Jim Henson Co. up for sale
EM.TV and Merchandising, a German-based media concern, will probably sell Muppets creator The Jim Henson Co., which it bought for more than $680 million last year at the peak of its expansion drive. According to reports by Reuters and Bloomberg, industry sources said the Munich, Germany-based media-rights company was keen to sell because of weaker-than-expected earnings at the U.S. firm.
EM.TV (no relation to Electronic Media) had recently sold the rights to some Muppets characters-such as Elmo, Ernie and Big Bird-that have been part of PBS’s signature “Sesame Street” series to the nonprofit Sesame Workshop. EM.TV, also facing some financial troubles in Germany, said earlier that it was considering selling but had not reached a decision.
Analysts have suggested that EM.TV would get less than it paid for Jim Henson. Potential suitors have been rumored to be The Walt Disney Co. and Nickelodeon, the children’s TV unit of Viacom.
Twentieth taps Burns: Twentieth Television has appointed former King World Productions syndication veteran Joanne Burns to senior vice president of marketing for research and strategic planning. She will oversee the marketing and research of first-run and off-network programming produced for the syndication and cable markets.
‘Empire’s’ ratings crumble: In what could further signal the swan song for miniseries on NBC, the second part of “The Lost Empire” turned in 2.2 rating/6 share average in adults 18 to 49 Monday night, according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. The Robert Halmi-produced epic also finished last in households (3.8/6) and totaled slightly more than 6 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) last night.
Simultaneously airing at 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., ABC’s latest “Columbo” telefilm fared marginally better in adults 18 to 49 (3.1/9), households (9.0/14) and total viewers (14.4 million). Backed by its two-hour franchise Monday comedies and “Family Law” drama (2.9/8 in adults 18 to 49), CBS won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.9/13), followed by Fox (4.4/11), ABC (3.8/10) and NBC (2.3/6).
Based on the preliminary Nielsen numbers, the two nights of “Lost Empire” could average as low as a 2.4/6 average in adults 18 to 49-among one of the lowest-rated miniseries ever. Depending on how final national ratings come out later this afternoon, “Lost Empire’s” adult 18 to 49 result could match or just beat out CBS’s miniseries “Haven,” which aired in February to a record-low 2.3/6 average over two nights.
Additionally, if “Lost Empire’s ” 4.2/6 household average holds up nationally, it will likely beat the previous record-low 5.1/8 scored by ABC’s “Apocalypse Watch” in 1997. Interestingly, though, ABC still scored well during the February sweeps with its miniseries bio on Judy Garland.
At an earlier February sweeps news conference, NBC Entertainment heads Scott Sassa and Jeff Zucker indicated that NBC is evaluating whether or not to include a slate of original miniseries-as well as possibly eliminating NBC’s Sunday night movie franchise-in light of all the networks suffering dramatic rating decreases with original telefilms.
MTV beefs up West Coast staff: MTV Networks is expanding its West Coast sales force, adding Peter Mann as vice president of ad sales for Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite and TV Land. In addition, MTV Networks promoted Gina Sheldon to director for ad sales, MTV/VH1, from sales manager, and promoted Bud Tody to director of ad sales for CMT and TNN, from director of ad sales for CBS Cable.
XFL still struggles in ratings: Though the overnights seemed to presage a little uptick in viewership for Saturday’s XFL game on NBC, the national Nielsen ratings proved to be flat with the previous week at a 2.4 rating/4 share.
The metered-markets overnights average might have received a boost from the decision made late last week to feed NBC’s secondary game, featuring Chicago’s Enforcers in Memphis, back to Chicago, earning the XFL a 4.1 in the country’s third-largest TV market.
It was the first such instance of cherry-picking the Saturday night signal, and a spokeswoman for NBC Sports said no decision has been made as to whether a similar choice might be made Saturday to pipe the B game (Memphis Maniax at the New York/New Jersey Hitmen) into New York instead of the primary game (Birmingham at Las Vegas).
If the overall ratings for Week 6 on NBC were flat, the key male demos were up eight-tenths of a ratings point in men 18 to 34, five-tenths of a point in men 12 to 34 and four-tenths in men 12 to 24.
For UPN, the national Nielsens continued to sink, averaging a lowest-yet 1.1/2 for Sunday’s game and falling to a 0.6 rating in adults 18 to 49.
‘Silicon Summit’ ratings strong: MSNBC scored big Sunday with “Silicon Summit II” and its gathering of movers and shakers in the turbulent new-tech world.
The two-hour telecast moderated by “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw was seen by an average 728,000 people in an average of 492,000 homes, up 82 percent and 44 percent, respectively, from an average Sunday in the first quarter to date.
In MSNBC’s key demo of adults 25 to 54, the two hours averaged 394,000 viewers, up 47 percent over the time period this quarter.
“Summit II” outperformed last year’s premiere edition by 69 percent in households, 62 percent in total viewers and 110 percent in adults 25 to 54.
‘Irish’ good luck for Disney: Disney Channel’s premiere telecast of its original movie “The Luck of the Irish” posted a 4.0 rating in its cable universe, representing 2.7 million households for its March 9 telecast, according to Nielsen Media Research. The movie-which posted a 13.4 rating among tweens (9 to 14-year-olds)-is Disney’s highest-rated movie in the past three years.
Turner networks expand links with Wink: Turner’s cable networks CNN, CNN Headline News, TBS Superstation and Turner Network Television are expanding their existing relationship with interactive program guide provider Wink Communications. Besides providing enhanced programming, Wink’s interactive technology will be used for advertising and t-commerce enhancements on TBS.
EchoStar lessens loss: DBS provider EchoStar Communications reduced its loss to $42 million from $71 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1999. The company reported a 56 percent increase in revenues to $805 million for the period compared with last year. EchoStar also reported it has signed up 495,000 subscribers for the quarter, a 16 percent jump over the same period in 1999.
Pax to air Special Olympics event: Pax TV will broadcast the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska, beginning with the opening ceremonies Saturday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. (ET). Set to be hosted by Melissa Joan Hart (“Sabrina the Teenage Witch”), Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) and Natalie Raitano (“V.I.P.”), the opening ceremonies will feature such musical acts as The Pointer Sisters, Kristine W. and One-Eyed Jack.
Sports events coverage of this international-level competition will be telecast Sunday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
More than 2,000 athletes and 750 coaches as well as 3,000 family members and 3,500 volunteers from about 80 countries will travel to Anchorage to participate in the event, which is an outgrowth of The Special Olympics and? founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Primary sponsors include BP Exploration, Northwest Airlines, Phillips Petroleum Co., AT&T, FedEx Corp., CarQuest Auto Parts and International Council of Cruise Lines.
‘Mammoth’ ratings not huge: The March 11 premiere of Discovery Channel’s “Land of the Mammoth,” the sequel to last year’s “Raising the Mammoth,” earned a 3.9 rating in its cable universe, representing 3.2 million households and 5.1 million viewers , according to Nielsen Media Research. In comparison, “Raising the Mammoth” last year posted a 7.8 rating and 10.1 million viewers.
Showtime extends Artisan deal: Showtime Networks renewed its movie distribution output deal with Artisan Entertainment for current and future Artisan film titles through 2008, the companies announced today. Showtime will have exclusive premium TV rights to all the
atrically released Artisan films, totaling a maximum of 133 titles over the length of the deal.#
Lifetime Television is developing a movie adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ best-selling novel “We Were the Mulvaneys,” with Andrew Adelson and Tracey Alexander as executive producers … Starz Encore’s Westerns Channel will premiere its first-ever original production: “Hopalong Cassidy: Public Hero No. 1.” The documentary about William Boyd, the actor who made the Hopalong Cassidy movie character famous, will premiere in July.#