Grease Live Draws 12.2 Million Viewers, Making Fox’s First Live Musical a Hit

February 1, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Fox has chills, and they're multiplying. That's because Grease Live, the network's first foray into the live musical genre that NBC has owned since 2013, was a huge success for the network Sunday night. Grease Live attracted 12.2 million viewers and a 4.3 rating among adults ages 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers. That tops the 11.5 million viewers and 3.4 demo rating for NBC's The Wiz Live in December and comes close to the numbers for NBC's biggest live musical: 2013's The Sound of Music Live, which drew 18.6 million total viewers and a 4.6 rating in the demo. The show was particularly strong among younger viewers, with a 3.7 rating in adults 18-34 and teens. The teen rating was 23 percent higher than Sound of Music's numbers, Fox noted. (While the network has stopped reporting live-plus-same-day ratings , it makes exceptions for live events like Grease.) The ratings are also good news for Coca-Cola, which sponsored Grease Live with period-appropriate integrations and also ran three spots during the show. Grease Live's success is one last win for former Fox chief Kevin Reilly, who green-lit the musical in April 2014, less than two months before he stepped down. "The truth is, Grease was ordered before we came to the network. We were thrilled with it and embraced it," Gary Newman, co-CEO and co-chairman of Fox Television Studios, told Adweek last month. While there were plenty of questions leading up to last night's musical—How would the rainstorm pelting Los Angeles impact the show, part of which was set on the Warner Bros. backlot? Would Vanessa Hudgens, who played Rizzo, be able to carry on after the tragic death of her father a day earlier?—audiences were most dazzled by the technical wizardry of director Thomas Kail, who also helmed the Broadway sensation Hamilton. The show had 1.2 million tweets, with the most-tweeted minute occurring at 8:31 p.m. ET, after Boyz II Men sang "Beauty School Dropout." The most TiVo'd moment came at 9:26 p.m., when Sandy (played by Julianne Hough) stands up for Rizzo, who sings "There are Worse Things I Could Do." In addition to Kail's euphoric camera work, the show was given an energy boost by the inclusion of a live audience, which have not been a part of NBC's musicals. "It's just one of the ideas we are doing to sort of burst open the genre of a live television musical," said executive producer Marc Platt. The production took over two soundstages and half of the Warner Bros. backlot, where the finale's carnival scene took place

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E*Trade Named Exclusive Sponsor of ESPN’s ‘Did You Know?’ Franchise

February 1, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As data continues creeping into the sports world—more general managers these days have Harvard MBAs instead of experience on the playing field—making decisions based on stats is becoming commonplace. So when ESPN told E*Trade that it was bringing back its "Did You Know?" franchise, which showcases little-known facts tied to major sports stories, the financial services company saw an easy crossover with their goal of educating consumers on their investments. "Customers come to us looking for ways to pull all of the different things happening in the market," said Rich Muhlstock, svp, branding and acquisition at E*Trade. "['Did You Know?'] fit really well and became a good connection for us." The segment, which returned Sunday night at the end of the 11 p.m. edition of SportsCenter and will continue to air there, has E*Trade on board as the exclusive sponsor. The on-air segment will have E*Trade integrated into a virtual set, which will be also be streamed live on the ESPN app. The "Did You Know?" fact will be distributed on the ESPN.com homepage, through ESPN's mobile alerts and across both ESPN and E*Trade's social channels. E*Trade will have no editoral control over the content of the "Did You Know?" segment, which will come from ESPN's Stats & Information Group.

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Why FX’s Bizarre New Clown Comedy ‘Baskets’ Is Obsessed With Costco and Arby’s

January 28, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

FX's quirky comedy Baskets, starring Zach Galifianakis, is one of the season's strangest new series—it's the kind of show you'll either love or never want to watch again. The comedy, about a Paris-trained clown (Galifianakis) who's stuck working at a rodeo in Bakersfield, Calif., also features two unusual brand spotlights for Costco and Arby's, both of which are interwoven into the fabric of the series. And even though Costco and Arby's are featured throughout the entire first season, neither is an actual integration. "Both are brands that we just wrote it into the script and then asked them if we could do it," said Jonathan Krisel, the show's co-creator and executive producer. "There's no money involved. We're not advertising for them, but it's more about the authenticity of having the real thing and not having it be a fake brand. And both of them were accommodating in that we're not celebrating them; we're not making fun." Krisel, who grew up going to Costco with his family, said the idea to include Costco and its Kirkland products came from Baskets' production designer as a way to feature real brands on the show without having to clear them individually with multiple companies. "The production designer said, 'What if we clear Kirkland, the brand?

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Patriots Fan Parody Blames Deflategate, Refs, Illuminati for Ending Super Bowl Run

January 27, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

It's been a rough couple of days for fans of the New England Patriots. The defending Super Bowl champions were denied a return trip to the Big Game with a heart-breaking loss to their most hated rival, Peyton Manning . To make matters worse, the game likely came down to a first-quarter missed extra point attempt by usually reliable kicker Stephen Gostkowski (otherwise they wouldn't have had to go for two at the end to send the game into overtime). But in this tongue-in-cheek video released today by NBC Sports, two Patriots fans are finding others to blame, even indicting referee Ed Hochuli for moving the goal posts during Gostkowski's missed kick. Also, the Illuminti, because, why not? The video is the latest in a series between NBC Sports and Above Average's sports comedy vertical, The Kicker. The 5-episode series, dubbed "Sports... The Musical?", features Broadway actors and singers and is led by Brian Usifer, the music director of Kinky Boots.

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In a Good Sign for the Super Bowl, CBS Celebrates Highest-Rated AFC Championship in 29 Years

January 25, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Peyton Manning's nailbiter victory over Tom Brady helped drive Sunday's AFC Championship game to its highest ratings in 29 years, according to early estimates from Nielsen. In early numbers, which will be adjusted and updated later today, CBS said the AFC Championship—in which the Denver Broncos held off a last-second comeback attempt by the New England Patriots, to win 20-18—was the highest-rated telecast since last year's Super Bowl, which drew 111.4 million viewers and a 49.7 rating in adults 18-49 . While those numbers were likely boosted by East Coast residents snowed in for the weekend by Winter Storm Jonas, they are music to CBS' ears as the network gears up to air Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7. With an average overnight household rating of 31.8, the game was the highest-rated AFC Championship in 29 years, since the Denver Broncos beat the Cleveland Browns in overtime in 1987. The household rating was 19 percent higher than the NFC Championship game which followed on Fox, and up 31 percent from last year's AFC Championship game, which aired in the later, prime time slot. That should translate to more than 50 million viewers when updated figures are available later today. 40.7 million (14.3 rating in 18-49) watched last night's NFC Championship on Fox, where the Carolina Panthers streamrolled the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15. A reported 20.6 million stuck around for the postgame, and 13.5 million (5.1 in 18-49) watched the 10:30-11 portion of The X-Files, which because of an usually long postgame, didn't start until around 10:24 p.m. ET. It's a solid start for The X-Files, which Fox is betting will reverse the recent spotty track record of revivals and reboots . The second episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the show's regular time slot. As part of the show's elaborate marketing campaign , Fox ran spots during every NFL game this season, touting the show's post-NFC Championship premiere. Its series finale in 2002 drew 13.3 million. That is an improvement upon Fox's post-NFC Championship programming two years ago, the Season 2 premiere of its Kevin Bacon drama The Following, which drew 11.2 million total viewers and a 4.4 rating in 18-49

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Brands Can Now Find Out in Real Time How Many People Watch Their TV Ads. Here’s How

January 25, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Advertisers won't have to wait hours or days after this year's Super Bowl to find out how many people watched their spots during the Big Game. TV ad tracking company iSpot.tv has rolled out a new set of metrics that will offer brands real-time data on view rates, impressions and unduplicated reach for their ads. The service, which has tracked ad activity for three years, now provides this data for national and local ads watched on TV screens whether they're viewed live, time shifted, or via VOD or OTT. With all the changes in how audiences watch TV, "more and more ads are becoming decoupled from the programs themselves, and a lot of brands and networks are starting to move towards audience-based buying," said Sean Muller, iSpot.tv founder and CEO. "On top of that, digital has taught brands the power of being responsive with their media in general. So now, brands are really trying to become more responsive with television." The company is utilizing technology embedded into the firmware of 10 million TV sets in the U.S. that detects any kind of content, including ads, on the screens. iSpot.tv tags ads in its commercial catalog using fingerprint technology and tracks them on the screen with ACR, or automatic content recognition, no matter what kind of device is connected to the television

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The X-Files Tackles Its Toughest Case Yet: Reviving TV Revivals

January 22, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Last fall, the broadcast networks bet that the best way to attract viewers was by programming reboots and revivals of popular series and movies. However, Limitless, Minority Report, The Muppets and Heroes Reborn had limited success at reigniting that spark with audiences. Limitless is a hit for CBS. But Fox's Minority Report and NBC's Heroes Reborn won't be returning for Season 2, and ABC is retooling The Muppets in an attempt to win back viewers who were driven away by its more adult tone. Last August, NBC scrapped its straight-to-series revival of '90s sitcom Coach after shooting just one episode. That's because some networks are bringing brands out of mothballs for all the wrong reasons. "I think reboots are a dangerous thing

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As NBA Moves Into Prime Time, ABC Hopes to Turn Sleepy Saturday Night Into a Slam Dunk

January 22, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Once the domain of true crime series and procedural drama reruns, Saturday nights are suddenly getting a lot more competiteve on broadcast TV. The networks have seen ratings hits with everything from college football to late-season NFL games, NASCAR, premier boxing and UFC bouts—all of them live. Now ABC is adding to the mix, bringing the NBA to a once-sleepy prime time weekend night. This weekend, ABC tips off the first of eight Saturday night NBA telecasts , the first national prime time package for the league on broadcast television. "The NBA really lends itself to prime time," said Julie Sobieski, vp of programming for ESPN, which produces the games for ABC. Aside from the Finals, this is peak NBA: when the NFL season draws to a close, major league baseball is still in hibernation, and the top NBA teams shake off the also-rans. "It was a logical opportunity to extend that franchise deeper into the year," said Sobieski. A Saturday night game sandwiched between ESPN's Friday doubleheaders and ABC's Sunday Showcase gives the Worldwide Leader a chance at "owning the weekend," said Sobieski. In addition to ESPN's regular Wednesday and Friday games, ABC will air three to five games per month on weekends. When adding in Turner and NBA TV's national games, the NBA will be on national TV nearly every night. But Sobieski isn't worried about saturation. "We don't have that concern," she said, adding, "There are more and more teams that resonate nationally each year." And ABC's Saturday nights will be all about the star power. This weekend, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers host Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, with other marquee teams such as the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs featured multiple times. "Fans are going to come to the best games. It starts with that," said Sobieski. ESPN will brand the Saturday and Sunday packages as separate entities; La Quinta has signed on as the title sponsor for NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC, while the Sunday games will continue to be branded as NBA Sunday Showcase and sponsored by BBVA

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Broadcast TV Is Still Outpacing Netflix’s Top Shows by Millions of Viewers Per Episode

January 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Hit streaming shows on Netflix and Amazon may seem to be pulling huge audiences, but they're still lagging far behind TV's top programs, according to data obtained exclusively by Adweek. Multiplatform measurement firm Symphony Advanced Media—whose data was recently used by NBC as evidence the network was staying well ahead of Netflix—has released a new round of viewership stats showing the biggest shows in streaming still don't measure up to broadcast's top series. Symphony's VideoPulse measurement tool looked at the average 18- to 49-year-old audience per episode within the first 35 days of broadcast, and includes DVR, on-demand and streaming data in addition to live viewing. While some of this data was shared by NBCU ratings guru Alan Wurtzel last week , the data released today offers a more complete picture of the 18-49 audience last fall per episode on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Crackle's original series. Here's how many people watched each episode of top streaming shows over a 35-day period this past fall, according to Symphony: Marvel's Jessica Jones (Netflix): 4.81 million* Master of None (Netflix): 3.92 million Narcos (Netflix): 3.21 million** The Man in the High Castle (Amazon): 2.12 million* Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix): 832,000** Transparent (Amazon): 653,000*** Orange is the New Black (Netflix): 644,000** Hemlock Grove (Netflix): 597,000 Dinotrux (Netflix): 534,000** Casual (Hulu, ongoing series): 491,000 The Hotwives of Las Vegas (Hulu, ongoing series): 336,000 Longmire (Netflix): 139,000 The Art of More (Crackle): 80,000* Bojack Horseman (Netflix): 64,000** Project Mc2 (Netflix): 42,000** * These titles were released later in fall, so the measurement reflects between 31 and 35 days of viewing. ** These titles were released before Sept. 1, when Symphony's measurement began, so the data reflects viewing between Sept. 1 and Oct. 6. *** Measurement only includes 21 days of episode 1 (released Nov. 30), and 10 days for the other nine episodes (released on Dec. 11). Symphony's data shows the continued resilience of Netflix's summer hits like Wet Hot American Summer and Orange is the New Black, which outrated "new" Hulu programming, even though they premiered months earlier. Narcos premiered Aug. 28, just a few days before VideoPulse's measurement began

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Why Daytime Syndication Remains a Sunny Proposition for Advertisers

January 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Given the negatives that face the syndicated TV marketplace—a lack of successful new entries, immense competition from digital video for ad dollars and technology that allows viewers to watch on their own time—somehow its major daytime players stand to do solid business in the 2016 ad bonanza. There are a few reasons for this, some of it resulting from being in the right place at the right time. Stability among stalwart shows like CBS Television Distribution's Judge Judy, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray and NBCUniversal's Ellen has given some advertisers a safe port in the stormy seas of video ad spending. "When you have really strong veteran shows where buyers know what they're getting, they become extremely valuable to advertisers," explained one syndication ad sales executive. Ironically, daytime syndication is also benefiting from one of the strongest scatter markets in recent years, sparked in part by a weak upfront last year. Plus, the race for the White House is heating up. Syndicators expect to secure a healthy chunk of the more than $8 billion that Borrell Associates forecasts the presidential candidates will spend on TV this year. Talks with Washington, D.C.-based agencies and Super PACs have already started, earlier than the previous election cycle. With the biggest financial windfall coming to local stations—beginning with outlets in early-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire—that market will soon get oversaturated, especially with so many presidential hopefuls on the Republican side. Those that might get bumped on their local buys will end up steering their funds to the national arena, including syndication. Why? The mostly female audience—daytime syndicated programs predominantly deliver women 25-54. But that demo is also valuable to pharmaceutical, retail, packaged-goods and restaurant marketers. "It's a great place to reach women," said Courtney Martin, associate director, Starcom. "We've seen just really steady performance from the syndication daytime marketplace." Lending strength to those numbers is an almost-caveman-like behavior in TV viewing. Over 90 percent watch their shows live, despite time-shifted viewing everywhere else save live sports and news. "It is rarely viewed on delay," said Bill Carroll, svp and director of content strategy for Katz TV Group

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