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Nov 14, 2001  •  Post A Comment

King World axes ‘Howard Stern’

As expected, King World Productions has axed its late-night airings of “The Howard Stern Radio Show” which had been airing on a number of CBS owned-and-operated stations. The final episode will air on Saturday. The series managed to pull strong numbers in the key demographics for the CBS station group, where it has earned a 1.7 household rating and 5 share thus far this season with coverage just under 50 percent of the country. Still, advertisers have continued to shy away from the program, prompting its broadcasters to seek a way out of the show. Instead, King World is considering a new series designed to appeal to the same audience through a deal being negotiated with producer Eddie October.

King of pop scores big for CBS: In his first taped U.S. concert in more than a decade, singing superstar Michael Jackson put a vise grip on the competition for CBS as it scored triple-digit demo increases en route to easily winning adults 18 to 49, households and total viewers Tuesday night. NBC also scored well with its celebration of “Frasier’s” 200th episode (ushered in by double-run repeats of the show from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., ET), effectively joining the Jacksons in putting the whammy on Fox’s second weekly episode of its much-ballyhooed “24” drama.

Airing from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., the “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special” drew a robust 10.9 rating/26 share score in adults 18 to 49, a 15.7/24 in households and 25.6 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. Mr. Jackson, who was joined by his four brothers in a reunion of the Jackson 5, gave CBS its biggest Tuesday audience since Nov. 15, 1994, when the Eye Network aired part of the “Gone with the Wind” miniseries sequel “Scarlett.”

The magnitude of The Gloved One’s drawing power came across in all of the adult and teen demos but was most notable for its 263 percent week-to-week spike in adults 18 to 49. It was CBS’s best adults 18 to 49 demo performance on a Tuesday since the March 22, 1994, airings of “Rescue 911” and the telefilm “Marked for Death.” From the first to final half-hour of the three-hour broadcast, the Jackson musical special (taped in September at New York’s Madison Square Garden) built 55 percent over the course of the evening in adults 18 to 49 (8.5/19 vs. 13.2/34).

Based on preliminary fast national numbers for the first 13 days of the November sweeps (Nov. 1 to 28), CBS is already tracking just over 30 percent growth in adults 18 to 49 (5.0/13) in addition to unexpectedly biting on the heels of NBC (5.1/13) and Fox (5.8/15) for supremacy in the key demo.

NBC made a competitive evening, nonetheless, as double-run repeats of “Frasier” at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. improved the winning hour by 61 percent in adults 18 to 49 (5.3/13) compared with double-run duty for its beleaguered “Three Sisters” (3.3/8) the previous week. The improved lead-in helped NBC’s succeeding second hour of “Frasier’s” 200th episode and clip-show retrospective score a second-ranked 8.4/19 in adults 18 to 49, marking a 47 percent jump week to week in the time period. The hour-long “Frasier” celebration was off only 6 percent from the Jackson special in adults 18 to 49 for the 9 p.m. to10 p.m. frame (8.4/19 vs. 8.9/20).

The heightened level of competition in the 9 p.m. hour made life difficult for Fox’s “24,” which saw its second weekly episode drop 19 percent in adults 18 to 49 (4.4/10) from last week’s premiere (5.4/13). Despite getting a additional exposures on Fox on Friday as well as the FX cable network giving two repurposed weekend plays, “24’s” first-run Tuesday outing was down 27 percent in households (5.5/8) and 25 percent in total viewers (8.7 million) on a week-to-week basis.

ABC’s “NYPD Blue” also found the 9 p.m. hour a challenge, tying “24” for a third-ranked 4.4/10 in adults 18 to 49 and dropping 24 percent from the first half of its two-hour season opener last week (5.8/14). At 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., ABC’s struggling freshman lead-out “Philly” found no easier sledding as it dropped 23 percent from its lead-in at a 3.4/9 in adults 18 to 49, which was also off 52 percent from “Blue’s” second hour performance on Nov. 6 (6.9/18).

For the night, CBS came out holding a commanding 47 percent winning margin over NBC in adults 18 to 49 (8.7/21 vs. 5.9/14). CBS improved 123 percent week to week in adults 18 to 49, while NBC moved up 40 percent in the key demo. CBS also won households (14.4/22) and total viewers (22.8 million), improving 45 percent and 59 percent week to week, respectively. NBC moved up 38 percent in households (9.4/14) and 43 percent in total viewers (14.1 million).

Meanwhile, the declines for ABC and Fox were significant week to week. ABC dropped 46 percent in adults 18 to 49 (3.7/9), 24 percent in households (7.2/11) and 23 percent in total viewers (10.5 million). Fox dropped 26 percent in adults 18 to 49 (4.6/11) , 29 percent in households (5.5/8) and 29 percent in total viewers (8.7 million).

National Geographic Channel boosted by Time Warner Cable: Just one day after News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch told a sparsely attended annual shareholders meeting in Manhattan that he expected great things in the future from the National Geographic Channel, Time Warner Cable and Fox Cable Networks Group have announced an affiliation agreement providing for TWC to launch the channel to nearly 80 percent of its 12.7 million customers within the next 14 months. The TWC carriage agreement means the channel will surpass 20 million households in its first year.

Additionally, Time Warner Cable and Fox Cable Networks Group said a Beta Research Cable Operator Study of 151 cable operators tagged National Geographic as the emerging network that operators most want to carry by the end of 2002, with 84 percent of respondents selecting it.

The National Geographic Channel, a joint-venture between Fox Cable Networks Group and National Geographic Television, has ranked first in viewer interest among all new or midsize networks in the past four consecutive Beta Research Subscriber Studies for 2001.

ABC’s Friedman apologizes for crash-related programming clashes: ABC News apologized to affiliates for the network’s on-again, off-again coverage of Monday’s crash of an American Airlines jet just after takeoff from Kennedy International Airport in New York. Paul Friedman, executive vice president and managing editor for news coverage, was responding to frustration from ABC affiliates over the network’s return to regular daytime programming after a special report anchored by Peter Jennings. Depending on the time zone in which their stations operate, affiliates received “The View’s” first half-hour or a portion of “Good Morning America” taped before the early-morning crash.

Mr. Friedman made the decision to return to regular programming after a network-wide special report that aired from 9:41 a.m. to 10:58 because he felt the story was not advancing and he feared being drawn into broadcasting more speculation than fact.

A spokesman for ABC News said, “Our affiliate relationships are of paramount importance to us, and we always strive to do our very best to serve them with the very finest news product. We are aware of the concerns expressed by a few affiliates and responded quickly to those concerns on the morning the crash.”

Jeff Rosser, a television group vice president for Raycom Media and a member of the ABC affiliates board, said that while he didn’t want the Monday morning mistake to obscure “the great job they have been doing” since Sept. 11 — “This was just a surprise fumble from a great running back” — he hopes that ABC News understands that “there is a huge appetite” for crisis coverage these days.

A later live special report substituted the first hour of “GMA” on the West Coast, which also got a live second hour of the ABC News morning show.

WB ahead of UPN in Tuesday ratings: In the Tuesday battle of the weblets, The WB’s “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville” still hold a 40 percent share advantage over UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Roswell.”

“Gilmore Girls” opened the 8 p.m. (ET) hour
with a 5.1 rating/7 share household average in Nielsen Media Research’s metered markets, holding a 19 percent advantage over UPN’s “Buffy” (4.3/6) in the time slot. However, “Gilmore Girls” was down about 12 percent in share from its previous week’s overnight score (8 share) while “Buffy” was off 14 percent from its previous outing (7 share). Nevertheless, “Buffy” has still improved UPN’s opening time slot by 100 percent year to year while “Gilmore Girls” is holding even with year-ago share levels.

Meanwhile, the teenage Superman prequel, “Smallville,” built 2 percent as The WB’s 9 p.m. lead-out, scoring a 5.2/7 in households in the metered markets. Though similarly down 12 percent in share vs. the previous Tuesday (8 share), “Smallville” beat UPN’s “Roswell” (2.6/4) by a 100 percent margin. “Roswell’s” score, however, is still 33 percent ahead compared to the time period’s year-ago 3 share average.

For the night, The WB’s 5.2/7 household average held 48 percent ratings and 40 percent share advantages over UPN’s 3.5/15 score, though the latter has improved its position by 67 percent in share year to year.

AOL TW joins SonicBlue court battle: Add AOL Time Warner to the list of Hollywood heavy hitters that have gone to court to stop SonicBlue’s latest personal video recorder, the ReplayTV 4000, which not only permits viewers to skip over commercials but has a feature allowing users to record shows and them transmit them to others via the Internet.

This latest copyright infringement lawsuit against SonicBlue and Replay was filed Nov. 9 in the U.S. District Court in California, and the specific AOL TW plaintiffs are Time Warner Entertainment, Home Box Office, Warner Bros. Television, Turner Broadcasting System, The WB, Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinema.

Their suit follows a similar lawsuit, filed in California U.S. District Court on Oct. 31, in which various divisions of Viacom and The Walt Disney Co., as well as General Electric’s NBC, also claimed that the newest Replay’s commercial skipping feature and program duplication feature are illegal.

This latest suit contends specifically that the Replay 4000’s ability to copy programs and transmit them to others over the Internet constitutes copyright infringement and that the “removal of commercial messages by itself robs the advertisers of the value of their purchase of advertising time, depresses the value of such advertising time and undermines the economic models by which televisiion programming is provided to consumers.” At the time of the first suit, the Consumer Electronic Association issued a statement supporting SonicBlue and its Replay PVR, saying, “Internet retransmission of content must not be used as a Trojan Horse to roll back established recording and fair use rights in the home.”

At its Web site, SonicBlue continues to offer pre-orders of the various Replay 4000 models for the holidays; the RTV4320, for example, which allows for approximately 320 hours of recording time, is available for $1,999.

Studios USA names Beverly VP of drama programming: Carl Beverly has been named VP of drama programming for Studios USA Television. Mr. Beverly comes from Michael Ovitz’s recently shuttered Artists Television Group (ATG), where he served as VP of development from July 1999 to August 2001.

Tumulty promoted at WB: Elizabeth Tumulty has been elevated to VP of affiliate relations and communications for The WB Network. She will report to Ken Werner, The WB’s executive VP of network distribution. Ms. Tumulty represents 36 affiliates of The WB, including nine of the top 15 markets. Among the affiliates she represents are those in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Detroit.

UPN orders full ‘Special Unit 2’ season: UPN has extended a nine-episode order to 9 p.m. (ET) Wednesday drama “Special Unit 2,” carrying the sci-fi detective series through a full-season 22-episode order. The series is produced by Rego Park Film and Television in association with Paramount Network Television. Evan Katz is the creator and executive producer.

Coming out of the blockbuster 8 p.m. (ET) lead-in of “Star Trek” sequel “Enterprise,” “SU2” has upped viewership by 50 percent among persons 12 to 34 (1.5 rating/5 share vs. 1.0/3), 70 percent among adults 18 to 34 (1.7/5 vs. 1.0/3) and 36 percent among adults 18 to 49 (1.9/5 vs. 1.4/4) this season compared with last spring. “SU2” has drawn 4.2 million viewers per week this season, an improvement of 31 percent over last year (3.2 million).

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications