Posts Tagged ‘networks’

Why CBS Is Airing Its First Saturday Drama Series in 13 Years

January 13, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

For decades, Saturday was an essential component of each broadcast network's prime-time schedule, but in recent years the networks have thrown in the towel on the night, which has the week's lowest HUT (homes using television) levels. That includes CBS, which for years has programmed two hours of drama repeats—called Crimetime Saturday—and newsmagazine 48 Hours to fill the evening. But this winter, CBS is doing something it hasn't attempted in 13 years: airing an original drama, Ransom, on Saturdays. The series, about a crisis and hostage negotiator who tackles kidnappings and ransom cases, is a Canada-France co-production, from independent studio eOne, and cost CBS a fraction of what the network usually spends on its dramas. "We're always looking for opportunities to improve the numbers on the schedule," said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. "Crimetime does just fine, but we had a unique opportunity with Ransom, because it was an international production, and we said, let's see what we can do on Saturday nights." Traditionally, "The night is the last priority for most networks as you're setting your schedule," said Kelly Kahl, senior evp of CBS Primetime. While CBS has used Saturdays to burn off remaining episodes of canceled shows like Made in Jersey and Three Rivers, the network hasn't scheduled dramas on Saturday since the 2003-04 season, when Hack (starring David Morse and Andre Braugher) and The District (with Craig T. Nelson) aired on the night. More recently, CBS tried airing a comedy on Saturday, programming the David Spade sitcom Rules of Engagement there in 2011. But the network abandoned the experiment after just a few weeks, shifting Rules to Thursday to replace the DOA sitcom How to Be a Gentleman (which was burned off on, yes, Saturdays). Because CBS audiences responded to freshman fall series Bull, Kevin Can Wait, Man With a Plan and The Great Indoors, "we're sitting pretty good the other nights of the week," said Kahl. "Every night of the week counts, and as you look at your weekly numbers, an hour on Saturday counts exactly the same as an hour on Monday. So we saw an opportunity there for us." CBS gave Ransom a Sunday launch on Jan. 1, where it drew 6.7 million viewers, and a 0.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. Last week, in its first regular airing on Saturday at 8 p.m

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Fox Sports CEO Says Super Bowl Ratings Have Become ‘Bulletproof’

January 12, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

While NFL ratings were down across the board this season, the team putting together Super Bowl LI on Fox don't expect any spillover when the game is finally played on Feb. 5. "The Super Bowl has become a little bit bulletproof," and is more reliant on the star power and matchups rather than the quality of the gameplay itself, Fox Sports president, COO and executive producer Eric Shanks said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. He noted that when Fox last broadcast the Super Bowl, in 2014, "it was not close from the opening snap." The Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos 43-8. Shanks said he "dreaded" waking up the next morning and seeing the overnight ratings. Instead, "we set a record with that Super Bowl, but it was not close at all." That 2014 telecast was watched by 112.2 million viewers. Last year's telecast, Super Bowl 50 on CBS, was the third most-watched U.S. telecast of all time , with 111.9 million viewers. The 2015 Super Bowl on NBC drew 114.4 million total viewers. As for Super Bowl LI ratings, "it's hard to predict. The Super Bowl is now dependent on the playoffs: certain teams and how long it's been since they've been there, that really dictates whether we're at the upper end of the Super Bowl range or the bottom end of the range of modern Super Bowl ratings," Shanks said. No matter what the final ratings are, well over 100 million viewers will tune in, which means that the pressure is on Shanks to get everything right. "It's a lot more pressure because you want to make sure that you've planned for everything that could go wrong," like the power outage during the 2013 Super Bowl, said Shanks. "There's a lot of pressure because of the economic impact to Fox on that day and all the things we need to deliver perfectly for the advertisers who are investing in that day. And we also have pressure on ourselves, that we walk away thinking that we told the stories in the right way that we want to tell." Shanks noted that Fox's NFL ratings were down six percent this season, the second lowest total in recent years behind 2012, which was also an election year. "Clearly, this unique election cycle had an impact," he said. Fox's innovations for Super Bowl LI include technology that for the first time ever, take fans inside the helmet of any player on the field and show the game from their perspective. The cameras won't actually be affixed to each player's helmet, but Fox's crew will be able to simulate their perspective from cameras around the stadium. With under a month to go, Fox Sports has a handful of Super Bowl slots left , and is asking north of $5 million for a 30-second spot.

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How to Revitalize Beloved Pop Culture Brands Like Star Trek, Hannibal and American Gods

December 28, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

These days, one of the safest bets for attracting TV or movie audiences is to rely on existing brand or franchise and try to revitalize it. When it's successful—like the recent Star Wars films or Fox's X-Files revival—it brings in both diehard fans and a fresh audience. Two of the best writers involved in resuscitating beloved pop culture properties are Bryan Fuller (who breathed new life into the stale Hannibal Lecter franchise by turning Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon into an audacious NBC series) and Michael Green (who worked on Smallville, putting a new spin on the Superman story). Now those two are teaming up for a new, high-profile adaptation, turning Neil Gaiman's acclaimed novel American Gods into a series for Starz, debuting this spring. But American Gods is just one of several major brand refreshes that Fuller or Green are overseeing in 2017. Fuller also co-created the first Star Trek series in 12 years, Star Trek: Discovery, for CBS All Access (though he has since departed the show) and is developing an updated version of the '80s anthology series Amazing Stories for NBC. Meanwhile, Green co-wrote three major franchise films: Logan (a darker, grittier spin on the Wolverine franchise), Alien: Covenant (the follow-up to Prometheus, which more directly ties into Alien) and Blade Runner 2049, which brings back Harrison Ford and whose first trailer generated enthusiastic buzz last week: As they prepare to launch American Gods in the spring, Fuller and Green sat down with Adweek to talk about their approach to breathing new life in beloved pop culture brands, and what they've learned about trying to make fans happy—or not: Adweek: What has to stand out for you when you're looking at an existing brand or a franchise, and trying to make it your own? Bryan Fuller: It has to be about something more than just its own plot, to start with. And you have to be able to isolate your own memory of what it is you loved about it. Because if you take something as broad as a superhero character, everyone came at it at a different time and a different incarnation and a different run of a different artist, and so there are different aspects of the character that are in the soul of it for you. That's the core of adaptation, is you have to be able to dive into those things and celebrate that particular aspect of it. It's about taking those core values of what the piece is and making sure that you can now re-present those things to other people, and hopefully they'll appreciate it in the same way that you did

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Viacom’s Upheaval Continues With the Exit of Music and Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog

December 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Viacom finally has a new CEO and isn't merging with CBS after all, but that hasn't put a stop to the company's 2016 upheaval. Doug Herzog, president of Viacom's Music and Entertainment Group, announced today that he'll be leaving the company next month. He oversees MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike and Logo. In a memo sent to staff, Herzog said he'll be leaving Viacom as of Jan. 12. "It was a helluva run, and I would wish it on anyone. I loved every minute of it," he said. Just last week, Viacom's parent company, National Amusements, which owns 80 percent of the voting shares of both Viacom and CBS, decided to pull the plug on discussions of a potential merger. That same day, the company announced that Bob Bakish, who had been serving as acting president and CEO since Nov.

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With 455 Scripted Series Released This Year, ‘Peak TV’ Has Yet to Actually Peak

December 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The phrase "peak TV" was coined by FX Networks CEO John Landgraf last year to describe the "overwhelming" increase in scripted series, but it seems as if the glut of scripted television shows still hasn't peaked yet. An estimated 455 scripted series aired this year on broadcast, cable and streaming services, according to FX Networks Research. "This estimate reps an 8 percent increase over just last year (421 in 2015)―but an astonishing 71 percent increase over five years ago (266 in 2011) and 137 percent over a decade ago (192 in 2006)," said Julie Piepenkotter, evp, research, FX Networks, in a statement. While the number of broadcast, premium cable and basic cables shows all fell in 2016, that decline was more than surpassed by the output from streaming services. That number doubled in one year, from 46 shows last year to 93 shows in 2016. Expect that trend to continue in 2017, as Netflix plans to double its output once again. In August, Landgraf estimated that 2016's scripted series output would probably top out at 450, while 2017 could see an astounding 500 scripted shows. That's in addition to the 750-some unscripted shows that also air. The television business is "probably unsustainable" for more than 500 scripted series, Landgraf said at the time. Landgraf, who last month was named Adweek's Television Executive of the Year, told Adweek that the number of scripted series will finally start to drop off by 2019. But despite the deluge of scripted shows, his greatest challenge is the same as when he took charge of FX in 2005. "For FX to be relevant to people as a brand—for there to be a reason for people to continue to pay attention to what we do and to seek us out—we have to give them an experience they just can't get somewhere else," he said. "You have to continually replenish your brand equity." And that requires big swings like The People v. O.J. Simpson and Atlanta, both of which became commercial and critical hits this year. "You can't just be different," Landgraf said. "You have to be different and good."

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ABC Will Create Original Series for Snapchat, Starting With a Bachelor-Themed Show

December 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Yet another big media company is teaming up with Snapchat in a bid to reach millennials. This time, it's Disney-ABC Television Group, which is partnering with Snap Inc. to produce original series for the platform. The first show out out of the gate is Watch Party: The Bachelor, which debuts Tuesday, Jan. 3, the morning after The Bachelor's 21st season premiere on ABC. Watch Party will feature a rotating group of celebs, comedians, Bachelor superfans and past Bachelor and Bachelorette personalities as they watch and joke about the most recent Bachelor episode. The weekly Snapchat series, which will debut every Tuesday morning, will consist of 10 original episodes and one Live Story. Several other shows based on DATG properties will roll out on Snapchat in the coming months

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AT&T Unveils Pricing and Channel Lineups for Its DirectTV Now Streaming Bundle

November 29, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Starting Wednesday, cord-nevers, cord shavers and cord cutters will have a relatively inexpensive, easy new option to access live TV. AT&T finally unveiled pricing, channel lineups and more details about DirecTV Now, its over-the-top, streaming bundle service, which launches on Wednesday. The service, which doesn't require a set-top box, satellite dish, annual contract or credit checks, will debut with an introductory price of just $35 per month for more than 100 channels. "This is the foundation of how we're going to do things in the future," John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, told reporters who gathered at New York's Venue 57 for the product launch. He added, "For the first time in our history, we have control of the full stack," explaining that it will use data insights from subscribers to create more targeted advertising capabilities for brands, which will keep its pricing low. With the launch, AT&T is targeting the 20 million-plus U.S. households that don't have cable or satellite service. "We get to address a new audience," said Stankey. "This opens up a whole new segment of the market." (Brad Bentley, evp and CMO at AT&T Entertainment Group, noted that market includes the "5-6 million people" who attempted to sign up for DirecTV but were unable to pass a credit check.) And, the company hopes, it persuades even more subscribers to its "mobile-first" product to switch over to its wireless service. AT&T wireless subscribers will be able to use DirecTV Now without the streaming counting against their data plan. While the service contains almost all of the country's biggest networks, there are a few major omissions. "The only thing missing is CBS and Showtime, which we are working on, actively," said Bentley. (The CW, which is also part of CBS Corp, is also MIA.) While "we're hopeful and optimistic" that AT&T and CBS will come to terms, Stankey noted, "the demographic may be a fit" for a CBS-less lineup—i.e., millennials don't watch CBS. However, they do watch The CW, which isn't available either. And while subscribers in "owned and operated" markets like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia will be able to stream broadcast content live on NBC, ABC and Fox, those in smaller, affiliate markets will have to wait until the next day, when they can access network prime-time programming on demand. (The company said it is working with affiliates and hopes to expand its live offerings in the future.) The service also doesn't include DirecTV's prized NFL Sunday Ticket package—Stankey said the company is in talks with the NFL—DVR capabilities (those are coming next year) or the ability to pause live TV. (However, many channels have "72 hour lookback" capabilities.) While Stankey said that subscribers in owned and operated markets will be able to watch NFL games live on Fox and NBC, the feed will not be available to mobile subscribers in those markets, as Verizon retains exclusive NFL mobile streaming rights.

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Presenting the Hot List—the Year’s Top Magazines, TV and Digital Media

November 28, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

It was the year that Donald Trump dominated and demonized the media. That magazines built around news and analysis (New York, The New Yorker, Time) made the greatest impact, and produced the most eye-catching covers. That The People v. O.J. Simpson, Stranger Things and Samantha Bee ruled the tube—and that Megyn Kelly found herself on both sides of the news. This was also the year that digital platforms, players, obsessions and innovations—from Snapchat to Pokemon Go to Facebook Live, DJ Khaled to Chrissy Teigen—commanded our attention. Here, we present Adweek's annual Hot List, featuring our editors' picks for the year's top magazines, television and digital media, and the executives and content creators who dictate where the business is and where it's headed. Take Amazon's Jeff Bezos, our 2016 Media Visionary, who not only has changed the way we shop but, via his ownership of The Washington Post, is helping to save journalism in a perilous time of real-vs.-fake news. Here, we also present the winners of our annual Hot List Readers' Choice Poll, which this year generated more than 1.2 million votes at Adweek.com. As ever, all the terrific content being produced out there is made possible by the smartest, most creative leaders in the business—aside from Bezos, individuals like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, FX's John Landgraf, and Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton. It is on them that we cast praise, and on them that a vibrant, forward-leaning media industry depends. Check out all this year's honorees: Hottest Magazines Media Visionary: Jeff Bezos Magazine Executive Team: Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton Magazine Editor: New York's Adam Moss Hottest TV Shows and Networks TV Executive: FX's John Landgraf TV Creator: Full Frontal's Samantha Bee TV News Anchor: Fox News' Megyn Kelly Hottest Digital Brands and Products Digital Executive: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Digital Creator: Casey Neistat This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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Stephen Colbert Calls His Live Election Night Show ‘The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

November 20, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Stephen Colbert has had a lot of tough gigs in his career, but he says nothing compares to his live Election Night special for Showtime, which became more of a wake than a comedy show due to Donald Trump's surprise victory . "That show was the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life," Colbert said Saturday night. "The audience was sobbing openly." Colbert made his comments while holding an election postmortem with fellow late-night host (and Daily Show alum) John Oliver, as part of a Montclair Film Festival fundraiser at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J. In the leadup to his Showtime election night show, which Colbert was able to do because CBS had preempted The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that night for election coverage, "we had gone over every possible eventuality. We had so many guests, we had so many pretaped pieces, all based on a different eventuality," including that Hilllary Clinton won, or Clinton was the likely winner but the race was too close to call, or that Trump was possibly going to win. "And then there was the last show, the show we did, Donald Trump is going to win and we know he's going to win. And then execs and my writers were like, 'You don't want to write something for that?' And I was like, 'No!'" said Colbert, explaining that performing jokes about Trump winning the presidency for his studio audience of 400 would be like doing standup comedy during an execution. Of course, that's pretty much what unfolded that night. "Over my guests' shoulders, people kept putting up signs: Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska," recalled Colbert, referring to the states that Trump had won. "We only did about 20 minutes of material before we went, fuck it, it's going to be him, let's just talk for another hour. We have two and a half whole shows that you will never ever see of material that we had to kill that night." That unaired material included a number of pretaped pieces and a parade of naked men "with high, tight butts," said Colbert. "They were going to going to come out there and painted on their asses, it said, 'I'm with her, exclamation point.'" Colbert also addressed the recent controversy around fake news on sites like Google and Facebook , and said he and Oliver took issue with the term. "Because what we did was fake news" as correspondents on The Daily Show, Colbert said.

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Donald Trump Turned Stephen Colbert’s Showtime Election Comedy Special Into a Wake

November 9, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In August, when Showtime Networks CEO and president David Nevins made the "half announcement" that Stephen Colbert would host a live, comedy special for Showtime on election night, the exec told reporters, "that sounds fun, right?" It did, but what transpired during Tuesday night's Showtime special—prophetically titled, Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going To Clean Up This Sh*t?—was anything but fun, as news came rolling in throughout the program of Donald Trump's surprising voting surge. The crowd for Monday night's live Late Show with Stephen Colbert had been treated to an energetic, hilarious live Election Eve show, with a surprise appearance from Jon Stewart . But just 24 hours later, the energy in the Ed Sullivan Theater for the Showtime special (Colbert jumped to CBS' sister network for the night as election coverage had preempted the Late Show) couldn't have been more different. Forced to turn off their cell phones more for than 30 minutes before the show began, the audience had no idea of what election news had transpired, and loudly gasped as Colbert shared the latest results on-air. "Right now the election is too close to call and too terrifying to contemplate," Colbert said. "This one is a nail-biter, and a passport-grabber." And while he opened up with a humorous animated package (below) about how President Obama had driven Trump to run for president, it quickly became clear that Colbert's Showtime special wasn't a comedy show, but a wake. Each new revelation that Trump had taken battleground states like Florida, Ohio and North Carolina sucked the energy out of the pro-Hillary Clinton audience. "I'm not sure if it's a comedy show at this point

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