It's bad enough TV stations are getting hammered in this still-suffering TV market. Now some may not be able to sell advertising time on one of their biggest TV properties: NFL football.
You've got to feel for the folks at Discovery Networks and its TLC channel. Now, product placement deals and off-air promotion are getting delicate for "Jon & Kate Plus 8." For a number of years, this was a nice little wholesome family reality show. Earlier this year it suddenly turned into something foreign for the earnest cable network -- a tabloid reality program, full of nasty remarks, possible infidelity, divorce proceedings, all in the midst of trying to raise eight children.
While many note the economy -- and the media economy -- seems on firmer ground now than earlier this year, more than a few experts are also predicting more pain headed for major media companies. Stock market analyst Richard Greenfield of Pali Capital, for one, says he is lowering estimates for Viacom's 2010 U.S. ad sales to a downturn of 3%, from a previous estimated 2% increase.
For years the rudest syndication daytime talk show and courtroom drama was written off by mainstream TV advertisers -- except those in the direct-response business. Incendiary news analysis/commentary now might be another segment. Fox News' Glenn Beck calls the president a racist -- and advertisers run away because the discourse has taken an ugly turn they don't want to be associated with.
How many ways can the NFL slice and dice another piece of its content for sale? More than we realize. NFL already gives us full live game via CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN. Full, out-of-market live game packages are available from DirecTV with its Sunday Ticket NFL package. But wait. That doesn't cover everything. A new live package allows viewers to "look in" on games when teams are within the 20 yard line and close to scoring: thus, the new NFL Red Zone channel.
An eye-opening number of big movie stars were caught in a tornado vortex this summer. Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell -- all failed to produce big box-office business.
At what point does NBC begin to worry about Letterman beating O'Brien in some viewer categories? Decisions made today might affect the way things turn out years from now.
With Don Hewitt and Walter Cronkite now gone, many will say that something of real TV news journalism has been lost. But look around -- there is still hope.
Cable programmers believe they have a right to be everywhere -- especially on cable systems with a near-monopoly on traditional TV distribution. But cable operators believe if a business deal isn't right, it doesn't matter how powerful a TV programmer is in a specific market. This brings us to the still-young cable and satellite subscriber Tennis Channel, which can't seem to crack the code of getting on Cablevision Systems Corp.'s cable systems after four years.
"Saving Grace" or "Mad Men": which show gets the bigger ratings? That would be "Saving Grace." But that doesn't mean success -- even factoring in any dual-revenue stream argument.