 21
8:00-9:00 PM JOAN OF ARCADIA
9:00-10:00 PM JAG
10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS (P)
(zap2it.com)--Get ready to permanently subtract "dr. vegas" from your Friday schedule and add a drama with an equally quirky title, as CBS attempts to divide the 10 p.m. ET primetime audience and eat away at a fraction of NBC's "Medical Investigation" audience. Get ready to solve some important equations and fill in those unknown variables as CBS premieres "Numb3rs" (their typographical silliness, not ours) this January.
The new drama, which comes from filmmaking siblings Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, will launch on Friday, Jan. 21 in the 10 p.m. slot "dr. vegas" vacated before the start of the November sweeps period.
The series features David Krumholtz ("The Lyon's Den," "Grounded For Life") as a mathematics genius enlisted by his FBI agent brother (Rob Morrow of "Northern Exposure") to use his gift with numbers to solve complicated Los Angeles-based crimes for the Bureau. "Numb3rs" co-stars Peter MacNicol ("Ally McBeal"), Judd Hirsch ("Taxi"), Sabrina Lloyd ("Sports Night") and Alimi Ballard ("Dark Angel").
Originally developed for a fall launch, the "Numb3ers" pilot, written by Cheryl Heuton and Nick Falacci, was somewhat reconceived. Actors Michael Rooker and Gabriel Macht exited from the initial cast, with Morrow joining on board. CBS ordered 12 episodes of the drama at the beginning of the month.
In its five airings on Friday night, "dr. vegas" averaged 8.16 million viewers, somewhat overshadowed by NBC's freshman medical procedural, which has settled in with 9.13 million viewers
Originally posted by fredfa
'NUMB3RS' ADD UP TO A JANUARY PREMIERE
and represents the first dramatic television series from three-time Academy Award nominated director Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down," "Gladiator") and Tony Scott (Emmy Award winners for the "The Gathering Storm").
This here definitely gives reason to take a look at this show..
New DirecTV DVR may have video on demand
By David Lieberman, USA TODAY
NEW YORK DirecTV is preparing to offer a digital video recorder (DVR) service in mid-2005 that could duplicate virtually every feature now available from current partner TiVo, plus provide video on demand similar to what's offered on cable, say executives of the company preparing the software.
About the only TiVo function the new service will not have, they say, is the ability to jump over commercials. That's an unadvertised TiVo feature users can activate with programming instructions widely available on the Internet.
The new service "will be simpler and faster" than TiVo's, says Abe Peled, CEO of NDS Group. His company plans to deliver its DVR software to DirecTV by April.
DirecTV remains tight-lipped about the NDS-powered DVR it will offer. Spokesman Bob Marsocci simply says that DirecTV plans to introduce "an alternate DVR product and service in the first half of next year."
It also won't disclose who's making decoders the satellite receiver/DVR combo box equipped for the new DVR service, although South Korea's Humax is known to be one company on the list.
Yet, comments by Peled and other executives about the NDS product offer a preview of what could be one of the key battles in the fast-growing DVR market. These computerlike devices enable users to easily schedule and record TV shows on a hard drive, as well as pause and replay live TV.
Rupert Murdoch is picking the fight. His News Corp. controls both NDS and DirecTV and is eager to see the new DVR service succeed. NDS also provides DirecTV's encryption technology and a DVR service for Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting satellite service.
But TiVo can't afford to let DirecTV go. More than 61% of TiVo's 2.3 million DVRs belong to DirecTV subscribers who pay an extra $5 a month to get the TiVo service from the No. 1 satellite company. TiVo doesn't have many alternatives: Cable operators and EchoStar's Dish Network offer their own DVRs.
That's one reason TiVo shares fell 11% last week after it reported that 75% of its new subscribers in the third quarter came via DirecTV.
If DirecTV puts its marketing muscle behind NDS, then "TiVo is going to get hurt, obviously," says Vamsi Sistla, director of broadband research at ABI Research.
Peled says that a big selling point for his DVR is in the way it handles pay-per-view (PPV). With TiVo, users must agree to pay for a PPV movie before recording it for subsequent viewing. But the NDS system will enable DirecTV to signal a user's DVR to record several movies, making each available for viewing at any time.
Customers "pay when they watch (the movie), not when they record it," Peled says.
He adds that his system "will be less expensive for DirecTV" than TiVo and that the savings could be passed to consumers. "We are not a consumer brand. We don't own the customer data the way TiVo does. And we don't sell advertising that we send to the box."
TiVo declined to discuss the NDS challenge. But it told analysts last week to beware of what could be "vaporware," unfinished software.
"NDS has delayed their product offering into later next year," TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay said. "I think we have got a fairly clear runway with DirecTV that we certainly want to take advantage of. ... When it is time to compete, we will focus on that, too. And I think we'll do very well."
Just a note (in case you missed it elsewhere: NBC/Universal's rebranded BravoHD began broadcasting - a few days early - this morning.
Mariska Hargitay Takes 'SVU' Personally
By Rick Porter
(zap2it.com)--On Tuesday (Nov. 30), NBC will broadcast the 125th episode of "Law & Order: SVU." And for the 125th time, Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni will play the show's lead detectives, Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler.
Given that the show is a spinoff of "Law & Order," which is as famous for its cast turnover as for its longevity, the stability of "SVU's" regulars is pretty remarkable. Dann Florek (Capt. Don Cragen) and Richard Belzer (Detective John Munch) have also been with the show from the start, while regulars Ice-T and B.D. Wong have been around since season two.
Hargitay has a theory as to why that is. "The mothership ['Law & Order'] is much more 'Just the facts, ma'am' than our show is. There's just not as much to play," she says.
"We're dealing with much more personal matters, personal issues," Hargitay says of "SVU," which deals primarily with sex-based crimes like rape and child molestation. "There's much more of, I think, the human condition and the complexity of it."
Because the cases Benson and Stabler deal with are often so intimate, "SVU" is a little freer than its "Law & Order" counterparts with doling out personal information about its characters. We know, for instance, that Benson was conceived as the result of a rape. Viewers also learned in the Nov. 23 episode that Stabler's wife and children, who provide a balance to the grisly work he does, have moved out.
"There's just no way to do the show without having that personal stuff," Hargitay says. "Even ['L&O' creator Dick Wolf], who did fight it at the beginning, doesn't fight it anymore. [Executive producer] Neal Baer tells him, 'This is what we're doing,' and he loves it."
Viewers seem to be enjoying it as well. So far this season, "SVU" is the only one of the three "Law & Order" shows to increase its audience over last season (although both the original and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" are facing tougher competition this season). It draws about 13.7 million viewers per week, up 1.3 million from last year.
Hargitay is particularly proud of the current batch of episodes, starting with last week's "Doubt," a he said-she said sexual assault case that caused a rift between Benson and Stabler. She says that even after playing Benson for five-plus years, she's still capable of being surprised by the character's strength.
"In the beginning, I think Elliot was a lot stronger than Olivia. ... It's been interesting to see the tables turn and me be the rock, me be the one that has to calm Elliot down and get him refocused. The characters go through different strengths and weaknesses -- different things set them off to where they can't hack it. ... In these next few episodes, you see him lose it a couple times, and Olivia has to step in."
That she can feel so excited about a string of shows 125 episodes into "SVU's" life, Hargitay says, is a good indicator for her that she'll keep playing Benson for a while.
"I feel like the writers have hit their stride, and they're giving us great stuff, peppering in these personal moments that are very informing to the characters and the story," she says. "The integrity of the procedural is never compromised, yet the audience feels closer to the characters because ever week, they get to know them better."
Latest On Ebersol Crash
MONDAY UPDATE from The Associated Press: Authorities Monday said the missing teenage son of NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol probably died in Sunday's jet crash near the Montrose airport.
The elder Ebersol, 57, and his 22-year-old son Charles emerged from the fiery wreckage of the 18-seat corporate jet after it crashed during takeoff and burst into flames, but two crew members were killed.
Another son - 14-year-old Edward "Teddy" Ebersole - was also aboard the flight but no trace of him has been found.
Matt Eilts, Montrose County chief deputy coroner, said today that a complete and thorough search of the crash vicinity revealed no sign of Edward.
We believe at this time that the boy has probably perished within the crash, Eilts said. A search of the wreckage was expected today.
Investigators from the National Safety Transportation Board arrived at midday at the airport, 185 miles southwest of Denver.
The pilot and a flight attendant were killed in the crash, said Michael O'Connor, regional duty officer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington state. The coroner's office identified the crash victims as Luis Alberto Polanco Espaillat, 50, of the Dominican Republic and Warren T. Richardson III, 36, of Coral Gables, Fla., but did not say which was the pilot.
A co-pilot was hospitalized in Denver in critical condition, while Dick and Charles Ebersol were hospitalized in Grand Junction, witnesses said.
Ebersol's wife of 23 years, actress Susan Saint James, was not on the plane. Saint James starred in TV's Kate and Allie and McMillan and Wife. The family lives in Connecticut.
The plane was identified as a CL-602 Challenger, registered to Jet Alliance of Millville, N.J. The company offered its condolences in a statement, but said it had no additional information.
Steve McLaughlin of MTJ Air Services, which deices private planes at the Montrose airport, said MTJ did not deice Ebersol's plane before it took off.
Airport Manager Scott Brownlee said he did not know whether the plane had been deiced. He said deicing would have been the pilot's decision, but he said at least one commercial jet had deiced before taking off Sunday.
Death Knell For Plasma TVs?
Signs of a Glut and Lower Prices on Thin TV's
By ERIC A. TAUB The New York Times November 29, 2004
While hanging a television on the living- room wall may have captured the imagination of American consumers, it has yet to empty many pocketbooks.
That may soon change as a glut of liquid crystal display flat-panel televisions, called L.C.D.'s, enter the market, a result of a boom in new factories. According to several manufacturers and analysts, the prices for L.C.D. flat-panel TV's will drop in the new year, falling by as much as 30 percent by the end of 2005. The prices of plasma flat-panel TV's are also expected to fall significantly.
That is not a message that the electronics retailers want to be heard during the holiday shopping season. They are hoping that the price cuts that have already occurred will spur more people to buy flat-panel sets, and many are already offering discounts to increase traffic in their stores.
"We do not want to talk about predictions of price drops," said Lee Simonson, the director of Best Buy's television division. "We want people to buy now."
Flat-panel TV's still represent less than 10 percent of the 29 million TV sets to be sold to dealers in 2004. Of the flat-panel sales, 73 percent are L.C.D. sets and 27 percent are the larger plasma models.
Flat-panel sets have become hot items with consumers. According to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry trade group, a plasma television is the most desired holiday gift this season.
Manufacturers, like the makers of other consumer electronics, are investing heavily to expand their production capacity, hoping to capture market share. Earnings, they reason, will come later, although until recently, these sets had proved highly profitable. In the first three quarters of 2004, the LG.Philips LCD Company made $1.4 billion in profits from L.C.D. televisions, although the company reported a drop in earnings in the third quarter from the year-earlier period. Another manufacturer, AU Optronics, made $900 million in the three quarters, according to DisplaySearch, a technology research company.
This windfall has given them the cash to build next-generation plants capable of creating even larger screens at lower per-unit costs. Each new generation L.C.D. plant costs $1 billion to $3 billion.
Next year, AU Optronics and another L.C.D. maker, C.P.T., both based in Taiwan, will complete new plants for making 32- and 37-inch displays. To cut construction costs, Sony and Samsung are in a $2 billion joint venture to build the world's first L.C.D. plant designed to produce eight 40-inch or six 46-inch displays cut from one large piece of glass.
"The plant building boom is due to a herd mentality as big sales numbers have been forecast," said Chris Chinnock, president of Insight Media and editor of the Microdisplay Report, an industry newsletter. "We've seen this cycle of shortfall, investment and oversupply for 10 years. Everyone sees the opportunity at the bottom of the trough and thinks they can do better than their competitors."
Bharath Rajagopalan, general manager for TCL-Thomson Electronics, owner of the RCA brand, said: "L.C.D. production is becoming a commodity game. There is an inordinate amount of competition and price erosion."
Ross Young, president of DisplaySearch, predicts that there will be a 53 percent increase in capacity during 2005, and he says that will put a lot of pressure on pricing. A 42-inch L.C.D. set that costs close to $4,500 today will be $3,100 next year, and $2,250 in 2006, he says.
Tasso Koken, vice president and general merchandise manager for Sears home electronics, predicts that in 18 months, a 20-inch L.C.D. TV from a well-known manufacturer will be under $299, down from $700 to $800 today. "The 2005 price drops in L.C.D. will make the 2004 reductions look like a walk in the park," he said.
As prices for all televisions fall, the industry expects that each of the competing technologies will carve out its own market niche. The ultimate victim may be the tried-and- true picture-tube TV.
So far, average consumers do not seem to care which technology they are buying. "Generally speaking, the consumer has no understanding of the differences between L.C.D. and plasma technology," Mr. Koken of Sears said.
But there are important differences. Plasma displays use a grid of hundreds of thousands of cells filled with a xenon and neon gas plasma. An electrical charge illuminates colored fluorescent phosphors, creating an image. Because of the difficulty in producing very small grids, plasma sets can be produced cost effectively only in larger screen sizes.
In an L.C.D. panel, liquid crystals are sandwiched between pieces of glass. An electrical charge twists the crystals to block light or to allow it to pass through to the screen. L.C.D. sets do not display motion as crisply as plasma TV's, and have more limited viewing angles.
Many industry executives expect that later this decade, L.C.D. units, which are typically 3 to 5 inches deep, will completely replace smaller-size picture-tube sets. Next year, Sony expects to double the number of flat-panel TV's it sells in the United States, while decreasing its picture-tube offerings by 20 percent, according to Mike Fidler, a Sony senior vice president. The picture-tube business is expected to remain profitable for the company for the next three years, but then decline as the price of L.C.D. TV's falls below $500, Mr. Fidler said.
Falling prices for larger screen sizes may force plasma sets to be sold only in sizes around 60 inches, where they maintain their price edge over L.C.D. screens. Plasma panels contain only electrodes and phosphors, so they can be made in larger sizes without a proportionate increase in price, according to Ed Wolff, a vice president at Panasonic.
But some are not so sanguine about the future of plasma. Mr. Fidler of Sony says that L.C.D. TV's will drop so much in price that plasma will go away in three to five years.
Given the uncertainty of whether customers will take to mounting their TV's on a wall, some companies like RCA are hoping that a less-expensive large-screen projection TV will remain a viable alternative to L.C.D. or plasma sets. A harbinger of that trend, the company's recently introduced Projects, a 61-inch projection set, is just 7 inches deep.
Four Studios Give Backing to a Format for HD DVD's
By TODD ZAUN The New York Times November 30, 2004
TOKYO, Nov. 29 - A group of companies led by the Toshiba Corporation made a major advance in the effort to define a new DVD standard as Paramount and three other Hollywood studios announced on Monday that they would release films in the group's high-definition DVD format by the end of next year.
The decision by the studios to support the so-called HD DVD format is a setback for a rival group of developers, led by the Sony Corporation, and its so-called Blu-ray technology for playing and recording DVD's.
Obtaining pledges from studios to make movies available in the new format is considered a crucial step toward establishing it as an industry standard and securing billions of dollars in licensing fees and hardware sales for its creators.
In addition to the Paramount Home Entertainment unit of Viacom, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers Studios and New Line Cinema also said they would release titles in the HD DVD format, which its creators promise will offer sharper images and more of the interactive features that have helped make DVD's popular. Warner Brothers and New Line are divisions of Time Warner, and Universal is a unit of the General Electric Company.
Executives from Toshiba and the NEC Corporation, which is also developing HD DVD, said they believed that the pledge of support from the studios would give their technology a strong push. Together, the four studios accounted for about 45 percent of prerecorded DVD sales in the United States in the first half of this year, Toshiba said.
"I've heard the opinion from many people in Hollywood that a single format would be best for consumers," Yoshihide Fujii, a senior vice president at Toshiba, told reporters in Tokyo. Toshiba plans to begin selling HD DVD players by the end of next year at a price below $1,000, he said.
Monday's announcement came as the momentum in the standards fight seemed to be shifting in Sony's favor. In September, Sony announced it was leading a group of investors to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a move that many analysts predicted would greatly increase the odds of MGM's signing on as a supporter of the Blu-ray technology.
Last month, the 20th Century Fox unit of the News Corporation said it was joining a Blu-ray developers group, the first studio to do so. Still, neither MGM nor Fox has committed to making movies available in the Blu-ray format.
A Sony spokesman said that despite Monday's setback, the company remained confident that its technology would win out.
"Blu-ray is a superior format from a technological point of view," said the spokesman, Taro Takamine. "We need to continue our efforts to get more support for Blu-ray."
And to be sure, the commitments from the four studios to make HD DVD's do not prevent them from also releasing titles using the Blu-ray format. Pony Canyon, Japan's largest distributor of prerecorded DVD's, for example, plans to release titles in both formats, according to spokesmen for Toshiba and Sony.
Each of the two competing technologies uses a blue laser, rather than the red laser that is now used to play CD's and DVD's. The blue laser is finer and can read data that is packed more tightly on a disc. A single-layer HD DVD disc will be able to hold 15 gigabytes of data, while a Blu-ray disc promises to hold 25 gigabytes. That compares with 4.7 gigabytes on traditional DVD's. Either of the new technologies would allow users to record a full-length film in high-definition video on a single disc.
The Toshiba-led group is betting that the format that is cheapest and quickest to reach the market is the one that is most likely to become the standard, so its strategy has been to make incremental improvements to existing DVD technology.
Much of the production equipment now used to make discs, players and recorders can be easily adapted to make the high-definition discs and players, Toshiba says. That means that HD DVD's should not cost much more than current DVD's once mass production begins, Toshiba has said.
"We believe that HD DVD has clear advantages in cost of manufacturing and ease of replication," Thomas Lesinski, president of Worldwide Home Entertainment for Paramount Pictures, said in a statement explaining the studio's decision to back HD DVD.
Sony and the Blu-ray group, which also includes Matsushita Electric and Sharp, have adopted a different strategy. They argue that to get consumers to pay for expensive new hardware, companies will have to offer something substantially better than current DVD players. They are aiming to take a bigger leap forward with a format that offers greater capacity and, they say, better picture quality than HD DVD.
Cable's Holiday Gift:
A Rate Increase on Your Bill
Despite Satellite Competition, New Increases Are Planned; Getting 120 Channels for $40
By PETER GRANT Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL November 30, 2004; Page D1
Cable companies may be facing their most intense competition ever from satellite-television operators. But that isn't stopping them from raising rates for the coming year.
Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, is raising its rates an average 5.9% for its standard analog-cable package of about 70 channels.
That is well above the 3.2% inflation rate -- and more than Comcast's price increase last year of 5.7%. In Massachusetts, for example, Comcast will raise the price of its standard cable package to an average of $45.95 in 2005 from $43.39.
Other cable operators also are raising rates faster than inflation, but they are beginning to show some restraint. Time Warner Inc.'s cable business is raising its average rate for standard analog cable 4.1% in 2005, after increasing rates 4.9% this year and 5.2% in 2003. Cox Communications Inc. will raise its analog cable rate an average of only 2.5% to $41.21, and Cablevision Systems Corp. will boost its rate 2.1% to about $46.
The increases come at a time when the cable industry is losing subscribers to lower-priced satellite-television operators. Last year, the two largest satellite companies, EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Group Inc., added a net 2.3 million subscribers, while cable operators lost a total of a net 63,000 customers, according to Kagan Research LLC. Still, cable remains far ahead on total count, with 73.7 million subscribers, according to A.C. Nielsen Research, compared with a total of about 24 million for DirecTV and EchoStar.
Satellite-television operators also have been raising prices -- but they continue to offer more channels per dollar than cable. DirecTV, the largest satellite TV company, for example, raised its rates $1 to $3 in March, the equivalent of 2% to 9% increases, depending on which package of channels subscribers purchased. EchoStar, which has about 10.5 million subscribers, kept its average price increase last year down to 2%, according to a company spokesman.
EchoStar's Dish Network charges $29.99 for 60 channels and $39.99 for 120 channels, while Time Warner in, say, Columbus, Ohio, will charge $37.95 for 70 channels when its coming rate increase goes into effect.
Though cable generally is more expensive, cable companies offer services that satellite doesn't have, such as video on demand and high-speed Internet connections via cable modems. These are areas the companies hope will boost their revenue.
While Comcast and Time Warner have raised rates for analog video, they have kept a lid on increases of other video service and new features such as high-speed Internet hookups and phone service. By limiting increases in digital cable, they are hoping to encourage households to upgrade to that service, which opens up a wide range of new channels and features such as video on demand.
Taking all features and services into account, Comcast and Time Warner's average rate increase next year will be only 3% and 3.5%, respectively.
For couch potatoes who don't seek to upgrade but simply want to avoid rising cable and satellite costs, one option is to get out the rabbit ears and pay nothing for television. Or they can sign up for so-called basic cable, which all cable companies are required by law to provide. This package typically includes only 15 or so channels. But the price is right: usually less than $20 a month.
For decades, cable companies were able to act as quasimonopolies, creating so much consumer outrage in the early 1990s that Congress imposed rate regulations on the industry. Those regulations were phased out a few years later, partly because satellite operators emerged as viable competitors. The smaller price increases are a sign that at least some cable companies are ending their dependence on annual price increases of more than 5% a year. Now, the companies are finding other ways to boost revenue, such as adding the new services. Cable companies also have been successful in the past year in moderating price increases by programmers such as ESPN.
Comcast, so far, has been a major exception to the rule -- partly because it needs to recoup the heavy investment it made to upgrade cable systems it acquired from AT&T Corp. in 2002. Also, Comcast believes it can hold on to subscribers by offering services beyond the reach of satellite operators. For example, Comcast recently introduced a popular on-demand service that enables digital-cable subscribers to watch highlights of all National Football League games whenever they want for no additional charge. Comcast developed the service, in part, to compete against DirecTV, which offers the NFL's Sunday Ticket, a service that allows subscribers who pay an additional fee to get access to practically all NFL games.
Even within companies, price increases can vary widely by geography and often are softened by special promotions and packages. For example, recent price increases were in the 5.5% range at many Time Warner systems, including Cincinnati, San Antonio, Charlotte, N.C., and Binghamton, N.Y. In Kansas City, Mo., by contrast, Time Warner is raising rates only 2.9%.
Many consumers who have switched have done so because of price. "It seemed like every time I turned around my cable bill went up another $1.75," says Sandy Etzel, 49 years old, an art-museum administrative assistant in Santa Fe, N.M., who recently switched to EchoStar from Comcast. She says her satellite bill now is $55 a month, compared with the $48 she was paying Comcast, but her new service includes more than 100 additional channels and a digital video recorder.
Executives at cable and satellite companies have blamed rate increases primarily on the need to pass on rising programming costs. They also acknowledge that networks aren't raising their prices as much as they have in the past. For example, ESPN, one of the most expensive networks, used to get rate increases of 20% a year from most operators. Early this year, ESPN, owned by Walt Disney Co., agreed to a nine-year deal with Cox that will drop its annual rate increase to an average of 7%.
Body likely is NBC executive's son
By Alan Levin, USA TODAY
The body of the 14-year-old son of NBC executive Dick Ebersol was apparently recovered late Monday after a fiery jet crash in Colorado that injured Ebersol and another son.
A body matching the description of Edward "Teddy" Ebersol was found underneath the wreckage, Montrose County Coroner Mark Young said. "I'm not going to discuss the condition of the body out of respect for the family."
Two others were killed in the crash after the charter jet took off in light snow Sunday from an airport that serves the Telluride ski area. A company at the airport that handles snow and ice removal from planes reported that the jet took off without being de-iced.
Ebersol and his son Charles were hospitalized in stable condition, Mike McCarley, spokesman for NBC Sports, said Monday night.
Federal authorities said it's too early to tell what caused the crash. "It's going to be a while because unfortunately a lot of the wreckage is still covered with snow," said Arnold Scott, the lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
A heavy snowstorm had eased up before the plane prepared to take off, but there was no immediate word if weather was a factor.
The way in which the Canadair Challenger 601 crashed will make icing a likely cause to be investigated.The jet apparently failed to get airborne. Ice and snow on a jet's wings can play havoc with its ability to fly. Small amounts the size of grains of sand can reduce a wing's ability to lift a jet off the ground.
As a result, pilots on charter flights are required to inspect their aircraft before takeoff to ensure that no ice or snow is present, according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations. If there is ice, they must get the plane de-iced with a bath of chemicals.
However, the twin jet being operated by Air Castle Corp. in Millville, N.J., did not get de-iced, said Steve McLaughlin of MTJ Air Services, the only company at Montrose Regional Airport that performs the service.
With light snow falling, crews began picking through the charred pile of twisted metal and a 6-foot-high shard of the fuselage with three gaping, round windows. The two engines lay on the ground nearby near the tail section where they had been mounted. A backhoe was brought in to help dig through the wreckage, found near a cattle pen in a snow-covered field dotted with knee-high weeds.
Ebersol has been head of NBC Sports for nearly 15 years, and is perhaps best known for his love of the Olympics, which are broadcast on the network.
He and two of his sons, Charles, 21, and Edward, were flying home from California, where the older son's school, Notre Dame, played a football game Saturday against Southern California. Another Ebersol son, Willie, 18, is a freshman at USC.
They flew to Colorado, where they have a home, to drop off Ebersol's wife, actress Susan Saint James, who starred in the 1980s television series Kate and Allie. Then, Ebersol and the two sons were headed to drop off Charles at school in South Bend, Ind.
Witnesses said that it appeared that the plane never got off the ground. It ran off the runway and skidded across a two-lane road, punching through fences before bursting into flames.
Rescue workers initially declared Edward missing. He was a freshman at a Connecticut boarding school.
The coroner's office identified the victims as Luis Alberto Polanco Espaillat, 50, of the Dominican Republic and Warren T. Richardson III, 36, of Coral Gables, Fla. The FAA said Espaillat was the pilot, Richardson a flight attendant. The co-pilot's name hasn't been released.
The co-pilot was hospitalized in Denver in critical condition. Dick and Charles Ebersol were hospitalized in Grand Junction.
Channel-surfers paying less attention to TV
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY November 30
Viewers are watching prime-time programming almost as much as they did 10 years ago, but they appear to be paying less attention, according to a new study by Knowledge Networks, a consumer-research company whose clients include networks and advertisers.
Growth in channel switching, up 42% since 1994, and multitasking, such as talking and eating, "indicate lower attentiveness," says company vice president David Tice.
Increased channel switching, most often during ad breaks and between programs, may indicate viewers are more intent on controlling what they watch.
Trends in prime time (8 p.m.-midnight ET/PT in the study) are moving too slowly to cause alarm among advertisers, Tice says: "Viewing behavior is changing, but not drastically." The July survey of 696 viewers ages 18-49 (comparisons with 1994 are limited to the first hour of prime time) found:
More people are watching alone, partly a result of more TVs in the home. More TVs mean more viewing, a plus for networks and advertisers, but solo viewers are more likely to switch channels.
Viewers are more likely to change channels during reality shows than scripted programs.
Growth in other prime-time TV uses, like video games (up from 1% in 1994 to 6%) and recording shows (from 14% to 17%), have reduced viewing of regularly scheduled shows (from 85% to 82%).
Jeffrey Cole, head of the Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, says channel switching, multitasking and digital video recorder usage threaten traditional commercials. "I think TV advertising is in its final phase as a medium that delivers national audiences to advertisers in 30-second blocks."
But Artie Bulgrin of ESPN, a Knowledge Networks client, says TV generally remains a passive medium, and if advertisers "understand who their audience is and make their messages relevant to that audience, the 30-second spot will be around a while."
Monday's ratings have been posted.
For CBS, not so much to laugh about
Its new shows are sputtering, except 'CSI: NY'
By Toni Fitzgerald medialifemagazine.com
Coming into the season, CBS had the most stable schedule and the least need for a new breakout hit show. Good thing, too, because with the exception of CSI: NY, the network's new shows have been middling to very bad.
More than any other network, CBS can afford to deal with the duds. Its November sweeps average among adults 18-49 is up nearly 15 percent over last season, and it leads No. 2 NBC by almost 17 percent.
Still, the network has to be at least a tad distressed that out of five new shows, only one is a definite for next season. Everyone expected CSI: NY to be a hit, and it is. Though viewership isn't quite as strong as it was for its debut, it easily beats time slot competitor Law & Order.
But the network's new comedies, Monday's Listen Up and Wednesday's Center of the Universe, were among the season's most poorly reviewed shows. Though both may survive the season, their viewership isn't showing big gains over comparable shows last year.
And the network's other two new dramas, Clubhouse and dr. vegas, have been canceled. At the same time, CBS still boasts three of the top-four dramas among total viewers (CSI, CSI: Miami and Without a Trace), so there's room for some slacking.
Bottom line, this season CBS can live with a disappointing development slate. Had it been any other network, however, they may have been in trouble.
Two months into the season we've seen fewer quick cancellations by the networks than last year, when nearly 10 shows were off the schedule in a matter of weeks.
This year's outright kills have been unsurprising: NBC's wan dramas Hawaii and LAX, the aforementioned Clubhouse and dr. vegas and the WB's misplaced improv Drew Carey's Green Screen.
Still, it can be hard to keep up with what's still around, what's awaiting the axe, and what has been renewed.
Here's an update on the networks' new shows, including their status as of Monday and what Media Life predicted for them when they debuted (see chart for rating scale).
Last week we looked at ABC (see Toni's report at post #779); today we'll look at CBS.
Later this week we'll chart NBC, Fox, the WB and UPN.
Listen Up (Mondays, 8:30 p.m.)
Status: Full-season order. Media Life rating: 14.
It's maintaining nearly 100 percent of Still Standing's lead-in, but still a distant second place to NBC's Fear Factor in the timeslot.
Clubhouse (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.)
Status: Canceled. Media Life rating: 11.
After it failed to improve CBS's 18-49 fortunes on Tuesdays, the network moved it to Saturdays and then quickly canceled.
Center of the Universe (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m.)
Status: Additional scripts ordered. Media Life rating: 12.
This show opened so late (mid-October) that CBS is still mulling a full-season order. After outdrawing King of Queens in its debut, Center has lost 16 percent of its lead-in.
CSI: NY (Wednesdays, 10 p.m.)
Status: Full-season order. Media Life rating: 27.
The surest bet on the new schedule, CSI: NY has become the first show to beat NBC's Law & Order among 18-49s in their shared timeslot.
dr. vegas (Fridays, 10 p.m.)
Status: Canceled. Media Life rating: 10.
Averaged a 2.1 among 18-49s before getting yanked.
The Media Life Meter
Rating fall's new shows probability of survival
30-27 Odds are this show will make it to next season.
26-22 Odds are this show will make it through this season.
21-15 Show may not survive the season.
15-9 Show will be canceled sometime this season.
8 or lower Catch it while you can - this show may not make it to four episodes.
Source: Media Life
Cablevision's Voom Faces Deepening Gloom
"There is not a single person in the satellite television business who can figure out what in heaven's name they are doing"
By George Mannes thestreet.com Senior Writer 11/30/2004 7:02 AM EST
Cablevision (CVC:NYSE) executives still can't persuade outsiders that Voom is anything but doomed.
The Long Island, N.Y.-based cable operator has sunk hundreds of millions of dollars to launch Voom, a new home satellite service focusing on high-definition television. Given the promising commercial prospects for HDTV -- demand that's evident in growing sales of large-screen HDTV sets, and in efforts by cable operators such as Comcast (CMCSA:Nasdaq) to boost HDTV programming -- Cablevision's strategy makes sense, in theory.
But with each milestone that Cablevision announces in its development of Voom, there's a chorus, among analysts and other satellite-TV watchers, that each step forward is a step back for Cablevision and Rainbow Media Enterprises. That's the Cablevision subsidiary that will operate the satellite subsidiary once its expected spinoff from Cablevision takes place.
Try as hard as they can, outsiders are having a tough time imagining that Voom has a chance for success, given the availability of HDTV programming elsewhere and the huge head start enjoyed by the dominant U.S. satellite TV services, DirecTV (DTV:NYSE) and EchoStar (DISH:Nasdaq) .
"There is not a single person in the satellite television business who can figure out what in heaven's name they are doing," says Bob Scherman, editor and publisher of the industry trade publication Satellite Business News.
Cablevision's shares fell 36 cents Monday to close at $21.40.
Asked whether there is some clever, contrarian strategy at work or a hidden payoff within Voom that critics may have overlooked, Scherman replies, "I get asked this 10 times a week. People are at the point where they're dumbfounded. And as much as people like [Cablevision founder] Chuck Dolan, they simply cannot figure out how someone with this experience and knowledge can be wasting so much money on a business plan which has less than zero chance of succeeding."
Prompting the latest round of head-shaking was Cablevision's announcement last week that it had signed a contract with Lockheed Martin (LMT:NYSE) under which the aerospace company would construct five new satellites for Voom for a price of $740 million.
About the only bright spots that analysts saw in that announcement was that the contract -- which Cablevision says will require $48 million of payments in the first year -- won't require huge upfront costs for Voom, and is cancelable by the satellite operator, subject to a termination fee.
While the downside to Cablevision itself may be limited, given Rainbow's expected spinoff, news like this continues to weigh on Wall Street's valuation of the combined Cablevision/Rainbow.
The Lockheed Martin announcement prompted Lehman Brothers analyst Vijay Jayant to cut his price target on Cablevision on Monday from $24 to $23. "Given the limited opportunity for Rainbow DBS," writes Jayant in his research report, "executing on the contract to construct five ... satellites will destroy equity value."
In the best-case scenario, writes Jayant, no new satellites are built but a $100 million termination fee is incurred. In that case, RME -- which also includes the national programming services American Movie Classics, the Independent Film Channel and WE: Women's Entertainment -- is worth $1 per Cablevision share.
In the worst case, Jayant calculates that all five satellites are built, requiring $1.2 billion in additional funding -- a number covering not only construction but also launch and insurance costs. "A decision by Voom to think about constructing five ... satellites makes the bear case outlook on Rainbow Media take a higher probability," writes Jayant. (The analyst has an equal-weight rating on Cablevision; Lehman hasn't done recent banking for the company.)
Under one theory, Cablevision could be investing in Voom in order to sell it to DirecTV or EchoStar -- EchoStar being more likely, since DirecTV recently announced plans to launch satellites that would increase its own capacity for transmission of HDTV programming.
But Scherman, for one, says EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen is unlikely to pay what Cablevision CEO James Dolan would want to recover costs on Voom. "The notion that Jimmy Dolan is going to outnegotiate Charlie Ergen is something laughable," Scherman says.
CBS looking longingly at Russert to replace Rather
By Gail Shister Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist
NBC's Tim Russert is locked up through 2012, but many inside CBS feel he'd be a terrific successor to anchor Dan Rather.
"People love him here," says a high-ranking CBS executive, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He's a big deal, a very likable news guy. He could anchor from where he is," in Washington.
Meet the Press moderator Russert, 54, reportedly is on CBS's wish list of outsiders to replace Rather, 73, who vacates Evening News after 24 years March 9. (Also on the list: Today's Matt Lauer and ABC's Diane Sawyer.)
"Matt and I worked it out - he'll do Monday and Friday, and I'll do Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," Russert joked yesterday, referring all questions to NBC.
This is the second time Russert has made the anchor buzz at CBS. In 2000, when he was first rumored as Rather's replacement, NBC offered him an unprecedented 12-year contract.
Russert "would be a terrific Evening News anchor," says Bob Schieffer, 67, moderator of CBS's Face the Nation and 23-year weekend anchor of Evening News.
"He's smart, obviously industrious, and has built up a great reputation. There's no way NBC would let him leave. Meet the Press is making a lot of money."
With Evening News languishing in third place in the Nielsens, no one would blame CBS if it were lusting for Russert, who has led Press to 196 consecutive weekly blue ribbons. And it's up 11 percent over last season.
No comment from CBS or NBC.
Like Russert, Lauer and Sawyer are both under long-term deals. CBS would love a shot at Sawyer (a CBS alum), but it's not even remotely possible.
When an ABC rep asked Sawyer for comment, "she laughed and said, 'That's flattering, but it's completely out of the question.' "
Inside CBS, the clear favorite is White House correspondent John Roberts, 48, a solid newsman whom some consider a lightweight because of his background as a Toronto "veejay."
"I'm not even thinking about it," Roberts says. "I've got enough on my plate right now. My full-time job is cracking the nut of the White House."
Roberts says he hasn't been contacted, "nor do I expect to be for at least the next month." Leslie Moonves, boss of CBS owner Viacom, says he won't name a successor until January, at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Schieffer says he'd fill in as Evening News anchor, if asked. (He hasn't been.)
"I'm a good company man. I'll do whatever they ask me to do, and do it with pleasure. But it's beyond my imagination that they would need somebody to fill in temporarily."
As for "temporarily" becoming longer, Schieffer doesn't delude himself.
"There's no way in the world they would come to somebody 67 years old and ask them to anchor. I wouldn't do that. I'd look for somebody who's going to be there for a while."
Besides, Schieffer is content with his Sunday gig, which usually beats ABC's This Week for second place in the ratings.
"I've got a good bird's nest on the ground," says Schieffer, sounding suspiciously like fellow Texan Rather. "Basically, I do whatever I want to do, and the way I want to do it. I love this job."
He loves his alma mater, too. Texas Christian University tomorrow will name its journalism school the Schieffer School of Journalism. (Rather received the same honor from Sam Houston State.)
"I'm humbled, awed and surprised," says Schieffer, a 1959 alum and "terrible" student. "I didn't graduate with honors, but I did graduate on time."
Wow good for Tim Russert. Regardless of what he does or where he goes, his next contract negotiation will have some extra zeroes on it.
Nielsen Ratings Week Ending Nov. 28, 2004
'Housewives', CBS Top Weekly Ratings ,
(zap2it.com)-- Two weeks ago, ABC ran a promo for "Desperate Housewives" calling the freshman soap the No. 1 show on television. It was a lie then, but count on ABC's marketing department to dust off the ad, because for the week ending Friday, Nov. 28, at least, ABC's newest hit has, indeed, moved to the top of the Nielsen heap.
A record-breaking week for "Housewives" wasn't enough, though, for ABC to give CBS any sort of competition for the top spot overall. The Tiffany Network once again dominated the overall ratings and eked out a victory in the key demographic, capping a powerhouse November sweeps period.
Overall Prime Time Ratings/Share
CBS 8.8/1---13.91 million viewers
CBS glutted the Nielsen Top 20 for the week with 12 shows, far ahead of the competition. With Thanksgiving somewhat blunting the network's powerhouse Thursday offerings, Monday shows made strong showings, led by "CIS: Miami" at No. 2 with a 14.3/23 and followed closely by "Two and a Half Men" (12.3/18, 4th) and "Everybody Loves Raymond" (12.2/18, 5th). Even with viewers stuffing themselves with turkey, the Thursday line-up still managed to stay strong, with regularly weekly winner "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" at No. 3 with a 13.5/24 and respectable numbers for "Without a Trace" (11.9/22, 6th) and "Survivor: Vanuatu" (8.8/17, 14th).
The network also had a trio of listworthy programs on Sunday with "60 Minutes" (11.6/17, 7th), "Cold Case" (11.4/16, 8th) and the movie "When Angels Come to Town" (9.1/14, 13th). CBS's other Top 20 shows included Tuesday's "NCIS" (9.4/15, 12th), a special Friday encore of "CSI" (8.8/16, 14th) and Wednesday's "CSI: NY" (8.3/14, 18th).
"Desperate Housewives," goosed by rumors of the offing of a main character, scored with 27.24 million viewers, its largest audience yet, doing a 16.1/23 on Sunday. That night also saw "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (9.8/14, 11th) and "Boston Legal" (8.8/14, 14th) make the Top 20. The "Monday Night Football" showdown between the Chiefs and the Patriots was No. 9 with a 10.6/17 and the seven-minute pregame was No. 20 with an 8.1/12.
In a slow week for NBC, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" led the way with a 10.1/17 for No. 10 and the flagship "Law & Order" was No. 17 with an 8.5/14. The heavily hyped "Seinfeld Story" was No. 19 with an 8.2/15.
FOX's top program for the week was a screening of "Spider-Man," which was No. 43 with a 5.7/10.
On The WB, "7th Heaven" was the lead offering with a 5.0/7 for No. 55, while the network's movie "Samantha: An American Girl Holiday" was No. 67 with a 3.9/6. UPN's best was an "America's Next Top Model" clip show at No. 78 with a 2.9/5.
Fox January Schedule changes
(Released by FOX via thefutoncritic.com)
FOX has a New Year's resolution everyone can keep. Break out the 2005 calendar and start the year off right with a fresh new wave of programming - including brand-new dramas JONNY ZERO and POINT PLEASANT and the highly anticipated return of AMERICAN IDOL, 24, THE SIMPLE LIFE and THE BERNIE MAC SHOW - beginning January 2005 on FOX.
The gritty drama JONNY ZERO, from the acclaimed team behind "The West Wing" and "ER," will take viewers on an action-packed ride through the streets of New York City as ex-con Jonny Calvo (Franky G.) returns to his old neighborhood, trying to make amends for the mistakes he has made. A former bouncer, Jonny has a mythic reputation, and his old boss, Garrett (Ritchie Coster), a corrupt club owner, will stop at nothing to get him back on the payroll. But Jonny struggles to go legitimate, befriending wannabe hip-hop renaissance man Random (GQ) and a fellow lost soul, troubled ex-stripper Danni Styles (Brennan Hesser).
In the pilot episode, Jonny is released from prison without a job or a place to live. In order to make ends meet he takes a job at Captain Jack's restaurant as a bus boy and kids' party entertainer. One night he befriends a man, Martin Styles (Victor Slezak), who is looking for his runaway daughter, Danni. Jonny agrees to help this man find his daughter, but when he goes to report back to Styles, he finds him being assaulted by a thug. Subsequently, Danni is kidnapped and it is up to Jonny to find her and pass on her father's dying wish. Meanwhile, Special Agent Stringer (Chris Bauer) informs Jonny that he has walked into the middle of a Mob war on the series premiere of JONNY ZERO Friday, Jan. 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).
Mac is back! THE BERNIE MAC SHOW will lead off Friday nights with back-to-back episodes starting Friday, Jan. 14 (all-new episodes 8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT and encore episodes 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT).
It's more funny than embarrassing when Bryana accidentally walks in on Bernie getting out of the bathtub and catches a glimpse of his "privacy." Bernie reprimands her, but a few days later at parent night at Bryana's school, he is horrified to see that she has drawn a picture of him naked in the bathroom with his privacy exposed. He then realizes that Bryana and Jordan are too old to be sharing a room and moves Bryana in with Vanessa. But Vanessa feels invaded and is not making it easy on her new roommate. Wanda and Bernie decide to add another room onto the house for Bryana and Wanda wants to re-do part of the master bedroom as well on the "My Privacy" episode of THE BERNIE MAC SHOW Friday, Jan. 14 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT).
The award-winning series 24 will kick off its fourth season of clock-stopping suspense with an explosive two-hour season premiere Sunday, Jan. 9 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). This special Sunday-night broadcast will air on the same day as the NFC Wild Card game and 24's regular time period premiere will follow the next night - Monday, Jan. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). The gripping drama will then unfold on a weekly basis without repeats or preemptions all the way to the heart-stopping season finale.
Last season, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who was in charge of a special field operations unit of the Counter Terrorist Unit, fought to stop a viral terrorism threat before it could kill millions of people. Season four begins 18 months later with the episode "Day 4: 7:00 am-8:00 am." CTU is now headed by Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson), a steely government agent who made firing Jack one of her first priorities upon taking over. After the explosion of a commuter train, Jack, who is now working for Secretary of Defense James Heller (William Devane) and is secretly romantically involved with Heller's married daughter, Audrey (Kim Raver), suddenly finds himself heading back to CTU for a meeting with Driscoll on Heller's behalf.
The wait is almost over! AMERICAN IDOL, the ultimate in family viewing and the No. 1 show on television last season, has set the stage to return in January. Last May, approximately 65 million votes were cast in the season finale, crowning Fantasia the third AMERICAN IDOL after previous winners Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard. Since then America has been anxiously waiting for the biggest show of the year to return.
AMERICAN IDOL is back for its fourth season and another quest to discover America's most talented singer. Host Ryan Seacrest and America's favorite judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, all return to lend their professional expertise, personal comments and often-unwanted criticism to this season's crop of aspiring singers. An all-new season with new contestants and the best and worst of auditions from seven cities around the nation begins with a special two-hour season premiere episode Tuesday, Jan. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and a special one-hour episode Wednesday, Jan. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). Some will get the judges' approval and others will learn the hard truth! Tune in to see who survives and who goes home!
Something wicked this way comes to a usually quiet New Jersey beach town, when a sudden, violent storm washes in more than the tide in the new drama series POINT PLEASANT premiering Thursday, Jan. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
After local lifeguard Jesse Parker (Sam Page) sees the beautiful Christina Nickson (Elisabeth Harnois) floating in the ocean, he dives into the dangerous waters to save her life and bring her to safety. Little does Jesse know that his heroic rescue heralds the beginning of all hell breaking loose.
Jesse brings Christina to the home of local doctor Ben Kramer (Richard Burgi). The Kramers, including Ben's wife Meg (Susan Walters) and daughter Judy (Aubrey Dollar), take an instant liking to Christina and invite her stay with them as she searches for clues to her past and attempts to find her mother - coincidentally a Point Pleasant native - whom Christina never knew. Unbeknownst to Christina, her presence is having a profound effect on Point Pleasant's inhabitants, awakening repressed feelings, unlocking secret desires and heightening emotions. Tensions flare between Jesse, who finds himself inexplicably drawn to Christina, and his best friend, Terry (Brent Weber), who secretly lusts after Jesse's possessive girlfriend, Paula (Cameron Richardson). Paula's hot-to-trot mother, Amber (Dina Meyer), attempts to rekindle her relationship with the good Dr. Kramer. And long-buried secrets kept by Jesse's parents, Police Captain Logan (Alex Carter) and God-fearing Sarah (Clare Carey) begin to surface, especially when the darkly mysterious and charismatic Thomas Boyd (Grant Show) moves into town and insinuates himself into Christina's new life.
As Christina looks for answers to her mother's disappearance, she will come to realize that she has never known her "real" father either - for Christina is the offspring of a mortal woman and the Devil. While Christina struggles to control the demons inside her (and the powers that come with it), the fight for her soul has begun and the town of POINT PLEASANT has turned into the ultimate battleground of good versus evil.
After the demons it's time for the divas when THE SIMPLE LIFE 3: INTERNS premieres Wednesday, Jan. 26 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT). This newest edition of THE SIMPLE LIFE follows "celebutantes" and best friends Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie as they pack up their Louis Vuitton briefcases for a trip around the Northeast via Greyhound Bus. The outrageous fish-out-of-bottled-water series chronicles the adventures of Hilton and Richie, who are again stripped of their cell phones, cash and credit cards, as they go from hot tickets to bus tickets. Departing from New York, the girls must navigate their way through this wild bus ride through towns, host families and internships. American business will never be the same again.
Coming to the FOX schedule in March will be the Victor Fresco comedy LIFE ON A STICK. Laz (Zachary Knighton) and Fred (Charlie Finn), both 18, have been friends forever. Just out of high school, and unsure what they want to do with their lives, they take jobs at a mall food court, at the lame "Yippee, Hot Dogs" run by the always yelling Mr. Hut (Maz Jobrani). There, Laz meets the girl of his dreams, the lovely and strong-willed Lily (Rachelle Lefevre).
Optimistic but not ambitious, Laz cuts a deal with his well-meaning but superficial dad, Rick (Matthew Glave), and equally superficial stepmom, Michelle (Amy Yasbeck), which allows Laz to continue living rent-free at home. All Laz has to do is keep an eye on his stepsister (Michelle's daughter), the angry, angst-ridden, 16-year-old Molly (Saige Thompson). Michelle and Rick hope that Laz will help socialize Molly and get her on the right track with the boy she likes - the sweet and very honest Jasper (Ryan Belleville). Rounding out the family is the perfect and wise 8-year-old Gus (Frankie Ryan), the only product of Rick and Michelle's union and the object of their obsession.
With FOX's year-round schedule in full swing, January also will bring the exciting finales of the current seasons of THE SWAN (Monday, Jan. 3, 8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT); THE REBEL BILLIONAIRE: BRANSON'S QUEST FOR THE BEST (Tuesday, Jan. 11, 8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT); QUINTUPLETS (Wednesday, Jan. 12, 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT); NORTH SHORE (Thursday, Jan. 13, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT); and MY BIG FAT OBNOXIOUS BOSS (Sunday, Jan. 30, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) - shows that launched in summer and fall on FOX.
It's like unwrapping a new gift every week on THE SWAN, as self-proclaimed "ugly ducklings" are given the unique opportunity to realize their dreams. The unscripted series that turns a fairy tale into reality, THE SWAN revitalizes women who are stuck in a rut by revealing their beauty and confidence through physical, mental and emotional transformations with the help of a team of specialists. Each week this season, two women and their stunning transformations are featured, with one of the contestants selected to compete in the Swan Pageant. The second season culminates on its two-hour finale Monday, Jan. 3 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) with the spectacular pageant in which one woman will be crowned "The Swan," winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.
Following is a day-by-day recap of the FOX schedule for January 2005:
8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT TRADING SPOUSES
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT 24 (2-Hour Season Premiere on Sunday, Jan. 9; Time period premiere on Monday, January 10)
8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT AMERICAN IDOL Season Premiere Jan. 18
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT HOUSE
8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT THAT '70s SHOW
8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT THE SIMPLE LIFE 3: INTERNS Season Premiere Jan. 26
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT AMERICAN IDOL Season Premiere January 19; 1-hour episodes through February
8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT THE O.C.
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT POINT PLEASANT Series Premiere Jan. 20
8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT THE BERNIE MAC SHOW All-new episodes start Jan. 14
8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT THE BERNIE MAC SHOW Encore episodes start Jan. 14
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT JONNY ZERO Series Premiere Jan. 14
8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT COPS
8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT COPS
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-MIDNIGHT MADtv ET/PT
Sundays (through January)
7:00-7:30 PM ET/PT KING OF THE HILL
7:30-8:00 PM ET/PT MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE
8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT MY BIG FAT OBNOXIOUS BOSS
CBS Claims November Landslide
Jim Finkle - Broadcasting & Cable 11/30
CBS declared a landslide victory in this month's sweeps race even though the polls don't officially close until Wednesday night.
The network says it's poised to post its first November sweeps victory since 1980 among 18-49s. It projects that it will end the sweeps season with a 4.5 rating in that key demographic. It estimates that NBC and ABC are about neck and neck with a 4.0, and Fox is last of the Big Four with an average 3.0 rating.
If CBS is able to retain 18- to 49-year-olds, it'll be able to boost ad rates for next season, especially on Thursdays, one of the most lucrative nights of the week for broadcasters. With this significant a change for us, there will definitely be more money coming into us in May, said CBS Chairman Les Moonves in a conference call with reporters. These ratings are absolutely going to translate into dollars, especially on Thursday night.
The victory forced Moonves to eat a little, unusually palatable crow. Years ago, CBS was so far behind among 18-49s that Moonves once lamented that it would never lead in that category. Today, he said he was thrilled to have been wrong.
It is extremely gratifying for all of us that this has happened, he said We're pretty proud.
The improvement in prime time has helped affiliates going into their late-night news, giving them the best competitive position they've had in that slot for at least a decade, according to Moonves.
During the briefing with reporters, he said it's too soon to provide any information about the network's efforts to find a replacement for news anchor Dan Rather.With Dan leaving, it's a time of transition, he said. It's certainly one of the biggest things on my plate.
CBS is looking at a variety of options for the newscast, he added, including making changes to its format. In passing, he said that it might be wrong to assume that Rather would be replaced by one person.
Does that mean he'll be replaced by a team of two anchors, asked one reporter.
Anything could happen, he replied. We may bring in the cast of Friends to do the evening news.
According to the preliminary projections from CBS, its average audience for November sweeps will come in at about 14.25 million. NBC is second with 10.77 million, then ABC with 10.71 million and Fox with 7.05 million.
That 3.5 million-viewer lead would be the largest of any No. 1 network since November 1987, when NBC was top dog.
During his press conference, Moonves also confirmed a diagnosis on Dr. Vegas that had yet to be formally articulated by the network: The show is not just on hiatus. It has been cancelled.
He also said the network had asked producers of CSI: NY is to make the show a little lighter. Although it has performed well in the ratings, CBS was concerned about its tone.
We thought it was a little too dark, Moonves said. But we're making adjustments.