The voters in USA Today's Ad Meter didn't think much of him, with his spot ranking in the game's bottom 15. But sales executives at networks and local stations surely welcomed his reemergence.
It was a further signal that AT&T and Verizon are set to battle for iPhone supremacy by spending liberally on marketing, providing a "likely windfall," according to Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker.
After such ostensible dire straits a few years ago that had Disney's Bob Iger failing to defend the sturdiness of ABC's future, broadcasting's years ahead could be brighter than Justin Bieber's. Thanks, in part, to the marketing troughs at Verizon and AT&T and the automakers, which filled the Super Bowl with spots. But there's also dual-revenue streams from bounteous payments from cable/satellite/telco operators that will only increase. Plus, the Big Four networks and their affiliates seem better positioned to avoid the threat of cord-cutting than their cable brethren. In fact, if it becomes a widespread trend, they actually could benefit from it.
The cord-cutters who ultimately become happy with their decision need three things: an intimate knowledge of where to find free content on the Web; a Netflix subscription; and rabbit ears for TV service that grabs the major networks for free over-the-air.
Studies show people tend to mostly watch about 15 channels, with the Big Four part of that devotion. Within a 500-channel cable universe, they're watching about .03% of the line-up.
If they decide to drop the cable bill and put up with the laughable rabbit-ears décor, Big Four ratings could increase substantially. Viewers would have less choice, for sure, but how crushing would that be? Probably not much. All of TV's top shows would still be available, from "American Idol" to "Modern Family" to the NFL.
NFL fans cum cord-cutters would have to find something to do on Mondays, since ESPN's "Monday Night Football" would be beyond their reach. But that's a likely plus for broadcasters and "Two and a Half Men" ratings when Charlie Sheen returns.
Wells Fargo's Ryvicker was bullish on broadcast in reports Tuesday, partly because cord-cutting "only highlight(s) the importance of broadcast TV to this society." And, she indicated, going antenna-hip still allows for favorite cable shows free on the Web. ("The Daily Show," "Jersey Shore," "Conan," Duke vs. North Carolina hoops -- even Al Jazeera may be providing better coverage online of the Egyptian crisis than CNN.)
Executives at cable operators and networks continue to insist they are not picking up any notable cord-cutting movement. Just wait until today's collegians age up. How many favor their laptops over TV? Surely, they're also watching on iPads and iPhones.
Using 2015 as a baseline, what's the over/under on when an executive says: "We're starting to have to deal with some evidence of cord-cutting" -- when they'll tell worried analysts: I can hear you now.
Still, among all the players that could suffer, broadcasters might have an easier time adapting.