Step Aside, Cord Cutters and Cord-Nevers. Showtime Is Targeting ‘Cord Cobblers’

January 13, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

We've heard about cord cutters, cord shavers and cord-nevers . Now, Showtime has a new term to add to the growing vernacular: cord cobblers. That's how Showtime's president and CEO, David Nevins, referred to his subscribers while discussing the evolution of his premium cable network at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "2016 is going to be the year of customized viewing," Nevins said. "Today's audiences are cord cobblers, individuals and households who creatively manage their content consumption with an assortment of subscriptions that work uniquely for their needs." Because of the availability of its stand-alone streaming service on iTunes, Roku and Android devices, and as add-on subscriptions for Hulu, Amazon Prime and PlayStation Vue, Showtime has "availability and visibility wherever those cord cobblers reside," he said.

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Ratings Drop Sharply for College Football Playoff’s Second Championship Game

January 12, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Despite a high-scoring, back-and-forth national championship game, the College Football Playoff had a sophomore slump. Alabama's 45-40 victory over Clemson Monday night averaged 25.6 million viewers, tumbling 23 percent from last year's inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, which stands as the top telecast in cable history . In terms of household rating—the metric by which advertising is sold for sports—the game decreased 21 percent to a 14.7. By way of comparison, CBS's coverage of Duke's victory over Wisconsin in the men's college basketball national championship game in April drew 28.3 million viewers. The ratings decreases for the title game followed poor performances for the semifinal matchups on New Year's Eve. ESPN had to make good $20 million in ad spots . Neither game hit the 20 million viewer mark. Those makegoods ran during Monday's championship game and ESPN's telecast of the Houston Texans-Kansas City Chiefs NFL wild-card game on Saturday. While it isn't known what kind of ratings guarantees ESPN made for the national championship game, it's likely the 25.6 million figure will fall short. After all, the game aired on the same Monday night it did last year, and ESPN reportedly bumped up its asking price from $1 million to $1.3 million per 30-second spot . The likely reasons for the decline in viewership are many. The CFP overestimated its impact on viewer behavior by keeping the semifinals on New Year's Eve

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This Is What Business as Usual Looks Like at CBS, Even With a New President

January 12, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. That was the overall theme of new CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller's first executive session with reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Geller, who was at CBS for 14 years before taking over as president, echoed the same sentiments of dominance and stability as his predecessor, Nina Tassler, who announced in September that she would be stepping down as chairman at the end of 2015. Despite a decline in linear ratings, "more people are watching CBS shows than they did 15 years ago," Geller said. With multiplatform viewing factored in, CBS draws an average of 13.2 million viewers, a 6 percent increase over the linear-only average of 12.5 million in the 2000-2001 season. "CBS's ability to build a big audience distinguishes our brand in all parts of our business," said Geller. "We saw the marketplace turn around in the third quarter of 2015. it gained strength in the fourth quarter, and it's currently very strong in the first quarter of 2016.

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After a Bumpy Fall, ABC Retools for Midseason With Four New Shows

January 9, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

ABC had a mixed fall, with a fledgling hit in Quantico, as well as the season's first canceled series in Wicked City. But ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee said today that the best is yet to come this season for the network. Speaking at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, Lee touted "four incredibly powerful shows" that are coming to the network in midseason: dramas The Family (which we think is the best broadcast pilot this season ; it premieres March 3), Of Kings and Prophets (March 8) and The Catch (March 24), along with comedy The Real O'Neals (which Lee said is "absolutely on brand for what an ABC comedy is" and debuts March 8). For a network to keep its momentum building, "you have to add a couple of assets" each year, said Lee, pointing to freshman hit Quantico, which is "a real asset for ABC," especially given its strong delayed viewing growth. Lead Priyanka Chopra "is a quintessential ABC star," he said. Two of those four midseason shows, The Catch and Of Kings and Prophets, have undergone significant recasting and retooling since ABC ordered them last spring. Lee won't see the revised pilot for The Catch, which is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, until next week, but said, "if you like TGIT , you'll like The Catch." He explained that The Catch wasn't a "fully-formed" pilot like How to Get Away With Murder, but its retooling "certainly has paid off in terms of the scripts I've seen." Also returning at midseason is Season 2 of anthology series American Crime, which debuted earlier this week and "is becoming a distinct and powerful brand," said Lee. He added that he wasn't concerned about FX's similarly named "American Crime Story" anthology series, which will focus on O.J. Simpson's murder trial during its first season. Lee said American Crime "stands on its own, but there's probably room for both, to be honest." There wasn't room on ABC for the quickly-canceled Wicked City, which might have been off-brand for the network, admitted Lee. "I love taking big swings, and that was a big swing. …It didn't work, but I was proud to have done it." Wicked City was yet another Tuesday 10 p.m. failure for Lee, who will try and reverse his time slot problems with Of King and Prophets, which he called "a muscular, theatrical, fascinating piece." In addition to reworking Of Kings and Prophets and The Catch, Lee is also making changes to The Muppets, which arrived to great fanfare last fall , yet disappointed audiences. "The expectations were very high; we ran a great campaign for that," he said

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How Hulu Is Helping Shows Like Dawson’s Creek and Melrose Place Find New Audiences

January 9, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

While most outlets are using their time at Television Critics Association's winter press tour to focus on upcoming shows, Hulu took a different approach to part of its presentation: showing how the streaming service has helped bring new audiences to beloved series of the past. "We've signed a multi-year agreement with Sony, which is going to bring a tremendous lineup of programming, including all episodes of series like The Shield, Party of Five, Dawson's Creek and a vast movie library to Hulu," said svp of content Craig Erwich. Also included in the deal: Damages and Happy Endings . Several TV creators who have shows streaming on Hulu talked about how subscription video on demand (SVOD) services are giving their projects new life—and a new revenue stream. "We're excited about the fact that new audiences are discovering our shows," said Darren Star, creator of '90s hit programs Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place. As for the financial benefits of appearing on Hulu, Star said he's not making anywhere near the estimated $180 million that Hulu paid to secure SVOD rights to Seinfeld last spring. "There's an income stream, but I read that Seinfeld story , I was like, wait a second, that's a lot of money! I'm not sure that's happening here," said Star.

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Despite Losing Mad Men and Breaking Bad, AMC Is More Popular Than Ever

January 9, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

AMC's president and general manager, Charlie Collier, knows that many competitors and onlookers were expecting his network to stumble after losing its two signature shows—Mad Men and Breaking Bad—in a year. But instead of imploding, AMC has just wrapped its most successful year ever. "We faced an important transition over the last two years, with both Breaking Bad and Mad Men coming to a close, and many looked at 2015 as a sort of, what's next here for the network? And we're very proud of what we've accomplished," Collier said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Before presenting the network's upcoming new shows for 2016, Collier noted that three of AMC's four premieres in 2015—Fear the Walking Dead, Into the Badlands and Better Call Saul—are the top three cable series launches of all time among adults 18-49 and 25-54. "At a time when many are focused on too much TV or measurement challenges and the impact of time-shifting, it's remarkable that viewership records can even be set anymore," said Collier, who added that AMC also ended last year "as the no. 1 destination for original programming in prime time, including broadcast, averaging nearly 4 million viewers in adults 18-49 and 25-54 all original episodes in live-plus-three." The network also became a top 5 cable network in primetime for the first time, in both the 18-49 and 25-54 demos. AMC has 14 original shows set to roll out this year, Collier noted. "We head into 2016 confident and optimistic about the future, and that's largely because we believe in the vision of the creative talent that's at the heart of our network," said the exec, who has so many shows in the pipeline that he is adding a fourth night of original programming: Tuesdays, alongside Sundays, Mondays and Saturdays. Among AMC's other TCA announcements: Fear the Walking Dead, AMC's Walking Dead prequel, will return on April 10 for Season 2. The 15-episode season will be split in two parts: seven episodes airing in the spring; the remaining eight later in the year

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Starz Plans Its Own Stand-Alone Service to Compete With HBO and Showtime

January 8, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After previously insisting that it was "far away" from developing a stand-alone service to reach viewers without a cable subscription, Starz has reversed course. The premium cable network is now following HBO and Showtime's lead in preparing its own OTT app. "Yeah, we're in the midst of doing it," Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "Nothing to really talk about right now. To have your own app is the opportunity to be distributed, either by our current distribution partners in different ways … or potential other portals. It is early days with that stuff, but it seems as if the new and the old are willing to exist side by side for a while.

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Discovery Will Try to Capitalize on People’s Sudden Obsession With ‘Making a Murderer’

January 7, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As the country's enthusiasm for Netflix's Making a Murderer continues to grow, Investigation Discovery is jumping on the bandwagon, fast-tracking a special on Steven Avery, the man whose case is the focus of the riveting true-crime series. "As the country's most experienced true-crime network, we feel compelled to address what we believe are missing from the case as presented in Netflix's current documentary series, Making a Murderer," Henry Schlieff, group president for Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America, said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Investigation Discovery has partnered with Peacock Productions (a division of NBC News) to produce a special, Front Page: The Steven Avery Story, which started production this week and will air later in January. Hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison, the program is "an attempt to provide critical, crucial evidence and testimonies that answer many of the questions surrounding Steven Avery," said Schlieff. Making a Murderer, which Netflix released Dec. 18, has left the country buzzing about Avery, who along with his nephew, was convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery had previously served 18 years in prison for rape when he was released in 2003 after DNA evidence exonerated him. He was arrested and convicted of Halbach's murder two years later, after he had filed a civil suit over his false conviction. More than 360,000 people have signed online petitions calling for Avery's pardon as a result of Making a Murderer, which raises serious questions about the case against Avery. A year ago, Investigation Discovery quickly developed its own true-crime podcast to take advantage of the frenzy around the first season of Serial. But ID isn't the only Discovery network looking to get in on the true-crime craze sparked by Making a Murderer, Serial and HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. On Tuesday, Discovery launched its first true-crime series, Killing Fields, which the network said is shot in "real time" as an investigation unfolds. Executive produced by Barry Levinson, the show follows a cold case from June 1997 in Iberville Parish, La., where a Louisiana State University graduate student, Eugenie Boisfontaine, disappeared. Her body was discovered two months later. Detective Rodie Sanchez, who was assigned to the case in 1997, has come out of retirement and reopened the case. In Killing Fields, he is paired with a younger detective, Aubrey St. Angelo, as they reinvestigate the murder.

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Here’s How Viceland Plans to Lure Millennials Back to TV

January 6, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The conventional wisdom is that millennials are fleeing TV, but as usual, Vice is playing the role of disrupter. On Feb. 29, the company will take over History offshoot H2 and launch a new network called Viceland. "As a company, to get this kind of production budget can still only be done in television," said Spike Jonze, Viceland's creative director, speaking at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "The idea of a TV channel seems like a fun medium to explore and play with," said Jonze.

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Here’s How Viacom’s Networks Will Try to Bounce Back in 2016

January 6, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After a rough couple of years for its cable networks, Viacom is trying to finally right the ship in 2016. Ratings for Viacom's TV networks—including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1—have been falling, declining an estimated 13 percent during the third quarter of 2015 alone . But at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., the company laid out its plan to bounce back this year by renewing its most popular shows and unveiling new series it hopes will draw an audience. Comedy Central, which lost its sketch-comedy series Key and Peele last year, secured the future of its other two big shows by announcing the renewals of Inside Amy Schumer (Season 4 debuts in April; Season 5 will air next year) and Broad City (which was picked up for fourth and fifth seasons, ahead of Season 3's debut later this spring). The network is also airing Time Traveling Bong—a miniseries from Broad City's Ilana Glazer about (you guessed it) a magic, time-traveling bong—which premieres April 20. Comedy Central also is planning on a big celebration this year for South Park's 20th season, which will air this fall

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