It's hard to believe it has been ten years since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake rocked the world with a Super Bowl half-time performance that was meant to be rudely suggestive, but instead became crudely explicit.
For every person I know who faithfully watches the Super Bowl every year, I must know five who have no interest in it at all. Of those who do watch, a few aren't really interested in football and don't watch other games during the season. Taking the results of my own highly anecdotal and admittedly limited Super Bowl study into account, I sometimes wonder why so many other networks feel the need to slip into slumber mode on Super Bowl Sunday.
It seems there is no stopping NBC's "The Blacklist." It is to television audiences in the early years of this dade what CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was to viewers at the beginning of the 2000s: A well-produced exercise in extreme violence and depravity that raises the broadcast bar for such content within the confines of a high-quality scripted dramatic series. It happily provides the dark adult storytelling that millions of Americans crave, all the while serving up gripping, edge-of-one's-seat entertainment and, for those who care, complex psychological mysteries that further challenge the audience.
Its telecast of the Grammy Awards grabbed all the headlines, but CBS did something else of note on Sunday night: It devoted 15 minutes of its prime-time real estate to a major star from a competing network. The formidable newsmagazine "60 Minutes" featured an interview by Steve Kroft with NBC's soon to depart, long-time late-night superstar Jay Leno.
There are times when CBS strikes me as the most edgy and contemporary network -- one that isn't afraid to go there to whatever extent it can. That was certainly the case last night, when CBS' presentation of the Grammy Awards kicked off with a performance by husband-and-wife superstars Beyonce and Jay Z of "Drunk in Love" -- a song apparently so full of curse words that much of it was dropped out by network censors.
The media business has a habit of changing whether companies care to lead or follow, as evidenced by the growing realization that in television, January is the new September. The big events of the season -- which this month and next include the Winter Olympics, the Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards -- certainly supercharge the early months of the year, even if the scheduling changes and series preemptions they bring about can be problematic. And just look at what television has delivered in January and what's coming in the weeks ahead.
The other day I broke a news story reporting that Google is now one of Madison Avenue's "Big 5." That's an old school Madison Avenue reference, for sure, and used to be used by agencies to refer to their biggest suppliers -- the Big 3 TV networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), and then the Big 4 when Fox joined the club. I used that reference on purpose to show that Google is now one of Madison Avenue's biggest suppliers, because previously, it was seen mainly as a paid search supplier, and mostly for the the long-tail (smaller advertisers). So why …
A couple of years ago I asked David Kenny how he could compete with "people opening their windows and looking outside." Kenny, of course, is CEO of The Weather Co., and what I really wanted to know was how he could compete with a form of content -- the weather -- that is ubiquitous and available to anyone, anytime.
Is "The Vampire Diaries" getting long in the fang? The 100th episode, to be telecast on January 23, suggests the dead are still very much alive, if somewhat starved for new blood.
The recent surge in popularity of nostalgia networks Antenna TV, Me-TV, Cosi TV and This TV -- not to mention the ongoing appeal of TV Land, Nick at Nite and the occasional classic programming of yesteryear on such networks as Syfy and Encore Suspense -- has brought the past into the present as never before. All of television is now with us all of the time -- and presumably, always will be.