Posts Tagged ‘networks’

FX Wants to be the ‘Best’ Channel on TV, Not the Highest-Rated One

January 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

FX is now the No. 4 cable network when it comes to 18- to 49-year-olds, up from sixth place a year ago. While many networks in its position would be gunning for the top spot, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf made an unusual proclamation at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour: He'd rather be the "best" channel on TV instead of the top-rated one. "Obviously we want as many people as possible to watch our shows, we want them to be as highly rated as possible, but there's quite a range [of ratings], and we can support that range," said Landgraf, referring to some of FX's critically acclaimed, but lower-rated, shows like Louie and The Americans. "We're not really a channel that's trying to be the highest-rated channel in television. We're trying as hard as we possibly can to be the best channel in television, whatever that means. If we weren't therefore supporting shows that would help us get there, just because [they weren't among the highest-rated], we'd be idiots." That said, Landgraf's patience does have its limits: The Bridge's declining Season 2 audience forced him to cancel the drama last fall, despite a creative resurgence. Landgraf noted that more than 1,700 original seasons of television aired in 2014, up from the 1,300-plus in 2013. Per FX's research department, 353 scripted original series aired last year on U.S. broadcast, basic and premium cable, and on over the top platforms like Netflix. The number of original scripted series on basic and pay cable in prime-time doubled in the past five years, from 91 to 180. "The amount of competition is just literally insane," Landgraf said. However, "the reality is there's a whole lot of shows on television that are probably relevant to almost no one." FX thinks it's solved the relevancy problem with shows that seem to be resonating. The network's research department compiled all 2014's Top 10 lists from TV critics, and found that FX lagged behind only HBO on the highest representation of shows by network (250 for HBO and 213 for FX, with AMC in third place with 74). At this point, Landgraf said, "the race for the best in TV is really only a competition between two channels: [HBO and FX.]" He also discussed FX's decision to experiment with shows that stray from typical episode and season lengths, explaining that while The Sopranos and other dramas changed the game, eventually their formats "started to feel like a box in some cases

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Resurgent NBC Sets Sights on Two Remaining Weak Spots: Thursdays and Comedies

January 18, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt started at the network in 2011, things looked bleak. NBC has now clawed its way back to first place in the 18-49 demographic, thanks to Sunday Night Football, The Voice and hits like The Blacklist. But the entertainment chairman knows his network still has two big problems to fix if it wants to remain on top: addressing the network's comedy woes and restoring luster to Thursday night, which has gone from Must-See TV to Barely Seen TV. "I think we're moving along nicely, but it's far from a done deal. We're in much better shape than we were two years ago, but we still have a lot of row to hoe," Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour this week. At the top of his list: shoring up his comedy development. "We are really challenged by the comedy brand that we're trying to build on this network," said Greenblatt, who is going away from single-camera sitcoms (he already gave the network's single-cam Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Netflix, to the delight of creator Tina Fey ) and back to multi-cam shows, including One Big Happy, debuting March 17. "Some of the best shows on NBC in its history were multi-cams." While the refocus on comedy will take months or years to bear fruit, NBC is taking more immediate steps to save Thursdays, which "used to be the big night of television for NBC," Greenblatt said. "It's an important night for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it is a great, desirable night for advertising." But the network has languished on the night with low-rated, quickly canceled comedies like The Michael J. Fox Show and this season's Bad Judge and A to Z . "Putting comedies we love there and having them fail started to feel like the definition of insanity," said entertainment president Jennifer Salke. Instead, Greenblatt is making a bold but perilous gamble, moving his biggest scripted series, The Blacklist, to Thursdays at 9 p.m., where it will face-off against Scandal on ABC beginning Feb. 5. "It's a risky but necessary move for us to make," said Greeblatt, who pointed to other big Thursday-night shifts that seemed potentially disastrous at the time but paid off, including Fox's The Simpsons, CBS' CSI and most recently Grey's Anatomy, which laid the groundwork for ABC's TGIT. "The only way to really reinvigorate that night is to jumpstart it with something like The Blacklist," Greenblatt said. "If you don't start that move at some point, you'll never get there." Looking beyond those two giant holes, Greenblatt announced several projects with big-name stars. He has given a 13-episode series order to Telenovela, a Soapdish -like comedy about a diva star (played by Eva Longoria, who will also produce) that is set behind the scenes of a telenovela production. And Jennifer Lopez will star in a new drama, Shades of Blue, about a single mom and detective who is recruited to work undercover for FBI's anti-corruption task force.

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Five Shows Premiering This Winter That You Need to See

January 8, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Another new year, another bumper crop of slots on your DVR waiting to be filled with shows that haven't been canceled or started to smell funny after a few episodes. But where to look? We figured we'd look everywhere, so below, please check out our best bets for the first part of 2015 (yes, we cheated slightly—that new Amazon show premiered last month, but it's on demand and it's really good). Of course, you'd be unwise to count out broadcast entirely—there's a new cop show from no less than Vince Gilligan, and we liked the pilot a lot. And iZombie (which, oddly, still doesn't have a premiere date) is one of the best shows we've seen all season.

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The Colbert Report Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert

December 18, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In his second night as host of The Colbert Report, Oct. 18, 2005, Stephen Colbert made a joke that wasn't really a joke. Over the course of the show's run, he promised, viewers would be treated to installments in "a 435-part series" called Better Know a District. He didn't make it to 435, but he almost broke triple digits. During its just-under-a-decade on the air, the show visited a full 93 Congressional districts in the U.S. (and one in the U.K., because it's a comedy show, after all), and that's not counting the districts he revisited. He explored major industries, minor policy issues and daily life all over the country, which, viewers were gently reminded, is huge. No national news program in history has devoted that much time to systematically covering individual members of Congress—why would you? It's boring unless there's a scandal, right? With one of his first initiatives, Colbert proved, as he so often would, that the media's assumptions about America were wrong. Colbert is ending his half-hour late-night comedy news show The Colbert Report, one of the strangest and most wonderful television series ever to exist, to take a job with CBS as the host of the Late Show when David Letterman retires. It's a signal honor, one that comedians spend their entire lives dreaming about, and yet if you've loved the Colbert Report, this move can also feel like a step down. Letterman is widely beloved, even despite a fairly sleazy intraoffice sex scandal in 2009 .

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Winners of Adweek’s 2014 Hot List Are Revealed

December 8, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

What a year in media. Prime-time's drama queen Shonda Rhimes—plus literally anything HBO did—kept us from cutting the cord. Netflix, Instagram and Minecraft continued to dominate our digital lives, while apps like Uber, Tinder and Kik achieved must-have status. Jack Ma—who led his e-commerce behemoth, China's Alibaba, to a $25 billion IPO—earned his place as our Media Visionary for 2014. Print, yet again, proved that it is as relevant as ever, with a nearly 150-year-old magazine, fashion icon Harper’s Bazaar, trucking out its fattest issue ever and earning the title Magazine of the Year. This, as the inescapable Kim Kardashian broke the Internet not once but twice after appearing on the covers of Vogue, then Paper.

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Presenting the Winners of the Television Hot List

December 8, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Michael Lombardo President of Programming, HBO HBO’s Lombardo continues to win the cable programming game in an age of intense competition for every single promising script, often by exploring uncharted territory. True, we’d seen serial killer shows before, but rarely as atmospheric as Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective, and never as simultaneously perverse and otherworldly as Game of Thrones. That willingness to experiment—whether bringing back cult favorite The Comeback or robbing The Daily Show of John Oliver for Last Week Tonight—ensures Lombardo will remain every writer’s dream meeting (assuming his agent can get one).

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National Geographic Channel to Shut Los Angeles Office

December 3, 2014  |  Variety  |  No Comments

National Geographic Channel will shut its small Los Angeles office in order to focus on expanding its presence in New York. Nat Geo, part of the Fox Networks Group, is based in Washington, D.C. The Los Angeles office has a total of five staffers, including Alan Eyres, senior VP of programming and development. The decision... Read more

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Robert Greenblatt on Surviving Last Year’s Sound of Music Live! Gamble, and Doubling Down on Peter Pan

December 2, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt went to bed last Dec. 5, after watching his network pull off The Sound of Music Live!, he had no idea what the 18-49 ratings would look like the next morning—but he was preparing for the worst. "I was thinking, 'I'm praying for a 2 rating, because I could defend a 2,'" he told Adweek. "And then I thought, 'Oh God, I could probably spin a 1.7 or 1.8 to probably being almost a 2.' I really was hoping it would be a 2.'" Instead, Greenblatt awoke the next morning to massive numbers that didn't need spinning. Instead, the special, which starred Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, earned a 4.6 (with 18.5 million total viewers), a number that jumped to 5.6 in live-plus-seven. The rating, which almost tripled Greenblatt's modest hopes, was NBC's best non-sports Thursday night in the 18-49 demo since the ER series finale aired on April 2, 2009. A year later, he's at it again, with Peter Pan Live!—featuring Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook—airing Thursday, Dec. 4. He's also developing other live events for the network, including The Music Man in 2015; a Sean Hayes-produced sitcom, Hospitality, that would air live every week; and a live staging of Aaron Sorkin's play A Few Good Men.

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Here Comes Katherine Heigl’s New Show

November 18, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

State of Affairs, as we observed back in September, has some problems. But it also has a high budget, a bankable star and a time slot after NBC's flagship show, The Voice, as well as viewers who probably forgot The Blacklist is on hiatus until next year. So the question at the moment is pretty simple: can State of Affairs win over enough viewers looking for the next big, flashy, action-packed drama? The answer at the moment is "possibly." With the time slot ready to go, the show pulled a solid 2.2 rating last night, down significantly from The Blacklist's 2.69 average but above everything else on the network so far this season. The 10 p.m. spot on Monday isn't a terribly competitive one, and The Blacklist has owned it in a big way this season (legacy shows on CBS and ABC—NCIS: Los Angeles and Castle, respectively—are both sagging in the ratings and unlikely to get canceled this season. Neither The CW nor Fox programs the 10 p.m. hour). Reviews of the show haven't been kind, though a few have noted the show makes canny use of Heigl's difficult reputation. (It's also been a troubled production—showrunner Ed Bernero left because he didn't get along with creator Joe Carnahan, an action-movie director responsible for stuff like Smokin' Aces and the bigscreen remake of The A-Team.) The question is mostly how upset audiences will be over the mid-fall changeover. Is it a major bait-and-switch, or a pleasant interlude? State of Affairs has a potential full season ahead of it (well, full-ish. It's starting mid-November so it can't be that full), and it could find a spot on the NBC schedule, oddly, alongside a number of other CIA-minded series, including CBS's Madam Secretary and NBC's own Allegiance. Heigl herself has been on a charm offensive in the TV news magazines, telling Mario Lopez she watches former boss Shonda Rhimes' Scandal every week and that she wants to mend fences over her departure from Grey's Anatomy. "I'm sorry she is left with such a crappy impression of me," she said . "I wish I could do something to change that. Maybe I will be able to someday." Maybe!

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How The Simpsons Saved FXX

November 17, 2014  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When FX Networks CEO John Landgraf sealed the deal last November to secure exclusive cable, VOD and non-linear rights to The Simpsons for his fledgling cable network FXX, he was elated ("It's arguably one of the greatest shows ever made!")—but terrified. "I was really nervous about it. If it hadn't worked, it would have been a financial drain on the company's competitive abilities and resources for the better part of a decade…. There was a lot of sticker shock associated with the price we paid," said Landgraf, who shelled out an estimated $750 million for the long-term deal. Plus, given that The Simpsons was in its 25th season at the time, "there was no way to calculate how many times people had already watched. There was no way to calculate the nostalgia factor for people that might have fallen off the Simpsons train. And, by the way, we chose to put it on a channel that didn't exist, essentially." That would be FXX, the former Fox Soccer network, which relaunched Sept. 2, 2013 as FX's younger, edgier sibling. But early on, even Landgraf seemed unsure of what defined an FX series versus one that aired on FXX. By Nov. 13—almost exactly a year ago—things seemed bleak for FXX's future when the network canceled its late-night talk show, Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, which was drawing as few as 10,000 total viewers per night after relocating from FX.

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