Archive for July, 2013

CBS Delivers Record Profits in Q2

July 31, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

A strong finish to the broadcast season and a breakout summer hit helped CBS Corp. amass the greatest quarterly profit in its history. Second quarter net income rose 11 percent to $472 million, or 76 cents per share, up from $427 million, or 65 cents per share, in the year-ago period. CBS beat consensus estimates by 4 cents per share. Company-wide advertising revenues grew 5 percent to $2.09 billion, thanks in large part to an 11 percent improvement at CBS’ broadcast flagship. This marked an acceleration from the first quarter, when ad sales were up 8 percent . (It's a particularly significant accomplishment, given the fact that CBS aired the Super Bowl in Q1.) Speaking to investors during CBS’ Wednesday afternoon earnings call, CEO Les Moonves said the ad market continues to grow—a fact that is reflected in the company’s upfront performance. “Once again we took share from our competitors and we were the leader in both volume and pricing,” Moonves said, CBS wrapped its 2013-14 upfront business in early June , writing average CPM increases of 8 percent and taking in some $2.65 billion in advance commitments. This puts the Eye Network leagues ahead of its competition; by comparison, runner-up NBC is believed to have booked around $1.9 billion. “This is a Golden Age for those who have the best programming,” Moonves said. “Prime-time network advertising is better than it’s been in a long time and a political year is right around the corner.” Financial services and health care were important categories for CBS in Q2, and Moonves projects the strengthening marketplace will only get more robust as the year progresses. “We expect underlying advertising growth to accelerate in the third quarter,” Moonves said. “We have more inventory to sell than last year’s Q3, when we had several political preemptions.” Naturally, a month of NFL football and two weeks of new prime-time content will help CBS rake in the ad dollars in the tail end of the quarter. Over the course of the call, Moonves touched on a number of pet subjects, including the industry’s embrace of a hypothetical C7 ratings currency , the success of the summer drama Under the Dome and CBS’ quest to secure higher retransmission consent fees from Time Warner Cable. On the subject of the currency, Moonves noted that while CBS was compensated for some of the time-shifted deliveries of Under the Dome, not every eyeball is being counted. “The initial viewing was 13.5 million, and when you added the DVR and VOD, it was north of 20 million. So that’s literally a third [of the premiere’s deliveries],” Moonves said. He reiterated that C7 would be established as the ratings currency within the year, adding, “there are some C7 deals being done now.” Through the first six episodes, Under the Dome is averaging a staggering 11.7 million live-plus-same-day viewers, a 2.9 in the adults 18-49 demo and a 3.8 among the 25-54 set. In essence, the $40 million drama is delivering autumn ratings in low-HUT level July.

Read More

‘Great Gatsby’s’ Elizabeth Debicki Attracted to ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ (EXCLUSIVE)

July 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

After a strong turn as Jordan Baker in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” Elizabeth Debicki has found her next project with Warner Bros. as she is set to join “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” starring Henry Cavill. Pic also stars Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander with Guy Ritchie directing. Film is an adaptation of... Read more

Read More

Political Sniping Explodes on Amazon After Obama’s Kindle Singles Interview

July 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

President Obama is front and center on Amazon’s homepage right now, and his arrival has brought partisanship and political sniping along with it. Amazon is featuring a free 15-page Kindle Single interview with the president, a day after he toured one of the company’s warehouses . President Obama, possibly writing his own review But if you want some help deciding whether the read is worth your time, well, don’t expect to get it from the Amazon reviews section. Currently, 107 of the 122 reviews rate the interview with either five stars or one star. If you’re guessing that political party affiliations are playing a role in the ratings and reviews content, you probably read the headline of this post. I won’t give either side a forum here, but suffice it to say that if you’re one of the more level-headed, probably best to draw your own conclusions by reading the interview yourself.

Read More

Academy of Motion Pictures Creates Casting Director Branch

July 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it is creating a branch for casting directors. Casting directors began to be admitted to Academy membership more than 30 years ago, many becoming Members-at-Large. However, the Academy has rejected motions for a casting director branch three times since 1996. It’s... Read more

Read More

Game Time: Nvidia Shield Finally Goes on Sale After Slight Delay

July 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s finally “game on” for the Nvidia Shield . After pushing back the launch due to a last-minute mechanical problem, the Android-based handheld gaming console is now available for purchase. It costs $299, and is being sold through Nvidia and Newegg, and at select GameStop, Micro Center and Canada Computers retail stores. The Shield was first introduced at CES , and it’s the first consumer hardware product for Nvidia, which is best known for making the components that provide the graphics power in many of today’s smartphones, tablets and computers. The Shield features a flip-up, five-inch, 1,280 by 720-pixel touchscreen attached to an Xbox-style controller. Powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor and running Android Jelly Bean, it can play any Android game, and even supports Android apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Chrome Web browser. It also includes a feature that allows users to stream PC games over Wi-Fi, though this is still in a testing phase. Nvidia certainly isn’t the first company to try its hand at an Android gaming console. Startups like Ouya, Green Throttle and BlueStacks have all gotten into the game, though all three focus on bringing Android games to the TV. Though interest in these devices has been great, the execution hasn’t been overly positive. In her review of Ouya , Lauren Goode said there wasn’t much of a broad appeal for the device. And when I checked out Green Throttle , I was frustrated by the lack of games. So far, early reviews for the Nvidia Shield have been generally positive . The theme seems to be that it’s a really good first effort, but that’s not much of a selling point to lure customers away from the PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS or even standalone tablets. I should be getting my hands on one soon, so stay tuned for my thoughts on the device.

Read More

Rob Glaser Talks About New Social Casino Sweepstakes — Will It Be RealNetworks’ Golden Ticket? (Video)

July 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Rob Glaser dropped by the global HQ of AllThingsD to talk about a new offering that RealNetworks is rolling out today as part of its efforts to turnaround its fortunes. Literally — with a sweepstakes. Glaser, a former Microsoft exec who founded the Seattle-based company 18 years ago, returned to the digital media company a year ago to attempt to revive its fortunes, which have fallen in recent times. One of the ways that Glaser said he has done so has been to cut a myriad of projects and then double down on a single major initiative in each of its three units, which include the RealPlayer service, mobile media offerings, and its GameHouse gaming unit. Today, that’s the focus with the rollout in its Facebook social casino game, now called Casino Plus, which will begin to offer a monthly $100,000 Golden Dreams cash sweepstakes to entice players to play more for the chance to enter the contest. The goal is to collect a certain number of “Golden Tickets” for the sweepstakes. It’s not real-money gaming, of course, which Glaser said is too far away from becoming legal in the U.S. to make any kind of difference to RealNetworks’ bottom line. Instead, the very legal sweepstakes is a different kind of incentive. RealNetworks said that the cash sweepstakes “will be available to Facebook users in 31 states and Washington DC beginning tomorrow, August 1, 2013,” noting that those who live outside these areas will be eligible to enter a monthly virtual coins sweepstakes. Due to rules, anyone can enter the sweepstakes without playing by filing out certain forms to do so.

Read More

Matt Damon: Four Hours a Day in the Gym to Prep for ‘Elysium’

July 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

TriStar Pictures held a special screening of “Elysium” July 30 at Gotham’s Sunshine Theater where Matt Damon reflected on the specifics to bring Neill Blomkamp’s dystopian vision of a broken Earth 140 years from now to the screen. “I was shooting it when promoting ‘Contagion’ in Venice almost two years ago,” he said, adding that it... Read more

Read More

NBCU Revenue Soars on Cable, Broadcast Ad Sales Momentum

July 31, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

With the 2013-14 upfront receding in the rearview mirror,

Read More

Bryan Cranston Recites ‘Ozymandias’ in Breaking Bad’s Haunting Final Promo

July 31, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Breaking Bad wins the award for most poetic TV show promo ever. The final episodes of the series, beginning Aug. 11, are heralded by a haunting reading of "Ozymandias" read by Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White, aka Heisenberg. Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet about the inevitable decline of kings serves as a warning to all those who would create an empire, suggsting time and nature will obliterate the works of man in the end. Given that Breaking Bad is a quintessential tragedy with all the trappings thereunto, including the inclusion of a Greek chorus, nothing could have been more perfect to foreshadow the end. Glad someone paid attention in 10th-grade lit.

Read More
When it comes to free speech, Twitter is caught between a rock and a very hard place

When it comes to free speech, Twitter is caught between a rock and a very hard place

July 31, 2013  |  Blog  |  No Comments

Twitter has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to become what CEO Dick Costolo has called “a global town square,” and with 200 million users in dozens of different countries it has come pretty close to achieving that goal. But what happens when the town square is filled with sexual abuse or death threats or other bad behavior? That’s the conflict the company finds itself in right now, as it tries to battle a firestorm of criticism over its lack of action in cases like those of British journalist Caroline Criado-Perez. As we explained in a recent post, Criado-Perez was

Read More