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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 (

Articles by Steve All articles by Steve

  • A Dozen Binge-Worthy Hidden Gems To Stream in Research Intelligencer on 09/28/2020

    I've been analyzing television programming for more than 30 years. There was a time, not too long ago, when I could list every show on TV on any given night off the top of my head. Not today. This is the era of Peak TV+. In addition to broadcast television and ad-supported and premium cable, we now have several major streaming services - the first three, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video (which have only been producing original content for about seven years), were joined three years ago by CBS All Access (soon to be rebranded Paramount+), and over the past year by Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock. There are also numerous smaller and more niche streaming services. In this week's edition, I give my picks for the most binge-worthy shows from Must Stream TV.

  • How To Make The Emmys Better in Research Intelligencer on 09/09/2020

    My mother-in-law hasn't watched the Emmy Awards in five or six years. The main reason, as she puts it, "none of the shows I watch get nominated anymore." Now, I'm sure the networks aren't particularly concerned about the 75-plus crowd, but they do seem intent on driving away generations of people who grew up watching the Emmys without doing much to bring in younger viewers. I also know a fair number of 45-plus viewers that no longer watch the Emmys. The Emmys continues to award TV series that most people haven't seen, which only serves to depress ratings. In this week's edition, I explain how to fix this.

  • Advertisers To Waste Money On Out-of-Home 'Viewing' in Research Intelligencer on 07/22/2020

    Nielsen recently announced it is delaying plans to incorporate out-of-home viewing into its regular ratings reports, which had been scheduled to start with the upcoming fall TV season. There was an immediate backlash from the broadcast networks, and Nielsen quickly reversed itself. It is now going to include this data starting in September 2020 as originally planned. The real headline should not be "Backlash From Networks Causes Nielsen to Reverse Itself," but rather, "Paying For Phantom Viewers - Why Is There No Backlash From Advertisers?" Read this week's edition to find out why.

  • When The Big Lie Meets The Big Truth: Why TV Is No Longer Trump's Friend in Research Intelligencer on 07/06/2020

    The concept of "the big lie" is essentially that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it people will eventually believe it. Since most people tell small lies themselves in their everyday lives, while they would never tell colossal lies -- so have trouble believing someone else would -- they are more likely to fall for the big lie than a small lie. President Trump has not only been a master media manipulator, he has also been a master of the big lie - simple statements that strike an emotional chord, require no additional explanation, can be repeated loudly and often, and are amplified by the conservative media/social media echo chamber. Recent examples of President Trump's big lies include, the Russia hoax, CNN and The New York Times are fake news, and mainstream media is the enemy of the people. In this week's edition, I examine how this has turned TV from Trump's best friend to his worst enemy.

  • Netflix Is Still The Best Thing Ever in Research Intelligencer on 06/08/2020

    In 2011, I wrote my first report on streaming, titled, Netflix is the Best Thing Ever. This was a year before its first original scripted series, Lilyhammer, and two years before the streaming service debuted its first major hit, "House of Cards." My household had just subscribed to Netflix, and I thought it had a potentially brilliant model for success and was poised to enjoy tremendous growth. There were some initial drawbacks, of course, but nine years later I make the case in this week's edition why Netflix still is the best thing ever.

  • Diary of a Mad House Life: Musings Of A Self-Quarantined TV Viewer in Research Intelligencer on 05/19/2020

    As I'm writing this, it's the 60th day we've been self-quarantined in Hoboken New Jersey. I'm in my apartment with my wife, my son who turns 21 this week, and my 80-plus-year-old mother-in-law. In this week's edition, I provide my first-person account of TV viewing life under quarantine.

  • A Young Media Person's Guide To Evaluating TV Pilots in Research Intelligencer on 05/08/2020

    Ordinarily, the new television season starts in late-September. Ordinarily, advertisers and their agencies, TV critics, and media analysts like me, would be getting ready to attend the broadcast network upfront schedule announcements and begin the process of watching and evaluating all the new fall broadcast pilots. Ordinarily the advertising industry would be getting ready for the June upfront marketplace, when upward of $20 billion of national commercial time is bought and sold for the next broadcast year. But these, of course, are not ordinary times. In this week's edition, I provide a "how-to" guide for evaluating the potential of TV pilots.

  • Advertisers Don't Need The Upfront Anymore in Research Intelligencer on 04/27/2020

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic tossed any idea of a normal fall TV season to the back burner, the value of the upfront marketplace was being questioned. In this week's edition, I assess whether there's even any value in holding the upfront anymore.

  • COVID-19 And The Resurgence Of Local News: Why It Might Be Bad News For President Trump in Research Intelligencer on 04/13/2020

    Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill was famously quoted as saying, "All politics is local." While all news is not local, it is certainly true that all catastrophes are local. Whenever there is a major event or tragedy that strikes a local community, whether it be a mass shooting, a hurricane, or an earthquake, people in the affected city often turn to their local news station for updates and information. Local news reporters live in and are intimately familiar with the community, and people in the community are familiar with them and generally see them as on their side. They are experiencing the same events at the same time, and there is an emotional connection. In this week's edition, I make the case why this may not be a good thing for the President.

  • TV Shows To Binge When You Have To #StayTheF***Home in Research Intelligencer on 03/30/2020

    As many of us are working from home, and stuck at home, with no bars or restaurants to go to, no clubs or concerts to attend, and no live sports to watch, it's somewhat comforting to know we live in the era of Peak TV+. OK, not really, but there is more good stuff to watch on TV than ever before, and this week's edition I provide my recommendations for shows worth binge-ing when you have to stay at home.

Comments by Steve All comments by Steve

  • Disney+ Overdelivers: 10 Million Subscribers At Launch by Wayne Friedman (Television News Daily on 11/13/2019)

    Not sure this was a real overdelivery. In last month's Sternberg Report I said I thought Disney could have more than 10 million subs by 2020, and 30 million in U.S. by 2024.

  • Disney's 'Mandalorian' Is Clint Eastwood In Outer Space by Adam Buckman (TVBlog on 11/14/2019)

    You beat me to it.  I was starting t write the same thing for The Sternberg Report.  Great minds...

  • Nielsen To Add Out-of-Home Viewers To National Ratings In 2020 by Karlene Lukovitz (Digital News Daily on 09/12/2019)

    While I seldom disagree with Jack or Ed, and I do not question that bar viewers are attentive to the program, it is simply ridiculous to think that commercials are anywhere near as effective as in home. Anyone who watches sports in a bar, particularly in groups, knows that they can’t hear the commercials and seldom watch them. I did a lot of research on tho subject when I was at Magna. Any agency or advertiser who accepts this is not doing their job. 

  • ABC Pushes Big On-Air Promos For New Fall Shows by Wayne Friedman (Television News Daily on 09/06/2019)

    But since the broadcast networks foolishly refuse to promote one another's series, much of the promotion you mntion is wasted.  Multiple ads on ABC game and reality shows isn't going to dramatically help a show like Stumptown or Emergece.

  • This Will Be A Sellers' Upfront by Dave Morgan (Media Insider on 05/30/2019)

    Demand never outweighs supply in TV.  The upfront system creates an artificial demand for what is essentially a (nearly) unlimited supply of rating points.  As long as the upfront system rewards rankings over actual audience size, the networks will continue to be able to charge more for a shrinking product.  Also should note that as average ratings decline, it becomes much easier to estimate future program and network performance, so guarantees, the only reason for advertisers to still want an upfront, are not nearly as useful as they once were.

  • 4 In 10 Ad Execs Predict Upfront Will Either Diminish Or Disappear In Five Years by Joe Mandese (Research Intelligencer on 05/08/2019)

    Real story is that more than 40% of advertisers and agencies think the upfront will expand.

  • Older Companies' Message To Netflix: We Want Our Shows Back by Adam Buckman (TVBlog on 04/29/2019)

    I think tthat even though Friends and The Office might be Netflix's most viewed shows, most people get Netflix for original series, not off-net stuff.  Once they get it, they start watching a lot of other things.  So I expect that it might be annoying to lose Friends, it probably won't contribute much to churn.  On average, viewers willspend less time with aNetflix, but it won't inhibit subscriber growth much.

  • Shorter TV Ads Command More Viewer Attention by Wayne Friedman (Television News Daily on 10/11/2018)

    This is the type of gibberish research that leads to gibberish headlines. 

  • 6-Second Commercials Are Dumb by Steve Sternberg (Television News Daily on 06/22/2018)

    I've never liked "eyes-on-screen" metrics.  First time I saw that was when networks were trying to convince agencies that viewers were paying attention when fast-forwarding through commercials.  I've never seen anything that correlates eyes-on-screen to ad recall.  And average second eyes on screen metrics to compare attentiveness to different commercial lengths is  just nonsense.  Having eyes focused on the screen is more of a function of multitasking than commercial length.  While there are probably quite effective and creative ways to use 6-second spots, you'll have to prove they are worth any type of premium price.

  • 6-Second Commercials Are Dumb by Steve Sternberg (Television News Daily on 06/22/2018)

    I think a lot of people have it backward.  For example, when I go to the movies with my wife and millennial son, my wife and I haven't seen most of the commercials they show because we DVR almost everything we watch on linear TV.  My son, on the other hand, watches the commerials and is familiar with all of them, as are his friends.  The idea that millennials have attention spans too short for 30 second commercials is gibberish.  They said the same thing about the MTV generation and 15s vs. 30s.  Where the attantion span comes into play is in the slow or fast pace of a program, certainly not in 6 second vs. 30 second commercials.  And my main point was in the effectiveness and cost differential. 

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