H2, History’s Sister Network, Is Doubling Down on New Shows

April 14, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In his midtown office last week at A+E Networks, Paul Cabana managed to sound both completely reasonable and incredibly enthusiastic, as though he were simply describing a happy accident that had led to quarter after quarter of uninterrupted growth at H2 , History’s sister network. H2 of late has been on a tear; in Q1 2014, the net improved 11 percent in prime time among adults 25-54, topping the likes of CNN and Hallmark Channel. But it’s no accident. “Everyone’s moving into scripted … and we’ve had a lot of success in counterprogramming,” said Cabana, svp, head of programming for H2. “Everyone’s moving into scripted, no one’s doing great documentary.” Among those new shows: Brad Meltzer’s Secret History (hosted by the mystery novelist behind History’s Decoded); an event series titled The Civil War , set to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox; and most promisingly, The Shift, an ancient-history/far-future special about what the planet looked like millions of years ago and how it’ll look millions of years from now. Cabana said H2’s programming strategy exists partly to protect the History brand, which saw some of its brainier fare “being outpaced by these big rockets” like Vikings , Swamp People and Pawn Stars. The shows weren’t anti-historical, exactly, but the network wanted to have all that ratings cake and eat its educational cake (educake?) too. Hence H2

Read More

Steve Koonin Out at Turner

April 14, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After a 14-year stint with Turner Entertainment Networks, where he most recently served as the division’s president, Steve Koonin is leaving the cable programming giant to assume the role of CEO of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks franchise. In his new position, Koonin will oversee all business, financial and strategic operations of the Hawks and Philips Arena. He will also acquire a minority stake within the Hawks’ ownership group. Koonin has worked closely with the NBA for 28 years, a span that includes his tenure at Turner and as Coca-Cola’s vice president of sports and entertainment marketing. In a note to Turner staffers, the notoriously sports-happy Koonin said he approached the opportunity to run the Hawks as “the chance to be a steward of another Ted Turner legacy,” adding that “The Hawks came to life when Ted took over the team in the ‘70s.

Read More

NAB’s Gordon Smith Is Confident He Can Turn Things Around in Washington

April 11, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Broadcasters are having a tough time in Washington. A number of efforts are aimed straight at the business from the FCC's recent decision to tighten ownership rules and claw bag big chunks of the broadcast spectrum for wireless, to a very vocal pay TV lobby pushing hard on Congress to reform retransmission consent. With so much going against them, it's easy to conclude that the broadcasting lobby, once the most powerful lobby on the Hill, may be on the outs. Certainly the media has lost the glamour crown to the Internet. But calling the broadcasting industry a dinosaur may be a premature conclusion. Wrapping up the industry's national convention in Las Vegas this week, Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, remains confident he can turn things around. "While I may be frustrated, I'm not discouraged because I know how this ends," Smith said. Smith, a former Senator, spent the week talking with broadcasters, FCC commissioners and staffers, even holding a closed-door meeting with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who right now is enemy no. 1 among broadcasters. Coming off a very unpopular FCC vote that made it a lot tougher for two TV stations to share advertising sales, Wheeler faced a hostile audience. He put on his best charm offensive to try and convince broadcasters that he wasn't out to destroy the business.

Read More

CNN Bumps Up Original Programming

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Instead of focusing on the traditional newscast,

Read More

The Houston Astros Pull a Blutarsky

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Houston, we have a problem. According to Nielsen live-plus-same day data, the Astros ’ Monday afternoon home game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim scratched, delivering a 0.0 rating on Comcast SportsNet Houston. In other words, not a living soul watched the game. (As my colleague Andrew McMains pointed out, the

Read More

The Houston Astros Pull a Blutarsky

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Houston, we have a problem. According to Nielsen live-plus-same day data, the Astros ’ Monday afternoon home game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim scratched, delivering a 0.0 rating on Comcast SportsNet Houston. In other words, not a living soul watched the game. (As my colleague Andrew McMains pointed out, the

Read More

Here Is the Game of Thrones Theme Screamed by Goats

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

It's always hard to find the best goat scream for the occasion (Doritos devoted a lot of effort to the task). But sometimes, with what sounds like a little bit of AutoTune and some well-chosen goats, and also what appear to be a sheep and and ibex, you can, for example, record the entire theme song to HBO's popular fantasy series Game of Thrones exclusively in goat voice. This is the work of Marca Blanca, the Spanish-language comedy company responsible for such masterpieces as the opening sequence from Friends reworked with stock footage of high-ranking Nazis, and this amazing video of live-action footage substituted for Grand Theft Auto V gameplay. The latter is in Spanish, but it doesn't matter. Game of Goats, however, knows no language, race or creed. It is simply there for you, in the cold nights, when the only thing that can cure your loneliness is a furry omnivorous quadruped shouting in a voice that reminds you of your fourth-grade teacher. To all other parodies of Game of Thrones, I say: "Bah!!!"

Read More

Tell Everyone What You’re Doing This Sunday Night With Mad Men Out of Office

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you can't wait for Mad Men to return for part one of its seventh and final season this Sunday, and you're itching to declare your intention to watch it to all your social media friends, AMC would like to offer you a special opportunity to advertise on its behalf by customizing a picture of Don Draper so your name appears next to his face. You can choose one of seven other characters, too. It's a fun tool for die-hards, and a smart way to drive the natural symbiosis between TV and social media. Dubbing it "Mad Men Out of Office" seems a bit of a misnomer (as much as posting to Facebook may feel like clocking in to some). If you were going to be in the office on a Sunday night, you should obviously quit and watch Mad Men.

Read More

CNNx Promises It’s a New Way to Watch News

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

CNN embraced the digital component of its news service on Thursday when it announced CNNx, a new way to watch the network's programming. The app allows users to scroll through a rundown of the past 24 hours of programing on the network, and select what they want to watch with a tap of their fingertips. Viewers will be able to catch up on what they missed or see what’s up next on the docket. “CNNx is a really revolutionary advancement, and allows the consumer to be the producer. It allows the consumer to be able to enhance what they are watching and decide when they want to watch, when they want to watch it,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker told Adweek. Each news topic will contain the original newscast and additional digital content created just for CNNx consumers.

Read More

Stephen Colbert Named Successor to David Letterman

April 10, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Stephen Colbert is moving three blocks east—and light-years from basic cable. The 49-year-old linchpin of Comedy Central’s long-running series The Colbert Report has been tapped to succeed

Read More