May 2013

Fox Getting Upfront Price Increases; Where Do Things Stand With the Other Broadcast Nets?

The Fox broadcast network has wrapped up a sizable portion of its upfront ad sales, and it is reportedly getting price increases. B&C reports that the network is pulling in cost-per-thousand-viewers (CPM) hikes in the 5% to 7% range, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The sales come after a season in which Fox’s ratings fell 22% in the key 18-49 demo. Because of the lower ratings, the network’s upfront volume is expected to come in below last year’s $1.9 million -- which was already down from the previous year.

“Buyers said that most of the big agencies had gotten their deals done with Fox,” the story reports. “The network suffered a big ratings falloff on ‘American Idol,’ which lost its crown as the most watched primetime series. The buyers say Fox remains attractive because its audience skews relatively young, making it desirable to advertisers in businesses like movies, technology and quick-serve restaurants.”

Other networks continued to negotiate, with the story noting that only a few deals have been completed.

“ABC did some deals, with prices in the 7% to 8% range. But that handful of early deals might not yet be indicative of where ABC's price will land,” the piece notes.

The report adds: “CBS, the top-rated network last season among adults 18-49, is expecting upfront price increases in the double-digit range, CEO Les Moonves told investors earlier this month. The network appears to be waiting until buyers, who are paying smaller increases with its rivals, come up to its price.”

A CBS spokesperson said today via Twitter and email: "We are in active negotiations with major agencies across the industry. We look forward to another successful upfront where we are confident we will lead in both volume and pricing.”

B&C notes: “NBCUniversal was sticking to its strategy of trying to sell advertising packages that include its broadcast network, cable channels and online properties. Despite resistance to a high asking price for ‘Modern Family’ on USA Network, buyers at major agencies said they were negotiating with NBCU on a portfolio basis. NBCU did manage to complete some deals with mid-sized to smaller buyers comprised of broadcast, cable and digital, according to sources close to the negotiations.”

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Cable Channel Gets a New Name -- Again

A cable channel will have a new name come June 1 -- the third name for the channel, which has been around for eight years, AP reports.

The channel is GMC, which was knowns as Gospel Music Channel until it changed its name in connection with expanding its programming beyond music. Next, it will be known as UP.

Charles Humbard, the channel’s president and CEO, does not want the move to be thought of as a rebranding.

Said Humbard: "We're 'refacing' or renaming the network to be clear about what we really stand for as a brand. For us, the move to UP is a way to very succinctly say something that's always been."

AP adds: “The Atlanta-based channel's focus on ‘uplifting and faith-friendly entertainment’ will continue with an expansion of its mix of original movies, plays and series and reruns of network programs, said Brad Siegel, its vice chairman.”

The channel’s first reality series, "Family Addition With Leigh Anne Tuohy," is coming June 7. It will be followed by another reality show, "Bullock Family Ranch," in July.

“In its recent presentation to advertisers in New York, UP also announced seven new movies that include the holiday titles ‘Guess Who's Coming to Christmas,’ starring Drew Lachey, and ‘Silver Bells,’ with Bruce Boxleitner,” AP reports. “The programming schedule, which is bookended by the music video blocks ‘Uplifting Urban’ ‘Uplifting Pop’ and ‘Uplifting Country,’ includes repeats of dramas and sitcoms including ‘Touched by an Angel’ and ‘Moesha.’"

The channel is in about 62 million homes in the U.S., the report notes. The channel “did a road test of the new name and found significantly more people said they would watch UP over the alphabet-soup GMC,” the story adds.

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Ruling Forces Oprah Winfrey Back Into Court

An appeals court has dealt a setback to Oprah Winfrey. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq., reports that Winfrey will have to defend herself in a trademark lawsuit against her after the ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“In 2010, the media queen was sued by a motivational entrepreneur named Simone Kelly-Brown who has held a trademark registration on ‘Own Your Power’ since 1996,” THR reports. “The woman claimed that The Oprah Magazine featured on its cover a photograph of Winfrey and the headline, ‘Own Your Power,’ held an ‘Own Your Power’ corporate-sponsored event in conjunction with a Power Issue, and promoted it on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’”

The trademark suit was dismissed last year in federal court, with a judge ruling that “there could be no confusion about the source and that Winfrey had a fair use right to descriptively label her magazine,” the story reports. But the appeals court today vacated that ruling, reopening the case and setting up further court proceedings.

“In the opinion, Circuit Judge Chester Straub notes that to prevail on a fair use defense, a defendant like Winfrey has to show that the use was made other than as a mark, in a descriptive sense and in good faith,” THR reports. “On the first prong, the judge says that the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Oprah was attempting to make use of a trademark, particularly in the wide-ranging, varied and repeated way it used the catchphrase.”

The appellate judge wrote: "We thus conclude that Kelly-Brown has plausibly alleged that Oprah was attempting to build a new segment of her media empire around the theme or catchphrase 'Own Your Power,' beginning with the October Issue and expanding outward from there. Kelly-Brown’s complaint implies that Oprah is a brand and is therefore the ultimate source of all things related to that brand, but that defendants sought to use the phrase 'Own Your Power' to denote a particular line of services and content within the larger Oprah brand."

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'GMA' Celebrates Historic Achievement

ABC’s “Good Morning America” is celebrating an achievement it hasn’t pulled off in 19 years. The morning show won the May sweeps in the key news demo of adults 25-54 -- the first time it has pulled off that feat since May 1994.

“GMA” also won the sweeps period in total viewers, for the first time since May 1995.

The network announced that the show averaged 5.704 million total viewers and 2.102 million adults 25-54, based on figures from Nielsen Media Research. It’s main competitor, NBC’s “Today” show, averaged 4.783 million total viewers and 1.992 million adults 25-54.

Numbers for “GMA” were up from the May 2012 sweeps period, rising 10% in total viewers and 2% in adults 25-54.

“GMA’s” margin over “Today” in total viewers was 921,000, the show’s largest margin in more than 21 years. The margin in the news demo, 110,000, was its largest in 19 years.

“GMA” has now been on top in total viewers for nine consecutive months, the network reported.

The network noted: “In Adults 18-49, ‘GMA’ tied ‘Today’ for No. 1 in ratings (1.2/10), while trailing by only 4,000 adult 18-49 viewers (1.507 million vs. 1.512 million).”

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Thursday Ratings: Did One-Week Delay Sink Tornado-Themed 'Mike & Molly' Finale?

The third-season finale of CBS’s “Mike & Molly” made it to air a week late Thursday night after being delayed because of its tornado-themed content, and the result was the show’s lowest rating ever, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show delivered a 1.8 average rating in viewers 18-49, losing 25% from its most recent episode. The originally scheduled airdate was changed in consideration of victims of last week’s Oklahoma tornado. As it turned out, the finale aired on a night when the rest of the CBS lineup consisted of repeat programming.

But it was a slow night for all the broadcast networks. Fox won the night with a 1.5 average in 18-49, while its “Hell’s Kitchen” tied with a repeat of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” for top show of the night with 2.0 averages. Fox’s new show “Does Someone Have to Go?” managed only a 1.0, losing 23% from last week.

ABC squeezed a 1.1 out of “Wipeout” in the 18-49 demo, off 8% from last week, while “Motive” also lost 8%, settling for a 1.2. “Rookie Blue” matched last week’s 1.2 average.

On NBC, only the recently renewed “Hannibal” made it into single digits, coming through with a 1.0 in 18-49 to keep pace with last week’s number. “Save Me” held steady with the premiere with a 0.7 average for the first of two back-to-back episodes, slipping to a 0.6 for the second episode.

For prime time overall, Fox led the way in the 18-49 demo with a 1.5 average rating, followed by Univision (1.4), CBS (1.4), ABC (1.2) and NBC (0.8). CBS led total viewers with 6.9 million, ahead of ABC (5.3 million), Fox (3.8 million), Univision (3.4 million) and NBC (2.3 million).

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Two Judges Confirm They Are Leaving 'American Idol'

"American Idol" continued its housecleaning, with two more judges announcing they're leaving the program. They join judge Randy Jackson, who has previously confirmed that he's leaving the show.

Now the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker reports that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are headed out.

"Thank you American Idol for a life changing experience!” Minaj wrote on Twitter. “Wouldn’t trade it for the world! Time to focus on the Music!!! Mmmuuuaahhh!!!"

Carey also confirmed on Twitter that she's leaving the show. Reports had surfaced earlier this year that all four judges would be leaving after a season of declining ratings, as previously reported.

Fox said in a statement about Minaj’s departure, "Given her extremely busy career, we understand and respect her decision and wish her the best.”

There hasn't yet been word on the fate of Keith Urban, although the Times notes that "the writing is clearly on the wall."

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NBC Finally Decides Fate of Series That Was on the Bubble

"More than two weeks after its upfront presentation, NBC has decided the fate of its last remaining bubble series," reports Deadline.com.

The series, "Hannibal," will return for a 13-episode second season either midseason or later. The show tracks the serial killer Hannibal Lecter and is based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon."

"'Hannibal' got off to a solid ratings start and was in serious contention for an early renewal," the story reports. "The numbers eventually tapered off, and NBC put the renewal decision on hold. 'Hannibal' was well reviewed, and there [were] overtures from at least one cable network in case NBC passed on a second season. Additionally, Amazon, which carries repeats of the show, had expressed serious interest in taking it on. 'Hannibal,' from Gaumont International Television, is produced under a different model at a license fee that is a fraction of what dramas with similar production values cost."

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CNN Shutters Its Operation in a Country Whose Dramatic News Events Once Almost Singlehandedly Defined What CNN Was

CNN has quietly shut down one of its international bureaus, bringing an end to an era after having a bureau in the country since 1990. TVNewser reports that the cable channel closed its Baghdad bureau. CNN was the last U.S. television news organization to still have a real bureau in the city, according to the report.

In a statement, CNN said: “While CNN is departing its current brick-and-mortar location in Baghdad, the network continues to maintain an editorial presence in Iraq through a dedicated team of CNN stringers and correspondent assignments as news warrants.”

CNN's reporting from Baghdad at one time defined the great lengths the cable news network would go to in its efforts to bring international stories into our living rooms. "During the Gulf War Peter Arnett became a household name worldwide when he became the only reporter with live coverage directly from Baghdad," according to the well-documented Wikipedia entry about Arnett. "His dramatic reports were often given with air raid sirens blaring and the sound of U.S. bombs exploding on Baghdad in the background. Together with two other CNN journalists, Bernard Shaw and John Holliman, Arnett brought continuous coverage from Baghdad for the 16 initial intense hours of the war (17 January 1991). Although 40 foreign journalists were present at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad at the time, only CNN possessed the means to communicate to the outside world. Soon the other journalists left Iraq, including the two CNN colleagues, which left Arnett as the sole reporter remaining there."

The bureau closure comes a month after the U.S. marked the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Other channels have closed their bureaus in the past few years.

"The scaling back in Baghdad is emblematic of a broader scaling back among TV news organizations when it comes to foreign bureaus,” TVNewser reports. “Expensive offices filled with staffers that only produce a handful of stories a year are going away in favor of correspondents or anchors who fly to wherever the story is on short notice. There are also mini-bureaus consisting of one reporter who shoots and cuts their own pieces.”

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Oscar Winner Leaves Detox Center After Treatment for Heroin Abuse

An Academy Award-winning actor has checked out from a detox facility after receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem that reportedly included heroin. TMZ reports that Philip Seymour Hoffman is back at work after 10 days in treatment.

“Hoffman -- who struggled with substance abuse in the past but kicked the habit for 23 years -- fell off the wagon more than a year ago,” the story reports. “He tells TMZ it started slowly with prescription pills, and recently escalated to snorting heroin.”

Hoffman, who won an Oscar for his lead role in the 2005 movie “Capote,” reportedly checked out of the detox center last Friday. His rehab had not been reported.

The actor “tells us the heroin use only lasted a week or so and he quickly realized he needed help, so he checked himself into a detox facility on the East Coast,” TMZ reports. The story adds that a cleaned-up Hoffman is now working on a movie that will be set in Europe.

An MTV report adds: “In an interview with ‘60 Minutes’ in 2006, the actor opened up about his prior substance abuse issues, which began shortly after he graduated from New York University. ‘It was anything I could get my hands on. ... I liked it all,’ he said at the time. ‘I went [to rehab], I got sober when I was 22 years old. You get panicked ... and I got panicked for my life. It really was just that.’"

The MTV report notes that Hoffman has a number of upcoming projects, “including November's ‘Catching Fire,’ Anton Corbijn's ‘The Most Wanted Man’ and ‘God's Pocket,’ which is being helmed by ‘Mad Men’ star John Slattery.”

philip-seymour-hoffman.jpg

Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Original 'Revenge' Actress Exits the Show

An actress who has appeared on the ABC drama “Revenge” since the pilot is leaving the series. Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva reports that British actress Ashley Madekwe is departing.

"Her option was not picked up due to what I hear were storyline reasons," Andreeva writes.

Madekwe’s character, Ashley Davenport, started off as a friend to Emily Thorne, played by Emily VanCamp, and then fell for the scheming Tyler and eventually slept with both Conrad Grayson and his son.

"By the end of Season 1, Ashley’s storyline played out, but the producers found a way to bring her back in a new role as Conrad’s assistant and then PR for his political campaign. With Conrad winning the election in the second-season finale, that story arc also came to a natural conclusion," the piece notes.

Madekwe is one of two regulars leaving the show as it prepares for its third season. The other is Connor Paolo, whose character Declan Porter died in the season finale.

ashley-madekwe.jpgAshley Madekwe

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