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Marianne Paskowski

Did USA Overpay for ‘Casino Royale’?

December 19, 2006 7:17 PM

NBC Universal-owned, ad-supported cable net USA just won the TV rights for the new James Bond flick, “Casino Royale,” starring Daniel Craig as the new 007. In what was apparently a very spirited bidding war among broadcast and cable nets, USA paid $20 million for a five-year deal, which brings the box office hit—which has grossed $400 million since its theatrical release last month—to the small screen in June 2009.

True, Bond movies always played well on cable. But that was then and this is now. The price seems steep to me, because two years from now, when even more households will have DVRs, who’s gonna sit through an already long movie and endure the endless procession of pods cluttered with ads and promos?

Advertisers could be burned, especially if Nielsen gets its act together—and I assume it will by then—to measure minute-by-minute viewing, including commercials. I, for one, have lost all patience with watching long-form programming on cable in real time. That movie on USA could likely become an evening-long commitment. Count me out.

USA, I predict, will have quite a selling job on Madison Ave. in this new age of viewer control and impatience. How can USA monetize this deal two years from now?


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Comments (9)

John Golden:

To the Lovely and Gracious Marianne:

"Casino Royale" is the best Bond movie since "From Russia with Love" in my humble opinion. But is it worth $20 million to show 2 and a half years from now...NOPE. I will have it on DVD long before that and I suspect most other fans will have done the same. I'm a fairly big fan of some of the "classic" movies on Turner and as a result I don't watch American Classic because of the commericals. It really gripes me that I have to suffer through commericals even though I'm paying a cable bill. But as gripes go that a really small one. Toodles. John

Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne
I tend to agree that USA overpaid, even though "Casino Royale" is proving to be a major box office hit (surprising after the initial negative buzz about Daniel Craig as 007). Movies have been steadily dropping in appeal on the broadcast networks and, more recently, on the cable nets. My two sons -- who are in the 20-something to 30-something demo that advertisers prefer far more than my demo -- won't even watch movies on commercial TV (whether broadcast or cable). Instead, they'll watch 'em on HBO, etc., or rent 'em via Netflix.
Nor will they watch most commercial series. One son does watch "24" and "Lost," but the other would rather wait till their seasons come out on DVD. One exception watched by both is "The Shield" -- because that carries so few commercials that it's almost like a series on HBO!
So I'm with you on this. I wonder how long it'll be before even box office hits fail to generate hefty bids from the nets, whether broadcast or basic cable.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi, John,
As always, thanks for stopping by. Really thrilled tonite, Bob, the hubs, picked up a DVD for "Little Miss Sunshine," which just came out today." If you saw "Best of Show," the spoof about the AKC show, I hear you will love this. Will let you know.
You know, John, at the end of the day, you're not paying all that much for the ad-supported nets on your cable bill. The real kickers come from also ad-supported nets like ESPN, and now Fox News (your fave, but that's OK).
But cheer up. Cable ops are so worried about the regulatory climate in Washington that most are not raising their rates, especially where there's competition from Verizon. Who is your cable provider? I have Comcast.
You know, you're right, as far as gripes go, this is a small one and we can vote with our remote controls. If only Iraq were that easy to solve.
As usual I digress. Back to "Casino Royale." That good?
Seasons greetings & peace to all,

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi, Jim,
Remind your son that Season 5 of "24" is now available on DVD; got ours the day it came out so that we would be all caught up for Season 6 in January.
Meanwhile, I hope USA starts thinking about how to creatively monetize this investment; maybe a single advertiser who pays megabucks, or to run it commercial-free for its TV premiere. Oh well, USA has two years to roll that idea around.

Jeff Mulligan:

Yo, Marianne,

Advertisers won't get burned, so long as they don't pay more than a buck-ninety-eight per minute. Heck, I might even buy some spots, for my new line of Yak hair teapot cozies. I'll reach maybe a handful of people, and certainly a lot of cats and dogs who'll stay on the couch and watch the pods while their masters have departed for the refrigerator or bathrom.

And you really think that the media, who pay the lion's share of syndicated researcher costs, will actually allow Nielsen's commercial pod ratings plan to proceed?

Shaken, not stirred.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hiya Jeffster the Jester,
A few flaws in your logic. First, any smart dog, and mine are, immediately follow their masters to the refrigerator in hopes of a treat or to snatch something from the counter.
And second, save your $1.98 for spots for your new line of Yak hair teapot cozies, and instead try to strike a deal with QVC for your fascinating new dust catchers.
And third, with ad dollars moving online, TV nets really have no choice about the new commercial ratings. They'll at least pretend they care about ROI but will find fault with Nielsen's methodology and stall, stall, stall.
So thanks for writing and send me one of thoe teapot cozies -- I'm listed in the book on Cape Cod.
Marianne the Contrarian

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