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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 183

post #5461 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Weekly Nielsen Notes
For networks, summer of ennui sets in
Big Four networks slide 13 percent among 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Over the past few years, a number of hits have been launched in the summer, including The O.C., Dancing With the Stars and America's Got Talent.

But this summer, for the first time in several years, no new show seems capable of gaining traction with audiences. And that has resulted in the worst summer on broadcast in recent memory, certainly since the networks started filling June-September with reality shows.

Collectively, the Big Four networks are down 13 percent among adults 18-49 summer-to-date, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Fox. From May 28 to July 8, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have combined for a 7.6 rating, compared with an 8.7 for last summer.

Every network is down, though Fox has faded the least, off 4 percent from a 2.4 to a 2.3. ABC is down 15 percent, from a 2.0 to a 1.7, part of that attributable to a shortened NBA Finals series (four games instead of six).

CBS is off 14 percent, from a 2.1 to a 1.8, and NBC is down the most, 18 percent, from a 2.2 to a 1.8.

Driving most of that decline is the poor ratings for so many of the networks' new reality shows. Though returning shows are drawing viewers, no new summer show is rating more than a 2.5 this summer. Many, like Fox's On the Lot, CBS's Pirate Master and ABC's Shaq's Big Challenge, are actually below the dismal 2.0 mark.

That hurts doubly. A successful new summer reality show helps a network directly in terms of ratings, but also by getting people buzzing about the network and broadcast television generally.

But there are other reasons for the declines, and one may be the lingering ratings flu of the spring that saw ratings tumble across broadcast for reasons no one could quite put their finger on.

If in the spring people turned away from big hits like American Idol and Grey's Anatomy, you can't expect them to return to broadcast for such ho-hum reality series as NBC's Age of Love.

But also hurting was the low tune-in for the NHL and NBA Finals, giving NBC and ABC smaller audiences to advertise their new shows to.

Yet another reason is the increasing draw of cable, which each summer increases its share of audience of young adults and other key demographics over broadcast.

According to numbers crunched by Turner Networks, cable is off to its best-ever summer start among adults 18-49, up 4 percent over last year to a 52 share. Meanwhile, broadcast has fallen to a 24.9 share, with the remaining viewership going to pay cable, independent stations, public television and such.

Finally, one might argue that viewers aren't watching because the quality of shows this summer is at an all-time low, consisting mostly of cheap reality like Pirate Master or summer burnoffs like ABC's The Traveler.

Clearly the network's aren't attacking summer with anywhere near the gusto of the past. Just three years ago, Fox rolled out an entirely new slate of dramas and comedies, and NBC had a new reality show on nearly every night of the week. Now, fewer seem willing to spend money to develop shows for the slow summer months.

Meanwhile, in English-language broadcast ratings for the week ended July 8:

Among adults 18-49, Fox led with a 1.8 rating and a 6 share, followed by CBS at 1.6/5, NBC at 1.5/5, ABC at 1.4/5, CW at 0.6/2 and MyNetworkTV at 0.4/1.

Among adults 18-34, Fox led with a 1.8 average rating and a 7 share, followed by ABC and NBC at 1.1/4, CBS at 1.0/4, CW at 0.6/2 and MyNetworkTV at 0.3/10.

Among adults 25-54, CBS led with a 2.2 average rating and a 7 share, followed by Fox at 1.9/6, NBC at 1.7/5, ABC at 1.6/5, CW at 0.7/2 and MyNetworkTV at 0.4/1.

Top five English-language Big Five shows (18-49s): 1. Fox's Hell's Kitchen 3.9; 2. Fox's Family Guy 9:30 3.4; 3. Fox's Family Guy 3.1; 4. Fox's Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader 2.8; Tie-5. CBS's Big Brother - Thursday and CSI 2.7.

Top five English-language Big Five shows (total viewers): 1. CBS's CSI 9.42 million; 2. Fox's Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader 8.47 million; 3. CBS's CSI: Miami 8.38 million; 4. CBS's 60 Minutes 8.19 million; 5. CBS's Two and a Half Men 8.17 million.

Bottom five English-language Big Five shows (18-49s): Tie-95. CW's Supernatural, 7th Heaven, and America's Next Top Model 0.4; Tie-98. CW's Hidden Palms, Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls 0.3.

Bottom five English-language Big Five shows (total viewers): 96. CW's 7th Heaven 1.08 million; 97. CW's Supernatural 1.04 million; 98. CW's Gilmore Girls 0.99 million; 99. CW's Hidden Palms0.98 million; 100. CW's Veronica Mars 0.96 million.

Show on the rise: Extreme Makeover, ABC, Monday 9 p.m. Makeover posted a 2.2 rating among viewers 18-49 last week, an 83 percent increase versus the 1.2 Ex-Wives Club posted the week before in that timeslot.

Shows on the decline: Age of Love, NBC, Monday 9 p.m. The cougars versus kittens competition is losing viewers' interest, last week posting a 1.8 among 18-49s, off 22 percent from the previous week's 2.3.

post #5462 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Summer Press Tour Notes
Death March with Cocktails:
Buzz show for fall is -- get ready -- a documentary from PBS
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle July 11, 2007

(07-11) 04:00 PDT Beverly Hills -- And now for something completely different. You know the fall season has a tinge of strangeness to it when PBS, often less sexy than your grandfather's Oldsmobile, suddenly finds itself with perhaps the biggest buzz show of the fall.

The Television Critics Association summer press tour is under way, and the halls of the Beverly Hilton -- where critics from around the country and Canada will spend roughly the next three weeks dissecting the new fall season and masses of cable fare -- would normally be filled with chatter about ABC or CBS. But this year, only one or two fall shows are popping up regularly in conversation. Most of the early discussions have been about how disappointing the series are, or about how wrongheaded a particular network seems to be (CBS wants to be edgy; Fox wants to be CBS).

Into this void comes the notion that Ken Burns' epic documentary, "The War," will be the prize.

The lack of much of anything else to get excited about from the networks is making critics see PBS, the old standby, in a new light -- an appreciative glow, if you will. PBS has suffered a lot at the hands of critics, although many castigate the system during the press tour and then go home and really push for PBS shows to be seen.

Though the system continually churns out high-quality shows, a number of critics don't even show up for the PBS portion of the tour. (A lot of that has to do with economics -- some papers save on the two or so days devoted to PBS and come only for the five broadcast networks; some skip cable and come to PBS.)

But it's also true that PBS brings some of the disdain upon itself. The system has repeatedly claimed that there's nothing good anywhere on the dial but PBS, which hasn't been true in a decade. This relentlessly myopic view is annoying. And some critics channel the frustration of their readers, complaining that pledge drives alienate potential supporters, that shows air too late and that much of the content is bland and monotonous.

And critics have another argument, as well -- that PBS programs right into the teeth of the network schedule, pitting its vegetables against the network's more enjoyable (and popular) candy. This is where the "we make quality TV and nobody else does" argument comes back to haunt the system. The networks have created a lot of superb fare in recent years, and cable even more. The days of assuming that PBS is an outpost of civility and prime content in a sea of dreadfulness are over. It just doesn't play to this crowd.

And yet here we are, looking at "The War" being tossed into the ultracompetitive fall launch. In any other year, critics might complain that PBS is losing a grand chance at good ink, not to mention potential viewers. But with little else catching critics' eyes, the timing couldn't be better for PBS to roll out what promises to be a brilliant piece of work from Burns. And the topic, World War II, lands in the aging Baby Boomer wheelhouse. By all accounts, "The War" should be a hit.

The good news for PBS continues. As we gather here at least temporarily lamenting the freshman crop, what else does PBS counter with but a chance to celebrate the "Pioneers of Television" while simultaneously bemoaning the CW. The show exalts the old school, featuring Dick Cavett, Tim Conway, Phyllis Diller, Ed McMahon, Tony Orlando and Betty White.

Last season -- or a year from now -- that lineup would probably be dinged as PBS living in the past, another example of an aging system not offering up anything fresh. Normally critics look at the two days allotted PBS and see all kinds of padding -- retreads of British classics, series that won't air for a year, a lot of vitamins and apples. But this time it all looks good. Is that because it really is or because the networks look so dull? We'll know for sure in September, but it appears that PBS is hitting on all cylinders. Even the system's acclaimed kids' programming, which of late has been a little formulaic and tame, is being invigorated with two new series about reading and spelling. The latter, "WordGirl," is particularly creative, entertaining and funny.

That doesn't mean critics won't turn on PBS in scowling scorn, (they're an unpredictable bunch), but the system seems particularly welcome to the press tour this time.

If the network shows haven't created much buzz, the networks themselves certainly have. Fox made official on Monday what Daily Variety was reporting last week -- that ousted NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly has been hired in the same capacity there.

Hey, it's not every day that you can be bounced, collect a handsome severance package and then walk over to a rival network for a little payback. It might be odd for Reilly to program against a schedule of shows he created. But then again, maybe those shows aren't any good.

In Hollywood, this is a big story for a couple of reasons. First, Fox has managed to unite Reilly with Peter Liguori, a duo that helped put the FX cable channel on the map. Liguori will now step up from Fox entertainment president to entertainment chairman, and Reilly assumes the same title he had at NBC, where he was rudely dumped during the Memorial Day weekend.

And it means that Reilly can now come to the press tour and tell us all about it.

A lot of critics believe that Jeff Zucker, former NBC entertainment president and now NBC Universal chief executive, never let the well-respected Reilly put his own stamp on the Peacock. Zucker jumped at the chance to hire Ben Silverman, a brash producer best known for repackaging foreign shows ("The Office," "Ugly Betty") and being an agent -- but not exactly a network-caliber programmer.

With Silverman not shy about his own ability -- and willing to say so -- and Reilly now free to bash Zucker, the press tour just got a whole lot more interesting.

Shows? What shows?

post #5463 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Weekly Cable Nielsen Notes
No such a thing as too much of Harry
ABC Family scores big time with Potter festival
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Wednesday, July 11, 2007

With the latest Harry Potter movie coming out today, and the final book due out 10 days later, anyone with any sort of Potter affiliation is flaunting it to take advantage of the immense hype.

Right up there is ABC Family, which aired what amounted to a Harry Potter film festival over the weekend, showing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Smart move, even if it was a no-brainer, and proving yet again that there's no such thing as too much Harry these days.

Though the movies have been shown numerous times on pay and basic cable as well as broadcast, they still drew a huge audience, lifting ABC Family to its best week of the year.

The Friday, Saturday and Sunday primetime showings averaged 2.44 million total viewers and 889,000 viewers 12-34, the latter tops on basic cable for the nights.

For the week, ABC Family averaged 1.6 million total viewers in primetime, up 45 percent over the same week last year, and 618,000 in 12-34s, up 67 percent.

Three additional non-primetime airings of the movies averaged more than 2 million viewers each on Saturday and Sunday.

Potter movies have become one of the most successful movie franchises ever on both broadcast and cable, according to Nielsen data. The three movies, plus the fourth in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, currently airing on HBO, have been shown 366 times since 2002 on ABC, Disney, ABC Family, HBO and Cinemax.

The ABC airings have, not surprisingly, drawn the most viewers, with 11.1 million tuning in for Stone in 2004, and 7.76 million seeing Secrets in 2005.

But they've also drawn huge viewership on HBO, where Stone averaged 6.65 million in its television debut five years ago, or more than double what Entourage averaged in its first two seasons.

That's despite the fact that many people have already seen the film at theaters or on DVD. The first four movies have grossed more than $3.5 billion worldwide, according to Nielsen EDI, and the DVDs were in the top five for sales in each year they were released.

One quarter of Americans ages 12 and older have seen all four Potter movies, and more than 40 percent of the box office for the past two films was generated by kids 2-17.

Meanwhile, in other cable ratings for the week ended July 8:

Top five networks in primetime (18-49s): TNT, USA, ABC Family, TBS, FX

Top five networks in primetime (total viewers): TNT, USA, ABC Family, Lifetime, TBS

Top movie (18-49s): TNT's The Bourne Supremacy (Sunday, 8 p.m.) 1.96 million

Top sporting event (total viewers): TNT's Nextel Cup Racing-Daytona (Saturday, 8:06 p.m.) 6.16 million

Shows making the top 10 among 18-34s, 18-49s and 25-54s: USA's WWE Entertainment (Monday, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.)

Shows on the rise: TNT's The Closer Monday 9 p.m. TNT's hit drama remained the most-watched show on cable last week, averaging 7.19 million total viewers, up 12 percent from 6.45 million viewers the week before.

Show on the decline: USA's The Dead Zone, Sunday 10 p.m. The USA drama fell 12 percent week-to-week among viewers 25-54, from 1.38 million viewers to 1.21 million.

post #5464 of 93852
Thread Starter 
The Business of Television
Florida Approves Verizon Statewide Franchise
FiOS TV Also Approved in Fredericksburg, Va.
By Todd Spangler & David Cohen Multichannel News 7/11/2007

The Florida Department of State approved Verizon Communications' application for a state-issued cable franchise, opening the way for the telco to offer FiOS TV service in the Tampa, Fla., area.

The telco filed a franchise application with the state July 2 to be able to offer FiOS TV service to 77,000 more households in the cities of Tarpon Springs and Sarasota, as well as portions of Pinellas County. Verizon now has franchises for 19 communities in Florida.

In the Tampa area, Verizon will compete with Bright House Networks in Tarpon Springs, with Comcast in Sarasota and with Bright House and Knology in parts of Pinellas County.

Verizon's application was made under the state's franchise-reform law allowing new competitors to apply for statewide franchising. The law includes a provision allowing providers to expand video service into other calling areas by filing an amendment within five days of providing initial service in the area.

"In just nine days, we were able to gain the legal status to open up competition and choice to 77,000 households -- a process that would have taken one year or more otherwise, Verizon Southeast region president Alan Ciamporcero said in a prepared statement. "We are both encouraged and excited by today's decision and look forward to expanding our fiber services to more customers in even more of our region in the months and years ahead."

In other FiOS TV news, the City Council of Fredericksburg, Va., approved a franchise for the telco's video service in a Tuesday-night vote. Verizon will take on Comcast in the franchise area, which covers approximately 9,000 households in the city.

post #5465 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Summer Television Critics Tour Notes
What You Need to Know
More PBS today; HBO tomorrow

There have been relatively few postings so far from the Summer Television Criticis Association Tour for a couple of reasons.

For one, many of the critics haven't yet arrived. A good number miss the opening PBS sessions for financial reasons.

Secondly, a vast number of postings so far have centered on the titillating (for the TV critics, anyhow) story about ducks having sex in one of the upcoming TV shows to be shown on PBS. Even though the show will be in HD, a never-ending parade of TV critics trying to be cute with the topic seems to me to be even more off-topic than I am comfortable with.

But today Ken Burns will discuss his upcoming 18 ½ hour PBS World War II documentary and tomorrow the critics get to meet the new folks running HBO.

(Maybe we'll find out the latest on those "Deadwood" movies.)

So things should be picking up. Please keep checking back.
post #5466 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Tuesday's fast national over night prime-time ratings - have been posted at the top of Ratings News the second post in this thread.

post #5467 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Overnight Nielsens in the 18-49 Demo
Socko debut for NBC's 'Singing Bee'
New karaoke reality show averages a 5.0 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finally, it looks as though summer has a hot new show. NBC's premiere of The Singing Bee last night was not only the summer's best debut for a new program but also the top-rated telecast on any broadcast network since the season finale of House six weeks ago.

Most impressively, it came opposite Fox's coverage of Major League Baseball's All-Star game, always one of the summer's top programs.

Bee averaged a 5.0 in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights, and drew 13.1 million total viewers. It finished ahead of Fox's All-Star game in both, as well as adults 18-34 and 25-54, in the 9:30 p.m. slot.

In fact, it was the strongest premiere for any new summer series since NBC's "Meet My Folks" in 2002, and the best premiere for an NBC reality series, summer or otherwise, since "Average Joe" in November 2003.

Of course, Bee got a boost from airing after America's Got Talent, this summer's top original program on broadcast, but it actually built on Talent's 9 p.m. rating by 9 percent, from a 4.6 to a 5.0.

It was the summer's highest-rated show on broadcast since the finale of House on May 29, which averaged a 6.7 18-49 rating.

Bee is a karaoke contest in which competitors try to remember the lyrics to popular songs while attempting to win prizes.

The new show probably benefited from several things, not the least of which was loads of commercials for the show during Talent. But it also got a fair amount of attention because Fox is rolling a similar program, Don't Forget the Lyrics, tonight.

Bee also may have drawn in viewers who made host and former N Sync member Joey Fatone one of the top finishers on ABC's Dancing With the Stars last season.

Bee helped NBC to first for the night among viewers 18-49 with a 3.7 average overnight rating and an 11 share. Fox was second at 3.6/11, CBS third at 2.1/6, ABC fourth at 1.8/5, Univision fifth at 1.4/4 and CW sixth at 0.5/2.

As a reminder, overnights are based on early ratings provided by Nielsen that measure primetime timeslot data, not actual program data. Final ratings released later today will provide a more accurate picture of Fox's performance, as the All-Star game lasted well past the 11 p.m. end of primetime.

NBC led the first two hours of the night among 18-49s, starting with a 3.4 rating at 8 p.m. for the first hour of Talent. Fox was second that hour with a 3.3 for its first hour of coverage of the All-Star Game, CBS third with a 2.2 for a repeat of NCIS and ABC fourth with a 1.5 for an hour of According to Jim reruns. That left Univision fifth with a 1.3 for Duelo de Pasiones and CW sixth with a 0.6 for a repeat of Gilmore Girls.

At 9 p.m. NBC led again with a 4.8 for the end of Talent and Bee, with Fox remaining second with a 3.7 for baseball. CBS was third with a 2.5 for Big Brother, and ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.5, ABC for Shaq's Big Challenge and Univision for Destilando Amor. CW took sixth with a 0.5 for a repeat of Veronica Mars.

At 10 p.m. Fox was first with a 3.8 for baseball, with NBC falling to second with a 3.0 for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. ABC was third with a 2.4 for Primetime, CBS fourth with a 1.5 for Pirate Master and Univision fifth with a 1.3 for Don Francisco Presenta.

Among households, Fox was first for the night with a 7.6 average overnight rating and a 13 share, with NBC second at 6.9/12, CBS third at 4.6/8, ABC fourth at 3.6/6, Univision fifth at 1.8/3 and CW sixth at 1.0/2.

post #5468 of 93852
Thread Starter 
TV Notes
Court TV Rebrands as truTV
By Anne Becker Broadcasting & Cable 7/11/2007

Court TV today unveiled its long-awaited new name - truTV. Come Jan. 1, 2008, the network will drop its old moniker and logo in favor of truTV and expand its programming slate to include the action-based programming executives say the new name reflects.

Network executives announced plans for the rebrand at Court's upfront in March and, as per plans to unveil the changes this summer, told key advertisers and cable operators of the new branding last night.

The plan, said executives at the time and now, is to target a psychographic called "Real Engagers," by revamping daytime trial coverage, adding nighttime entertainment shows and taking on a new name and look. The new logo appears similar to Court's with the same rounded font and red-and-black colors and the new name. Also, "tru" is the second half of "court" spelled backwards.

That racy nighttime programming the network has run has led to significant ratings gains over the past year, making the Court TV name - more evocative of the trial coverage the network runs during the day - increasingly moot, executives say.

Now, daytime programming will be retooled into a six-hour block that will lead into the new hour-long Star Jones talk show at 3 p.m. As planned in March, trial coverage will move to the Web during the afternoon.

The network plans to continue pumping action into reality shows in early fringe, prime, and latenight, and announced four new series with the rebrand. Their subjects include dueling neighbors (Granada's Neighbors 911), ski patrollers (Bunim/Murray's Ski Patrol), Texas oil prospectors (Original Productions' Black Gold) and storm enthusiasts (Tiger Aspect USA's Outlaw Chasers).

In March, the network announced developing several primetime reality shows on, among other things, police interrogations (The Room), con artists (The Real Hustle) and high-end security experts (Tiger Team). Also in development are quarterly specials from Court TV-owned Website the smokinggun.com, such as The Dumbest Criminals in the World.

The network, which was acquired by Time Warner and folded into its Turner division last year, has repositioned itself several times before, most recently dividing its programming into trial coverage during the day and entertainment programming at night.

Sources familiar with the network before its acquisition by Turner say Court's ad-sales staffers - who were laid off after the Turner buy - had long wanted a name change to reflect the saucier programming at night. But they didn't want to scare off advertisers with a name suggesting an environment full of blood and gore.

Says Rudy Gaskins, CEO/executive creative director of branding-services agency Push Creative, who worked on Court's rebrand around 2000: "The network was really hamstrung by the daytime programming as well as the attitude that could come across if they went full-scale crime." He spoke to B&C when Turner announced plans for this latest rebrand in March. It has been a struggle, and I don't know how much success they've really had overcoming this problem.

Court has seen huge ratings gains with its action-packed primetime entertainment shows over the past year. Thanks partly to its RED - or Real. Exciting. Dramatic. block, during second quarter, Court's primetime audience grew 32% to 1.11 million viewers (its audience in the key 18-49 demographic grew 16% to 420,000 viewers).

That's compared with the relatively small audience the network's overall daily programming - including daytime trial-based coverage - draws: 597,000 viewers during second quarter, 243,000 of them in the 18-49 demo.

Executives at the network have spent the past several months getting the requisite clearances for using the new name across various platforms, says Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin.

Koonin, who masterminded rebrands for Turner's TNT and TBS cable networks to focus on drama and comedy, respectively, says that Court's rebrand has been an internal team effort (by Court TV General Manager Marc Juris and others), not by outside brand consultants.

post #5469 of 93852
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Overnight Nielsens in the 18-49 Demo
Socko debut for NBC's 'Singing Bee'
New karaoke reality show averages a 5.0 in 18-49s
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finally, it looks as though summer has a hot new show. NBC's premiere of The Singing Bee last night was not only the summer's best debut for a new program but also the top-rated telecast on any broadcast network since the season finale of House six weeks ago.

OMG. What another piece of horribly depressing news. Every time I think I've seen the American public's appetite for this sort of thing bottoming out, I get surprised once again. It appears insatiable. Meanwhile, 'Traveller' is finishing up and will soon be gone. 'Drive' is gone without even airing it's last two produced episodes. All the great serials from last season are gone..... I know it's just TV, but is anyone else as depressed as I am by this trend of lowest-common-denominator programming surviving and prospering while great scripted efforts get flushed without a moment's hesitation, or any audience to speak of?
post #5470 of 93852
Thread Starter 
TV Notes
Court TV gets a tru-ly new name
From Maureen Ryan's Chicago Tribune blog The Watcher July 11, 2007

As of Jan. 1, Court TV its changing its name to truTV.

"This new name reflects the network's popular line-up of series that offer first-person access to exciting, real-life stories," a Wednesday Court TV press release said.

"Developing the truTV network name is the latest step in a nearly year-long process of rebranding the network," the release noted. "The process began with extensive research into who the network's prime-time and late-night viewers are and what kind of programming they desire. The compiled data showed that the line-up attracts a dual-gender audience that loves programming with real people in exciting real-life situations and a strong interest in compelling stories and characters."

Coverage of various trials will take up a 6-hour block each morning, and will be supplemented by broadband coverage, the network said. Star Jones is set to unveil a new chat show for the network later this year, and there is also has a slate of reality series in development as well.

I don't know about you, but the new name makes me think of Tru Calling. I'm not sure it's the catchiest name ever, and the grammarian in me resists any proper name that begins with a lowercase letter, but what are you going to do?

post #5471 of 93852
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

OMG. What another piece of horribly depressing news. Every time I think I've seen the American public's appetite for this sort of thing bottoming out, I get surprised once again. It appears insatiable. Meanwhile, 'Traveller' is finishing up and will soon be gone. 'Drive' is gone without even airing it's last two produced episodes. All the great serials from last season are gone..... I know it's just TV, but is anyone else as depressed as I am by this trend of lowest-common-denominator programming surviving and prospering while great scripted efforts get flushed without a moment's hesitation, or any audience to speak of?

I think the trials and tribulations of real life are showing their face in the viewing habits of the general public. With the war in Iraq, terrorism on the edge in the UK, the thought of ANOTHER presidential election on the horizon etc. etc. People are turning to light hearted fluff on the boob tube to ease their concerns, escapism if you will.

Lets not forget, the nets expect you to shell out tons of peanuts if you want your favorite serials to continue in the face of piss poor Nielsen numbers.
post #5472 of 93852
The really sad news will come tomorrow if we find out America's appetite is strong enough to support a second singing bee show.
post #5473 of 93852
Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

The really sad news will come tomorrow if we find out America's appetite is strong enough to support a second singing bee show.

I agree it just amazes me what people will watch and for that matter what junk people will buy as well.
post #5474 of 93852
Thread Starter 
I don't think this story will make anyone feel better about the current taste of the TV viewers:

TV Notes
The Echo Effect: TV Shows Continue Online
By John Eggerton Broadcasting & Cable 7/11/2007

The latest Top 10 list of broadcast network TV show Websites demonstrates the increasing value of putting popular TV shows online --even after they are taken off the air.

Two of the top 10 most-visited broadcast network TV show Websites for the week of July 7, 2007 were for shows that were not even on the air, but had a loyal following online.

According to online research company Hitwise--which claims it monitors the surfing habits of a sample of 10 million Internet users-- American Idol, which ended its spring run weeks ago, is the top-visited site. It pulled 9.02% of the traffic.

Coming in at #6 on the HitWise parade of sites was ABC's National Bingo Night at 4.13%. That show has also ended its run, but will be back, primarily because of the high traffic it drove to the site. It was #1 online, according to Hitwise, even if the ratings weren't spectacular.

Reality TV dominates the list, with seven of the top 10 shows. After Idol, the top sites were Deal or No Deal (6.18%), America's Most Wanted (6.13%), the Simpsons (5.26%), So You Think You Can Dance? (4.66%), Bingo, Jericho (2.72%), Hell's Kitchen (2.55%), Grey's Anatomy (2.41%), On the Lot (2.15%).

post #5475 of 93852
I will pray dearly that The Singing Bee's ratings were fueled by curiosity only, and that having seen the absolute trash that is that show, no one will tune in next week.

Seriously, 10 years ago not even Fox would've aired garbage like that. It's not even the premise that necessarily bothers me (a modern version of Name that Tune isn't necessarily a bad idea); it's the presentation with the bee and the dancers and the emphasis on spectacle, and the fact that the competition is itself mostly a joke.

The funniest part to me was that the top prize is $50,000. On Fox's show, the top prize is $1 million. NBCU 2.0 strikes again, I guess.
post #5476 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Summer Press Tour Notes
Death March with Cocktails:
What, PBS is still here?
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle in his TV blog The Bastard Machine July 11, 2007

Well, yes. Why shouldn't they be? I just wrote a fairly glowing piece about how things are going swingingly with your favorite public TV source, so why get all grumpy about waking up to them again? I mean, hell, they throw a good breakfast. This morning, it's Masterpiece Theater and "The Complete Jane Austen," where PBS plans on bringing all six books to life (and resurrect past versions) in one gigantic Jane Austen orgasm.

Oh, come on. Who hasn't dreamed of writing that sentence?

Rebecca Eaton, who runs Masterpiece Theatre said the entire franchise is getting, in the parlance of Hollywood, "some work done." It's a new look, a new marketing campaign, a new host, etc. "We don't have a host" yet, Eaton said. "Choosing a host is harder than choosing a husband or wife. The stakes are higher somehow."

Yes, Eaton was joking. We think. She did say that, in one of the biggest continuing mysteries in public television, no corporation has yet stepped up to fund Masterpiece Theatre. That doesn't mean there won't be a season. The franchise has been unsupported, or only partially supported, for some time now.

On stage today we have screenwriter Andrew Davies ("Sense and Sensibility," "Emma," "Pride and Prejudice"), actor Anthony Head (and yes, he's still announced to American writers as the guy who was on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and David Morrissey, who, as Eaton properly noted, is probably the most sought after actor in England. He's been in just about everything, including "Meadowlands" now on Showtime and "Viva Blackpool," the BBC series that CBS has just about ruined for next fall. Plus, he's been in about 8,569 other roles. I've got to tell you, the guy is magnetic. I ran into him in the elevator and he's a tall, great looking piece of work. But as fans know already, it's his expressive face - mostly brooding, always intense - that makes you stare at him. Whoops, he's off the elevator. But up on stage today, he's still got it.

Hattie Morahan, the British actress, is also here. She's pretty charming, too, but it's hard to top all the stories that Davies can tell. (One of them, comparing how many "thrusts" you can show on PBS as compared to BBC was pretty funny. And he said he's going to start one of the movies "with a f-ck" and then noted there was a slight moment of airless in the audience after he said that). Jane Austen will run 10 weeks straight, interrupted only by pledge. Ah, pledge. Some PBS things never change. But Jane Austen , as Eaton pointed out, is hot right now in the culture (lots of movies about her or her work upcoming), so we'll avoid a snarky joke about pledge and instead let you know that the Austen hootenanny will feature new versions of "Northanger Abbey," "Persuasion," "Mansfield Park" and "Sense and Sensibility." PBS will also bring back fan-favorites "Emma" starring Kate Beckinsale and "Pride and Prejudice" starring Colin Firth.

post #5477 of 93852
Thread Starter 
TV Notes
Fox Business Network to Launch Oct. 15
Fox News Channel Spinoff to Debut with 30M Subscribers
By Mike Reynolds Multichannel News 7/11/2007

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will finally get down to business in mid-October.

Multichannel News learned that Fox News Channel is expected to announce Wednesday that it will bow its long-anticipated business-channel spinoff Oct. 15. Operating under the Fox Business Network banner, the service will take aim at NBC Universal's CNBC and Bloomberg TV in the financial-news sector.

Fox Business Network -- led by Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and chairman of Fox Television Stations, and Fox News senior vice president and managing editor of business news Neil Cavuto, who will oversee content and business coverage at the new service -- will come out of the gate with some 30 million subscribers. The network reached carriage contracts with such distributors as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Charter Communications.

Through those contracts, Fox Business Network will have a presence in many major markets around the country, including New York, where it will be available on expanded basic via Time Warner.

Under Cavuto, Fox News claims the top five most-watched business shows on cable, including Bulls & Bears, Forbes on Fox and Cavuto on Business.

The move comes as Murdoch continues his pursuit of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, which has a contract to place its reporters and editors on CNBC's air through 2012.

post #5478 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Summer Press Tour Notes
Death March with Cocktails:
The war on "The War"
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle in his TV blog The Bastard Machine July 11, 2007

No doubt the topic du jour today will be complaints from the Latino community - specifically veterans - that they were not part of Ken Burns' sprawling documentary on World War II, "The War." Although this is a bit dated - they weren't in the film prior, but they will be now - what's going to get nitpicked is whether PBS caved to outside pressure and whether Burns was willing to make the changes. Also, there's some concern that Latino groups are still questioning whether they were "add ons" or integral stories.

Burns comes later in the day. I talked with him yesterday for another in our series of podcasts. (We'll try to get that up as soon as I can figure out how to send it and have the time to do so.)

Here are a couple of answers: 1. The original version of "The War" did have Latinos in it, but they weren't part of the four personal story strands that Burns used in the documentary. 2. There will be a featured Latino story now before the end credits (a request from some of the groups that started the controversy) and that story will be done by Burns (another request) not put into a separate documentary as part of the larger footprint of "The War." 3. While Burns seemed initially peeved that this was being forced on him (and as one of the most politically correct people you'll ever meet, he had a pretty good reason to be perplexed), he's long since moved on and believes the chance to "tell more stories" was not such a bad thing for a guy who spends his life telling stories. 4. The issue of whether it's harmful for outside sources to influence the work of filmmakers and damage their autonomy won't go away. 5. We are unlikely to get clarity on what either side thinks. Burns is taking the high road here and PBS is claiming that it always stood by him, whether that was actually true or not.

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, said the changes did not set a bad precedent. (Hmmmmm.) More from Kerger: ""He recognized that what they were saying to him was important...It has made the work a stronger work...I think that he made the right choice in adding this material in...Actually, my mind never changed. Through this entire process I've stood behind Ken....When he made the decision that he wanted to add more material in, we stood by him."

More from Burns himself later.

By the end of the day today, the Latino inclusion issue will be more or less over. But there's still another issue in play - PBS will be sending out "The War" in an edited and unedited. That proves the FCC is still in play and still feared. Kerger seemed to think the idea was ridiculous. "It has four words in it - four - in a total of 14 and half hours." (By the way, two of those words are used in explaining "Fubar" and "Snafu.")

War is heck, people.

post #5479 of 93852
Thread Starter 
TV Notes
Fox Business Network sets date
New channel to launch on Oct. 15
By Michael Learmonth Variety July 11, 2007

NEW YORK -- Fox News's long-planned business channel has an official name and a launch date.

The new network will be called Fox Business Network, or FBN, and it will launch Oct. 15, announced Neil Cavuto, managing editor of business news.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch had suggested that if his bid for Dow Jones is successful that the network could use the Wall Street Journal as part of its brand, but that appears not to be the case, at least for now.

While that deal seems close, the Dow Jones board is listening to a competing proposal from supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

FBN will launch with distribution of 30 million subscribers, including carriage on Time Warner Cable's expanded basic tier in New York City, and will compete against CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

FBN will have street-level studios at News Corp. headquarters in midtown, and will open news bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC and London.

Cavuto will oversee editorial content, reporting to Fox News EVP Kevin Magee and Chairman/CEO Roger Ailes.

post #5480 of 93852
NBC's DVR Delusion


Researchers tell NBC exactly what it wants to hear, and the company buys it.

By Lance Ulanoff
The brain trusts over at NBC and a bunch of dim-witted researchers from Boston-based Innerscope Research have discovered an incredible and, if you ask them, heartening fact: Even though TV viewers often fast-forward through commercials to get to the "good stuff," they are, in fact, still fully engaged with the skipped spots whizzing by at hyper speed. This bit of "brilliance" came to my attention in a recent article in The New York Times.

That is the mother of all delusions. Before I tell you why, let me explain what the researchers did and what, according to The Times, they found.

In a nutshell, NBC studied people as they watched TVand commercials that were fast-forwarded. The subjects were wrapped in sensors to detect their heart rate, sweat, and brain activity. Innerscope then took these measurements and came up with an overall "engagement" score.

From the Times:

On a scale of 1 to 100, a 50 is neutral, and above 60 is engaged. In Innerscope's test for NBC, viewers of the first 20 seconds of live advertisements clocked in with a 66 engagement score and those fast-forwarding scored 68.

To NBC and the researchers, this indicates that subjects, and if you project this out, other TV viewers who own TiVo-like devices, are actually paying attention to the high-speed commercials. Some think this may indicate that consumers still get some brand information here. If that is indeed the case, then this is good news for NBC and other commercial networks. It means that they can still sell 10-, 30-, and 60-second advertising because people are still absorbing what's in those commercials even if they're skipping them. So, they're still thinking about which fast-food cheeseburger to have and if that GEICO gecko can really help them save more on car insurance.

From the Times:

People don't turn off their emotional responses while they're fast-forwarding," said Carl Marci, the chief science officer of Innerscope. "People are obviously getting the information.

There's only one small problem with this theory: It's utter nonsense
I am positively stunned that Innerscope Research, NBC, and even The New York Times do not know why there is heightened brain activity when TiVo-owning TV viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials. It's so darned simple. Listen carefully, NBC:

Television viewers do not want to go too far and miss their favorite shows. They have to pay close attention because if they don't, they find themselves halfway through that TiVo'd episode of Desperate Housewives.

As I've noted in previous columns, TiVo, cable, and FiOS proprietary boxes will not let you skip commercials completely, but you can zip through them at various speeds. On my Verizon FiOS box, I have fast-forward speeds of 1 through 4. My wife and I often joke that we don't have the guts to use FF4 because it goes so fast we almost always end up 5 to 30 minutes into our actual show.

Since you can't totally skip commercials, you have to pay attention to the screen and watch it carefully to avoid missing part of your program. The production quality of commercials and your favorite show is almost exactly the same, so there's rarely, say, a film cadence or graininess between one and the other that can help you differentiate. To top it off, the black screen that used to live between the commercial break and your favorite show seems to be disappearing, too, so you can't even depend on that being there briefly to help you find the right "Play" point.

That is why we're paying close attention and still "watching" commercials we do not want to see. Does that mean we're still absorbing valuable brand information? I highly doubt it.

Next, NBC is planning on hooking up Deal or No Deal viewers to prove that they watch the models closely to see if there is any indication as to whether the scantily clad women already know what's inside their briefcases. Or maybe I'm just joking.

Either way, I wouldn't put anything past these numbskulls.

post #5481 of 93852
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

The Business of Television
ABC Tries Again To Join the Cable News Ranks
The affiliates would be full partners in the venture and contribute local segments every half hour
By Harry A. Jessell TV Newsday July 11, 2007


Because of the encryption, viewers with digital TVs would not be able to receive the service off the air.


It seems like a real win-win all the way around, said Randy Smith, an affiliate board member and GM of Allbritton's WSET Lynchburg, Va.

Except for us OTA-only viewers, of course. We won't be able to watch it, and it will steal bandwidth from the stuff that we can watch.
post #5482 of 93852
Thread Starter 
So true, jtbell.
post #5483 of 93852
Thread Starter 
TV Notes
Absent Anchor, NBC News Sinks
By Benjamin Toff The New York Times July 11, 2007

With the July 4 holiday last week, NBC's evening news broadcast sank to an all-time ratings low, though it still ranked solidly second, ahead of CBS.

According to Nielsen Media Research, NBC's Nightly News With Brian Williams drew an average of 6.8 million viewers last week as Mr. Williams, the newscast's regular anchor, vacationed Wednesday through Friday.

ABC's World News With Charles Gibson, who did not go on leave, remained No. 1 for its 11th consecutive week, attracting 7.5 million viewers.

CBS's Evening News With Katie Couric finished third over all (5.6 million).

Among adults 25 to 54, the demographic most sought after by advertisers, all three evening newscasts posted their lowest numbers since Nielsen began tracking them in 1987.

post #5484 of 93852
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV Notes
Court TV gets a tru-ly new name
From Maureen Ryan's Chicago Tribune blog The Watcher July 11, 2007

As of Jan. 1, Court TV its changing its name to truTV.

"This new name reflects the network's popular line-up of series that offer first-person access to exciting, real-life stories," a Wednesday Court TV press release said.


I don't know about you, but the new name makes me think of Tru Calling. I'm not sure it's the catchiest name ever, and the grammarian in me resists any proper name that begins with a lowercase letter, but what are you going to do?

That's probably the worst name change I've ever seen! Not only does it remind me of Tru Calling as mentioned above, but it also sounds like a teen romance channel.

Court TV was fine name. It did what it said on the box.
post #5485 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Nielsen Notes
'Bee' soars on NBC;
All-Star Game falters
By Paul J. Gough The Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK -- Viewers swarmed to NBC's "Singing Bee" on Tuesday night as Fox's telecast of the All-Star Game dropped to near-historic lows.

The premiere of NBC's singing competition was the night's top show in viewership and the adults 18-49 demographic, according to data released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. "Singing Bee" averaged 13.1 million viewers and a 5.0 rating/14 share in adults 18-49, making "Bee" the top telecast in viewership and the demo on TV in the six weeks since the "House" finale.

And while baseball's All-Star Game beat "Bee" head-to-head by 300,000 viewers between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, the game was stung by low ratings. It averaged 12.5 million viewers, well below last year's 14.4 million viewers for the game in Pittsburgh and just slightly ahead of the record low set in 2005 with 12.3 million viewers. It was, however, the highest total audience -- 31.4 million -- since 2004's 32.8 million and did better than any of the other big sports leagues' All-Star Games.

Meanwhile, NBC got a performance from a 90-minute "America's Got Talent" (11.2 million, 3.8/11) that at least in preliminary estimates beat the first 90 minutes of the All-Star telecast in the adults 18-49 demographic.

CBS came in a distant third place at 9 p.m. with "Big Brother" (6.8 million, 2.5/7). Not doing even as well was ABC, which came in fourth place with "According to Jim" repeats at 8 p.m. as well as a new episode of "Shaq's Big Challenge" (4.3 million, 1.5/4) followed by ABC's "Primetime: Family Secrets" (7.1 million, 2.4/7).

The top metered markets for the All-Star Game were St. Louis (18.9/29), Boston (16.5/29); Milwaukee (16.1/26); Detroit (15.7/25) and Minneapolis (14.8/27). San Francisco (14.5/20) was in the top 10 as was San Diego (14.1/24) and New York (13.3/23).

Tuesday averages: Fox (11.2 million, 3.5/10); NBC (10.7 million, 3.7/11); CBS (6.9 million, 2.1/6); ABC (5.3 million, 1.8/5); and the CW (1.3 million, 0.5/2).

post #5486 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Summer Press Tour Notes
Adding to 'The War'
By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog July 11, 2007

Ken Burns' massive new film The War was already pushing 15 hours, but with additional stories added of contributions by Latinos and Native Americans to the effort, it is an improved film, said Paula Kerger, president and CDO of PBS.

People representing those groups had complained that they hadn't been represented in the film which starts Sept. 23 on PBS, focusing on four U.S. communities during World War II, one of which is Waterbury.

They hadn't seen it, Kerger said. But though he resisted at first, Burns ultimately agreed to add material representing their stories. Kerger said PBS would have stood by the filmmaker no matter what his decision, but it's an improved product because of the additions.

Their concerns remind us that public broadcasting held to higher standards, she said. But, she added, The decision to add new material was Ken's.

Because of the late additions, she hasn't seen the completed version of The War yet, but she has been saying it will be the highlight of the career of the documentarian whose work has included The Civil War, Jazz and Baseball.

But ,she said, One of segments is one of the most powerful pieces of film he's ever produced.
It will be a monumental work when it is released in part because it's spawned so many local segments across the country capturing the history of World War II involvement - 40 individual documentaries and more than 100 oral history projects, many of them kids recording grandparents or great-grandparents about their participation.

To quell controversy about four profane words in the 14 ½ hour work, two versions of the film will be made available to local affiliates, who will decide which one to air. But, Kerger said, the words are important to the drama presented and Two of them are profoundly important as it explains how two words, fubar and snafu, came to use in our current vernacular.

Kerger thanked critics for complaining so loudly about the original start date for The War which would conflict with the rollout for the new broadcast season on commercial networks. The new start date - a week later than originally planned - will bring its own resonance, since it will be 17 years to the day that The Civil War began its run on PBS.

Kerger spoke in an executive session Wednesday morning at the TV critics press tour in Beverly Hills. Burns would hold his own session on his film Wednesday afternoon.

In other PBS news:

a new channel, PBS World, will be the home for documentary, public affairs and nonfiction programming, launches Aug. 17 in 20 U.S. markets.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. will take the DNA of another group of prominent African Americans including Maya Angelou, Dave Chappelle, Morgan Freeman and Tina Turner for a sequel to the series African American Lives in February 2008.

PBS content online has doubled, and much of Ken Burns landmark work, including Jazz and Brooklyn Bridge will be made available on iTunes.

post #5487 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Like many other critics, Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger skipped the first two days of the TCA Summer Tour, but will be on hand tomorrow when the cable networks starts their presentations. HBO should be a highlight.
But if you need a handy guide to how the Tour works, he has provided it here:
Summer Press Tour Notes
Adding to 'The War'
By Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger in the All TV blog July 11, 2007

If you've been following my coverage of the Television Critics Association press tour over the years and can define The Rule of Jay or The Scrum Evacuation, feel free to come back sometime tomorrow afternoon (or possibly evening, depending on how my flight goes) for the start of my coverage of the tour. If you have no idea where I'm going and what I'm doing, click through for a handy-dandy guide, written by myself and former Star-Ledger TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz.

Long story not that short: Twice a year, TV critics and reporters from every significant publication in the greater United States and Canada swoop down on a single hotel in the greater L.A. area. For two weeks (two and a half to three in the summer edition), we're shuttled from room to room as we attend news conferences, one-on-one interviews, parties and other events featuring executives, producers and stars from every major network, broadcast and cable.

The networks are here because they get major bang for their buck, hawking their upcoming wares to as many as 200 reporters at one time, depending on the session. In their perfect world, we would march from session to session, ask softball questions and write puff pieces about how wonderful all their new shows will be. The reality is a lot more unpredictable; depending on a program's subject matter, the charisma and intelligence of panel participants and the press corp's mood and interest level, the tone of any given press conference ranges somewhere between a birthday party, a Friar's Club roast and the Watergate hearings.

The reporters are here because it's an all-access pass to TV Land (and MTV, HBO, NBC, etc.), an epic, democratic free-for-all where a writer from a small paper in Kansas can interview the cast of "Desperate Housewives" right along with the major players. And even for those of us who can get many of the actors and behind-the-scenes people on the phone for interviews, there's no substitute for doing it in person. I've had five-minute conversations at press tour that were more enlightening and quotable than hour-long sessions over the phone.

Other areas of show business have more scaled-down versions of press tour, but none is as long or as wide-ranging. Movie junketeers fly in for a weekend, catch a flick or two, do a few hours of interviews, and fly home. (Many of them also travel on the movie studios' dime; TV critics have been paying their own way to press tour for the last few decades.) We're here for weeks on end, coming face to face with everyone from former presidents (usually when PBS is on the schedule) to puppeteers (also a PBS staple, come to think of it). We have to ask knowledgeable questions of the fifth co-star on "Cold Case" and the chairman of Viacom's cable divisions.

The presence of the network suits is one of the unique parts of press tour. Not many other businesses force their top executives to regularly stand in front of a room full of hostile reporters and explain their every blunder; at press tour, it's a ritual. Some love the scrutiny, some despise it. CBS head honcho Les Moonves used to turn his press conferences into grand performances; even after being promoted so high up on the company food chain that he didn't really need to mingle with the great critical unwashed, he still showed up for several years of press conferences, and even now stops by CBS' press tour parties to take questions from an adoring throng. Conversely, as soon as critics' punching bag Jeff Zucker got promoted out of the head of primetime entertainment job, he cut back his press tour presence to the bare minimum.

I've been attending press tours for more than a decade, and while I have to pull long hours each time, I never get tired of going. There are too many fascinating people to talk to (including some of the other critics), too much news made, too many weird encounters with the famous and quasi-famous.

After this intro, the blog entries will be much shorter and quicker, but I wanted to get you up to speed on what the hell I'm talking about, including this glossary of the most common tour traditions. Feel free to refer to it if you come across an unexplained reference to The Scrum a few days from now:

The Press Conference: The staple of the tour. Each day features eight or more of them, ranging from 30-60 minutes. The cast and creators of a show are led onto a stage so brightly lit that they can't see anyone in the audience, and reporters fight for the microphone to ask questions -- some smart, some dumb, some inexplicable. ("Your sons, they're both boys?")

The Question That Will Not Die: Every tour, an early session sets the tone for all that's going to follow, as someone asks a question that will be repeated over and over again, from session to session. Sometimes, it's the same critic, doing prep work on a story (a couple of tours ago, someone was obviously soliciting quotes for a "Why critics are important" column); more often, it's a feeding frenzy, with critic after critic asking The Question or, when panelists refuse to answer it, trotting out variations of it. (A popular tour phrase: "If I could come at that from a slightly different angle...") The Question occasionally appears at more than one tour: "Why aren't there any minority actors on your shows?" is a perennial. And sometimes, The Question becomes an odd joke. Last summer, every critic was working on a "Are there too many serialized new dramas?" column (short answer: yes), but the first network to make an appearance was CBS, which only had two serial dramas on its schedule and was still known for done-in-one procedurals like "CSI" and "Without a Trace." Still, The Question had to be asked, and asked, and asked some more, and CBS president Nina Tassler was completely befuddled by the whole thing. At one point in the session -- possibly multiple points -- I believe the phrase "You're kidding, right?" was uttered.

The Fillibuster: A phenomenon that usually pops up at press conferences for struggling networks executives, wherein the exec uses up a third to a half of the allotted time giving a speech about useless demographic trivia, a strategy designed both to trim the time for Q&A and bore the critics so much that they're too sleepy to ask the appropriate "Why do you still have your job?" type questions.

The Transcript: Each press conference is transcribed by a pair of court stenographers to save the critics some time and trouble. Sometimes, transcripts can conveniently omit an embarrassing moment for the network in question, or they can introduce an embarrassing new moment on their own. (A transcript for an "SNL" press conference described Lorne Michaels as doing a Dr. Evil impression when he was just talking like himself.) In one of the oddest transcript-related moments of all time, a few years back a critic spotted Max "Wojo from Barney Miller" Gail working in the transcription room. (A few tours later, Gail turned up as a transcribee again, as co-star of ABC's short-lived "Sons & Daughters.")

The Scrum: For 5-15 minutes after each session, reporters surround one or more of the panelists to ask follow-up questions or parochial stuff they wouldn't feel comfortable asking in front of the group. ("How did growing up in Boise shape your acting?") Because the circumstances are more intimate, the answers tend to be much better, which is why many veteran reporters save their questions for the scrum, leaving plenty of dead air during the press conferences for the dumb stuff.

The Scrum Evacuation: Sometimes when the press conference is over, the producers and writers will beat a hasty retreat through the backstage door rather than loiter onstage or come outside to take follow-ups. This is usually a sign that (1) the show is in trouble, (2) the network is terrified that the talent might say something unflattering about the network, or just plain dumb, (3) we have a star from another field (usually music or movies) who considers themselves above one-on-one contact (Diana Ross once stationed bodyguards in front of the stage to prevent a scrum) or (4) the network is blowing off the print and Internet reporters in order to get their people across the hotel in time to do pre-scheduled puff piece interviews with TV outlets like "ET," "Access Hollywood" and "CNN Showbiz Today," which attach themselves to press tour as remorahs attach themselves to the underbellies of sharks.

The Working Lunch: While the critics pay to travel and stay at the tour hotel, the networks make breakfast, lunch and dinner available for free, mainly as a means of keeping every critic from fanning out to the restaurant of his or her choice and losing attendance for the sessions. Some meals are just meals, but lunch often includes a press conference in order to maximize a channel's time that day. Also, most lunch sessions are devoted to shows that the critics might be inclined to skip if there wasn't the promise of convenient nourishment attached. In my proudest moment on the tour, I was trapped years ago at a Martha Stewart working lunch where the lunch was delayed more than an hour, first because Martha couldn't bother to show up on time, then because she insisted on doing a cookie-decorating demonstration before she released the waiters. Determined to bring an end to this tyranny, I took Martha up on her offer to show my cookie design off to the rest of the room: it read "FEED ME." Lunch was served inside three minutes.

The Non-Party Party: Press tour is a dawn till midnight affair, and every night ends with a "party" thrown by that day's network that, in theory, is designed to give the critics more informal access to the stars, producers and executives. Problem is, in order to get their top talent to come to the thing, the networks try to throw actual parties, complete with music so loud that it's all but impossible to conduct an interview. One year, a critic on the verge of retirement entered a WB party filled with interchangeably attractive 20-something actors all talking amongst themselves while the reporters who hadn't already left in disgust stood along the walls; the critic waded into the middle of the room, held up his notebook and loudly asked, "Does anyone here have a personality?"

The Celebrity Elevator Ride: The celebs are either staying in the tour hotel for a day or two, or they're being sent to all parts of the hotel to do TV interviews and photo shoots. Either way, odds are strong that a critic will find himself sharing an elevator with a famous person at least once a day, often to comical effect. One critic once spent her ride explaining her dislike of Sam Waterston to a colleague - until Waterston silently exited the elevator from behind them.

The Session That's Better Than The Show: What the name suggests. This usually happens with sitcoms, where the ad-libbed answers the actors give turn out to be far funnier than any scripted punchlines they deliver in their series.

The Rule of Jay: Named in honor of genial Tribune Media reporter Jay Bobbin, who fills two valuable public services at press conferences: 1) He is always able to come up with the perfect simple question at the start of a session to put the panelists at ease; and 2) When a show is so bad that no one can think of anything to ask the panelists, Jay is able to think of question after question to fill the dead air. Another critic once realized that, whenever Jay asks seven or more questions in a session, the show is doomed to fail, no exceptions. So when it becomes obvious that Jay is on a roll, the critics start keeping tallies to see whether a show will live or die by Jay's microphone, while some of the savvier publicists do everything in their power to end the session before Jay hits the magic number.

And, to quote a show that I believe was felled by The Rule of Jay ("Line of Fire"), that's that with that. More from the first cable day sometime late tomorrow.

post #5488 of 93852
Thread Starter 
Nielsen Notes
Tuesday's Final Overnight Nielsen Ratings
(Posted by Travis Yanan in Marc Berman's Programming Insider blog)
Note: Only original showing are listed. No repeats.)

Singing Bee (series premiere)
- 13.306 million viewers
- 8.1/13 HH
- 5.1/14 A18-49

MLB All-Star Game (8:48pm, 193 minutes)
- 12.530 million viewers
- 8.4/15 HH
- 4.1/12 A18-49

America's Got Talent (90 minutes)
- 11.382 million viewers
- 7.1/12 HH
- 3.9/12 A18-49

MLB All-Star Game Pregame (8pm, 48 minutes)
- 8.573 million viewers
- 5.9/11 HH
- 2.5/9 A18-49

Primetime: Family Secrets
- 7.196 million viewers
- 5.0/9 HH
- 2.4/7 A18-49

Big Brother (Tuesday premiere)
- 6.815 million viewers
- 4.5/7 HH
- 2.6/7 A18-49

Pirate Master
- 4.605 million viewers
- 3.0/5 HH
- 1.6/5 A18-49

Shaq's Big Challenge
- 4.219 million viewers
- 2.9/5 HH
- 1.5/4 A18-49

Eureka (Sci-Fi, 9pm, season premiere)
- 2.554 million viewers
- 1.5/3 HH
- 1.0/3 A18-49

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

post #5489 of 93852
Originally Posted by timick1 View Post

NBC's DVR Delusion


Researchers tell NBC exactly what it wants to hear, and the company buys it.

Good read, and so very, very true.

Heck, let NBC believe what it wants to believe, better for us anyways.
post #5490 of 93852
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Good read, and so very, very true.

Heck, let NBC believe what it wants to believe, better for us anyways.

While I agree that it's better for us who use and enjoy DVR's that the status quo remains unchanged (or, Heaven forbid, replaced with even more obtrusive forms of in-program advertising), there is some truth to this. I find myself FF'ing thru commercials and trying to spot when the show comes back, like everybody else. But I do, in the process, notice the commercials and when one comes on and flies by that looks interesting, I'll back up and watch it. I suspect a lot of us do something similar.
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