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Aug 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

CBS’s ‘Big Brother’ vs. NBC’s ‘Lost’ premiere

To blunt NBC’s upstart 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, Sept. 5 premiere of the new reality series “Lost,” CBS is upping the ante by opposing it with an episode of “Big Brother 2,” which will also springboard the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. debut of the Eye Network’s “The Amazing Race.” CBS’s 10 p.m. slot will close with an episode of “48 Hours.”

Columbia TriStar, iN Demand enter VOD deal: Following on the heels of other major video-on-demand rights initiatives mounted by the major Hollywood studios, Columbia TriStar International Television has entered a cable pay-per-view and VOD deal with PPV cable provider iN Demand. The agreement, which becomes effective Sept. 1, demonstrates what iN Demand says is its commitment to expanding its video-on-demand business and Columbia TriStar’s support for this new medium.

Just last month, Columbia TriStar’s parent company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, entered into a joint arrangement with Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount and MGM to be equal equity partners in a new Internet-based movie-on-demand service called MovieFly, to launch early next year.

Reuters reported Tuesday that the Walt Disney Co. and 20th Century Fox are poised to unveil their own VOD initiatives. The wire service, citing sources close to Disney, said Disney plans to launch an Internet VOD service through the Movies.com Web site within days. It also said Fox and Disney are mulling ways to beam movies via terrestrial television signals, through the Internet on wireless set-top boxes and via broadband cable wires.

Syndie series debut: Syndicated series “Crossing Over With John Edward” (Studios USA) and “Shipmates” (Columbia TriStar) hit the airwaves Monday, joining Buena Vista’s “Iyanla” in the rookie ranks.

According to preliminary overnight metered market averages, “Crossing Over” pulled the best overall score of the three with its primo clearances — 45 of its airings occurred in daytime, 38 in early fringe and six in access. The show debuted with a 1.6 rating/5 share, equaling its lead-in and year-ago time period share average but was off 11 percent in ratings from its lead-in and down 6 percent compared with ratings a year ago. The strip fared best in Hartford, Conn., with a 4.1/11 on WTNH-TV at 4 p.m. In Los Angeles on KCAL-TV, a 4 p.m. double run averaged a 2.1/6, and in New York, the double run averaged a 2.0/5 rating on WCBS-TV.

“Shipmates” was the first of a bevy of relationship shows out of the gate this season, averaging a 1.1 rating and 3 share throughout the dayparts. The series is off 15 percent in ratings from its lead-in and from year-ago performances. The series sparkled in New York at 11:30 p.m. on WWOR-TV, besting the other two rookies with a 3.2/7, a 14 percent improvement over year-ago ratings averages. Its best performance, however, was in San Antonio, where it pulled a 3.3/17 at 1 a.m. on KABB-TV. In Los Angeles, the strip earned a 0.5/3 at 3 p.m. on KCBS.

Carsey-Werner-Mandabach promotes execs: Carsey-Werner-Mandabach has upped three executives. The independent distributor has named both Robert Dubelko and Dirk van de Bunt as co-presidents and chief operating officers and Courtney Conte as co-president and head of production.

Mr. Conte will oversee all aspects of production for the company’s current and future projects, while Mr. Dubelko and Mr. van de Bunt will oversee the day-to-day aspects of business operations of CWM and Carsey-Werner Distribution.

ABC beats NBC in key demo: Little League baseball players and embattled Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., don’t have much common, but ABC found them to be the winning weekly ratings formula to break NBC’s 18-week streak in the adults 18 to 49 demographic. In fact, ABC cleaned up for the week ending Aug. 26, winning the key adult demo, households and total viewers, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data.

ABC won the week in adults 18 to 49 (3.3/10), posting its best weekly score in 14 weeks and breaking NBC’s (2.8/9) fourth-longest winning streak since the advent of Nielsen People Meters in 1987. NBC holds the top five longest winning streaks, setting a 40-week record from Nov. 20, 1995, to Aug. 19, 1996.

During the otherwise repeat-laden summer week, Fox (2.7/9) finished third in adults 18 to 49, followed by CBS (2.6/8), UPN (1.3/4) and The WB (1.1/4). In households, ABC (6.9/12) dominated by a 28 percent margin over CBS (5.4/10), followed by NBC (5.1/9), Fox (4.0/7), UPN (2.2/4) and The WB (1.8/3). ABC’s 9.6 million viewer average also held a 28 percent advantage over CBS’s 7.5 million head count.

Coming off Connie Chung’s interview with Rep. Condit for “PrimeTime Thursday” on Aug. 23, ABC set summer-highs in adults 18 to 49 (7.5 rating/22 share), households (17.2/29) and total viewers (2.37 million). NBC still won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.8/14 vs. 4.6/14), although ABC had a higher-than-anticipated second-place showing.

In addition, ABC got a strong first-place showing for a preseason presentation of “Monday Night Football” at a 4.4/13 in adults 18 to 49 on Aug. 20. Last Sunday’s “Little League World Series” title game, which Japan won in a 2-1 squeaker over Apopka, Fla., posted a second-ranked 2.8/10 in adults 18 to 49 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET), and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (3.6/9) and “The Practice” (3.0/8) helped ABC tie Fox in the demo (3.2/9) for the night. It was the highest rated Little League championship game in 8 years.

CNN to launch Arabic Web site: By year-end, CNN plans to launch an Arabic-language Web site. It will be based in Dubai’s free media zone and be the springboard for a news-gathering bureau, CNN’s fifth in the Middle East, where the news network is available in some 8 million homes. Under an agreement struck by CNN and Dubai Media City, CNNArabic.com will operate according to CNN’s normal editorial policy and guidelines. CNN also operates Web sites in Danish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and German.

Gen. Clark joins CNN: CNN has hired Army Gen. Wesley Clark as military analyst. Gen. Clark’s military career took him from West Point to Vietnam, Bosnia and Kosovo. The oft-honored Gen. Clark, who was supreme allied commander from 1997 to 2000, is author of the book “Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat.”

Fox, CNN in August ratings race: Fox News Channel and CNN are locked in a tight ratings race for the month of August, and wider distribution continues to give CNN an edge in number of households tuning in on average. According to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday, Fox averaged a 0.4 rating for the month, which translates into 274,000 homes.

Those figures are up 60 percent and 106 percent, respectively, over August 2000. CNN averaged a 0.36 rating and 294,000 homes, down 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively, from August 2000. MSNBC averaged a 0.29 and 196,000 homes, up 12 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

In prime time, CNN averaged a 0.74 and 606,000 homes, down 7 percent and 1 percent from a year ago. Fox averaged 0.73 and 498,000 homes, up 33 percent and 72 percent. MSNBC averaged 0.43 and 285,000 homes, down 7 percent and up 8 percent respectively. MSNBC again had the youngest audience, with a median age of 50 for the total day. Fox’s median age was 62, and CNN’s was 65.

Brookstein joins Diva: Video-on-demand service provider Diva has hired Steven Brookstein as senior vice president of sales, marketing and corporate communications. Before joining Diva, Mr. Brookstein was senior vice president and general manager at cable broadband access company Excite@Home. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president of marketing at mulitple system operator Comcast Cable Communications.

Comcast taps Nissenblatt: Comcast Cable has appointed Michael Nissenblatt to the newly created position of senior director, programming. Mr. Nissenblatt will be responsible for broadcast television retransmission, high-definition and digital television, and interactive programming guide contracts. Prior to joining Comcast, he held several senior positions at ABC Television.#

Tennis Channel to launch in 2002:
Tennis is coming to the small screen in summer 2002 with the launch of a new 24-hour cable network dubbed The Tennis Channel. Network veteran David Meister, whose credits include responsibility for HBO Sports, Cinemax, Financial News Network and The Sundance Channel, is chairman and CEO, and Steve Bellamy, tennis entrepreneur, coach and promoter, is president and founder of the network. Together they will lead the charge with support from investors that include former Viacom heads Frank Biondi, Tom Dooley and Terry Elkes.

Network executives also announced a partnership with IMG, which will invest in the channel and provide contemporary tournament and instructional programming as well as classic matches, coaching tips and consulting services. Tennis Channel executives also said they had obtained advertising commitments from Wilson Sporting Goods and Prince and are discussing charter-advertising positions with a few other select marketers.

The executives said there are 17 million tennis enthusiasts who are not currently cable or satellite subscribers; as a result, they believe the network’s presence will enhance many digital packages.

NBC to broadcast WWII-themed miniseries this fall: NBC may be out of the weekly made-for-TV movie game on Sunday nights next season, but it has still scheduled its World War II-era miniseries “Uprising” for broadcast Sunday, Nov. 4., and Monday, Nov. 5 (both at 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET).

The heroic true story that deals with the Jewish resistance fighters who took on the Nazis in the Warsaw, Poland, ghetto in 1939, stars Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Jon Voight, Donald Sutherland and Cary Elwes.

“Uprising” was written by Paul Brickman (“Men Don’t Leave,” “Risky Business”) and Jon Avnet (“Red Corner,” “Fried Green Tomatoes”). The miniseries was directed and executive produced by Jon Avnet, and filmed in Bratislava, Slovakia. Raffaella De Laurentiis and Bill Haber are also executive producers of the miniseries, which is being produced by the Jon Avnet Company.

In other scheduling news, NBC is planning to double-pump the premiere episode of incoming freshman sitcom “Inside Schwartz” in its regular 8:30 p.m. Thursday time slot on Sept. 20 as well as offer an encore showing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. That Saturday, NBC will broadcast the hit theatrical film “Back to the Future” (8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.) immediately following the second telecast of “Inside Schwartz.”

Sie named ‘Business Leader of the Year’: The Denver Business Journal named Starz Encore Group Founder, Chairman and CEO John Sie its executive of the year, chosen from among hundreds of business leaders listed in the Journal’s annual “Who’s Who in Denver Business” survey.

Mr. Sie received the Bill Daniels Denver Business Leader of the Year award, which recognized him as the leader who “best personifies the high business and ethical standards of the award’s namesake, Bill Daniels.” Mr. Daniels was a cable television entrepreneur and philanthropist. He died in March 2000. The annual award in Mr. Daniels’ memory was founded shortly thereafter, and Sie is the first individual executive to receive the award. Last year’s inaugural recipient was the Daniels Foundation.

Gotuit Video joins Microsoft TV Developer Program: Gotuit CEO Jim Logan said Tuesday that Gotuit Video has joined the Microsoft TV Developer Program and will adapt its primary application Gotuit TV for the Microsoft TV platform. Gotuit Video is a subsidiary of Gotuit Media Corporation, which makes software systems that allow users to easily capture and customize radio and TV content. Gotuit TV’s features are based on the concept of adding metadata to recorded content.

In addition to using metadata to offer a show index, Gotuit TV will offer viewers entirely new ways to watch recorded content. For instance, a user could select a “highlights path” and only watch segments of a golf tournament that included Tiger Woods. In another case, a viewer could use the system to see short previews of recorded shows.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications