• Viacom Dismantles, Out Goes Its Media Password -- Synergy
    With recent dismantling moves by Viacom and Liberty Media, TV executives seemingly want to roll back media companies to an era where, as independent TV companies, it could offer the public fresh programming and investors a big upside. That would be a lot of spin, since big companies are still lumbering enterprises. The good news is that -- as collateral damage - separating media assets within a company would kill once and for all that quaint media conglomerate term: synergy.
  • TiVo Zapped by Comcast
    It didn't take much to revive TiVo's stock; all it needed to do was make a deal with the biggest cable company in the country. This puts TiVo back in the game, but it still needs to score some runs. Comcast's decision to carry TiVo's service helped rocket the stock up 75 percent yesterday, and suddenly revived the ailing digital video recording service fortunes. The good news is that TiVo can make similar deals with other cable networks - touting that if the biggest cable network gives you the thumbs up, smaller companies should follow.
  • Put Down Those Fries, Come Out With Your Hands Up!
    TV programmers should not be rejoicing that a federal agency decision will let kids be spoon-fed food advertising that will continue to make them fat. The Federal Trade Commission said it won't ban or limit junk-food advertising to children, but it wants the industry to set new guidelines to promote healthy eating. In a Reuters story, Dan Jaffe, executive vice president for the Association of National Advertisers, said the advertising industry already has a self-regulatory system in place since 1974. This system works as well as putting Diet Coke in school cafeteria vending machines.
  • Reinventing for the Last Time
    What do syndication's "The Jane Pauley Show" and Spike TV's World Wrestling Entertainment have in common? These two long-time TV brands not only wrestled with low ratings and weak advertising, but stayed at the party too long. TV programmers seemingly make later decisions on the fates of programs - even later for those shows with proven value based on earlier success. With too much riding on shows, talent, producers, history, and, yes, money, it's hard to ask for much less.
  • Syndication Is Back in the Game
    Wasn't it a couple of years ago media agency executives said syndication was dead? Apparently no one checked the gravesite to make sure this TV business was in the box. Perhaps the best-kept secret is that syndication is thriving. At yesterday's Syndicated Network Television Association conference in New York, Mitch Burg, the trade group's President and CEO, touted mighty fine industry numbers.
  • Commercial-Free TV
    Just as more product integration is creeping on airwaves these days, commercial-free TV shows are also getting a day in the sun. Is this an easy way out for networks or just good business? Perhaps both. USA Network is the latest in this area, doing the documentary "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story" without commercial interruptions. Saab Cars USA is the presenting sponsor and will get a 70-second spot in the beginning of the show and another commercial at the end.
  • Sponsors Search for Non-Boxing Metaphors to Get off the Mat
    Any boxing metaphor for the weak debut for Mark Burnett Productions' "The Contender" might include some low blows. TV Watch will try to refrain - holding our punches until the last possible, tempting second. Like other TV producers who went before him with a seemingly can't-miss aura, Burnett's latest reality adventure -- about the lives behind boxers -- lost. Good drama, good reviews, but so far, mediocre ratings. This show is probably not for a broadcasting network audience, but a niche pay-for-cable audience.
  • Sony's Stringer Looking for a New Tune
    We've heard the same song and dance at Sony for over a decade -- the company will merge content and technology in special new consumer products. The tune has fallen on deaf ears. For years, Sony had the industry lead with Walkmans, consumer-cool television sets, and other devices. But somehow it allowed Apple Computer - of all companies, which wasn't strong in content -- to steal its thunder with hip technology, cool packaging, and music content.
  • Mark Burnett's Branded Entertainment Apprentice Deals
    Branded entertainment's young legacy, as a still growing marketing tool, has never really been about increased sales results, millions of Internet hits, or loud product buzz. The one thing it has been about, is ownership. Now Mark Burnett Productions, the major proponent of branded entertainment, is suing the young upstart branded entertainment agency Madison Road Entertainment. Burnett claims Madison Road has been selling something it shouldn't - as well as acting as the exclusive representative of some of Mark Burnett's shows, such as "The Apprentice," a show Madison Road worked deals for marketers such as Procter & Gamble and …
  • Voom Strolling in Limboland
    Perhaps it's time for Charles Dolan to leave bad enough alone. The chairman of Cablevision Systems Corp. wants to keep going with the high-definition satellite programming service, Voom, a service that virtually all business analysts have said is a drain on the company's financial resources, not to mention redundant because many other competitors are in the field. Most of all, the problem with Voom is that Cablevision has agreed to the service's satellite and some programming contracts to EchoStar Communications.
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