Diller not crowing about USA earnings gain
Although USA Networks’ first-quarter earnings rose 16 percent to $269 million on a 17 percent rise in revenues to $1.2 billion-driven by its broad-ranging Internet commerce and cable programming businesses-Chairman and CEO Barry Diller said he does not see catalysts for economic improvement. Walt Disney Co. executives also voiced pessimism late Tuesday in a fiscal second-quarter earnings call with investors. Disney reported a 33 percent rise in operating profits to
$391 million on a 4 percent decline in revenues to $6 billion, although it posted an overall loss of $567 million because of a $996 million one-time charge related to the restructuring of Go.com.
Earlier, Viacom and AOL Time Warner officials said they expect improved advertising and economic climates this year. All four media giants posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings, reflecting deep cost cuts and asset adjustments in a soft market.
MSG settles Yankees-rights suit: Madison Square Garden Network has settled its lawsuit filed over telecast rights to New York Yankees games. The deal gives MSG the right to carry free of charge 85 regular-season games in the 2002 season unless in the next 60 days the Yankees choose to either buy back those rights by paying MSG $30 million or sell MSG 65 additional regular-season games for a total of $37.5 million.
‘Heart’ changes places: Facing a plethora of relationship-series competition this fall, Telepictures Distribution’s strip “Change of Heart” will move from Los Angeles to New York for its fourth season.
‘Chains’ strains as ratings fall: UPN may need “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sooner than it thinks. The second week of UPN’s romance/reality series “Chains of Love” dipped 20 percent in share week to week, posting a 2.8 rating/4 share in 48 of Nielsen Media Research’s 50 metered markets.
During the same 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) Tuesday frame, The WB Network’s “Buffy” (4.8/8) held a 71 percent ratings advantage over “Chains.” “Buffy”-which UPN acquired Friday for more than $2.3 million per episode from series producer 20th Century Fox Television for a two-year run beginning next season-improved 14 percent in share compared with the previous week’s performance.
ABC back on top Tuesday: Minus last week’s special run of “Weakest Link,” NBC returned to more typical Tuesday rating levels, finishing third for the evening in adults 18 to 49, while ABC returned to its top-ranked position. Presumably looking to save episodes of “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” and “3rd Rock From the Sun” for the coming May sweeps (April 26-May 23), NBC inserted “In Style: Celebrity Moms” to poor returns. The 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) special drew a fourth-ranked 2.8 rating/9 share among adults 18 to 49, a 13 percent decrease from what NBC’s comedies averaged (3.2/9) last week in the time period, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.
From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., NBC aired repeats of “Frasier” (4.7/13, down 15 percent week to week) and “Three Sisters” (3.6/10, down 35 percent), the latter of which could not compare to the drawing power of “Weakest Link’s” 9:30 p.m.-to-10:30 p.m. airing last week.
Fox, Forbes team up on show: Fox News Channel and Forbes magazine have agreed to co-produce a weekly business program titled “Forbes on Fox,” beginning at 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (ET) Saturday, May 12.
NBC signs promotional deals with firms: NBC has signed more than $20 million in integrated cross-platform sales and promotional deals with advertisers, including Paramount Studios, Target retail outlets and Nestle Carnation, for this summer and next season.