This Shark Week Teaser Is a Chum-Tossing Celebration of Carnivorous Delights

June 30, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Just watching Discovery's Shark Week will make you feel like you're skiing on two great whites while a mermaid clings to your leg. Behold the resplendent CGI overkill of this internally produced Discovery Channel spot, featuring different kinds of sharks leaping around our chum-tossing "King of Summer." You’ll have to watch two or three times to catch all that's happening as he drives his great whites into a sea of seals, seagull snacks and fleeing penguins. The mustachioed hero basks in the carnage, a look of unadulterated glee on his face. And then the mermaid winks at us. It is cheesy for the sake of cheese, and it's blood in the water for Shark Week fans.

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Denis Leary Returns to FX With Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

June 30, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Nearly three years after the conclusion of Rescue Me, Denis Leary is returning to FX. Eric Schrier and Nick Grab, the presidents of original programming at FX Networks and FX Productions, said today that the network had ordered 10 episodes of a new series created by and starring Leary called Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. The show will be produced by FX Productions and Fox Television Studios and will premiere in 2015. Leary and Jim Serpico will executive produce, in partnership with their production company Apostle . SDRR will center around a washed-up rock star named Johnny Rock (Leary), who, 25 years after wrecking his and his best friend’s music career by overindulging in the usual slate of vices—booze, drugs, sex with the wrong people—is attempting to reunite his band, called the Heathens. The series also will star John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies, Elaine Hendrix and Bobby Kelly. The pilot episode was written by Leary and directed by Michael Blieden. “As both actor and writer, Denis plunges into dazzlingly original arenas of dark comedy and, along with a stellar veteran cast, the results are just really funny,” said David Madden, president of Fox Television Studios. SDRR is one of several half-hour pilots that FX currently has in the works. According to the Hollywood Reporter , others include Charlie Kaufman’s How and Why, Simon Rich’s The Last Girlfriend on Earth, an untitled Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. entry and an animated show called Bigfoot.

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NBCU Appoints CFO for E! and Esquire Network

June 30, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

NBCUniversal announced today that it has appointed Donald C. "D.C." Storm II as CFO of E! and Esquire Network. Formerly the vp of financial planning and analysis at NBCU Corporate, Storm will assume the new position immediately. Storm, who is based in Los Angeles, will report to E! President Suzanne Kolb and Esquire chief Adam Stotsky. His role

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Sneaky Facebook Study on Users’ Emotions Draws Ire

June 30, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you use Facebook and found yourself momentarily feeling either better or worse in early 2012, an algorithm may have caused your shift in mood. And that's what has some social media users upset today. A controversial research study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on June 17 started to gain digital traction over the weekend. It revealed that Facebook for one week in January 2012 worked with Cornell University and the University of California-San Francisco to test the emotional reactions of nearly 700,000 users to pieces of content. The users weren't notified of their participation and unknowingly helped the researchers learn that people who read fewer positive words were found to write more negative posts, while the reverse occurred when consumers were exposed to fewer negative sentiments. The information-gathering practice isn't likely to be illegal since Facebook users sign away many privacy rights when they agree to participate on the social platform. And the study's gray ethical issues can be probably be debated ad nauseam.

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With Broadcast Volume Down, TV Inventory Is Going to Get Expensive

June 29, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If everybody waits out this upfront for better inventory in the fall, will anybody get enough of it? Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research (and a former head forecaster for Magna Global), said he’s predicting volume decreases on the order of between 5 percent and 10 percent across what was a $9.25 billion upfront bazaar last year (where networks saw strong interest in upfront commitments), which was followed by a weak season. That puts the upfront haul (which is, of course, largely theoretical anyway—clients can cancel up to 25 percent of their commitments) comfortably south of the $9 billion mark. But it also means more of the real buying will get done after the season’s hits are established, and at a hefty markup. “Scatter is going to be pricey,” said one network exec flatly. Don’t confuse this talk with the CPM gains networks tout during the upfront —those can be valuable, but they can also be a smokescreen when dollar volume is down. “We’ve had a couple of years where it seems like all of the scatter business was pushed into the upfront markets, and that, surprisingly, continued into last year from the year before,” explained Wieser. “Because [the trend] didn’t break last year, we had virtually no volume in the scatter market [since new shows couldn’t deliver the ratings].” Clients, Wieser said, are asking themselves why they’re putting so much money down in the upfront when that money just gets redistributed at midseason to atone for underdeliveries. Why not hold back that money and spend it when it’s clear what the hits are, rather than have money languish at a network where your customers aren’t watching? Well, buyers are about to find out whether or not the trade-off—better shows for higher prices—is worth it. “‘Why don’t we look to see what pops up in the middle of the year and whose seasons are strongest?’” Wieser asked rhetorically. The glum ratio of hits to misses isn’t new—even the networks themselves joke about how bad it is—so if you don’t have to lock in your buys, why bother? But if every advertiser decides that this is the season to cut back on upfront budgets and put the remaining cash into scatter inventory on the season’s established hits, scatter pricing is going to go through the roof.

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Programmers Are Frustrated by a Lack of Netflix Metrics

June 29, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When Breaking Bad scored three Emmy wins last fall, its showrunner, Vince Gilligan , credited Netflix for his show’s longevity and for heightening its popularity. Similarly, program execs in general have been thrilled with how streaming video services have made up for lost DVD revenue. But a little bloom is off the rose. Frustration with Netflix has set in as programmers renegotiate contract renewals (to the tune of more than $7 billion, according to some estimates). “The biggest concerns are about getting sufficient metrics about how their product is being consumed,” said Bruce Lazarus, CEO of Media Audits International (MAI), which helps programmers validate the subscriber information they receive from distribution platforms. “When you want to sell your content to the platforms, what’s the proper pricing model?” “We get a little information about which of our products are being watched on Netflix, but we get no data about who exactly is watching our shows,” noted John Kampfe, CFO of Turner Broadcasting System. Netflix declined to speak with Adweek for this story. “Oftentimes data is limited to stream starts and/or unique users, and neither provide meaningful insight into the value of a programmer’s content,” said Richard Taub, svp of broadcast and digital services at MAI. There’s no standard definition of stream starts; it could mean someone merely hit “play” and watched for either two seconds or two hours.

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Horizon’s Marianne Gambelli Discusses Television, Programmatic and Life After NBC

June 29, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

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Aereo Presses the Pause Button

June 28, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

With the Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively putting the kibosh on Aereo's streaming services, CEO Chet Kanojia announced that at 11:30 a.m. today Aereo would " pause operations temporarily" until it can

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Penny Dreadful Creator John Logan Explains Why He Loves Monsters

June 28, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

One of the most critically beloved new shows on cable, Showtime's Penny Dreadful is written start to finish by Skyfall and Hugo screenwriter John Logan and produced by Sam Mendes, with Eva Green, Timothy Dalton and Josh Hartnett in the leading roles. The Victorian Gothic mash-up features characters pulled from Frankenstein, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray and other, stranger texts, but the key to

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Turner Nears the Upfront Finish Line

June 27, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As broadcast closes out this week, big kahuna cable conglomerate Turner is working on the last of its deals, with CPM increases around the 6 percent range and flat volume (a good thing in a market where volume is flat to down across all of television and down quite a bit in broadcast), according to an industry source familiar with negotiations.

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