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HDTV Programming

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TV Sports/Business Notes
NFL Sunday Ticket expands, but there's a catch
By Eli Blumenthal, USA Today - Jul. 17, 2013

The internet was abuzz on Wednesday when it appeared DirecTV had loosened its exclusive hold of the NFL's Sunday Ticket package, allowing non-DirecTV users to subscribe to stream the service or as the company headlined "Stream NFL Sunday Ticket live online. No satellite required!" While DirecTV has expanded the service to now include streaming on phones, tablets and game consoles in addition to computers, the service hasn't yet been fully opened up.

In a statement to USA TODAY, DirecTV confirmed that the company's new NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV service only applies to homes that do not have the ability to install a satellite dish. This means it will work if you live in an apartment complex or if you are a student at one of the ten "select universities" the company has partnered with. If you can get a satellite installed then this service doesn't apply to you.

The company has been offering a Sunday Ticket streaming service for those unable to get DirecTV installed since 2010 and last year partnered with Amazon and EA Sports on a special version of Madden 25 that included a code to allow non-DirecTV customers to stream Sunday Ticket.

Now if you are a football-loving tenant in an apartment building or a student at one of those universities, DirecTV has made watching every game online a bit easier to access, though it's still pricey. The new NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV has three streaming plans that start at $199.99 and all offer the ability to stream live out-of-market games in HD. The differences in the plans however is on which devices you can watch games. The lower level, $199.99 "Digital" package allows for streaming on Android or iOS phones and tablets as well as on computers, but not on game consoles connected to your TV. If you would like to use an Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 you would need to purchase the $239.99 "Console" package, which offers streaming on those systems but not phones, tablets or computers. While rumored to be making an appearance on the Apple TV, DirecTV has confirmed on it's website that Apple's streaming box will not have access to the service for the 2014 season.

If you would like the ability to watch on your game console, phone, tablet and computer you will need to subscribe to the $329.99 "Max" package, though this offering also grants access to the Red Zone channel and new DirecTV Fantasy Zone. All three packages, as well as a special discounted "University" edition for those select colleges, are available for order today from the SundayTicket.TV site.

The NFL's exclusive agreement with DirecTV has been a profitable arrangement for both sides, even playing a role in AT&T's attempt to acquire the satellite provider for $48.5 billion. DirecTV and the NFL are currently in negotiations to extend the exclusivity of the package, their current deal expires after this coming season, but the large popularity Sunday Ticket has led to interest in the service from other companies particularly Google, who last year was rumored to be meeting with NFL about acquiring the rights.

DirecTV currently pays the NFL $1 billion a year to offer Sunday Ticket. It remains to be seen if the company will expand this offering to include other non-DirecTV subscribers.
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TV Sports/Nielsen Notes
2014 MLB All-Star game boasts high numbers
By Saba Hamedy, Los Angeles Times - Jul. 16, 2013

The 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game on Fox proved to be a grand slam in TV ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research.

With 11.3 million viewers and a rating of 3.0 among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the 85th All-Star game was the most watched since 2010, which boasted a rating of 7.5 and about 12.1 million viewers.

The game, which posted consecutive year-to-year ratings increases, gave Fox the No. 1 slot in the key demographic and overall prime-time network viewership on Tuesday night.

In the game's first full half hour, many eyes were on New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who made his final All-Star game appearance. Viewership during this time frame was up 9% from last year, with a rating of 7.5, compared with 6.9 in 2013.

NBC was the second-most-viewed network among viewers 18 to 49 with a rating of 1.7 and about 8.4 million viewers.

"America's Got Talent" averaged a rating of 2.0. "The Night Shift," which aired its season finale, was down 8% from last week, tying its series low with an average rating of 1.2.

On ABC, "Extreme Weight Loss" dropped 18% from last week to a rating of 0.9. "Celebrity Wife Swap" stayed even with last week's episode with a rating of 1.0.
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Nielsen Overnights (Cable)
‘Catch’ and ‘Liars’ top Tuesday
By Media Life Magazine Staff - Jul. 16, 2013

On a slow night for cable, with broadcast’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game drawing lots of eyeballs, Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” finished as the night’s top original shows among adults 18-49.

The two programs both posted a 1.0 in the demo, according to Nielsen overnights. Both were even to last week.

They weren’t, however, the top shows overall on cable. Those honors went to repeats on Adult Swim, with “Family Guy” the night’s No. 1 program with a 1.3 and another “Guy” and an “American Dad” tying for second with a 1.2.

Among total viewers, TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles” was easily the night’s top show with 4.9 million viewers, while Oprah Winfrey Network’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” second with 3.15 million.
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jul. 17, 2014

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Now that Greg Poehler, creator and star of this new series presented by NBC, has established the autobiographical premise of his show – a man, here named Bruce, moves to Sweden after falling in love with a woman who lives there – it’s time to run with the comic possibilities of the premise. Lena Olin, as the mother of Bruce’s girlfriend, gets more laughs in subtitled Swedish than most NBC comedy stars do in English. Poehler is funny, too, but quietly so, while Josephine Bornebusch, as his girlfriend, is a real find, and tonight, gets to show off her own comic timing and gifts. And this second episode also makes room for Will Ferrell, playing an exaggerated version of himself, with a particularly helpful gift for Bruce: a Swedish-language instructional audiotape.

CNN, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tom Hanks, whose Playtone company is one of this fine documentary series’ production partners, appears on camera in tonight’s episode – and, since Hanks so memorably proved he had the right stuff by portraying astronaut Jim Lovell in 1995’s Apollo 13, he’s more than earned the right to put the Space Race, which both predated and outlasted the Sixties by a few years each way, in his own entertaining perspective. But he’s far from the only one on tap tonight – and, as usual with The Sixties, vintage television footage emerges as the best storyteller of all.

Sundance, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is called “Act As If,” and continues the story line begun last week as Daniel (Aden Young) emerged from his coma and went to Atlanta. I’m going to Act As If I know what’s going to happen next, though I don’t have a clue. But that’s something I plan to rectify by watching tonight’s Rectify.

ABC, 10:00 p.m. ET

This medical documentary series continues to over-perform in the ratings, based on summer TV fare in general and serious nonfiction TV in particular. But at the same time, ABC seems to under-promote it, out of either a lack of what should be pride or a failure of what should be a celebration of success. But I’ve said from the beginning you should watch NY Med, and, like the cases that come through the trauma doors of the hospitals documented by Terence Wrong’s camera crews, every day brings something completely different, and even more completely unexpected.

FX, 10:30 p.m. ET
There’s something fairly unsettling about this new FX comedy – but there’s something unshakably unique about it as well, which makes it very watchable even as watching it may make you occasionally uncomfortable. Aggressively cynical, narcissistic and self-destructive characters are not new to sitcoms – Krysten Ritter’s comically abrasive character in ABC’s Don’t Trust That B---- in Apartment 23 being a prime example. But in this new series, Aya Cash’s character of Gretchen would intimidate, if not destroy, Ritter’s tough gal in a heartbeat – and Chris Geere, as her male equivalent, is just as prickly. Can these two find true love with one another? Perhaps – but only after a marathon night of what both parties agree is a bout of meaningless sex. The performances by these two leads, and the writing by Stephen Falk, are daring enough to deserve notice. But as with shows like The Sopranos, just when you start to embrace these characters, they do something to repulse you into retreating to a safe distance.

* * * *

TV Reviews
Two New FX Shows About Love and Hate
By Eric Gould, - Jul. 17, 2013

For the time being, new FX comedies are probably constructed more or less from the Louie template: people are followed by a single camera, characters have serious social shortcomings and the comedy comes from small, downbeat personal letdowns.

Married and You're the Worst, premiering Thursday night at 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. ET, respectively, don't have the vignetted, semi-surreal structures of Louis C.K.'s show, but the environments are the same with characters acting badly, winning a little, but mostly losing.

And, surprise, those who are married can probably relate more to the traps and troubles in Married. Those who are still on the prowl or can't seem to commit, can find more fertile territory with the jaded singles in You're the Worst who don't believe in romantic love or relationships.

Both shows build on the quiet dread and disaffection of Louie, that is, they have their own intellectual bases that are squarely down on the opposite side of network sitcoms that live on clockwork punch lines and amped up studio audiences.

Married has the more tender heart of the two with an LA couple, Russ and Lina (Nat Faxon and Judy Greer) scrunched into a too small single family with three kids. Russ is a freelance graphic designer who can't seem to get current on his fees or his family bills. Lina has left the workforce to be a mother and is suffering a significant case of mommy burnout. They're probably the emblem of the fading middle class that just can't make it financially, although the writers have Russ riding around in a family-sized SUV and maybe, hint-hint, that's part of his problem.

We're often in Russ and Lina's bedroom (a lot in the first four episodes sent for review) and the sex life of the 40-ish parents is not going well. She's tired, terrified of getting pregnant again and/or simply isn't turned on anymore. She's happier reading vampire romances. He's frustrated and since we're in an FX, cable bedroom, there's plenty of simulated male masturbation to go around. (Ditto that for You're the Worst, as well.)

Greer has been around since her splash ten years ago in I Heart Huckabees and is currently voicing Cheryl on the FX animated comedy Archer. (She's also an annual favorite as Esther Bloomenbergensteinenthal in the Chanukah comedy The Hebrew Hammer.)

Married churns angles on the middle-aged facing their evaporating youth and sex appeal with Lina demanding a vasectomy for Russ and Russ trying to collect a fee for work he's done at a nearby college while all the coeds find him old and out of it.

Married isn't perfect, but has some genuine smarts and heart about having everything around you that you would think you'd need -- a healthy, generally loving family -- but still feeling there's something, sometimes a lot, missing.

On the flip side, You're the Worst has no illusions about love or happiness, even if the sex is good. There's not a lot to like about the two dysfunctional leads but maybe more to like about the show's premise and territory.

Jimmy (Chris Geere) is an opinionated, too-honest (read: insulting) Brit who's made some money as the author of a semi-autobiographical book about his estranged father called Congratulations, You're Dying. Gretchen (Aya Cash) is a PR flack for musicians in LA. They meet at a wedding where he acted badly as the former boyfriend of the bride and she's waiting for the valet with a present she has stolen off the couple's gift table. We soon find two cynical, self-absorbed 30-somethings who've been unlucky in love and go immediately between the sheets with each other. They begin seeing each other just as long as it's not referred to as dating. Or a relationship. Yet.

You're the Worst has the advantage of being a romance about unlikable characters who kind of like the basic unlikability of the other so there is a wide area for the story to circle around in, and reverse, of course, as it surely will with characters steeped in erratic and erotic love. Jimmy and Gretchen are best in bed with each other, in that non-verbal territory where they, at least initially, communicate.

You're the Worst also features Stephanie Courtney in a few scenes as a local bookshop keeper full of invective and judgment for Jimmy. She's the irrepressible Flo from the Progressive auto insurance commercials and it's pleasing to see her in a role against that stereotype, without the white headband and the bubbly-scary smile. It's not clear from FX press material whether her character is recurring but hopefully it is.

Married and You're the Worst do well for not prettifying love and lust with all the hackneyed television tropes and gets right down to the hard knocks.

You might call them FX's new non-rom-coms.
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TV Notes
Pierce Brosnan partners with Spike TV for Crusades-inspired series
By Ariana Bacle,'s 'Inside TV' Blog - Jul. 16, 2013

Spike TV, known for reality shows like Cops and Ink Master, is stepping out of the reality bubble and into history with The Crusaders, its upcoming series about the Crusades in the 12th century.

The network is partnering with Irish DreamTime, Pierce Brosnan’s production company, for the project and already has David Franzoni—who won an Oscar for 2000′s Gladiator—on board to direct. Brosnan, Beau St. Clair of Irish DreamTime, Mark Sennet, Brian Gary, and Craig Sheftell are set to executive produce. Michael Finch of Predators and Franzoni will take on writing duties and also executive produce.

The Crusaders, which Spike TV dubs an “event-series,” will focus on two knights journeying to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade and the struggles they encounter once they arrive. This isn’t the only scripted series Spike TV has ordered recently: The network also has plans to air Tut in 2015 and is developing two separate series based on Stephen Grey’s The War at the Shore and Carl Hiaasen’s Basket Case.
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Technology/Business Notes
Large Round of Layoffs Expected at Microsoft
By Nick Wingfield, The New York Times' 'Bits' Blog - Jul. 16, 2014

SEATTLE — Last week, Microsoft’s chief executive hinted in a long company memo that big organizational changes were coming soon. That time has arrived.

On Thursday, Microsoft is planning to announce layoffs that will substantially exceed the largest layoffs in the company’s history, according to several people briefed on the decision who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. Previously, the largest layoffs were in 2009, when 5,800 or so people were affected.

Employees at the company’s campus in Redmond, Wash., are already bracing for the news. Human resources managers have begun reserving conference rooms for most of Thursday, most likely a sign that they will be used to meet with laid-off employees, a person with knowledge of the plans said. Employees will have an opportunity to question Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, about the cuts on Friday at a regular town hall meeting that was scheduled before the exact timing of the layoffs was known.

Frank Shaw, a company spokesman, declined to comment.

Large layoffs are a rarity at Microsoft. Its layoffs in 2009 came during the economic recession that followed the bursting of the housing bubble. Since then, Microsoft has had a few more rounds of staff reductions, but the number of employees let go were typically in the dozens or hundreds.

With 125,000 employees, even letting go thousands more than the 5,800 people it laid off in 2009 would represent a small portion of its work force. Bloomberg News earlier reported that Microsoft’s layoffs could be announced as early as this week.

Many current and former employees say Microsoft has grown too large and complex to compete effectively against other, more nimble companies.

In his 3,100-word memo to all employees last week, Mr. Nadella said Microsoft would announce organizational changes in July to help it simplify and move faster. “We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organization and develop leaner business processes,” he wrote. “Culture change means we will do things differently.”

The deepest cuts are expected to come from the businesses the company bought from Nokia several months ago, a deal that added about 25,000 people to Microsoft’s payroll. Microsoft previously pledged to find about $600 million in annual cost savings after the acquisition was completed.

But the cuts will not be confined to its Nokia groups, according to the people briefed on the company’s decision. In his memo, Mr. Nadella made it clear that he intended to pursue a much broader transformation of the company.
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Perhaps CNN should turn on CBS or NBC to find out what happened to the Malaysian Airlines plane that went down over the Ukraine.

CNN is merely saying it disappeared from RADAR. Everyone else is showing footage of what appears to be the crash site with oily smoke rising up from it.

It's sad to see how far they've fallen from the days of Desert Storm when even the military was watching CNN to see if they hit their targets.
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Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post
TV Sports/Business Notes
NFL Sunday Ticket expands, but there's a catch
By Eli Blumenthal, USA Today - Jul. 17, 2013

In a statement to USA TODAY, DirecTV confirmed that the company's new NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV service only applies to homes that do not have the ability to install a satellite dish. This means it will work if you live in an apartment complex or if you are a student at one of the ten "select universities" the company has partnered with. If you can get a satellite installed then this service doesn't apply to you.
Thats wrong.

These are the eligibility rules:
-customer lives in NYC, Philly, SF
-customer lives in an apartment building where DirecTV is not available
-customer attends Univ of Washington, Texas at Austin, USC, Michigan-Ann Arbor, Florida, Colorado at Boulder, Alabama, Syracuse, Ohio State, Harvard
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Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post
Perhaps CNN should turn on CBS or NBC to find out what happened to the Malaysian Airlines plane that went down over the Ukraine.

CNN is merely saying it disappeared from RADAR. Everyone else is showing footage of what appears to be the crash site with oily smoke rising up from it.

It's sad to see how far they've fallen from the days of Desert Storm when even the military was watching CNN to see if they hit their targets.
CNN is probably looking for a spot called "Ukraine" on a map of the Indian Ocean.
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Originally Posted by Keenan View Post
CNN is probably looking for a spot called "Ukraine" on a map of the Indian Ocean.
Or, they think it's pronounced "UK Rainy" and they're thinking "well, duh..."

They "claimed" they couldn't confirm the footage every single other outlet is showing is really of a crash. Shortly after making that statement, the other networks started showing Twitter photos of airliner pieces on the ground - one in particular with a Malaysian flag on it.

After that, they started showing the video and photos and changed their headline banner to saying it crashed.
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WEDNESDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
CBS’s ‘Extant’ holds up in week two
Posts a 1.5 in 18-49s, holding 94 percent of last week's rating
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 17, 2013

Most of the adults 18-49 who watched last week’s debut of “Extant” returned last night.

The new 9 p.m. CBS drama averaged a 1.5 18-49 rating in its second outing, according to Nielsen, retaining 94 percent of last week’s rating.

It easily won its timeslot against minimal competition, and it was the night’s No. 1 show among total viewers, averaging 7.87 million.

Of course, “Extant” also got a healthy lead-in from “Big Brother,” the night’s top show, which averaged a 2.0 18-49 rating at 8 p.m., growing 5 percent over last week.

Elsewhere last night, Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” dropped to a series-low 1.0 from 8 to 10 p.m., down 17 percent from last week.

The 10 p.m. shows “Motive” and “Taxi Brooklyn” slid to series lows. The ABC show tied a series low with a 0.7, off two tenths from last week, while the new NBC drama fell a tenth from last week, to a 0.8.

CBS finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 1.5 average overnight rating and a 5 share. Univision was second at 1.2/4, NBC third at 1.1/4, Fox fourth at 1.0/4, ABC fifth at 0.9/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.3/1.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 8 p.m. CBS led with a 2.0 for “Brother,” followed by NBC with a 1.2 for a repeat of “America’s Got Talent.” Fox and Univision tied for third at 1.1, Fox for “Dance” and Univision for “De Que Te Quiero, Te Quiero,” ABC was fifth with a 0.8 for repeats of “The Middle” and “The Goldbergs,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “Reina de Corazones” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for a rerun of “Arrow.”

CBS was first at 9 p.m. with a 1.5 for “Extant,” while NBC and Univision tied for second at 1.4, NBC for more of its “Talent” rerun and Univision for “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo.” ABC was fourth with a 1.1 for reruns of “Modern Family” and “The Middle,” Fox fifth with a 1.0 for more “Dance,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “En Otra Piel” and CW seventh with a 0.2 for a repeat of “The 100.”

At 10 p.m. CBS was first again with a 1.1 for a repeat of “Criminal Minds,” with Univision second with a 1.0 for “Que Pobres Tan Ricos.” NBC and Telemundo tied for third at 0.8, NBC for “Brooklyn” and Telemundo for “El Señor de los Cielos,” and ABC was fifth with a 0.7 for “Motive.”

CBS was also first for the night among households with a 4.1 average overnight rating and a 7 share. NBC was second at 3.5/6, ABC third at 2.4/4, Fox fourth at 2.3/4, Univision fifth at 1.5/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.8/1 and CW seventh at 0.5/1.

* * * *

TV Sports/Notes
For ‘Kids’ Choice Sports,’ a fresh twist
First-year awards show is like 'Kids' Choice Awards'
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 17, 2013

Nickelodeon’s “Kids’ Choice Awards” have become wildly popular, with big-name celebrities such as Steve Carrell, Sandra Bullock, Mark Wahlberg and Kristen Wiig taking part, sparking big-time ratings as well.

Now the network is hoping to spark a similar turnout for “Kids’ Choice Sports,” a first-time awards program airing tonight at 8 p.m. on Nick. Former NFL player Michael Strahan hosts.

The concept is very similar to the “Kids’ Choice” awards, only instead of honoring actors, it honors athletes.

Children can vote online for their favorites across a wide range of categories, including the best athlete, newcomer, catch, save and more.

It’s very similar to the “ESPY Awards,” which aired last night on ESPN, with the only real difference being that the voters for the awards are younger.

“Kids Choice Sports” is a smart gamble.

At worst, Nick gets a ho-hum show that draws about the same as its usual Thursday lineup of “Full House” repeats. It can abandon the show next year if that happens.

But then again the program could draw big ratings and helps strengthen Nick’s branding by building on an already-beloved annual event.

Last spring’s “Kids’ Choice” averaged 5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, including 2.2 million kids 2-11 and 1.7 million kids 6-11.
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TV Sports/Legal Notes
Why TV Broadcasters Should Get Behind NCAA Athlete Unionization (Analysis)
By Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood Esq.' Blog - Jul. 17, 2014

The future of college sports is now in the hands of a federal judge in Oakland after a nearly three week trial in June. If amateur athletes prevail in an antitrust lawsuit claiming the NCAA is a cartel that restrains them from licensing their names and images, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken could issue sweeping orders impacting such TV broadcasters as CBS, Fox and NBC Universal that collectively spend more than two billion dollars on college football and basketball rights each year.

The athletes want to be paid for their role in a business that generates substantial revenue for NCAA schools but nothing except scholarships for its athletes thanks to "amateurism" policies that date to 1906. As conferences ink huge TV deals and top coaches command $7 million salaries, the movement to pay players has gained support from NFL legends past (Joe Theismann) and present (Adrian Peterson).

So far, broadcasters mostly are siding with the NCAA rather than those athletes. But a strong argument can be made that TV outlets are better off switching sides. Two cases -- a federal antitrust lawsuit led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, a unionization effort by Northwestern football players at the National Labor Relations Board -- finally might determine if, when and how college players are compensated. What has been overlooked is that the latter unionization efforts hold three important advantages for broadcasters. If the athletes win the antitrust lawsuit, broadcasters might wish to think hard about this.

First, unionization would probably clear up the question of whether broadcasters own rights to on-field performances. This is an issue addressed indirectly in the O'Bannon case after Judge Wilken raised the specter they might not. Last April, she ruled, "Whether Division I student-athletes hold any ownership rights in their athletic performances does not depend on the scope of broadcasters’ First Amendment rights but, rather, on whether the student-athletes themselves validly transferred their rights of publicity to another party."

The broadcasters were so troubled by the implications of this statement that they asked to brief the judge on why the NCAA should be given an opportunity to appeal. The judge allowed the trial to move ahead anyway, and as a possible outcome, the judge could bar the NCAA from forcing its athletes to sign waivers.

So why would unionization be a solution for broadcasters?

As part of the decision last March by a NLRB regional office to allow NU football players to vote on a union, these athletes were determined to be employees. Under intellectual property law, a work created by an employee as part of his or her job is owned by the employer. Few people remember this, but in the 1980s, Major League Baseball fought its players union over who owned rights to player performances. In 1986, a federal appeals court ruled, "Because the Players are employees and their performances before broadcast audiences are within the scope of their employment, the telecasts of major league baseball games, which consist of the Players' performances, are works made for hire."

In the absence of a ruling that NCAA athletes have given up rights to their performances, athletes may soon be demanding payments directly from broadcasters. If the TV industry refuses, then college stars could sue the likes of Fox (which jointly operates the Big Ten Network) and ESPN (which in August will launch the SEC Network). Besides the legal fallout, the public could begin blaming broadcasters as the ones most strongly resisting college athlete compensation.

Marc Edelman, a sports law professor at Baruch College in New York, thinks "work for hire" would apply to unionized college athletes and be a potential saving grace for broadcasters. Of course, the NCAA likely would have to pay something to its players after negotiating with their union. In the NFL and NBA, the players union negotiates a percentage of league revenue that goes toward salaries. If universities were negotiating with athletes, anything from a pension fund to an annual stipend would be on the table.

But ultimately, a deal would pave a second advantage for broadcasters. Those negotiations between universities and a players union "would facilitate a single, uniform licensing agreement for use of likenesses," says Edelman.
In other words, rather than having to negotiate with agents of individual players, broadcasters could go to universities as they already do for rights to athletes' images, names and performances. If broadcasters wanted to do things like advertising campaigns and digital extensions, it wouldn't have to worry about clearing rights with thousands of individuals. It would be business as usual.

A union for NCAA athletes would achieve a third advantage for broadcasters: Thanks to the legal concept known as the "nonstatutory labor exemption," collectively bargained work conditions would be given a pass from antitrust scrutiny.

The NFL and NBA -- and their broadcast partners -- already know this benefit. After all, where else in Corporate America do employers conspire together to assign recent college graduates and set salary caps on these draftees? Collective bargaining is the reason why this is tolerated. The same sort of benefit would apply to college sports should an agreement between the NCAA and its union arise. And so, if athletes begin looking to examine who exactly is facilitating the alleged NCAA cartel, broadcasters would be inoculated from potential antitrust lawsuits.

The path to the broad unionization of NCAA athletes will be slow and arduous. The NLRB ruling concerning the NU athletes is already under appeal. It might only apply to NU. Or private universities. There's undoubtedly a great deal of fighting ahead on the labor front in college sports. But Ryan Rodenberg, a Florida State University sports law professor, agrees that "monetary pressure" from broadcasters (i.e., the billions they spend) can spur along change.

Of course, unionizing NCAA athletes would end any notion that they are "amateurs."

Do TV execs care? Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson testified in the O'Bannon case that paying players would change public perception of college sports and could cause a 15 percent-to-20 percent drop in TV ratings. But CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus is less certain, saying, "The system needs to be adjusted."

There’s precedent for an entertainment company coming around to the idea that paying NCAA athletes makes sense. After battling college athletes for years over the use of their names and faces in video games, Electronic Arts revealed in June that it had agreed to fork over a whopping $60 million to about 100,000 current and former college football and basketball players. But the game publisher went even further than the historic settlement. That month, in the O'Bannon case, EA executive Joel Linzner testified that if there were an efficient way to work with players as a group, then he would be interested in acquiring rights from them.

Obviously, a college athletes players association could be that group. Will broadcasters use their power of the purse to support a union, if not for reasons of fairness then for self-interest in a legal game that is hardly winding down to the buzzer?
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Elaine Stritch, Acerbic Tony and Emmy Winner, Dies at 89
By Staff - Jul. 17, 2014

Actress Elaine Stritch, star of Broadway hits including “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” and “Show Boat,” who was nominated for multiple Tonys and Emmys, winning three of the latter, has died. She was 89.

Stritch, an atypical star of stage and screen known for her association with Stephen Sondheim, quickly gained a reputation for the worldly, acerbic wit that often defined her characters. In her one-woman show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” Stritch talked candidly about battling the bottle and her colorful, albeit destructive, love life. Her role as the drunk yet lucid Claire in “A Delicate Balance” earned her a 1996 Tony nomination for best actress. Roles in “Bus Stop,” “Sail Away” and “Company” snagged her three other noms while “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” won her the 2002 award for special theatrical event.

On television, Stritch was memorable late in her career for her recurring role on NBC’s “30 Rock” as the crusty, goofy mother to Alec Baldwin’s character, drawing five nominations for the role and winning in 2007. She was also impressive as a fierce but notably ethical defense attorney on two episodes of “Law & Order,” winning an Emmy for the role in 1993. A P.A. Pennebaker documentary of her “At Liberty” stage show won several Emmys in 2004, including for her the award for outstanding individual performance in a variety program.

Stritch did not restrict her candor to the stage, once telling Variety’s Army Archerd that she “flipped over Rock Hudson — and we all know what a bum decision that turned out to be,” referring to her failed romance with the closeted actor. These gritty, honest revelations contributed to the unique style Stritch brought to her work.

Born in Detroit, Stritch ironically attended finishing school before landing the abrasive, tough-as-nails roles for which she became known. She studied acting at the New School’s Dramatic Workshop with Marlon Brando and once said of performing: “There are a lot of things I do that I don’t want to, but I have to. It’s truly an emotional need for me to perform.” This necessity was reflected in her career, which spanned several decades and two oceans, leading her to stages in London’s West End and dozens of appearances on the small and silver screen.

On TV, she racked up credits in the episodic anthologies of the 1950s, appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” starred in a TV series version of “My Sister Eileen” in 1960-61, starred in the U.K. sitcom “Two’s Company” in the late ’70s and had a role on “The Ellen Burstyn Show” in 1986-87; she also recurred on “The Cosby Show.”

Film credits include the 1957 film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” Woody Allen’s 1987 film “September,” the Robin Williams comedy “Cadillac Man,” Allen’s “Small Time Crooks” and romancer “Autumn in New York.”

Stritch made her stage debut at New York’s New School in 1944. The actress understudied Ethel Merman for “Call Me Madam” while simultaneously appearing in the 1952 revival of “Pal Joey”; later she starred in the national tour of “Call Me Madam.”

Her professional relationship with Sondheim lasted decades. She made famous Sondheim’s sneeringly witty tune “The Ladies Who Lunch” in 1970’s “Company,” sang his enduring “I’m Still Here” in her 2002 solo show and performed in a 2010 revue of his tunes called “At Home at the Carlyle: Elaine Stritch Singin’ Sondheim…One Song at a Time.” The actress appeared in Garth Drabinsky’s smash hit “Show Boat” in 1994 and in Edward Albee’s play “A Delicate Balance” in 1996.

In 2010 Stritch replaced Angela Lansbury as Madame Armfeldt in “A Little Night Music” on Broadway.

The actress was profiled in the 2013 feature documentary “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," directed by Chiemi Karasawa.
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Business/Legal Notes
Aereo Not Considered a Cable System by U.S. Copyright Office
By Greg Gilman, - Jul. 17, 2014

The United States Copyright Office does not consider Aereo a cable system under the terms of copyright law.

US copyright officials told the company, which was seeking a license to operate like a cable system after a recent Supreme Court defeat, through a letter delivered on Wednesday.

“In the view of the Copyright Office, internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license,” the letter reads. ”We do not see anything in the Supreme Court's recent decision … that would alter this conclusion.”

The Copyright Office will not immediately refuse Aereo's filings, however. Since the company's case has been raised in court, the office will instead accept them on a provisional basis.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that Aereo violated the broadcast networks’ copyrights, so the antenna service argued to a U.S. District Court in New York earlier this month that it's “entitled to the benefits of the copyright statutory license pursuant to the Copyright Act.”

Aereo operations have been on “pause” since 6 out of 9 Supreme Court justices ruled the service that gives users access to broadcast television without paying for cable infringes upon broadcaster's exclusive right to'perform the copyright work publicly.

While founder and CEO Chet Kanojia has said the company's “work is not done,” investor Barry Diller has said otherwise.

“We did try, but it's over now,” Diller said in June.
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Technology/Business Notes
Microsoft To Shut Down Xbox Entertainment Studios
By Nellie Andreeva, - Jul. 17, 2014

This morning’s announcement by Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella of one of the largest layoffs in tech history, a plan to cut 18,000 jobs, triggered a whirlwind of speculation about the future of the fledgeling Xbox Entertainment Studios. In a memo, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division and Microsoft Studios, just confirmed that the company with close Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months. Nancy Tellem, Jordan Levin and some of the XES team will stay on to shepherd original programming already in production, including the upcoming documentary series Signal to Noise and the Halo game franchise extensions, digital feature Halo: Nightfall and the Halo TV series, which will continue as planned with 343 Industries and Amblin. Xbox also will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox.’ XBox’s app partnerships are not impacted. Here is the memo:

“I hope you have had a chance to read today’s mails from Satya. I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts on what this means for our team and some of the changes we are making as a result.

In last week’s mail outlining some of the steps towards creating the culture and organization to bring our ambitions to life, Satya called out the strategic importance of Xbox as a strong consumer brand, a creative center for gaming and a leader in bold innovation. Every member of Team Xbox should be incredibly proud of the impact and reach your work has within the walls of Microsoft, with our developer community and most importantly, with consumers.

Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for a mobile-first and cloud-first world, and games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world. Success in this category, by growing a robust Xbox business, brings additional value to Microsoft. I have stated this before, but for Xbox to be successful, we must remain committed to being a consumer-driven organization with the mission of meeting the high expectations of a passionate fan base, to create the best games and to drive technical innovation.

As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series ‘Every Street United’ that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup. I am pleased that Nancy, Jordan and members of the XES team remain committed to new, original programming already in production like the upcoming documentary series ‘Signal to Noise’ whose first installment takes on the rise and fall of gaming icon Atari and of course, the upcoming game franchise series ‘Halo: Nightfall,’ and the ‘Halo’ Television series which will continue as planned with 343 Industries. Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like ‘NFL on Xbox,’ and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates. Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organizational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.

Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to define what the next generation of gaming looks like for the growing Xbox community. I have a great deal of confidence in this team and know that with clarity of focus on our mission and our customers we can accomplish great things together. We already have."
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TV Review
‘Dating Naked’
People are very revealing right from the start on VH1's nude singles show hosted by Amy Paffrath
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Jul. 16, 2014

After a few minutes, you really do forget that the couples in VH1’s “Dating Naked” aren’t wearing any clothes.

That’s the good and the bad nudes, er, news.

It’s good because it proves that the show is more interesting than staring at naked people, or, more accurately, pixelated naked people.

It’s less good because it exposes “Dating Naked” as a fairly routine matchmaking show.

Watching naked canoeing or naked zip-lining makes us appreciate the role of clothing as a buffer between skin and a world riddled with chafing agents.

It doesn’t leave us breathlessly panting to see where they will send the naked people next. It’s not the kind of show where they’re apt to picnic in the poison ivy.

Instead, the drama becomes the competition among the contestants for the best potential partners.

That’s the one where the prettiest or liveliest people will likely win, though it’s perhaps a little more poignant here for the non-winners.

Because, let’s be honest, most people wouldn’t have signed up for a naked dating show if they hadn’t already explored more traditional routes to finding The One.

If you go home after this show, what's left? Back to the Internet? Does your profile mention that you went on “Dating Naked,” but it didn’t work out?

That said, the show, hosted by a clothed Amy Paffrath, has its pleasant moments. The awkwardness of the participants’ first encounter has a certain sweetness, and the subtle ways in which the men check out the women and vice versa will force many viewers to acknowledge they’d have the same impulse.

The novelty appeal of the show should carry it along for a spell. But there’s only so much mileage in ifs, ands and butts.

Network/Air Date: Thursday at 9 p.m., VH1
Rating: ★★★ (out of five)
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Cable overnights: ESPYs grow in 18-49s
By The Media Life Magazine Staff - Jul. 17, 2014

The ESPY Awards, ESPN’s answer to the Oscars, saw slight growth among adults 18-49 in Wednesday’s telecast.

The show averaged a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating from 9 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, up a tenth from a 1.0 last year.

The show was down very slightly in total viewers, drawing 2.2 million, off from 2.3 million last year.

The ESPYs finished tied for No. 5 on cable for the day.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” was the night’s No. 1 program in the demo with a 1.4, even to last week, and also finished first in total viewers with 3.7 million.
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
CBS’ ‘The McCarthys’ Too “Dark” As Single-Cam Comedy, Says Creator Brian Gallivan
By Lisa De Moraes, - Jul. 17, 2014

Brian Gallivan began a Q&A for his semi-autobiographical CBS sitcom The McCarthys by announcing his family never actually had a DUI, and never carried a dead man’s baby. Addressing TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, Gallivan said he’d explained to his family that a TV comedy requires the characters have flaws – so he had to add them, and “that sitcoms also require heartwarming moments so I had to add those.” His family has not yet seen the pilot, and won’t until the series debuts on CBS because, he said, he’d like to continue his relationship with his family until then.

The McCarthys revolves around a big, sports-crazed Irish Catholic family in Boston, and the gay son (Tyler Ritter) who is anxious to spend less time with them.

The series was first shot as a single-camera pilot for the season previous to the one that just wrapped, Gallivan said “because my family expresses love through insulting each other and being hateful….” The single-cam format wound up being too dark.

“What I think it lacked was laughter underneath it,” series exec producer Mike Sikowitz said of the first pilot. Sikowitz joined the series in January as it was being re-tooled; he previously exec produced CBS’ multi-cam Rules Of Engagement. “It felt like a single-cam show yearning to be a multi-camera. When put on a stage in front of a studio audience, “feeling the laughter…really filled it out and made it feel more where it belongs,” Sikowitz said.

Asked if the show would get into the “dark side” of being a gay man in America, Gallivan answered diplomatically, he didn’t think the sitcom would go “dark” in the first 13 episodes. “It’s probably going to be pretty light – my life was always fun as a gay man,” he joked. “And, honestly, I know there are dark sides of that, but I feel there are dramas, and other shows, that can handle that better than we can.”

When one TV critic complimented Gallivan on having drawn a parental relationship with a gay son that was “more true” than have other programs — she described it as a sort of “lingering awkwardness” meets generation gap — Gallivan shot her down, explaining that the mother’s “You’re still gay?” line actually was taken from an incident in which one of his brothers said to him, “We didn’t know if you were still pursuing it,” and that he had been more nervous coming out to his brothers than his parents.

Laurie Metcalf, who plays the family matriarch in the series, said she hopes to do another guest gig on CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. She “sits by the phone” and waits for that call which, she said, happens about once a year. Meanwhile, when she was cast in The McCarthys it was reported to be a second position to her commitment to HBO’s series Getting On. Asked how she managed to swing taking both roles, Metcalf said, “Everybody very graciously worked together and made it happen, so I end Getting On on Friday and start The McCarthys on a Monday.”

The pilot episode includes glowing mentions of CBS’ The Good Wife, as well as USA’s former series The Closer. Gallivan explained he is obsessed with The Good Wife. But when dubious critics wondered if CBS would allow the sitcom to plug any current, non-CBS series, Gallivan responded pluckily, “Yeah, I think we would be allowed to…” then added, “I’m making stuff up now — I don’t know.”

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
CBS’ ‘Madam Secretary’ Sprang From Hillary Clinton And Benghazi, Exec Producer Says

CBS‘ new drama series Madam Secretary, in which Tea Leoni plays the Secretary of State, came about because of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, exec producer Lori McCreary told TV critics today at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014.

McCreary said she and Morgan Freeman had lunch with CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler about producing a scripted series for the network, after which, McCreary says, they set about “trying to come up with a great character…And then, guess what happened — the Benghazi hearings,” McCreary said. They went back to Tassler with the idea of a series about what it’s like to be the female Secretary of State, “and how it translates overseas when rights for women are not what they are here,” she said. Tassler introduced them to Joan Of Arcadia creator Barbara Hall, who “took that kernel of an idea” and ran with it.

In Madam Secretary, Tea Leoni plays Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst who becomes the shrewd, determined, newly appointed Secretary of State, driving international diplomacy, battling office politics, and circumventing protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues both at the White House and at home. This is not to be confused with NBC’s new State Of Affairs, in which Katherine Heigl plays a tough CIA analyst, who presents the U.S. President’s daily briefing on security issues facing the country, or ABC’s returning Scandal, in which Kerry Washington plays the White House’s favorite tough-as-nails crisis manager/creator.

One critic wondered, given the likelihood Clinton will run for president again, why the series isn’t called Madam President. Exec producer Freeman said no such idea came across his desk. “But then, there’s Season 4,” Leoni joked/hinted. Freeman dodged the saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-off question as to whether he would show up in the series playing a former or future POTUS.

Asked if she had met with any of the three recent female Secretaries of State as she prepped the series, Hall mentioned former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who was introduced to her by Tim Daly, who plays Leoni’s religion-professor husband on the series. Daly who is well-connected in Washington as president of The Creative Coalition — the nonprofit advocacy group formed of members of the entertainment industry — called Albright “my White House Correspondents Dinner girlfriend. She became very close and she gives the best [worldwide] restaurant recommendations of anyone I’ve ever known,” Daly added. He hinted his role on the show will grow in upcoming episodes, saying coyly, “You may have noticed religion has played a significant role in the …violent conflicts around the world.”

“She’s very eager to weigh in and help us; she’s very excited about the show,” Hall said of her meeting with Albright. Nobody pressed Hall as to whether she’d met with Clinton for the show, which Hall said is set about five years in the future — so if she were to write an episode about a Benghazi-ish situation, for instances, there would be references to Benzhazi as being a previous attack. Hall wanted the Clinton…er, McCord character have a “successful and realistic” marriage — if not a “perfect” one, because the TV trope of a woman in a strong position of leadership whose life is broken everywhere else is so over — or words to that effect. “We as women have to overcome that image,” Hall urged.

One critic called the pilot episode “prescient” because it involves a terrorist group that uses Facebook. Hall said she used the story of American kids kidnapped in Syria because it would be “recognizable to people who are not necessarily schooled in international politics.”

Signing Leoni to the series was considered quite a “get.” The actress, who has stayed away from network television since 1998 when her NBC sitcom The Naked Truth ended its run, had been approached for pilots ever since, but her only TV gig in the past 15 years was the 2011 HBO pilot Spring/Fall. Asked about her decision to return to series TV with this series, Leoni said the decision was as simple as her kids turning 12 and 15 and the younger telling her, “I’m getting kinda sick of you….So, I’m back.”
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Adds to Cast; Creator Talks Crossovers
By Tim Kenneally, - Jul. 17, 2014

The upcoming CBS drama “NCIS: New Orleans” has added “Chasing Life” actor Robert Kerkovich to its cast, creator Gary Glasberg announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Kerkovich, whose credits also include “House of Lies,” “Masters of Sex” and “New Girl,” will play a forensic scientist who works in the Jefferson Parish morgue alongside Dr. Loretta Wade, who'll be played by “The Shield” alum CCH Pounder.

“We're thrilled to have him on board; he's a terrific talent and I think we'll have a lot of fun,” Glasberg said of the new addition to the upcoming spinoff of the network's massively popular “NCIS.”

In addition to Kerkovich and Pounder, “NCIS: New Orleans” will star Scott Bakula, Lucas Black and Zoe McLellan, who were on hand for the TCA panel on the offshoot.

During the panel, Glasberg discussed the delicate balance involved in creating the backdoor pilot for “NCIS: New Orleans,” which aired as episodes of the original “NCIS” series.

“It's a challenge,” Glasberg conceded. “When you have a planted spinoff, you want to make sure that you continue to support and service the ‘NCIS’ family, write the strongest ‘NCIS’ episode that you can, and then also take the time to introduce this amazing team that's set down in New Orleans. You want everybody to have equal time and handle it well and present characters and let people walk away after a couple of episodes really feeling like they want to come back.”

Glasberg and company will have the opportunity to strike that balance as “NCIS: New Orleans” makes its way through its first season. He noted that the “NCIS” cast will factor prominently in the upcoming season — and, yes, Mark Harmon‘s Leroy Jethro Gibbs will be dropping in.

“We're currently planning an episode that's coming up where Gibbs will make an appearance. There will be crossover between the two shows. We have a storyline where Michael Weatherly is involved, where Pauley Perrette is involved. David McCallum,” Glasberg said. “That's the fun of what we have here is having that interaction. as to how often [crossover] happens, there's a lot that goes into the planning of that — the schedules, making sure that mark is here and focused on ‘NCIS.’

“We'll keep the balls in the air and make it work as best we can,” Glasberg said.

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Stalker’ Creator Kevin Williamson Declares, ‘We've All Stalked Someone’ at TCA Panel

If having relatable characters is the key to successful television, Kevin Williamson must figure he has a massive hit on his hands with his upcoming CBS drama “Stalker.” Because, the way he sees it, we all have a little bit of stalker in us.

“Everyone can be a stalker. Everyone can be a victim — women, men, children, groups, gangs. I mean, there's so many versions of stalking,” Williamson said during a panel for the series — which stars Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q as a pair of detectives on the LAPD stalker unit — at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday. “There's so many different crimes of stalking … it's a very complicated, insidious kind of crime.”

Williamson returned to the topic of the relatability of stalking later in the panel, when he was reminded of the fact that McDermott's character, Det. Jack Larsen, displays some latent stalker tendencies himself.

“We all could be stalkers; we've all stalked someone at one time,” Williamson suggested. “How many times when we've broken up with someone, when we were dumped, and we had to drive by their house just to see who's parked in their driveway? You know, you're stalking.”

During the course of the panel, Williamson also strove to distinguish “Stalker” from his Fox offering, the serial-killer drama “The Following.”

“In my mind its apples and oranges,” Williams said, brushing off comparisons. “It's a totally different show; it's eerie, it's creepy, it's suspenseful like a thriller and it's a sort of ‘what lurks in the dark’ quality,” Williams said, but at the end of the day, “this is a crime drama. We're on CBS; this is a procedural.”

In keeping with the stalker theme of the panel, Williamson admitted that he himself had been the victim of stalking, which led him to discover the LAPD stalking unit that “Stalker” is based on.

“I had an overzealous fan, yes,” Williamson recalled, adding that the incident involved someone breaking into his house but that “it did not reach any big set piece finale.”

During the panel, Williamson emphasized that the series will try to strike a balance between raising awareness about stalking and providing an entertaining drama every week. Asked why the topic of stalking should be considered fun or entertaining, Williamson offered a pithy bit of advice for those unable to do so.

“Turn the channel,” Williamson suggested.
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
CBS’ Nina Tassler Talks ‘Big Bang’ Contracts, ‘Good Wife’ Snub and Latenight
By Debra Birnbaum, - Jul. 17, 2014

Though the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” is still negotiating their contracts for the new season, “We’re feeling very confident that these deals will be able to be worked out,” chairman of CBS Entertainment Nina Tassler told reporters Thursday at the annual Television Critics Assn. press tour. “I just love being able to answer the questions year after year.”

Tassler also addressed plans for the upcoming latenight transition, with Stephen Colbert set to inherit David Letterman’s 11:30 p.m. slot. “We’re having preliminary conversations with Stephen, very early conversations about format,” said Tassler. “We know he’s retiring his character on Comedy Central. He does want to have an interview format. As to dates, we’re in the middle of those conversations right now.”

As for the 12:30 p.m. slot, Tassler said they’re still evaluating formats and hinted that the show may not be in the standard latenight talker mold. “We’re looking at it through a very different lens,” she said. “There is a knee-jerk reaction to go for a traditional behind the desk format, but we’re looking at the comic world, maybe the political world. We’re keeping an open mind. We’re doing our homework. We want to make the right decision.”

Tassler faced several questions about the lack of diversity in casting on the net’s fall schedule, but she pointed to the entirety of their programming. “You look at the length and breadth of the network, from sun up to sun down,” she said, pointing to “The Talk” as one of the most diverse shows on TV, and their drama leads Halle Berry, Lucy Liu and Maggie Q. “These are formidable characters in lead roles. But season to season, we don’t come out of pilot season or the launch of any show to say we’re good. We don’t look at fall as the defining mark as giving us a quota.”

Tassler also addressed “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan’s role in “Battle Creek,” which is slated for mid-season. Earlier in the tour, Gilligan had downplayed his role, given his involvement in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” calling himself “more of a spectator.” Tassler emphasized that David Shore is the showrunner and primary steward of “Battle Creek,” based on a script that Gilligan wrote 14 years ago, well before “Breaking Bad.”

“Vince wrote the show and developed the show. Whatever way, shape or form he wants to be involved, we’re happy with,” she said.

Tassler also acknowledged her disappointment with “The Good Wife’s” shut-out of the Best Drama category in the Emmy nominations. “I admit it, I’m still really pissed,” she said. Pressed on whether the categories need to re-evaluated, she said, “You look at what ‘The Good Wife’ does every year. We have 22 episodes. It’s so much more demanding, so much more difficult. Right now, everybody’s playing in the same sandbox… It’s something that should be looked at.”

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Battle Creek’: Vince Gilligan, David Shore Talk Teaming for CBS Cop Drama
By Whitney Friedlander, - Jul. 17, 2014

It’s been 12 years since CBS bought Vince Gilligan’s script for an odd-couple cop drama. Now, with the help of “House” creator David Shore and others, “Battle Creek” will finally make its way to TV this winter as part of the Eye’s midseason lineup.

While this is a lesson on hope for all struggling screenwriters with scripts in turnaround, it’s also one on partnership. Both men — creators in their own right of immensely popular dramas with distinct tones of voice — are exec producing the Sony TV and CBS TV series along with Melissa Bernstein, Erin Gunn, Mark Johnson and pilot director Bryan Singer, but Gilligan is ceding day-to-day showrunning activities to Shore so he can concentrate on AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” At “Battle Creek’s” TCA press panel, the two talked about how that partnership has played out.

“Twelve years ago, I wanted to make this show and [CBS] didn’t have to make a lot of guarantees,” to get it on the air now, Gilligan said in regards to perks like a guaranteed 13-episode first season order that come when you create a cult phenom like “Breaking Bad.” “I’m sorry I’m not as big a part of this show as I’d like to be because of my duties at ‘Better Call Saul.’”

While there were inevitable tweaks needed for a script that’s over a decade old, Shore said he wasn’t worried about changing parts of the dialogue that effect time and place.

“I always want the show to feel out of time in a way,” he said in regards to references to say, “Magnum P.I.” “I’m very worried about current references. If you get tied up in that, it becomes dated in a way. In a weird way, it felt 30 years old … ‘House’ was very, very different from ‘Breaking Bad,’ but I’ve found that in talking with Vince … we have a similar sensibility. For me to try to replicate his voice would be foolish.”

“Battle Creek” stars Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as an FBI agent and a small town cop forced to work together. The procedural will air midseason on CBS. Janet McTeer, Kal Penn, Edward Fordham, Jr. and Aubrey Dollar also star.
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
Welcome to 'CSI: Big Bang'
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - Jul. 17, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS — Welcome to CSI: Big Bang.

Arriving this fall on CBS with a Big Bang Theory lead-in, Scorpion is a procedural about a team of brilliant crime-stopping misfits. It was inspired by the life of Walter O'Brien, who actually runs a company called "Scorpion" and who, says producer Nick Santora, has the fourth-highest IQ ever recorded at 197. He was speaking at the Television Critics Association panel on the show Thursday.

Elyes Gabel stars in the show as the fictional O'Brien, with Katherine McPhee co-starring as a non-genius waitress who serves as the buffer between the socially inept gang and the real world. If that set up, and the budding relationship between the genius and a waitress, brings to mind a caper-based Big Bang Theory, Santora won't mind. But it's not exactly how he sees it.

"This show is a fun-cedural," says Santora. "This show is going to funny, every week….We are going to have this heart and this humor in this world of geniuses."

While the problems the team tackles each week can't involve the world coming to an end, they have to be difficult, or why use geniuses? Some, says Santora, will come from O'Brien's actual cases; all will have "heightened tension and heightened emotion."

Gabel's TV O'Brien is not just as smart as the real version — he has just as much trouble dealing with other people. There's a scene in the pilot where the fictional Walter breaks up with his girlfriend by pulling out a sheet of paper with his "break-up plan" written out. That is something the real O'Brien did.

"We all have an internal sounding board," says O'Brien. "Mine just happens to be broken."

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
Wedding bells coming for Walden and Alan on CBS' 'Men'
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Jul. 17, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS – The two men on Two and a Half Men are looking to get married.

The characters, Walden (Ashton Kutcher) and Alan (Jon Cryer), aren't gay, but a marriage between them is seen as a means to achieving Walden's goal of adopting a child, CBS program chief Nina Tassler said Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

As Walden, who begins the comedy's final season in "a bit of an existential crisis," enters the adoption process, he "realizes it's very difficult to adopt a child as a single, straight man. So, once and for all, he decides, 'I'm going to propose to Alan. We're going to get married and adopt a child as a gay couple,' " Tassler said.

Asked if some might find such a story line offensive, Tassler said it reflects progressive developments in the culture.

"I think it's a very positive statement. 'You know what, I am going to adopt a child as a gay couple. The reality is we can do that,' " she said. "In a universe where at one point you couldn't do that and now you can do that, I think that's a much more positive statement."

Tassler said there have been no conversations about bringing back the show's former star, Charlie Sheen, for the final season.
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TV Sports/Business Notes
Standoff over Dodgers games could be defining moment in sports TV
By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times' 'Company Town' Blog - Jul. 17, 2014

The Dodgers are in first place in their division and gunning for a berth in the World Series in October. But as the second half of the season begins Friday, most local fans aren't able to watch any of it on television.

Off the field no progress has been made in the standoff between Time Warner Cable, which is distributing the new Dodgers-owned channel SportsNet LA, and area pay-TV providers including DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter Communications and Cox Communications.

"It is unlikely that we are going to get a deal done," David Rone, president of Time Warner Cable Sports, acknowledged for the first time this week.

Dodgers President Stan Kasten called the situation "extremely troubling" and urged everyone to "return to the table to continue to work to try to make a deal as quickly as possible."

Before the start of the 162-game season, many observers expected that pressure from fans would force the pay-TV providers to the negotiating table, or face mass defections. That's what usually has happened in the past. But not this time.

Instead, Time Warner Cable and the providers are deadlocked in what could become a definitive moment for the world of sports programming, as the industry realizes that exorbitantly priced television deals can backfire.

Executives at DirecTV, Cox and other distributors contend that Time Warner Cable's price for the sports channel is too high and would force them to charge consumers, many of whom are not sports fans, even more for their pay-TV packages. They are equally pessimistic about coming to terms on deals this season.

Time Warner Cable is seeking more than $4 a month per subscriber for SportsNet LA, and the price escalates sharply from there, people familiar with the negotiations said. Though Time Warner Cable declines to comment on its offer, it says the price is not out of line with the value of Dodgers baseball to distributors.

Left in the lurch are millions of Dodgers fans who have been unable to see Clayton Kershaw's masterful pitching performances or Yasiel Puig's reckless abandon on the basepaths. Since opening day, the only games fans have been able to watch are the handful broadcast on ESPN, Fox and Fox's national sports cable channel Fox Sports 1. Only subscribers to Time Warner Cable, which has about 30% of the Los Angeles pay-TV market, are seeing games regularly.

"It's driving me crazy," said Bill Sanders, a Malibu resident who is a DirecTV subscriber. "Kershaw throws a no-hitter and I can't watch it with my son." Sanders lives in an area where he could switch to Time Warner Cable but he doesn't want to drop DirecTV or add a second pay-TV service just for SportsNet LA.

"People understand what's going on," said Dan York, chief content officer for DirecTV. He declined to say how many subscribers DirecTV had lost, but a person with knowledge of the matter said that it was fewer than 2,000 of the more than 1.2 million households the company serves in the Los Angeles market.

DirecTV and other TV providers say consumers know that a Dodgers TV deal would mean significantly higher monthly bills — requiring subscribers to fork over around $50 a year more even if they are not baseball fans.

The prospect of higher bills to watch the Dodgers on TV was widely predicted in 2011, when Guggenheim Baseball Management bid a record $2.15 billion for the team and TV rights were seen as the avenue in which they would pay back the loans used to finance the acquisition.

Time Warner Cable landed distribution rights for SportsNet LA last year after a heated bidding war with Fox's Prime Ticket, which had been carrying the bulk of Dodgers games.

Tired of playing second fiddle to Fox, Time Warner Cable agreed to a massive $8.35-billion, 25-year deal to run the network, according to a valuation by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball. That topped the Fox bid by $2 billion. A year earlier, Time Warner Cable won rights to the Lakers, which had been on Fox Sports West, with an over-the-top $3-billion, 20-year deal.

The annual fee that Time Warner Cable agreed to pay to the Dodgers started at $210 million this season, or $1.5 million per game, and increases through the life of the contract. That is more than four times what the Dodgers got last season from Prime Ticket and CBS-owned KCAL-TV Channel 9, which aired 49 games last season.

Those fees are the reason Time Warner Cable wants so much for SportsNet LA. Last season, Prime Ticket charged about $3 per month, per subscriber, according to industry consulting firm SNL Kagan.

DirecTV's York said he offered Time Warner Cable "more than what we paid for Prime Ticket last season when it had rights to three teams" and was refused. He said Time Warner Cable can't justify its asking price.

Rone contends that DirecTV is refusing to engage in serious negotiations. "These guys have shown no sense of urgency to get a deal done. It is so unfair, Dodger fans are waiting to see a first-place team." Rone also said the cost for Prime Ticket was based on the decade-old deal it had with the Dodgers and has no relevancy to the current situation. Also, SportsNet LA is carrying 50 more games than Prime Ticket did.

The rising costs to carry sports programming has distributors in a bind. On the one hand, sports is incredibly valuable content — Chris Bevilacqua, a top sports TV deal-maker described it as "the glue holding the pay-TV system together."

On the other hand, the cost to carry regional sports networks and national services such as ESPN and Fox Sports 1 is getting so high distributors fear their customers who aren't sports fanatics will cut the cord to their subscription.

"It's like a giant greedy monster that is incredibly difficult to stop," said Jimmy Schaeffler, who heads the Carmel Group, an industry consulting firm.

Distributors have said they are willing to carry SportsNet LA on a specialty tier along with other more expensive channels or even offer it on an individual or a la carte basis.

"We only want to charge the sports fans who want to see the team," said Andy Albert, senior vice president of content acquisition for Cox Communications. "To burden all of our customers with the high cost of this network is not what the majority of our subscribers want."

Time Warner Cable wants SportsNet LA to be mandatory for all pay-TV subscribers, which is how regional sports networks have been traditionally sold including those owned by DirecTV. By being in every home, a network has a greater opportunity for higher ratings and ad revenue than when it is in limited distribution.

"They disseminate and distribute their networks in the exact same fashion we are asking," Rone said of DirecTV.

Landing DirecTV is key for Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers. Not only does DirecTV have about 30% of the pay-TV market here, it competes head-to-head with everyone else. Because DirecTV has played hardball with Time Warner Cable it has given the other distributors cover to draw a line in the sand as well.

"Experience tells us you need to get the big boy to fall," said Rone, adding that the others are "following DirecTV's lead."

Another huge stumbling block for distributors: The Dodgers were insistent on owning their own channel rather than airing the games on an existing outlet. A few years ago, the market just had the two Fox-owned sports outlets.

Now there is also SportsNet, SportsNet LA, the Spanish-language channel Deportes and two Pac-12 Conference networks. The amount of sports on television here hasn't increased much, just the number of channels carrying games and the price to watch them.

"Los Angeles has a ridiculous number of sports networks and Angelenos are asked to pay an absurd amount," said media industry analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson Research.

Another factor complicating negotiations is that DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are in the process of being acquired by AT&T and Comcast, respectively. Some industry observers think if Time Warner Cable still doesn't have distribution pacts in place by the time its sale closes, Comcast will take a write-down on the Dodgers contract and lower the distribution fee.

"That scenario is very plausible," said Bevilacqua.

Cox's Albert thinks what's happening in Los Angeles may prove to be a tipping point for sports on television.

"The sports model is broken right now," he said. "I don't have an answer but certainly increasing the costs is not the way to run a business."

Major League Baseball is also frustrated about the situation and has been unsuccessful in its efforts to encourage all the parties to come to terms.

"It's a very disappointing situation," said Commissioner Bud Selig.

But there is nothing Selig can do to break the logjam. "This is a problem they have to work out," he said.

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
CBS and NFL Talk 'Thursday Night Football' Future
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jul. 17, 2014

CBS is still romancing the NFL to a certain extent. Five months after scoring the enviable broadcast rights to share eight Thursday Night Football games with the NFL network — at a $275 million price tag — the network is trying to parlay the run into a long-term deal.

"We knew going in this is a one-year deal," says CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves. "It's our job to show the NFL what we do and how great this can be. We're confident that after this year, they'll sit down and give us a longer deal."

Moonves made a rare appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour to help hype his acquisition, a passion project, and he was joined by CBS Sports' Sean McManus, New England Patriots' Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell, more reserved in his enthusiasm, made sure to emphasize that the split with the NFL Network is not intended to slow the growth of the league's cable effort — by far the lowest-rated venue for TV's most-watched sport.

"We believe very much in the NFL network as a strategic asset," said Goodell, "and i fully believe going forward we'll have games on the NFL Network. ... We have not made a determination beyond the one-year. We made a short-term decision in what we think is a long-term strategy.

The NFL Network may not see the audience that CBS will inevitably get on Thursdays during the first half of the season, but it will share in the slick upgrade to the graphics and production. McManus touted new 4K cameras hovering over the sidelines and unveiled a sizzle reel of what the coverage will look like come September.

Overexposure seems to remain a nonconcern for all as far as football. Though its increasing footprint in primetime does prompt the question.

"When everybody talks about overexposure, there clearly isn't," said Moonves. "The NFL gets incredible advertising rates. It's no coincidence that Time Warner Cable settled their deal with us six days before the season began [last year]."

Having Goodell in the room prompted a slew of non-TV related queries from reporters, including his thoughts on the highly-publicized concussion crisis — "The game of football has never been safer than it is today" — and their ongoing partnership with DirecTV. The satellite provider's NFL Sunday Ticket remains the most significant out-of-market sports package on American TV.

"Every time we get to the point of renegotiating our Sunday Ticket package, we look at other alternatives," said Goodwell, noting that there will soon be other alternatives for fans who want video content focused on their favored teams. "We are very excited about something we're launching this year called NFL Now. For fans, they can pretty much dictate what they get from a video standpoint."
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TV Notes
What Broadcast Pilots Are Still Alive
Jim Gaffigan Eyes Move To TV Land, ‘Clementine’, ‘The Pro’, ‘Cabot College’, ‘Sober Companion’ & Jerrod Carmichael
By Nellie Andreeva, - Jul. 17, 2014

Two months after the upfronts, where the broadcast networks introduced the pilots they had chosen to join their 2014-2015 schedule, there is still hope for a handful that didn’t make the cut. Sony TV, which already successfully rescued its cancelled NBC comedy series Community with a deal at Yahoo, has been in conversations with TV Land for its Jim Gaffigan single-camera comedy pilot. The family comedy, inspired by Gaffigan’s real life, went through two incarnations at CBS with pilot orders in 2013 and 2014. TV Land had been interested, and conversations have been going on for the past month or so. I hear TV Land is well down the road of trying to make the show work there. I hear the cable network is currently looking to reduce the actors’ compensation to get the budget — which already has been adjusted down — feasible. If the project goes at TV Land, I hear Sony would likely have a passive role and Peter Tolan, who co-wrote and executive produced the CBS pilot, would probably consult.

ABC Studios extended the options on the cast of ABC drama pilot Clementine a month ago. I hear the studio and ABC are exploring the possibility to do Clementine as a summer series. The action project co-produced by The Mark Gordon Co centers on habitual criminal with supernatural abilities Clementine Ross (Sarah Snook), who digs into the mystery of her origins after she becomes the target of a group of zealots.

Three comedy pilots, all from outside studios, are awaiting for the new regime at Fox to weigh in: The Pro, from ABC Studios, Cabot College, from Universal TV, and Sober Companion from CBS TV Studios. Previous Fox chairman Kevin Reilly had expressed interest in Rob Lowe and Rob Riggle’s workplace single-camera pilot The Pro, which was set up at NBC last season. I hear the studio has extended the options on stars Lowe and Riggle as it awaits word. Matt Hubbard’s Cabot College, executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, had been in talks with Fox for a possible six-episode order, which were put on hold when Reilly stepped down. Cabot College was one of two Fox comedy pilots from this past cycle that were considered frontrunners. The other, Sober Companion, starred Justin Long and Nick Frost. Despite not getting a series order in May, the network was interested enough, with Reilly commissioning a second script. The project now too awaits review from Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who are taking oversight of the network later this month. Long and Frost are no longer under deals but I hear they loved the project and working together so much, they would be open to coming back in case of a pickup.

A disproportionately large number of Fox’s comedy series on the air come from an outside studio, Uni TV – Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project and Mulaney — and not Fox sibling 20th TV, which is overseen by Walden and Newman. On the other hand, both vowed to work with all studios to get the best possible shows on the air. We will see what that would entail for The Pro, Cabot College and Sober Companion.

Getting another chance at NBC is up-and-coming comedian Jerrod Carmichael, one of the discoveries of this past pilot season with his well-received NBC presentation. He is now shooting a new pilot for the project, based on his life and comedy, for a quick turnaround, with NBC getting a short window after that to pick up the project to series.

After the upfronts, it looked like another pilot may get a second shot, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Dad. But, despite rumblings that there may be a new version of the project with a script, HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas recently shot down the idea, stating that they have moved on. But CBS chairman Nina Tassler is not giving up just yet, and said she would continue to “hound” Carter and Bays until they agree to revisit the project (with a new cast as the actors from the pilot all have been released). “We’d love the opportunity to take another shot,” she said at TCA today. “I would be lucky to have Carter and Craig back on it.”
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TV Sports/Business Notes
Fox Challenges ESPN With Pursuit of Time Warner
By Emily Steel and Richard Sandomir, The New York Times - Jul. 18, 2014

Rupert Murdoch loves nothing more than taking on an entrenched powerhouse, and with his audacious $80 billion bid to purchase Time Warner, he showed a willingness to go up against one of the industry’s most powerful players — ESPN.

Among the top reasons Mr. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox covets Time Warner, according to analysts and industry executives, is the opportunity to acquire more sports rights and bolster his fledging Fox Sports 1 network, which made its debut last summer.

In a rapidly shifting media landscape, live sports remains one of the industry’s few sure bets. Game broadcasts, especially marquee live events like the Super Bowl and the World Cup, are still watched live by mass audiences, attracting advertising dollars. And a network with a robust roster of sports programming commands more lucrative fees from cable and satellite companies.

“It’s the most important programming out there and probably gets more important as everything else fragments,” Chase Carey, the president and chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, said in a conference call in February.

For decades, Mr. Murdoch and others have sought to challenge the sports hegemony of Walt Disney’s ESPN, but they either employed the wrong strategy or came late to the party. Since ESPN’s founding 35 years ago, the value of sports rights has soared, and contracts that used to last three or four years now extend up to two decades.

By adding Time Warner’s sports and broadcasting assets, which include the National Basketball Association and N.C.A.A. Men’s Basketball, Mr. Murdoch would gain a stronger position in the sports world, not only eliminating one bidder from a competitive field but also giving the combined company more leverage with sports leagues.

On Wednesday, Time Warner disclosed that it had rejected a takeover offer from 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Mr. Murdoch. Such a deal — which Mr. Murdoch is likely to continue to pursue — would create a behemoth in the television and film industries, bringing together the Fox Broadcasting network with Time Warner’s premium cable channel HBO as well as the movie studios Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.

But the deal is also a rare opportunity for 21st Century Fox to acquire a host of sports rights in one fell swoop. In addition to the N.B.A. and college basketball, Time Warner, home to the TBS and TNT networks, also holds sports rights for Major League Baseball and the P.G.A. Championship, a property of P.G.A. of America. Those rights, along with Time Warner’s ownership of digital properties like the Bleacher Report, would complement Fox Sports 1, which carries baseball, Nascar, college basketball and college football. And having a lockdown on those sports rights would be a valuable bargaining chip in fee negotiations with pay-television distributors, such as cable and satellite companies that are in the midst of a wave of consolidation of their own.

Pay-television operators are battling to defend themselves against so-called cord cutting, or the trend that people cancel their pay-television subscriptions in favor of cheaper streaming alternatives, such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu. Live sports are a valuable defense. About two out of every five adults report that they wouldn’t cancel their pay-television subscription because they want access to live sports, according to a recent Harris Interactive Poll.

And marketers continue to pour escalating sums to advertise next to sports programming. TV ad spending generated by sports increased nearly 50 percent to $12 billion in the United States in 2013, according to the Interpublic Group’s MagnaGlobal ad buying firm. “It is DVR-proof,” said Kevin Collins, head of sports ad buying for MagnaGlobal. “Viewers are not skipping over the commercials.”

Mr. Murdoch has long realized the value of sports. Over the years, Fox has amassed a sizable American sports footprint, buying rights to football, baseball, Nascar and the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cup. Internationally, his businesses have long profited from a roster of international sports-rich channels in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

To date, Fox Sports 1 has not given ESPN reason for great concern. Over the last 11 months, Fox Sports 1 has averaged 88,000 male viewers 18 to 49 years old in prime time, and 122,000 people of both sexes 18 to 49 years old in prime time, compared with ESPN’s 762,000 and 1,070,000, respectively, according to Brad Adgate, director of research for Horizon Media.

Those ratings translate into affiliate revenue, or the fees cable and satellite companies pay to the entertainment companies to distribute the networks. The average affiliate revenue per monthly subscriber is $6.04 for ESPN, nearly 10 times the fees of Fox Sports 1, according to SNL Kagan. (Time Warner’s TNT generates $1.48 per monthly subscriber, and TBS makes $0.72.)

The expense of taking on the Time Warner rights fees for M.L.B., March Madness and the N.B.A. would delay profitability for Fox Sports 1, which could be somewhat offset by higher affiliate fees, said David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

But Mr. Murdoch has a history of playing the long game when he takes on the establishment. In 1986, he started the Fox Broadcasting Company, which soon became a formidable competitor to the big three broadcasters. A decade later, he started Fox News Channel, rivaling CNN and ultimately attracting more regular viewers than other cable news networks.

Executives at 21st Century Fox have said they expect big losses for Fox Sports 1 for some time.

“Chasing ESPN is a nice aspirational goal, but it’s going to take a generation to get there,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst with MoffettNathanson.
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
FRIDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - Shark Tank
(R - Mar. 21)
9PM - What Would You Do?
10PM - 20/20
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Gary Oldman; Nathan Fielder; Bleachers performs)
(R - Jun. 25)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
(R - Oct. 16)
9PM - Hawaii Five-0
(R - Nov. 8)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R - Jan. 10)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Melissa McCarthy; NBA champion Tim Duncan; Rachelle Lefevre presents the Top Ten List; Phish performs)
(R - Jun. 24)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Aisha Tyler)

8PM - Dateline NBC (120 min.)
9PM - Crossbones
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Dan Aykroyd; producer Chaz Ebert; comic Nick Thune)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Myers (Andy Cohen; TV hosts the Kratt Brothers; artist Jeff Koons)
(R - Jul. 8)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair; Washed Out performs; musical group Semi Precious Weapons)
(R - Apr. 29)

8PM - MasterChef
(R - Jul. 14)
9PM - 24: Live Another Day
(R - Jul. 7)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Washington Week with Gwen Ifill
8:30PM - Charlie Rose: The Week (Season Premiere)
9PM - Ellen DeGeneres: The Mark Twain Prize (90 min.)
(R - Oct. 30, 2012)
10:30PM - PBS Previews: The Roosevelts
(R - Jun. 17)

8PM - De Que Te Quiero, Te Quiero
9PM - Lo Que la Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos

8PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R - Apr. 18)
8:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R - Apr. 4)
9PM - Seed
(R - Feb. 4)
8:30PM - Backpackers
(R - Jul. 14)

8PM - Reina De Corazones
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - El Señor de los Cielos

10PM - Real Time with Bill Maher (LIVE; Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of North Carolina NAACP; George Takei; former Rep. Jane Harman (D- Calif.); statistician Nate Silver; editor Jamie Weinstein)

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TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 18, 2013


Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” 11:35 p.m.
Actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd guests.

Best bet on cable: TLC, “Say Yes to the Dress; The Big Day” 10 p.m. Hour-long episode follows a former cheerleader who puts pressure on herself to organize the perfect wedding.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “Golf,” 7 a.m. After a solid first round at the British Open for Tiger Woods, can he keep it up? ESPN certainly hopes so.


Best bet on broadcast
: ABC, “Bet On Your Baby,” 8 p.m. Season finale.
Games include trying to get a 4-year-old with seemingly endless energy to rescue stuffed animals without knocking over cardboard blocks.

Best bet on cable: History, “The Unknown Known,” 9:30 p.m. Documentary in which former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discusses his career.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “WNBA Basketball,” 3:30 p.m. The 12th annual WNBA All-Star Game, live from Phoenix.


Best bet on (public) broadcast
: PBS, “Endeavour,” 9 p.m. Season finale.
Morse must figure out how a missing boy, an escaped prisoner and a dead journalist are all connected.

Best bet on cable: Lifetime, “The Lottery,” 10 p.m. Series premiere. Drama set in a future that’s driven by a fertility crisis, in which a national lottery is held to see who can have kids.

Top sporting event: ESPN, “Golf,” 8 a.m. Final-round coverage of the British Open from Hoylake, England, won last year by Phil Mickelson.
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, - Jul. 18, 2014

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Every time TCM shows Lawrence of Arabia, I put it in Best Bets – and why not? David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece is indeed an epic, in every sense of the word. And only TCM, usually, shows this lengthy movie the way it should be shown, uninterrupted and with the proper screen ratio. Peter O’Toole is every bit as charismatic, contrary and cool as the real T.E. Lawrence was reported to be – and there’s a certain symmetry that actor Omar Sharif gets to play a character named Sherif. Also co-starring: Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, and those stunning, seemingly endless Arabian deserts.

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

Any movie that casts both Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey is scoring in the red on the Diva Meter – but the central focus of this 2013 drama, based on fact (sometimes very loosely based), is Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, who as a White House butler served eight different Presidents. (Winfrey plays his wife.) And though they’re minor roles, the Presidents who are portrayed by actors rather then represented in news footage are played by such familiar faces as Robin Williams (portraying Dwight D. Eisenhower), James Marsden (John F. Kennedy), Liev Schreiber (Lyndon Baines Johnson), John Cusack (Richard M. Nixon) and Alan Rickman (Ronald Reagan). Lee Daniels directs.

Starz!, 9:00 p.m. ET

This 2013 movie premise doesn’t just scream “chick flick.” It howls it like a banshee – a banshee obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and other things Jane Austen. Keri Russell, showing a much softer side than she has in FX’s The Americans, plays a single woman who decides to travel abroad to attend a British holiday resort catering to literary and movie fans who want to wallow in an approximation of the worlds generated by author Austen. But the approach here is as much satiric and reverent, which may or may not help this particular dose of romcom go down any more easily. JJ Field and Flight of the Conchords singer-songwriter Bret McKenzie co-star.

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

On tonight’s show, the guests include Nate Silver (the statistician who’s said some eye-opening things when he’s visited Maher in the past) and Star Trek veteran George Takei, who once memorably roasted William Shatner by giving him a tip on how to correctly pronounce his former co-star’s last name, after decades of getting it wrong. “It’s Ta-KAY!,” Takei (shown here) told Shatner with measurable irritation in his voice. “You know… like toupee!”

FX, 11:00 p.m. ET
If you missed the opener of this new FX series last Sunday, here’s a convenient chance to catch up. And you should, because The Strain is a TV ride worth taking – and a story that introduces some innovative variations on the vampire theme. Guillermo del Toro not only directed this pilot, but he and Chuck Hogan, who collaborated on the novels on which The Strain is based, co-wrote this opening script as well. Corey Stoll stars.
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THURSDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog:

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