Assorted TV Everywhere Thoughts

The Oscars Telecast Still Needs Fixing

This year’s Oscar telecast was the lowest-rated since 2008. I recently wrote a column stating that one way to revitalize the broadcast is to spread out the major awards, presenting one every 45 minutes, rather than rushing through them post-11 p.m.  As I was watching this year’s show, I thought maybe they were listening.  They always start out with Best Supporting Actor, and then go an hour and a half or so before the next acting award. This time, 45 minutes later, they gave out Best Supporting Actress.  But then two full hours — the heart of prime time — went by before the next major award, Best Director, was handed out (at 11:40pm).  

Best Picture, as usual, was presented after midnight, and after Nielsen stops measuring the show’s national ratings, since it only tracks up to the last national commercial pod.  

There was a time, long ago, when it made sense to hold back the major awards to keep people tuned in.  But in today’s social media world, the Academy is much better off presenting most of the major awards during peak viewing times (between 9 and 11 p.m).  Especially with a live awards show, social media discussions could drive viewers to the broadcast in mid-show.  As it is now, there’s not much to talk about before 11 p.m, and not much reason for people to tune in before then.  I wonder if there would have been that mix-up had they not been rushing to end the show.  



While the Oscars are still higher rated than anything besides the Super Bowl, if structural changes aren’t made to the broadcast, ratings will continue to decline.

Broadcast Networks Need to Cross-Promote New Series

CBS’s new show, “Doubt,” only lasted two episodes. I suspect that had it been promoted on other broadcast networks, it would have gotten significantly more viewer sampling.  Most people had no idea it was even on.

It still boggles my mind that broadcast networks ignore the largest group of easily targeted potential viewers: those who are watching similar programming on other broadcast networks, who are at their most receptive to a message about a similar program. These networks accept ads from HBO, Netflix, and ad-supported cable networks, but not from one another.  Cable networks long ago figured out that cross-promotion works.

Should CBS All Access be Programmed Like Netflix?

“The Good Wife” was one of my wife’s favorite shows.  We saw the first episode of its spin-off, “The Good Fight,” on CBS.  Subsequent episodes will be available only on CBS All Access (at $5.99 per month).  One episode will be available each week, as if it was on a traditional broadcast network.  But it’s not on a traditional broadcast network!  

We think “The Good Fight” is a great TV show, but have not yet subscribed.  We might by the time all episodes are available, but by then inertia may have set in.  

Airing one new show once a week is not incentive enough for us to spend the extra money (we already subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime).  Had CBS made all episodes available for streaming at once, we would have subscribed right after the pilot.  

It’s hard to explain this to someone who does not subscribe to any SVOD services, but making all episodes available right away is a substantially stronger selling point than one episode per week.  Fitting one new weekly show into our viewing schedule is not the same as making time to binge-stream a new show (which is more akin to event viewing).  When the new “Star Trek” series is ready, making all the episodes available at once would undoubtedly increase subscribers much more than releasing one episode per week.

7 comments about "Assorted TV Everywhere Thoughts ".
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  1. Gry Meyer from Telluride Film Festival, March 1, 2017 at 11:51 a.m.

    We are like you. When the whole series is available we will subscribe for a trial month and not renew after binge watching GOOD FIGHT--if it is still in our minds by then. CBS does not make it easy to find out what is on the service unless you subscribe but from what I can tell there is little that interests us.
    can we get this new CBS service on our cable or does it require streaming via computer or Hulu,roku Apple TV ,etc?
    As for cross network ads I have always been amazed this did not happen but figured they just did not want to take the chance of losing viewers o another network---as if that never happens. So when I started seeing commercials for cable and online offerings I scratch my head in wonder. I should track if Showtime (CBS-owned) is on nonCBS stations.  Were ads for OJ:made in America on non ABC?  And of course Comcast does not block ads for their competitors. 

  2. Raoul Marinescu from Pluto TV, March 1, 2017 at 3:03 p.m.

    Suggesting that broadcast networks should cross promote on eachothers dial is the silliest thing I've heard in a while. Seriously. What's next, allowing Mercedes-Benz to promote their new models inside BMW showrooms? 

  3. Steve Sternberg from The Sternberg Report, March 1, 2017 at 4:20 p.m.

    Hi Raoul-

    i think in today's media world the idea that broadcast networks see one another as greater competition than cable networks, Netflix, HBO, etc., is one of the silliest things I've heard. 

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 1, 2017 at 5:40 p.m.

    Steve, while I agree with you that the broadcast TV networks are competing with every other form of TV programming---cable, Netflix, HBO, etc. for average minute viewers---they do not compete with them--- even cable--- directly for ad dollars. Typically, in the upfront---which accounts for about 75% of the broadcast TV nets' ad revenues---the buyers are buying only broadcast network TV or only cable or only syndication hence the broadcast networks compete directly and, often, exclusively, for their share of these pre allocated ad dollars. Yes, there are ocassions when, due to pricing situations, a corporate buy diverts some money from broadcast to cable or syndication, however these situations are rare. So the broadcast networks' competitive fixation, which rests mainly on how they stack up against other broadcast nets, is not a crazy as it seems.

    I do agree that cross promotion might be a good idea, however, I doubt that the broadcast networks---arch rivals as they are---would cooperate in this manner. Cross promoting via otherTV/video  venues---might be possible and, perhaps effective.In fact, aren't they doing some of this now?

  5. Steve Sternberg from The Sternberg Report, March 1, 2017 at 6:32 p.m.

    Ed- whether or not they are competing for ad dollars, and I word argue that the broadcast nets are competing with cable  despite separate upfronts. Upfronts are the end point. They compete in the planning stage which sets the spend. But I was talking about competing for viewers. It is antiquated thinking for the broadcast nets not to think of themselves as allies. Every time and Empire or This is Us hits, it reminds the industry of the power of broadcast TV and benefits all broadcast nets. And we'd see more hits if they cross-promoted their programming. 

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 1, 2017 at 7:31 p.m.

    Steve, the broadcast TV networks compete with cable from a planning viewpoint only when younger, ethnic or upscale targeting is involved or in cases where their fare is uniquely linked to the advertiser's product category or the ad campaign's basic pitch. Otherwise, they are evaluated mainly on the grounds of reach, program "quality" and merchandising/image enhancement considerations. It's certainly not a CPM issue as cable wins hands down in every day part for every demo.

    Returning to the issue of audience attainment, the basic problem of the broadcast TV networks---I refer to the original troika ( ABC, CBS and NBC )----is the age of their average minute audience delivery. Last time I looked their median age was in the high fifties and slowly approaching 60---in other words, Laurence Welk land. To cure this demographic imbalance---assuming that they also alter their program content, accordingly---they must reach out to younger and upscale audiences who watch them once in a while but not nearly as often as before. These are mainly to be found on cable and various non "linear TV" venues, not on rival, older saturated, broadcast TV networks.

    It may well be that ABC,CBS and NBC are resigned to their "mass audience" status---which, in practice, causes their audience breakdowns to be so heavily dominated by oldsters and low brows. If that is the case---and it might be---it could be a good idea to cross fertilize---in effect catering to the "base" in political speak. But this is not the path to younger, more attractive---to advertisers---demos. Just my opinion.

  7. Raoul Marinescu from Pluto TV replied, March 2, 2017 at 1:29 p.m.

    So you don't think it's silly for BMW to allow Mercedes Benz to advertise it's new models in their showroom?

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