Posts Tagged ‘television’

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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Q&A: Downton Abbey’s Executive Producer on the Final Season and the Odds of a Movie

December 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When Downton Abbey returns next month, the top-rated PBS drama of all time and U.S. television's most successful British import will cap its extraordinary run with a much buzzed about sixth and final season. Adweek caught up with Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame, who offers a few (cryptic) hints about what viewers can expect from the show's farewell season. Adweek: How receptive were television executives when you first pitched the show? Gareth Neame: A British producer once told me no one in Hollywood would be interested in the show when I was trying to finance it. I was told nobody in the United States will ever be interested in this idea.

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With a Record 409 Scripted Series in 2015, Did TV Reach Its Peak?

December 16, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

"Peak TV" has a name, and now it has a number: 409. That's how many scripted series (drama, comedy and limited) aired on all broadcast, cable, streaming and OTT services in 2015, according to Julie Piepenkotter, evp of research for FX Networks. (Excluded from the tally: reality, news, sports, made-for-television movies, specials, daytime and children's programming.) Even if you binge-watched one scripted season every day of the year, you wouldn't be able to get through all the available content. "The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years," said Piepenkotter in a statement. "This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform—broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming—led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago." The number represents a 9 percent increase over 2014, which had 376 scripted series, and a staggering 94 percent jump since 2009 (211)

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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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For Its Year-End Video, YouTube Rewinds 10 Years

December 9, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

YouTube debuted its annual Rewind video today, a project that has been In the works since July. Within an hour it had been viewed more than 600,000 times and was the top trending topic on Twitter. The theme of the dance-filled, star-driven, five-minute video is "Rewind Replay." YouTube gathered more than 150 creators from all over the world to relive not just the best moments of 2015, but some of the most memorable viral clips from the first 10 years of YouTube. The video also features dozens of references to 2015 highlights, including Ball Pit Prank and Pizza Rat and includes cameos from late night hosts John Oliver and James Corden, musicians T-Pain and Omi, and model Karlie Kloss. Kevin Allocca, YouTube's head of culture and trends, called the creation of this year's video "a fun, long road." He then added this: An apology to teachers for ruining the productivity in your classrooms this afternoon #YouTubeRewind — Kevin Allocca (@shockallocca) December 9, 2015

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Nexstar Says Acquisition Talks With Media General Have ‘Reached an Impasse’

December 9, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

In September, Nexstar Broadcasting Group gleefully played party crasher when it tried to scuttle Media General's $2.4 billion merger with Meredith Corp . by making an unsolicited $4.1 billion offer for the former. But today Nexstar lost a bit of swagger, announcing it has "reached an impasse" in its negotiations with the Richmond, Va.-based media company. Media General's board of directors rejected Nexstar's revised proposal, valued at $16.31 per Media General share, up from its initial $14.50-per-share offer. Nexstar said the Media General board countered with an "unreasonable" $18.61 share price. "The response from Media General is disappointing," said Nexstar chairman and CEO Perry Sook in a statement. "As a disciplined acquirer, we will only consummate a transaction that makes sense for both companies' shareholders." Irving, Tex.-based Nexstar has built up a portfolio of more than 100 TV stations across the country. It made its unsolicited $4.1 billion offer in September, a few weeks after Media General announced a $2.4 billion merger with Meredith, which owns 16 TV stations but may be best known as a publisher of storied magazine titles including Better Homes and Gardens, Shape, Parents, Family Circle, and More.

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Fox Isn’t Laughing About an ABC Sitcom Called ‘Fair and Balanced’

December 1, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes isn't amused by ABC's plans for a comedy called Fair and Balanced. The show, from ABC and Lionsgate, stars Kal Penn as a journalist who aspires to work for NPR, but instead takes a job at a cable news network that resembles Fox News Channel. Ailes, who was a comedy writer earlier in his career, told Adweek he doesn't find the idea of co-opting Fox's trademarked slogan at all funny. "They ought to call it an attempt at liberal comedy which will fail," Ailes said. "People tried to poke at this, and the whole Fair and Balanced concept. They wouldn't know fair and balanced if it hit them in the ass with a fish." Fox trademarked "Fair and Balanced" in 1997, and is looking into its use in the proposed title of the ABC sitcom. The series is currently in script development. ABC will decide by February whether to move ahead with a pilot. Still, Ailes is ready for a fight. "I might have the lawyers call," he said, adding: "I've got 24 hours a day to trash ABC programming. You guys can't program your way out of the men's room. "I have friends at ABC. Why do I want to trash these poor dumb bastards. But I thought, alright, one more guy's going to pick a fight with everybody else. Let's go," Ailes concluded. This is not the first time Fair and Balanced has been used as a comedic trope against the news network.

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How Bravo is Helping Fans Dress Like the Stars of Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce

December 1, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Call it the girlfriends' guide to style. With a second-screen experience called The Loobook, Bravo is helping fans of its sophmore series Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce dress just like the stars of the show. The Lookbook, launching today ahead of tonight's season 2 premiere, is a digital and social hub offering the same outfits worn by star Lisa Edelstein and the show's cast. Ulta Beauty has signed on as the exclusive beauty partner, in what is the retailer's first multiplatform brand campaign. Ulta's partnership includes a branded video web series hosted by style and beauty YouTuber Sona Gasparian. Style vignettes airing during each episode will point viewers back to The Lookbook, which will also feature behind-the-scenes videos, style guide profiles for cast members, curated product guides and click-to-buy partner sites. "Bravo's audience has an insatiable appetite for all things fashion and beauty, especially when it relates to our series talent," said Laura Molen, evp, lifestyle advertising sales, NBCUniversal. "Together with Ulta Beauty, we're excited to launch the ultimate shopping experience for our fans to more deeply connect with our programming, characters and our advertising partners." Girlfriends' Guide was Bravo's second most-watched freshman series to launch last year. Its 829,000 adults 25-54 and 749,000 adults 18-49 averages are an increase of 14 percent and 8 percent, respectively, compared to the average freshman scripted series on cable.

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ATF: France’s Federation Makes Market Debut With ‘The Bureau’

November 30, 2015  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Paris-based Federation Entertainment makes its debut at the Asia Television Forum with a timely lineup of scripted entertainment.

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Fullscreen Adds Former Hulu Chief as New COO

November 30, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Fullscreen continues to gear up for a big 2016. Less than a month after hiring its first chief marketing officer , the multichannel network has added former Hulu executive Andy Forssell as its new chief operating officer. Forssell will join Fullscreen's executive leadership team and the board of directors, reporting to CEO George Strompolos. Ezra Cooperstein, who had been president and coo will remain on board as president. "The media landscape is changing even faster than many of us would have predicted a few years ago, and Fullscreen is perfectly positioned to capitalize as that evolution accelerates," said Forssell. "I look forward to working with George, Ezra and the talented team at Fullscreen to continue building what is fast becoming a truly premier multi-platform media company." Forssell led Hulu as its interim CEO for a six months in 2013, after its founder Jason Kilar departed amid talks of a sale. Forssell departed later that year after Mike Hopkins was installed as the company's permanent CEO . Prior to that, Forssell had been Hulu's svp of content and distribution since its inception in 2007. More recently, Forssell served as CEO of the social video app ShowYou, which gives creators and content owners ways to build and monetize their own proprietary channels. Forrsell, one of the original purveyors of streaming video, comes to Fullscreen as the 5-year old network plans to launch its own subscription video service . Fullscreen's service will join an increasingly crowded SVOD world; Along with the major players Hulu, Amazon and Netflix (and CBS, Showtime and HBO), YouTube , Univision, NBCUniversal and Smithsonian Networks have all launched subscription products in recent months. "Andy is a proven leader who not only understands the new world of online video, he helped build it," said Strompolos.

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