Apr 20, 2015
1:41 pm

A Top ESPN Exec Is Leaving (TVWeek)

One of the top executives at ESPN is headed out the door. The network announced that Sean R.H. Bratches, executive vice president, sales and marketing, is leaving at the end of this year. Bratches will serve in an advisory capacity to the cable channel until then.

Bratches is wrapping up a 27-year career with ESPN.

Said ESPN President John Skipper: “Sean is an extremely well-respected and admired industry visionary whose contributions to ESPN’s success cannot be overstated. We have all greatly appreciated his energy, integrity and service to ESPN, our employees and our industry.

Please click here to read the full announcement.


Apr 20, 2015
1:37 pm

Pulitzer Prize for Criticism Won by TV Critic — We Have the List of Winners (TVWeek)

Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for 2015 have been announced, and the winner for criticism is a TV critic, Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times.

The Pulitzer organization announced on its website that the prize was awarded to McNamara “for savvy criticism that uses shrewdness, humor and an insider’s view to show how both subtle and seismic shifts in the cultural landscape affect television.”

The prestigious public service prize for journalism was awarded to the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., for the series “Till Death Do Us Part,” spotlighting the high number of deaths in the state attributable to domestic abuse.

The New York Times won three Pulitzers, including the prize for investigative reporting, which it shares with The Wall Street Journal.

Please click here to see the list of winners.

pulitzer prize-logo

Apr 20, 2015
1:31 pm

Two Wes Craven TV Projects in the Works (THR)

Horror icon Wes Craven is aiming to go big on the small screen. Craven, known for his bloody feature franchises such as “Scream” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” has a first-look overall deal with Universal Cable Productions and is getting two projects ready for Syfy, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

Craven is adapting “The People Under the Stairs” and “We Are All Completely Fine” for the cable channel.

In a release today announcing the projects, Universal Cable Productions Executive VP of Development Dawn Olmstead said:

“Wes is an icon whose films have captivated audiences for decades. We’re thrilled to be working with him, and to be able to bring his enormous talent and unique blend of horror, humor and intelligence to television.”

THR adds: “Under the deal, Craven, Syfy and UCP will develop ‘We Are All Completely Fine,’ based on the book by Daryl Gregory. Fine tells the story of an enigmatic psychologist, Dr. Jan Sayer, who gathers survivors of five horror movie scenarios in a support group — and unwittingly unlocks the evils of her patients’ pasts.”

Craven is on board to pen the script and direct the pilot.

“The People Under the Stairs” is an adaptation of Craven’s 1991 film of the same name.

“When a young woman goes missing at the grand Robeson Family Manor, the search for her unveils the centuries-old horrors that lie deep within the estate,” THR notes. “It is described as a contemporary ‘Downton Abbey’ meets ‘Amityville Horror.’”

people under the stairs-movie poster

Apr 20, 2015
1:19 pm

Buyers Forecast a Tough Upfront for TV (B&C)

Media buyers are saying the upcoming upfront ad sales period is shaping up to be another difficult one for TV networks.

B&C talked with a number of top buyers, and concluded: “After years of being forced to pay higher prices for smaller audiences, buyers say the TV market has softened as viewers seek out more programming from more outlets and watch when they want to on a growing variety of devices — creating new places for ads.”

Clients, the buyers say, are able to be more flexible now, and are often willing to wait until the last minute to make deals.

“The buyers are thrilled about the cornucopia of programming from which they get to pick. While hit shows will always be in demand, it seems like there will be fewer shortages of must-see TV, giving them options that reduce any individual programmer’s leverage,” B&C reports.

Please click on the link near the top of this story to see B&C’s roundup of quotes from buyers responsible for billions of dollars in ad spending.

Apr 20, 2015
10:07 am

With L.A. and Boston Not Making the NHL Playoffs, Opening Games’ Ratings Surprisingly Strong (TVWeek)

By Mike Reynolds — Special to TVWeek

Over the first two nights NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2015 NHL playoffs is even with last year’s audience, tied for the programmer’s second-best start with postseason puck action.

Seven telecasts on NBCSN, CNBC and USA averaged 448,000 per game, according to Nielsen data, matching the delivery from the first two nights of the 2014 postseason. An eighth telecast was carried by non-Nielsen-rated NHL Network.

The numbers for 2014 and 2015 both trail 2012, but represented a 43% gain over the 313,000 average audience at the corresponding stage of the 2013 playoffs.

The performance came despite the participation of five Canadian clubs: Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver, versus just Les Habitants (the Canadiens) a year ago. None of the north of the border squads (only Edmonton failed to make the tourney) have hometown audiences that count in Nielsen columns. The 2015 postseason lineup is also hamstrung by the absence of the Boston Bruins and the NHL stronghold that is The Hub, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, neither of which qualified.

NBCSN’s top NHL Round 1 game showcased the New York Rangers’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, netting a 0.38 U.S. household rating and 597,000 viewers. Viewing peaked in the final quarter-hour (9:30 p.m. to -9:45 p.m.) with 922,000 vewers.

During the opening round, many NHL games also run on regional sports networks, with the telecasts blacked out from the national providers in the home DMAs. Indeed, the Rangers-Penguins affair averaged 476,500 watchers as MSG and sister service MSG+ simulcast the contest in the New York DMA.

Returning to the NHL ice for the first time since 1985, USA on April 16 drew a 0.37 for the New York Islanders’ 4-1 thrashing of the Washington Capitals, translating into 555,000 viewers. NBCUniversal is looking to broaden the audience and license fee for the general-entertainment channel by returning more sports to its lineup.

CNBC’s top telecast: Thursday night’s Detroit-Tampa Bay thriller — the Red Wings prevailed 3-2 — with a 0.22 and 348,000 viewers.

The author of this piece, Mike Reynolds, is a veteran media and sports reporter and was most recently the news editor at Multichannel News. You can reach him at or 914-320-6532. We appreciate Mike making this piece available to TVWeek.

Apr 20, 2015
10:01 am

Cable Drama Canceled (TVWeek)

After just one season on the air, a cable drama series has been canceled. The news that MTV has pulled the plug on “Eye Candy” came via Twitter, with the show’s star Victoria Justice sending out word over the weekend.

“The cast and I received news that ‘Eye Candy’ will not be returning for season 2,” Justice tweeted. “Even though a lot of you are going to feel sad/angry, please know that playing Lindy Sampson is something that I loved and will hold dear to my heart.

Along with Justice, Casey Deidrick starred on the show, which premiered in January and ran for 10 episodes. The show focused on the exploits of Justice’s character, a 21-year-old tech genius leading a band of hackers trying to solve a string of murders.

“Eye Candy,” created by Christian Taylor, aired its final episode April 16.

eye candy-title

Apr 20, 2015
9:44 am

Fox News Boss Roger Ailes Reveals What He Would Do With Brian Williams (THR)

Roger Ailes, the head man at Fox News, is letting his opinions be known on a range of topics, including what NBC should do about Brian Williams — and what he would do if it were up to him.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ailes says NBC should reinstate the “Nightly News” anchor in the wake of the embarrassment caused by Williams’ faulty recollection of his Iraq war experiences.

“I think Brian’s a talent who made a dumb-ass error,” Ailes told THR. “When you spend your life around CEOs and generals and presidents, you can start to feel less than, particularly if you don’t have a college education, you never joined the service. And so you get tempted to do something stupid. So I think he can admit that and say, ‘I screwed up.’ And most people are willing to forgive.”

Ailes reportedly told his team to take it easy on Williams when he was suspended by NBC News. Fox News Channel staple Bill O’Reilly is quoted in the piece saying of Ailes, “He said to us, ‘OK, we covered it, I don’t think we need to kill the guy.’”

Commenting on the return of Andy Lack to lead NBC News, Ailes says in the interview: “Andy is a smart guy. He’s going to work on several problems at the same time. That in and of itself will make a difference. He’s got to make the right call on Brian Williams. I’d put Brian back.”

Ailes also offers his opinions on Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz in the wide-ranging interview. Please click on the link near the top of this story to read THR’s full report.

fox news channel-logo

Apr 20, 2015
9:31 am

ESPN Challenges Verizon’s New TV Packages (WSJ)

ESPN is not happy with Verizon after the company unveiled new FiOS plans that reconfigure the traditional cable TV package.

The new Verizon FiOS plans became available to consumers Sunday. The Wall Street Journal reports that the new offering “will allow people to buy a slim package of channels including major broadcasters and cable networks like CNN and AMC, along with at least two channel packs of their choice in genres such as kids, news and sports. ESPN and ESPN 2 notably aren’t in the core package, but are offered in a separate sports tier.”

But ESPN is saying it didn’t sign off on the deal.

“In a statement late Friday, Walt Disney Co. ’s ESPN said such packages ‘would not be authorized by our existing agreements.’ ESPN said that Verizon doesn’t have the right to place ESPN or ESPN 2 into separate sports tiers that aren’t part of the core package,” WSJ reports.

The move by Verizon, designed to give consumers more choice, comes as cord cutting is already cutting into the reach of some cable channels.

The report adds: “A person familiar with ESPN’s thinking said Verizon may have released details about the new offering before contractual details were fully hammered out between the parties.”


Apr 20, 2015
9:27 am

NY Times Report says Netflix CEO is ‘betting its future on exclusive programming” (NY Times)

The company that made binge viewing fashionable is raising the stakes as it makes inroads into the traditional TV model. The New York Times reports that Netflix, which rolled out the superhero series “Daredevil” earlier this month, is “betting its future on exclusive programming.”

“’Daredevil’ is the 17th Netflix original series to make its debut this year, representing a bold bet by the company to significantly increase its investment in exclusive programming,” the story reports. “Just three years after Netflix started streaming its first original series, ‘Lilyhammer,’ the company is planning 320 hours of original programming in 2015. That is about three times what it offered last year.”

One big question for the future: with more and more original programming, will people be inclined to watch less ad-supported TV? After all, besides movies, Netflix has been mostly built on reruns of ad-supported TV shows that it shows stripped of commercials.

Says the Times: “The fear is that advertisers will start cutting their spending on television, which captures about $70 billion in the United States each year, and shift to digital outlets. That has led to questions about whether television networks would reduce the amount of programming they sell to Netflix.

“Mr. Hastings said that he does not view Netflix as a threat to ad spending because the service is commercial free. If the television networks stop selling shows [to Netflix], he said, the company has a game plan. ‘We just do more originals,’ he said.”

The unanswered question is whether Netflix would be as viable an alternative without the popular network reruns.

Please click on the link near the top of this story to read the full report in The New York Times.


Apr 20, 2015
9:19 am

HBO Orders Pot Dealer Comedy (Deadline)

HBO is getting into pot dealing. The pay-cable channel placed a series order for the comedy “High Maintenance,” reports. The series, which has been airing on the Web on Vimeo, moves to HBO with a six-episode order.

The report adds that the 19 existing episodes will also make their way, later this year, to HBO, HBO Now and HBO GO.

“Following a Brooklyn pot dealer who delivers to clients with neuroses as diverse as the city, ‘High Maintenance’ is created and written by the married duo of Katja Blichfeld (’30 Rock’) and Ben Sinclair (‘Sisters’), and executive produced by Katja Blichfeld, Russell Gregory and Ben Sinclair,” Deadline reports.


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