Feb 10, 2016
11:37 am

Programming Shakeup at NBCU (Variety, Deadline)

A high-level management shakeup is in motion at NBCUniversal. Variety reports that Bonnie Hammer, who oversees NBCU Cable Entertainment, is “blowing up the cable TV management playbook with a sweeping realignment of executive responsibilities across the largest channels that she oversees.”

Bill McGoldrick, formerly executive VP of original content for Syfy, moves to executive VP of scripted content for the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment group of channels. McGoldrick will work with the network presidents as he oversees original scripted content for USA, Syfy, Bravo and any other channels that run scripted programs. He will report to Jeff Wachtel, who heads Universal Cable Productions and serves as chief content officer for NBCU Cable.

“Dave Howe, who has been president of Syfy and Chiller, is shifting to president of strategy and commercial growth, another job that spans the 10 channels in Hammer’s group,” Variety reports. “He will oversee all business affairs and business development.”

Deadline.com reports that Hammer has created a new unit, the Entertainment Networks group, encompassing USA, Syfy, Chiller and Cloo, following a similar move in which Bravo, E!, Esquire Network and Oxygen were combined into the Lifestyle Networks group, headed by Frances Berwick.

USA Network President Chris McCumber heads the new unit as President, Entertainment Networks, with marketing and publicity duties to be consolidated among the executive ranks at the four channels.


Feb 10, 2016
10:57 am

Burger King’s Menu Surprise — It’s Our Non-TV Story of the Day (NY Times)

Burger King today announced a surprise addition to its menu. The hamburger chain, which ranks second to McDonald’s, will now offer hot dogs, The New York Times reports.

The chain, which already flame-broils its burgers, will use its existing equipment to grill the dogs.

Alex Macedo, president of Burger Kings’s North America division, said in the announcement: “Instead of boiling a hot dog in water, we can grill it just like you would at a backyard barbecue. It made all the sense in the world for us.”

Two versions of the new item will be available — a simple hot dog with ketchup, mustard and onion, and a chili-cheese dog. Teams in Burger King outlets have been learning how to assemble the dogs.

“Team members have been watching training videos in which Snoop Dogg gives the lesson,” The Times notes. “A Spanish-language version features Charo.”

burger king logo

Feb 10, 2016
10:44 am

Viacom Goes All In on Social Media Site (LA Times)

Viacom is partnering with a popular social media site, announcing an advertising and content deal Tuesday with Snapchat.

Viacom “will lend its advertising relationships and large portfolio of TV shows to the hot start-up Snapchat Inc. as the two try to shake off questions about their financial futures,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Privately held Snapchat is valued at $16 billion — more than Viacom’s $13 billion market capitalization — but the Venice company has yet to figure out how to turn a profit.”

The deal with Snapchat was seen as one of the few bright spots in Viacom’s first-quarter earnings report Tuesday, with the company facing “increasing challenges as viewers younger than 35 shun cable TV and instead head to online video options such as Netflix, YouTube and Facebook,” the story reports.

“Viacom and Snapchat became instant friends last summer when they paired up on MTV’s Video Music Awards: 5 million people tuned into MTV to watch the show on cable television; 12 million watched highlights on the social media app,” the Times notes. “The numbers sent a clear message: If TV shows want to stay relevant, they have to go to where the viewers are — their phones.”


Feb 10, 2016
10:29 am

Drama Sequel Gets Green Light (TVWeek)

A sequel to a 2013 miniseries that has been rumored for some time finally has the green light. Starz announced plans Tuesday for the limited series “The White Princess,” a sequel to its critically acclaimed “The White Queen.”

The project comes from Company Pictures.

“Adapted from Philippa Gregory’s best-selling novel of the same name and part of ‘The Cousins’ War’ book series, ‘The White Princess’ tells the story of England’s War of the Roses from the perspective of the women. The 8-episode limited series drama is currently in pre-production,” Starz announced.

Writer Emma Frost (“The White Queen,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Shameless”) returns as showrunner and executive producer, with Gregory on board as executive producer for “The White Princess.”

Lachlan MacKinnon (“Burton and Taylor”) is a producer for the series. Playground’s Colin Callender (“The White Queen,” “The Dresser,” “The Missing,” “Wolf Hall”) will serve as executive producer with Company Pictures’ Michele Buck (“Parades End,” “Sex Traffic,” “Hornblower”).

“‘The White Princess’ concludes the story of England’s War of the Roses and charts the rise of the House of Tudor through the tortuous marriage between Princess Elizabeth of York and King Henry Tudor,” Starz says in its announcement. “The year is 1485 and Princess Elizabeth, daughter of ‘The White Queen,’ has been pledged in marriage to the newly anointed King Henry Tudor in hopes that it will bring peace to a war-torn country. England is united, but their marriage is soon divided, as rumors circulate that Elizabeth’s long-lost brother Prince Richard is alive and planning to take the throne.”

Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director for Starz, says in the announcement: “‘The White Queen’ was a phenomenal performer at Starz, averaging 4.8 million multiplatform viewers per episode in the United States. There is a dearth of programming that tells women’s stories and ‘The White Queen’ was embraced with great success by audiences worldwide. The passionate fanbase for Philippa Gregory’s historical novels [is] undeniable and we are confident ‘The White Princess’ will become the next must-see fandom drama series.”

the white princess-philippa gregory-book cover

Feb 10, 2016
9:31 am

Big Hollywood Studio’s Record Earnings Are a Mixed Bag (B&C)

A major Hollywood studio with extensive holdings in both TV and film reported record earnings Tuesday — and then saw its stock value drop. B&C reports that the new “Star Wars” movie helped push The Walt Disney Co. to record earnings for the first quarter, while the company’s ESPN saw its profits fall. Issues at ESPN, where higher football costs offset ad gains, are part of big-picture concerns about the cable business.

“Fiscal first-quarter net income rocketed 32% to $2.88 billion, or $1.73 per share in the quarter, from $2.18 billion or $1.27 a share, a year ago,” B&C reports. “Revenue rose 14% to $15.2 billion.” But while the results beat most forecasts, Disney stock dipped 3% in after-hours trading.

At the company’s media networks unit, which includes ESPN, operating income was off 6% to $1.4 billion. Operating income for cable networks was down 5% to $1.2 billion even as revenue climbed 9% to $4.5 billion.

disney logo

Feb 10, 2016
9:19 am

Counterprogramming Event Was Cable’s No. 1 Show — and No. 2 on All of TV in Its Time Slot — in Key Demos on Super Bowl Sunday (TVWeek)

A cable telecast that aired as counterprogramming to the Super Bowl came through with big viewership numbers on Super Bowl Sunday. Animal Planet announced that “Puppy Bowl XII” was cable’s top show of the day in adults 25-54 and women 18-49, based on Nielsen Live+Same Day data.

Animal Planet said it was No. 2 on all of TV in key demos from 3-5 p.m. during the Puppy Bowl, trailing only the CBS coverage of the Super Bowl.

“The Denver Broncos may have won the Lombardi on Sunday, but the much-anticipated Animal Planet’s ‘Puppy Bowl XII,’ featuring 84 adoptable puppies, dominated as the #1 non-sports telecast on all of cable among Adults 25-54 and Women 18-49 on Sun., Feb. 7, from 3-5 p.m. in L+SD,” the announcement reports. “The 12-hour ‘Puppy Bowl’ marathon that aired from 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, to 3 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, earned 9.3 [million] Total Unique Viewers P2+.”

The program’s No. 2 ranking on all of TV in its time slot in Adults 25-54, Women 25-54 and Women 18-49 marked the fourth consecutive year that it has accomplished that feat, according to the announcement.

animal planet puppy bowl xii-2016

Feb 10, 2016
8:51 am

Why Fox Lowered Its Bid for Basketball Rights — and What It Says About the Cable Business (Forbes)

In one of the signs of what Forbes describes as a downturn for the cable business, Fox Sports is reportedly lowering its offer for local TV rights to the NBA’s L.A. Clippers. The company’s Prime Ticket has a current deal worth upwards of $20 million a year, the publication reports, with the deal ending after this season. Previous expectations were that the value of the deal might triple when it came time for renewal.

“Last September, Fox reportedly offered a $60 million a year deal for the Clippers local TV rights,” Forbes reports. “[Clippers owner Steve] Ballmer rejected that offer and asked for $100 million and was even entertaining the idea of streaming Clippers games in a Netflix-like system.”

But Ballmer, who paid $2 billion for the Clippers about a year and a half ago, “may have misread the cable television landscape,” the report notes, with the cable business in general sputtering in recent months and the L.A. market seeing Time Warner Cable — a potential bidder for Clippers rights — struggle with its L.A. Dodgers deal. Meanwhile, Clippers ratings are down.

“As a result, Fox rescinded its $60 million offer and has come back with a lower bid — somewhere in the low-to-mid $50 million range — according to one league executive,” Forbes reports.

fox sports-prime ticket

Feb 10, 2016
8:21 am

Amazon Reinvents a Classic TV Series From 50 Years Ago (TVWeek)

Amazon placed a big order for four seasons of a new series reinventing a show from 50 years ago. The streaming service announced today that it is going ahead with “Thunderbirds Are Go.”

The children’s series is a reboot of “Thunderbirds,” a sci-fi show that starred marionettes and featured an electronic puppetry system dubbed “Supermarionation.” Two seasons of the show, which originated in the U.K., were produced, airing from 1965-1966.

Amazon ordered four 13-episode seasons of “Thunderbirds Are Go,” which will run on Prime Video in the U.S.

“‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ is a reinvention of the 50-year-old classic ‘Thunderbirds,’ and features the world’s most famous family of heroes, International Rescue, and Rosamund Pike (‘The World’s End,’ ‘Gone Girl’) as Lady Penelope,” Amazon announced. “The first season is scheduled to debut on Prime Video in the U.S. later this year and will subsequently air on Prime Video in the U.K., Germany and Austria, following a deal with ITV Studios Global Entertainment.”

Besides the original “Thunderbirds,” the Supermarionation process was featured in shows including “Supercar” (1961) and “Fireball XL5” (1962).

Here’s a look back at the original “Thunderbirds”:

Feb 10, 2016
7:27 am

‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit Clears Hurdle (Variety)

A judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit over “The Walking Dead,” handing a setback to AMC. Variety reports that the amended suit filed by Frank Darabont, who developed the hit series, survived a challenge in New York Supreme Court.

Darabont and his reps, CAA, sued AMC two years ago. “They claim that an AMC affiliate produces the show and then licenses it to another affiliate for an artificially low fee, reducing the revenue that goes into a pool for profit participants,” Variety reports.

The amended lawsuit argues that Darabont is owed an additional 5% in contingent compensation. AMC failed in its effort to make the case that Darabont was not entitled to the compensation because he was fired before season two wrapped.

walking dead-season 5-title-2014b

Feb 10, 2016
6:19 am

Here’s the Eagerly Awaited ‘Fuller House’ Trailer (Netflix, YouTube)

A trailer has been released for the “Full House” reboot “Fuller House,” which reinvents the hit 1980s series for the age of Netflix. The streaming service posted the two-minute clip Tuesday.

Check it out:

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