Posts Tagged ‘network’

T.J. Miller Warms Up for Critics’ Choice Awards Hosting Gig With Booze-Soaked Promos

January 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Actor and comedian T.J. Miller was "dumb, and not in a funny way," in the big-screen flop Yogi Bear in 3D. And he's game for trotting out the memory of that critical drubbing if it means driving viewers to a presumably better use of their time—his hosting gig at the 21st annual Critics' Choice Awards. The show, airing live Jan. 17 on A&E, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, launches the year's award-season broadcasts, so expect a steady stream of Hollywood backslapping to follow. And Miller, currently hot for his role on HBO's biting satire Silicon Valley, shows off his self-deprecating loveable loser persona in several promos from L.A.-based Stun Creative. He's hapless but in a funny way. (He wore cut-off tux pants under that sophisticated black tie, execs at Stun say, and destroyed about 50 champagne glasses in his attempt to serve a cocktail). For those interested in the awards themselves, which combine movies and television for the first time into one three-hour self-congratulatory extravaganza, the year's most nominated film is Mad Max: Fury Road, and on the TV and streaming side, FX's Fargo and Amazon's Transparent lead the pack.

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How Canceling a Critically Acclaimed Drama Helped Mr. Robot Succeed

December 30, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

USA made a bold move in 2012 by shaking up its "blue skies" formula (which yielded hits like Burn Notice and White Collar) and debuting a dark summer series. Political Animals, a drama starring Sigourney Weaver, attracted lots of attention, critical accolades and several awards nominations. What it didn't draw was viewers, and the network pulled the plug a few months later. History repeated itself again this year with significantly different results: USA gambled on another edgy summer drama, Mr. Robot, which became a critical darling—I picked it as the best new show of 2015 . But instead of being an outlier as Political Animals was, Mr. Robot seems to represent a new path for the network, which renewed it for a second season even before the first one debuted. Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, said that Political Animals' premature demise set the network along the path that led to Mr. Robot. The political drama starred Weaver as a thinly-veiled version of Hillary Clinton: a former First Lady who served as Secretary of State after coming up short in her own presidential bid. But if Political Animals hadn't been so short-lived, the network may never have been in a position to take a chance on the hacker drama Mr. Robot. "Political Animals was before its time: a little darker, a little edgier," said Hammer. "The audience wasn't ready for it. Those who were coming for Royal Pains and Suits were not ready for cocaine-addicted kids, a heavier hand in politics and for cloudier, edgier [material]. They weren't anti-heroes, but they weren't all nice and pretty and 'blue skies.'" So USA retreated, canceled the show and retrenched. "[We] realized that we had to figure out: 'What does it mean to have some clouds in the sky, and how cloudy and edgy can we go?'" said Hammer. "We took a few swings at bat, we didn't nail it with the first couple, to be honest," said Hammer, citing Rush, USA's 2014 medical drama that quickly came and went. "It was an interesting, dark character in the medical world, but so what? Been there, done that before." Instead, Hammer and her USA team realized that "we wanted to nail something in the zeitgeist," she told Adweek last month .

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Streaming Services, and Mr. Robot, Elbow Broadcasters Out of Golden Globes Nominations

December 10, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If last year's Golden Globe Awards heralded the streaming services' arrival as major television players, this year's list of nominees shows streaming networks have suddenly become the dominant forces. Netflix led all TV networks with 8 nominations , while Amazon had 5 and Hulu landed its first nomination. Those picks came at the expense of the broadcast networks, which managed just 11 nominations in all—4 for ABC, 4 for Fox, 2 for The CW and 1 for CBS—while NBC, which will broadcast the Golden Globes on Sunday, Jan. 10, was shut out completely. (NBC's cable sibling, USA, landed three nominations for Mr. Robot.) The streaming services accounted for four of the six shows nominated for best TV series, musical or comedy: Casual (Hulu), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and last year's winner, Transparent (Amazon). The other two nominees were for HBO shows Silicon Valley and Veep. No broadcast TV series made the list. On the best drama side, a single broadcast show—Fox's Empire—made the cut. It will compete with three cable shows (HBO's Game of Thrones, USA's Mr. Robot and Starz's Outlander) and one Netflix series (Narcos)

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Here’s How Syfy Plans to Hook Viewers on Skippable Ads

December 10, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

You know how the old psychological theory goes: Someone tells you not to think of a white bear, and then that's all you can think about. To help promote its miniseries, Childhood's End, which premieres Monday night, Syfy is testing the phenomenon in the hopes it's all wrong. Using YouTube's TrueView skippable ad format—which allows viewers to clickthrough after five seconds—Syfy created three custom spots that implore viewers to watch the ads in full, telling them, "Don't skip the ad." "We're getting somebody's attention because we're saying, 'I'm paying attention to you right now and what you're doing,'" Sara Moscowitz, Syfy's svp of brand and strategic marketing, told Adweek. Based on Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel of the same name, Childhood's End centers on an ostensibly benevolent alien race that rules the earth. In one of the spots , Syfy incorporates that theme by telling viewers (within the first few seconds) they don't need to be afraid of the ad. In another, which you can see below, Syfy plays on viewers' familiarity with the actors by referencing their previous roles ( Tywin Lannister , anyone?). The third spot also plays on familiarity with the actors but in a more subtle way. It serves quick shots of all of them before showing footage from the new show

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How Superproducer Greg Berlanti Juggles 6 (and Counting) TV Shows

November 29, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Anybody who thinks broadcast television is dying obviously hasn't met Greg Berlanti , the talented and prolific writer and superproducer behind this fall's two biggest freshman series among viewers 18-49. First, there's NBC's Blindspot , which the network has already renewed for a second season. Then, there's Supergirl on CBS, Berlanti's third superhero series along with the CW's The Flash (that network's most-watched show ever) and Arrow. (A fourth superhero project, the Flash/Arrow spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow, will debut Jan. 21.) As if that weren't enough on his plate, he's also got The Mysteries of Laura, NBC's sole freshman series from last season to make it to a second year. Berlanti, Adweek's TV Producer of the Year, never intended to oversee six TV shows at once (he serves as co-showrunner on the four superhero series and is executive producer of Blindspot and Laura). "It's a combination of a lot of past relationships coming to fruition—and, as always in this business, luck," says Berlanti, who delegates many duties to key allies like Sarah Schechter, who runs his production company, but maintains strict control over each show's essential elements. "I find I can affect the quality of an episode if I focus on the things that I've always enjoyed the most: What are the stories, who's acting in them and the finished cut," he says. Juggling six TV shows requires "a lot of time management," notes Berlanti, who begins every day writing scripts ("My morning time is my most creative," he relates) before transitioning to making notes on other writers' scripts and "breaking" story arcs for upcoming episodes. After that, he shifts his attention to casting and budget matters, before ending the day in the editing room "because I don't have to use my brain in quite the same way," he says. "It's more reactive than trying to generate something." Berlanti employs the same mantra for all his projects: "Heart. Humor. Spectacle." "My favorite episodes of TV as a viewer, and certainly as a writer or producer, have those elements," he explains. "The humor keeps the episodes enjoyable and reminds you that not everything has to be deadly serious. Heart is something that I've always led with when I've written, or responded to in other people's stories. And the spectacle can be the emotional spectacle, or it can be the visual effects and action of it all." The producer, who previously worked on the WB's Dawson's Creek and Everwood and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, continues to create smashes for broadcast television even as many of his writer-producer peers have turned to cable channels and streaming sites. "To me, there's still nothing more thrilling than, every week, people getting to see another chapter in this story that you're telling," says Berlanti, who recently extended his lucrative TV deal with Warner Bros. through 2020. Berlanti's phenomenal success seems to surprise him as much as anyone.

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Bonnie Hammer Is Shaking Up Her NBCU Cable Portfolio, One Network at a Time

November 29, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Throughout her legendary career, Bonnie Hammer has learned just about everything there is to know about the television industry, except for one thing: how to rest on her laurels. "If you're not always thinking about the storms that are about to come, you're going to be in big trouble," she says. "I've never been afraid of change." That's why the chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group and Adweek's TV Executive of the Year has spent the past year shaking up the 10 networks she oversees—including heavyweights USA, Bravo and E!—keeping them fresh, exciting and relevant for audiences in a turbulent TV landscape. "It's taking a look at every piece of the organization, almost from a zero base," says Hammer. "If we were designing a world to compete in today, not last year or 10 years ago, how would you do that?" Last fall, Hammer combined Bravo, Oxygen, E! and the upstart Esquire Network into the Lifestyle Networks Group, unifying the brands in the same fashion NBCU ad sales chairman Linda Yaccarino sells them to advertisers. "Every single channel was a silo. With one overall voice, it made it neater, cleaner and more nimble in terms of everything from sales to early-stage development," explains Hammer of the reorg, which helped inspire similar ones at rival players like Viacom and A+E Networks. Hammer pushed several NBCU cable properties to launch scripted series for the first time (Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce and Odd Mom Out on Bravo, The Royals on E!, Spotless on Esquire), helping to diversify and fortify the nets when and if franchises like the Real Housewives and the Kardashians run out of steam. ("We keep waiting for the day—and it doesn't happen," notes Hammer.) Significantly, the new scripted projects add a vital new stream of revenue for the company. "What scripted provides that reality hasn't yet, and probably won't, is back end. If you can own content that has a nice, long tail, that is a moderate to amazing hit, it's money in the bank—it's just good business," explains Hammer, who also runs the in-house studios Universal Cable Productions (which handles scripted shows) and Wilshire Studios (reality and unscripted). Hammer's riskiest move involved the crown jewel of her portfolio, USA, moving the network away from its signature "blue skies" procedurals, which were no longer connecting with audiences. "We wanted to nail something in the zeitgeist," she says. "And that's where Mr. Robot came." This summer's sensational hacker drama was, at the outset, anything but a sure thing, but Hammer went forward with the gamble. "We all said, 'This could fail big. We all have to agree that this is an experiment, but we're willing to do it,'" recalls Hammer. Mr. Robot would end up taking viewers by storm, helping USA finish its 10th year as the most-watched entertainment network in prime time on basic cable. As for properties in her stable that remain a work in progress—like Oxygen, which is still struggling to connect with its 20-something female viewer base—Hammer is considering all options, including a possible OTT play

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Why CBS Is Slotting Stephen Colbert After Super Bowl 50

November 11, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

CBS has invested a lot of promotional to its revamped late-night lineup this year, but next February, both Stephen Colbert and James Corden will get their biggest push yet. The network said today that it would air a live episode of Stephen Colbert's Late Show directly following its broadcast of Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016, the first time a late-night show will get the plum post-Super Bowl slot. Following Colbert and the local news, CBS will then air a special Super Bowl episode of James Corden's Late Late Show, as the network looks to take advantage of the massive audience that the Super Bowl provides. Last year, NBC ran a special live episode of The Tonight Show, which followed an episode of The Blacklist and local news.

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CBS Is Bringing Back Star Trek, But It Won’t Air on TV

November 2, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

CBS is bringing back Star Trek, but the new series will boldly go where no previous iteration of the show has gone before: on a digital platform. In a first for CBS, the network announced this morning that a new Star Trek series will premiere in 2017 on the broadcast network before moving exclusively to subscription-on-demand service, CBS All Access. This will be the first series that CBS is producing solely for its digital platform, which launched in 2014. CBS All Access, which runs $5.99 per month, currently includes the entire library of every Star Trek television series. CBS Studios International will distribute the series to other TV networks and digital platforms around the world. Though CBS owns the show, and original creator Gene Roddenberry had initially developed it for CBS, it aired on NBC for three years from 1966-1969. The short-lived series spawned a massive pop culture franchise, which has included 12 feature films—with a 13th, Star Trek Beyond, due next year—and multiple spin-off shows. The new series will be developed by executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote and produced the rebooted film franchise, beginning with 2009's Star Trek and continuing with 2013's, Star Trek Into Darkness. CBS said the new show is not related to the upcoming Star Trek Beyond film and will feature new characters and settings. "We've experienced terrific growth for CBS All Access, expanding the service across affiliates and devices in a very short time," said Marc DeBevoise, evp and general manager, CBS Digital Media. "We now have an incredible opportunity to accelerate this growth with the iconic Star Trek, and its devoted and passionate fan base, as our first original series." The move to put the new Star Trek exclusively on a digital platform comes as the broadcast industry is looking for ways to bring in elusive millennial viewers who often eschew traditional television. CBS successfully launched Supergirl last week with an eye toward younger viewers. But overnight Nielsen ratings—especially among the adults 18 to 49 demographic that advertisers covet—have been down so far this season. Nielsen will begin to roll out its new Total Audience Measurement tool to count viewers across multiple platforms next month. Star Trek continues the trend of cable and broadcast networks banking on reboots or remakes of known properties that come with built-in fan bases. This season alone has seen TV versions of the films Minority Report and Limitless, as well as a revival of another decades-old TV show: The Muppets.

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How Trevor Noah Is Making The Daily Show His Own, Without Changing It Completely

November 2, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

On Sept. 28, the final piece of the recast late-night lineup clicked into place with the debut of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah . Replacing an icon like Jon Stewart after 16 years would be a daunting task for anybody, much less a relative unknown like the 31-year-old South African comedian. But Noah started strong ("Assured, handsome and with a crisp delivery, Mr. Noah was a smoother presenter than Mr. Stewart," proclaimed The New York Times), and he has improved markedly every night since. When Stewart announced in February that he was stepping down as Daily Show host, Comedy Central offered the job to big names like Amy Schumer before settling on Noah, who started as a Daily Show contributor last December. The network is betting on Noah's long-term potential to reach millennial audiences (see " In Just Nine Months, Comedy Central Reshaped Late Night—and Kept Advertisers Happy "), and so far, so good. While ratings have dipped versus Stewart (which Comedy Central anticipated), more than half of the show's 18-34 audience is new to the show under Noah, according to the network. Meanwhile, advertisers have stayed loyal. According to SQAD NetCosts, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah boasts the second-highest 30-second ad rates in late night, behind only The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. After wrapping his first few weeks in the chair, Noah sat with Adweek to talk about easing into his role, what he thinks about brand integrations, plus the crazy consumerism that has come to define the holidays in America and the world. Adweek: Some worried that you would completely overhaul The Daily Show, but it was clear from your first night that this was the same program that audiences knew and loved. What was behind that choice?

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In the Age of Cord Cutting, Nielsen Plots Its Overhaul of TV’s Outdated Ad Metrics

October 26, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

It's been nine years since networks and advertisers agreed on the eligibility criteria for C3 and C7 TV ratings, but given the seismic shifts in the industry since then, it feels more like 90 years. In 2006, iPhones, tablets, OTT and connected TV devices like Roku didn't even exist; networks had just begun to experiment with streaming full episodes online (Hulu and Netflix streaming were still a year away); DVRs resided in less than 10 percent of homes; and YouTube, not yet owned by Google, was in its infancy. But in our modern world of streaming, time shifting and cord cutting, "more and more, those ratings are not resembling what is actually going on in terms of consumer exposure to those assets," said Megan Clarken, evp, global watch product leadership for Nielsen. But not for long: Nielsen is trying to overhaul the industry's outdated ad metrics by next year's upfront. On Oct. 15, the company assembled 25 top execs—including network ad sales and buying chiefs—to start discussions about transitioning to a new set of criteria. Some attendees were surprised to learn that the current C3 and C7 definitions—which exclude any viewing where the ad load isn't identical to the linear telecast (i.e., almost any streaming), as well as all DVR and VOD viewing beyond the seventh day after it airs—are constrained not by Nielsen's technical capabilities, but by that 2006 industrywide agreement. "Nielsen can measure a lot more than they're given credit for, but the definition is what it is, so they're hamstrung by that, and we all have to go along with it," said David Campanelli, svp, director of national broadcast for Horizon Media. Nielsen's efforts were prompted by its upcoming total audience measurement tool, which the company shared exclusively with Adweek last week. Two years in development, total audience measurement offers what networks and buyers have spent years asking for: the ability to account for a program's consumption across all platforms (including linear, DVR, VOD, OTT, mobile, tablets, PCs, digital publishers like YouTube and connected devices like Roku and Xbox), while aligning the disparate metrics for linear and video content. Nielsen will begin sharing data with its clients in December and roll out the tool's full capabilities early next year. At last week's meeting, the company discussed "the next iteration of C3 and C7," said Clarken, as well as "a shift toward a complete change in the currency," a more complete overhaul of the current system, using Nielsen's total audience measurement. "It's important for us to understand how this thing is going to evolve over time, not just tomorrow but in future years," said Clarken. Among the challenges in changing metrics: While program and commercial ratings were essentially identical for linear TV, those numbers diverge in a linear world where because of ad targeting, audiences for the same show are receiving different ads. "The needs of the network to prove success of a show and the need of an advertiser to deliver impressions start to be two different things," said Campanelli. "C3, C7 and C30 is a horizontal view of things, and I think we need to start looking at things more vertically, and how many total impressions across different formats can ABC deliver my advertiser on Wednesday night, rather than in the Modern Family spot across 30 days." By mid-November, Nielsen will next bring together the researchers who routinely analyze the ratings data for the first meeting's attendees, before assembling both groups for a third meeting.

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