Reversal. That's part of the entertainment marketing formula TV counts on to thrive. TV talent and executives are built up, torn down, and then, if things work out -- brought back for a return. The next story: Will there be a return for O'Brien? How about NBC and its fortunes -- or that of its highly criticized chief executive Jeff Zucker?
You have to be amazed that even in this digital age, proven tenets of the business still produce results. Two of these tools: strong program lead-ins and on-air promotion. Fox's "Glee" and CBS' "Undercover Boss" fit in these equations.
Internet video executives are tired of waiting for traditional TV to die. It wasn't that long ago (at an OMMA Global Hollywood 2009 event, actually) when Jason Calacanis, CEO/founder of Mahalo.com and Internet business veteran, said, "We could kill, kill, kill mainstream media today." But Television has grown 4% in usage during this time. Let's face it: The old media has plenty of life in it.
Verizon's FiOS is running an advertising campaign right now that calls for a two-year guaranteed deal where customers will spend $89 a month for scores of TV network in a big video package. A two-year deal must mean Verzion knows where it's going. In effect, Verizon is giving its customers what TV sellers give its business marketing partners: a guaranteed upfront deal.
Years ago a big cable TV executive, the late cable pioneer Bill Daniels, said he could envision the day when the Super Bowl would move to cable. I told him I've been watching the Super Bowl on cable for years -- that I've paid money to Time Warner, Cablevision Systems, Charter and other cable operators (DirecTV in recent years) to see the game.
Hulu now enters the world of creeping media charges. It moves stealthily because few users will mind -- initially. Hulu looks to charge for older episodes of current TV series -- but not more-recent episodes, which it'll keep free.
Cable networks get a lot of credit for ratings gains made against broadcasters. But the one area where they've done little damage to broadcast is daytime. Still, this could soon change. In pursuit of this daypart, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network will soon launch. And Martha Stewart is already ramping up a multi-hour programming block on Hallmark Channel.
PepsiCo and InBev's Anheuser-Busch's agreement to purchase media together is perhaps the biggest wrinkle that could affect this, and future, TV upfront markets.
If there's a TV network named "right," we can only hope there'll be another one named "wrong." A new cable channel called Right Network is, in fact, starting up, featuring content tinged with conservative sensibilities. From a branding point of view, it's an interesting name, one that will probably attract viewer sampling. But it probably won't deliver TV programs about the "right" things people of any political persuasion should do.
Big TV programming moves from one network to another seem to be few and far between. Conan O'Brien's decision -- seemingly a quick and decisive determination -- to go to TBS is one of the boldest in a while. Moves like this seem to fascinate consumers and business insiders. The irony was that Fox was on the wrong end of this move. The fact that Fox didn't go after O'Brien -- or was hesitant -- didn't seem very Rupert Murdoch-like. In the 1990s, Murdoch made perhaps the boldest move ever in getting the NFL.