CBS hasn't been shy about rolling the prime-time dice in recent years. The gambles have been more with scheduling and less with programming innovation -- procedural dramas remain a staple -- but they've been bold nonetheless. This fall, it's at it again with an effort to revivify original scripted programming on Saturdays. The network is offering new episodes of relationship comedy "Rules of Engagement" at 8 p.m. on a night that has been an afterthought for networks.
Now that Nielsen is melding online and mobile viewing into its overall ratings, how long until Facebook and Twitter traffic are considered important enough to be included somehow? A recent effort by Fox shrewdly suggested that a show's popularity on social-media platforms can no longer be ignored as a measure of its value. Playing off the "Like" button on Facebook pages, the campaign used a "Family Guy" character and claimed Fox is "America's Most LIKEd Network."
Underplayed, but remarkable about Dick Ebersol's leaving NBC Sports is the quiet, but rapid, reemergence of Mark Lazarus. In just a matter of months, he's gone from relative obscurity at an Atlanta sports marketing firm to running the whole darn thing as the new NBC Sports Group chairman. Now, he'll oversee the broadcast of at least one Olympics, the next Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup and who knows what other properties Comcast will buy.
Lest anyone accuse VH1 of straying too far from its music roots, the network is taking a decisive step to amp up the genre by bringing back its iconic "Pop Up Video" program this fall. That's the show where info bubbles pop up every 10 seconds or so with details about the artist, the video shoot (so and so delayed it for hours due to repeated bathroom breaks) and other random stuff. But, that of course was in a gentler time in our media culture, before TMZ and Perez (does he need a last name anymore), so it will be ...
Why would the History channel, which demonstrated some pretty thin skin earlier this year by pulling a mini-series about the Kennedy family, want to wade into a topic that's not exactly gentle: the Bible? And, not with the Harvard Divinity School as producers, but the major domo behind "Survivor" and "The Celebrity Apprentice," who has mastered "faux reality" TV. If History bowed to critics - left-wing activists and Kennedy family allies - by yanking "The Kennedys," it might just face even more opposition from all sorts of religious groups when examining the Holy Book.
NBC's "Meet the Press" continues to be a commendable venue to catch up on the week's news. Yet, it is curious why host David Gregory continues to ask just about any guest who could run for President whether he or she will. It does his reputation as an interviewer no favors. Frankly, it lowers it, and moves him away from serious policy discussion and into the superficiality of cable-style infatuation with politics. If it is a candidate in the race, it's one thing, but wading into the guessing game could be left behind.
If the Big Four networks are indeed able to command significant price increases in the upfront market, it will again be remarkable just how vast the spread is between supply and demand. CPMs and ratings continue to head in strikingly opposite directions. To wit: Barclays Capital projects ABC to command 10% price bumps, while the network's C3 ratings in the 18-to-49 demo this season are down ... 10%.
The NFL lockout could be the best thing for beer marketing since Miller Lite spokesman Bob Uecker uttered the unforgettable "I must be in the front row." Yes, in the executive suites of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors - and at their media agencies -- there is panic. The horror! Canceled games mean doomsday. Ah, but stop and smell the hops and malt. Use the lost games to experiment with other media mixes. Maybe the NFL isn't as crucial as believed.
As upfront presentations go, Turner's 2011 version will be remembered as the one where, for all intents and purposes, the lights went out on Broadway (or just off it). But also, when Steve Koonin, the top executive who oversees TNT and TBS, cemented his comedy chops.
He cannot be serious. A Wall Street analyst is suggesting that final tallies about upfront spending are not only flimsy, but the flimflam emanates from the networks. Nomura's Michael Nathanson is insinuating networks may be engaged in some legerdemain, massaging their numbers in a way that might just overinflate their performance. Further there's an indication that the press buys the spin - a vicious attack on the fourth estate.