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Steve Sternberg

Member since September 2009Contact Steve

Steve Sternberg is currently Editor-in-Chief of The Sternberg Report. He has more then 30 years of television and video analysis experience, having held top research posts at Bozell, TN Media, Magna Global, and ION Media Networks. He also authors The Sternberg Report (www.sternbergreport.com)

Articles by Steve All articles by Steve

  • Squid Game Yes, Squid Game No: Is 3 Billion Minutes Viewed Really That Good? in Research Intelligencer on 11/18/2021

    Netflix claims its South Korean survival drama is its most-watched new series ever - the latest worldwide phenomenon in a string of major global hits, which also include, "Money Heist" (Spain), "Lupin" (France), "Elite" (Spain), "Dark" (Germany), "Fauda" (Israel), "Ragnarok" (Norway), "Barbarians" (Germany), "Bordertown" (Finland), and "Kingdom" (South Korea), among others. Whether or not "Squid Game" is really Netflix's most-viewed series launch is questionable. The streamer is not exactly transparent with its audience metrics, and Nielsen streaming data is extremely limited. But there's no question that it's one of the buzziest -- and most controversial -- shows in a long time. In this week's edition, I break down the pluses and minuses behind "Squid Game," and while you ruminate on the answer to the question posed by my headline, keep reading to find out what I conclude.

  • What's Wrong With TV Audience Measurement, How To Fix It in Research Intelligencer on 10/25/2021

    There have been only two instances, more than 20 years apart, when Nielsen was forced to completely overhaul how it reported television audiences - in 1987, when the switch was made from the antiquated household meter/diary system to national people meters, and in 2009, when DVRs and time-shifted viewing led to the switch from program ratings to average commercial minute ratings (C3). How those two fundamental changes were implemented shows how much the industry's priorities have changed over time - or really how the speed of change in the access to video content and in consumer behavior has caused good research to take a back seat to rushing new products to market.

  • New Broadcast TV Series: The Good, The Almost Good, And The Too Bad in Research Intelligencer on 10/05/2021

    While not having the same impact as last year, the pandemic still caused some production delays among new series, so several of the pilots were not available for screening before the season began. And there are actually more new shows slated for mid-season than are premiering this fall. Nearly half of the new scripted fall TV shows are either reboots and re-imaginings of past series, or are extensions of current successful franchises. The broadcast networks have had mixed results over the years when they tried to revive successful TV shows from the past. Some of the problems with rebooting a show are obvious. In this week's edition, I assess the good, the bad and the really ugly start of these new series.

  • New TV Season: Franchises, Reboots, Promo Malpractice, Viewer Loyalty And Other Thoughts in Research Intelligencer on 09/28/2021

    There was a time when most people looked forward to the two-week period in late September that heralded a new TV season. During the summer months, the network airwaves were filled with repeats, and as new fall series were promoted on TV shows that could not be fast-forwarded, anticipation built. This anticipation was fed further by the many entertainment news magazine shows, which had exclusive clips of upcoming series, and interviewed TV pundits and critics who would tell viewers which shows were most likely to become hits. In this week's edition, I analyze how old-fashioned the traditional notion of a new fall TV season is and offer some suggestions for framing it in a more modern way.

  • The Emmy Awards: Broadcast Networks Promote HBO And Streaming in Research Intelligencer on 09/20/2021

    The Emmy Awards telecast alternates among the Big 4 broadcast networks because it has traditionally been seen as a major promotional vehicle for all the broadcast networks. This, of course, hasn't really been true for several years. In the mid-2000s, premium and ad-supported cable networks started to overshadow the broadcast networks for some of the major Emmy awards. It is now primarily a showcase for HBO and streaming services, most notably Netflix (although other streamers are starting to catch up). Of the 102 major comedy and drama nominees in 2021 - best comedy, best drama, best limited series or movie, and the acting nominees in each category (the major awards viewers care most about) - nearly 40% were on Netflix or HBO. In this week's edition, I analyze the recent evolution of the Emmy Awards, and their implications for television.

  • 10 Really Good Streaming Shows You May Have Missed in Research Intelligencer on 09/13/2021

    The first major original scripted streaming hit series, "House of Cards," debuted on Netflix in 2013. In 2015, less than half of U.S. homes (47%) subscribed to any streaming service, and just 16% subscribed to two or more. By 2017, 64% subscribed to at least one, with 33% subscribing to at least two. In 2020, SVOD subscriptions had risen to the point where 78% of U.S. homes got at least one streaming service, 55% received two or more, and the average household subscribed to three. I bring up these subscriber trends to point out that a lot of people started getting streaming services during the past three or four years. So there are a lot of excellent streaming series that ended their original runs before many people had a chance to see them. In this week's edition, I profile 10 especially good streaming series you may have missed.

  • Does The Media Industry Really Want More Accurate Ratings? in Research Intelligencer on 09/07/2021

    The advertising and media industries have traditionally relied on Nielsen for national and local television audience measurement as currency for the buying and selling of commercial time (and for evaluating the video landscape). Now it seems that several forces are at work conspiring to have this tradition come to an end - most notably, Comcast-owned NBC Universal, a long-time Nielsen critic, which recently issued a request for proposals to more than 50 companies (including Nielsen) to "build a new measurement ecosystem for us that reflects the future." They believe, as do many others, that current research methodologies are not able to fully measure viewers in an increasingly splintered video environment, and a single source or single metric is no longer viable.

  • A Brief History Of Superheroes On TV: Broadening, Diversifying Appeal in Research Intelligencer on 08/23/2021

    Superheroes and sci-fi are more popular than ever, as anyone who attends the giant annual comic-cons in San Diego (July) and New York (October) can attest. They both consistently draw 150,000 attendees or more. There are also numerous smaller comic-con events throughout the country, ranging anywhere from a few thousand to 100,000+ attendees. Once considered niche, with very limited appeal, these have become major pop-culture events - but still have a strong focus on sci-fi and superheroes. DC's Batman and Wonder Woman movies, as well as Marvel's many mega successful cinematic efforts, which began with Captain America and the Avengers, have shown that there are large audiences for these stories. The trick has become appealing to the hard-core fans who are well-versed in more than 60 years of comic-book canon, as well as new fans with only a passing or no familiarity with the characters' backstories or superhero mythology. In this week's edition, I provide a succinct, but comprehensive overview of the brief history of superheroes on TV.

  • Paying More For Less, Can Nielsen Still Measure TV, And Other Things That Make You Go Hmmm... in Research Intelligencer on 08/16/2021

    As we approach the end of the second pandemic summer and the start of the new broadcast TV season, here are some things that make me go hmmm... Why are advertisers so willing to pay more for a shrinking product? There are basically three reasons why broadcast network ratings keep declining and yet advertisers are still willing to pay more each year to place commercials on them. In this week's issue, I postulate some explanations for these and other big questions.

  • 30 Years Ago 'Median Age' Became A Thing in Research Intelligencer on 08/09/2021

    Thirty years ago, when I was VP of Television Research at the late, great Bozell ad agency, I released my first report on median age, which helped change the way TV was measured and how some networks branded themselves. In this week's edition, I recall how I was sitting in the office of my friend, mentor, and boss, the late, great media research guru, John McSherry, and wondering why TV time was still being sold based on broad demographics such as 18-49 and 25-54, when Nielsen had recently made narrower "building-block" demographic segments available.

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