• Auto Marketers Willingly Deal With Super Bowl Traffic Jam
    Last year, a quarter of the ads in the Super Bowl were run by auto marketers, according to Fanhouse.com. How many did people remember a week after the game, let alone now? Which ads featured Kenny G or P. Diddy's car being stolen or Neptune rising? This year, the traffic jam will continue. Is it worth it? Lexus is this year's Audi 2008, announcing its Super Bowl debut Tuesday en route to staking claim as a cutting-edge luxury brand. The company has posted a 15-second "sneak peek" on YouTube that suggests a Lexus may be able to breakthrough a fortified …
  • Olbermann's Petulance May Draw Viewers
    Planned or not, Keith Olbermann's petulance has given him a chance at relevance in the GOP campaign over the next few weeks that tops Rick Perry. That's not saying much since Perry should be on the sidelines by Sunday, but Olbermann has a shot at bringing his choleric liberalism out from virtual obscurity -- where it has mostly been since he joined Current last year. Recently, he has engaged in a high-profile dispute with his Current bosses and declined to host coverage of the results shows from the Iowa and New Hampshire GOP elections. That may prove to be helpful. …
  • Gingrich Deserves Credit For Ad Rejection, Just Not Too Much
    Credit Newt Gingrich for taking a stand Friday against attack ads and a lengthy video that take brutal shots at Mitt Romney. Just not too much. Gingrich asked the "super PAC" supporting him that's behind the material to edit or pull it, after independent organizations pointed out distortions of Romney's record. Yet, Gingrich's move wasn't fully devoid of political opportunism. He challenged Romney to make the same edit-or-end request of a "super PAC" supporting him and he may have been seeking some moral high ground as he trails Romney in the polls.
  • 'Downton Abbey' Proves Surprise For PBS And The Peacock
    There are plenty of twists surrounding the breakout PBS series "Downton Abbey." Among them: how NBCUniversal finds itself benefiting. In 2008, looking to move further into international production, NBCU purchased Carnival Films, the U.K. studio behind the show. Carnival had a distinguished record, but NBCU couldn't have known how valuable "Downton" would become since it was only in development back then. Since then, the Edwardian-era drama has become something of a phenomenon in Britain, where it airs on ad-supported ITV and delivers upwards of 10 million viewers, a big number in the U.K.
  • Catch A Rising Star: The Formerly Sleep-Inducing Arlen Specter
    Arlen Specter, the 81-year-old former Pennsylvania senator, will begin hosting a TV show this week. For millions of people, this is downright shocking. Until a few weeks ago, it seemed hard to find a more unlikely politician to carry a program -- even one about dry public affairs. His gravelly, monotone voice might have worked better than Ambien. His cracking a smile seemed as unlikely as Barack Obama winning Texas. Yet, as he demonstrated in a stand-up routine in Philly, Specter is hilarious and has the makings of a comedic star. Al Gore and John McCain have hosted "Saturday Night …
  • Speak Now For Disney Movie Or Theme Park Coupon
    Cable operators have been talking about upgrading their interactive program guides for some time. With Netflix offering such an appealing search interface and powerful recommendation engine, the feeling is they need to a swifter, simpler way to find programming. An option for giant steps was announced Tuesday that would blow past those scroll-and-click guides. A Harvard Square company has developed voice-recognition software that can allow a viewer to search by speaking into a smartphone. Besides transforming program selection, it offers potential to boost the effectiveness of interactive advertising. So, Comcast and Cablevision should consider offering Vlingo's "Virtual Assistant" for multiple …
  • Nick Ratings Bring Analyst Downgrade, New Kid-Targeted DVR Also A Downer
    An analyst's report Monday took a pretty big machete to projected ad growth at Viacom with the recent significant ratings drops at Nickelodeon. No one is quite sure why the kids' network is struggling so much in the viewership tallies. Increased consumption on digital platforms might be one reason, while aging programming could be another. If more kids watching on parents' smartphones and tablets is a major contributor, a new handheld DVR for preschoolers from Fisher-Price could further frustrate those disheartened with the growing ubiquity of video content available to kids.
  • Networks' Heavy Spending On Sports Rights Ensures Leadership
    Top sports leagues have an extraordinary business model going, notably the NFL. How many other businesses can charge increasingly higher fees (fortunes) to customers, who would be content just to break even - even stomach a loss? Yet, the money networks have committed to acquire rights will prove worth it, if for no other reason than ensuring their leadership into the 2020s.
  • Questions About TV's Future Are Largely Answered Now
    So TV is on a continual revolutionary path? Changes in how people consume it are coming so swiftly, so unexpectedly that network and advertising executives would be wise to apportion at least an hour a day just to stay on top of things, right? Maybe not. The pace of upheaval now seems to be reaching some stasis. As contrary as it may seem, the remarkable transformation -- starting with ABC making shows available on iTunes in late 2005; then moving through the YouTube and Netflix booms; and now with ESPN running spots showing how a cowboy can watch its networks …
  • Curiously, Baldwin Untouched By Troubling Behavior
    It's tough to say what's harder to understand: Alec Baldwin's suit of armor or a New York super-market chain's indecisiveness. Baldwin seems as if he could care less about public opinion and keeps thriving, while Wegmans cares a lot and today looks foolish. What is it about Baldwin that allows him to engage in behavior that would damage some Hollywood standouts and yet escape with barely a prolonged PR scratch? Whatever the reason, the public has once again come to his defense. So much so that it has prompted very public forgiveness and unbridled appreciation from Wegmans. And the growing …
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