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Nov 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

NBC, CBS Claim Sweeps Wins

NBC and CBS declared sweeps victories Monday in separate end-of-sweeps conference calls with reporters.

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said the network projects that it will win the November sweeps in adults 18 to 49 by three-tenths of a rating point over CBS. With three days of sweeps remaining, NBC will finish with a 4.5 Nielsen Media Research rating to CBS’s 4.2, followed by ABC with a 3.8 and Fox with a 3.2, according to NBC projections.

While NBC will win the sweeps, the network is down 10 percent year to year in November sweeps. CBS will be the only network up year to year in adults 18 to 49 with a projected 2 percent gain year to year.

CBS will win the sweeps in total viewers by about 3 million viewers — the largest margin of victory for CBS since 1980 and the largest margin by any network since 1989, said CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves. CBS will also win the sweeps in the network’s target audience, adults 25 to 54, he said.

Even though there are three days left in the sweeps, Mr. Moonves said, “We’re very pleased to say we don’t have to be cautious this time. Today CBS declares a convincing, dominating sweeps victory.

“Please, please, please, just read the numbers,” he said. “They are there in black and white. We are the only network having a wonderful sweeps. We’re not down. We’re up across the board.”

CBS is the only network up year to year in households, total viewers, adults 25 to 54 and adults 18 to 49, he said.

Other news from Tuesday’s round of sweeps calls with Big 4 network executives include:

ABC

ABC Entertainment Group Chairman Lloyd Braun said ABC stayed true to its strategy of being patient with its young schedule this November sweeps. He said ABC kept more of its regular schedule intact than the other networks did and ABC resisted making changes — such as replacing a struggling “Karen Sisco” with a few episodes of “Extreme Makeover” — that would have eked out extra ratings points in the short term.

“It’s hard not to make those changes, but we really are looking to build the schedule for the long term,” he said. “We feel we need to stand by promising new shows and give them time to find an audience.”

On nights that ABC’s schedule is anchored with comedies — Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday — ABC was No. 1 in those time period in adults 18 to 49 for the sweeps. And while eight of its 10 comedies win their time slot in adults 18 to 49, Mr. Braun admitted that ABC still doesn’t have a monster hit. “That is the difference between a competitive sweeps and a dominant one for ABC,” he said.

CBS

CBS is the closest it’s been to first place in the 18 to 49 demo, for which advertisers pay a hefty premium, as it’s been in 23 years, Mr. Moonves said. The irony is CBS has vocally targeted the adults 25 to 54 demo, claiming that’s really where advertisers spend the most money. CBS’s strong November performance in adults 18 to 49 doesn’t change that, Mr. Moonves said. “Granted, we say that we believe in 25 to 54 more than 18 to 49, but our numbers are impressive in both,” he said. “We like winning in every category. We’ve always said the most money is in 25 to 54, and we’re wining it, which is something I never thought I would say in this job.”

CBS picked up all of its freshman shows for a full season except drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” To fill that Wednesday 10 p.m. slot, CBS will air “48 Hours,” starting next week. Starting Jan. 17 “Star Search” will take over the Saturday 8 p.m. time slot where “48 Hours” was airing.

Mr. Moonves said a third edition of “CSI” is actively being developed and said it will be set in a big city.

“There are four cities that are being talked about,” he said. “We’ve had a few meetings with the producers. We don’t want to spread them too thin.”

NBC

Mr. Zucker said NBC is making good on its promise to debut one new show a month during the season. Reality show “Average Joe” debuted in November, sitcom “Tracy Morgan” is slated for December, reality show “The Apprentice” will launch in January and a drama and a sitcom will debut in February and March, respectively.

“The Apprentice,” featuring mogul Donald Trump, will get a 90-minute supersize debut on Thursday, Jan. 8, after “Friends.” The following week, on Jan. 14, “Apprentice” moves to its regular time slot on Wednesday at 8 p.m. That will displace current occupant “Ed,” which will move to Friday 9 p.m. to share that time slot with “Miss Match.” The time slot sharing will allow NBC to not have to air repeats of either series.

“Ed” moves to Friday in January and will end its season in February. Then “Miss Match” will return to finish its run. “Miss Match” has not been given a full-season order, but Mr. Zucker said additional episodes would be ordered, but they aren’t sure how many they will need yet.

Mr. Zucker said to expect “Average Joe” to stay on NBC’s schedule. “We already have a second cycle in the can,” he said.

Similar to how NBC taped and aired “For Love or Money” and “For Love or Money 2” back to back this summer, “Average Joe 2” will air in the Monday 10 p.m. time slot after the first edition ends and will last through March.

Fourth-year drama “Crossing Jordan” will also return next year. The show was on hiatus while star Jill Hennessy had a baby, but production will start on the show in the next two weeks, and Miss Hennessy will be back on the set next month, Mr. Zucker said. He said the show would be on the air in the first quarter, but the time slot has not yet been decided.

Fox

Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said the biggest problem this fall for Fox, which fell from first place in adults 18 to 49 in the May sweeps to fourth place in November, was betting on two nights of “Joe Millionaire.” “We were wrong,” she said of the drastically underperforming show.

That opinion was echoed by Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group. “Our instincts told us from the very beginning that ‘Joe Millionaire’ was a one-time stunt, and we got greedy. We tried to sneak it by the American public a second time and we got called on it.”

Despite Fox’s November woes, Mr. Grushow said, “I think you’re going to see this network take off again in January. You’re going to see some other networks come back to earth. I look at NBC’s performance and future and I don’t view them as being in a better competitive position than the Fox Broadcasting Co. on a going forward basis.”

WB Slots ‘Surreal’ on Sundays: The second edition of “The Surreal Life” will debut on The WB on Sunday, Jan. 11 from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. The WB will air one-hour episodes in that time slot on Jan. 11, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25. On Sunday, Feb.1, The WB will rerun the first three episodes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. against the Super Bowl on CBS. The final three episodes of “Surreal” will air the next three weeks in its regular 10 p.m. Sunday time slot, with the finale airing Sunday, Feb. 22.

UPN Gets Fashion Show Rebroadcast: UPN will air a repeat of “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” which originally ran on CBS last week, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Showtime Exec. Blasts CBS over ‘Reagans’: Robert Greenblatt, Showtime’s president of entertainment, took aim at CBS and Chairman Leslie Moonves over their handling of the miniseries about former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Greenblatt said Mr. Moonves — who has repeatedly denied that controversy over “The Reagans” was the reason the network pulled the plug on it — had full access to every stage of the film.

“Les Moonves is chairman of CBS. The scripts, casting and every single day of the dailies were available to him,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “He rushed the film into production for it to be ready in time for sweeps. … If he didn’t know what he was getting, it was not the fault of the producers, the director or anybody else associated with this film.”

Showtime has agreed to air the miniseries as a three-hour movie Nov. 30. Mr. Greenblatt said one particular criticism of the film — that scenes depicting the president as indifferent toward the AIDS crisis — is unfair.

“I believ
e it has been unfairly criticized about [the AIDS] issue,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “There’s literally three scenes where it’s even discussed. … [HBO’s] ‘Angels in America’ is a much bigger indictment and nobody’s even raised the issue [about that film].”

Australian actress Judy Davis, who portrays Nancy Reagan in the miniseries, said the CBS decision was unexpected.

“The censorship surprised me,” Ms. Davis said. “I think you should be concerned that such a small group of people can exercise control over a major network over a film [the protesters] haven’t seen.”

ABC Adds ‘D.A.’ for Midseason: ABC has picked up drama “The D.A.” for midseason. The network originally developed “The D.A.,” starring Steven Weber as the Los Angeles district attorney, for the fall, but it didn’t make the schedule. ABC picked up the pilot and three additional episodes and plans to schedule them as a mini-event sometime this spring. The Shephard/Robin Co. and Warner Bros. Television produced the show. James Duff is writer and executive producer, while Greer Shephard and Michael Robin are executive producers.

Hasselbeck Shares “The View”: Elisabeth Filarski Hasselbeck, the sweetheart of “Survivor: The Australian Outback,” debuted as the fifth permanent co-host on ABC’s “The View” Monday. Ms. Hasselbeck, 26, the telegenic designer of athletic shoes and other items, has acquired a variety of TV experience, most recently as host of the Style Channel’s “The Look for Less.” She is married to Washington Redskins quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, but will have to establish a home base in New York, where “The View” originates live at 11 a.m. (ET) weekdays. She won the chair vacated last December when Lisa Ling signed on with “National Geographic Ultimate Explorer” with a combination of chemistry with the “View” regulars – creator and executive producer Barbara Walters, moderator Meredith Vieira and Joy Behar and Star Jones – and because she was, said ABC daytime senior VP Felicia Minei Behr, “far and away the favorite” with “View”ers who e-mailed their reactions and in research.

ABC names Mellon VP: Michael T. Mellon, who has been executive VP at Paramount Worldwide TV Distribution, has been named senior VP for research for ABC Television Network. Mr. Mellon, who started Monday, will be based in Burbank and report to ABC Television Network President Alex Wallau. He fills the vacancy left by the sudden departure of Andy Fessel earlier this year. Mr. Mellon had been at Paramount since 1992, when he left Walt Disney Television, where he had served as VP of research.

Deregulation Rollback on Hold: The fate of appropriations legislation that would roll back the Federal Communications Commission’s national TV ownership deregulation won’t be known until at least next month because the House of Representatives recessed Saturday without completing action on the measure. A source said lawmakers in the Senate are still hoping to complete their work on the legislative package before Thanksgiving so the House can address the measure when it returns from recess Dec. 2. A continuing resolution has already been approved that would fund the federal government through Jan. 31.

Berry Joins NCTA: Steve Berry, senior VP of government affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, has been named senior VP of government relations for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Mr. Berry, 51, succeeds Pam Turner, who resigned from NCTA in March to join the Department of Homeland Security. Before signing on with CTIA, Mr. Berry held a variety of government posts, including stints as Republican chief of staff for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Republican counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Mitchell Returns to Host IFC’s ‘Escape’: The Independent Film Channel said John Cameron Mitchell will return for a second year as host of “Escape From Hollywood.” Titles scheduled in 2004 include “Sexy Beast,” “Ghost World,” “The Grifters” and his own cult film, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Mr. Mitchell has hosted “Escape From Hollywood” since taking over for the late Ted Demme in January 2003.

CSTV Launches First National Consumer Promo: CSTV: College Sports Television has launched its first national consumer promotion, the CSTV Ultimate College Sports Fantasy Sweepstakes Presented By Coca-Cola. One sweepstakes grand prize winner selected at random will receive a trip for two to the college sporting event of his or her choice, while 10 additional winners will receive CSTV prize packs.

The network is using outside media for the first time during this promotion, taking banners within the college football sections of ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, AOL Sports, CBS SportsLine, MSNBC and the Official College Sports Network. In addition, CSTV will distribute fliers at major college sports events, including games televised by CSTV. The fliers direct fans to www.CSTV.com to enter the sweepstakes and also provide general information on CSTV.

Starz! Reach Carriage Agreement with National Cable Television: Starz Encore Group reached a carriage agreement with The National Cable Television Cooperative that will bring the new Starz! networks-Starz! Kids and Starz! HD-to subscribers served by independent cable systems. The new networks will launch Dec. 2. Among the films to be shown on Starz! Kids will be “Finding Nemo,” “The Jungle Book 2,” “Monsters Inc.,” “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” Upcoming films on Starz! HD include “The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers” and “Anger Management.” The agreement allows NCTC’s 6,500 member systems reaching 15 million customers to add Starz! Kids to their Starz Super Pak lineups and to offer Starz! HD to existing Starz! subscribers at no additional retail cost.

MTV Renews ‘Punk’d,’ ‘Viva La Bam,’ ‘Wildboyz’: MTV renewed The Sunday Stew, which means new seasons of “Punk’d,” “Viva La Bam,” and “Wildboyz” will appear in March. Since its launch last month The Sunday Stew has pumped up the network’s ratings among 12- to 34-year-olds by 155 percent. Last week the block had three of the five top-rated telecasts among persons 12 to 34.

Anheuser-Busch Signs Ad Deal With NFL Network: Anheuser-Busch signed on as an advertiser on NFL Network. The big brewer joins IBM, FedEx, Motorola, AT&T Wireless, Coors, AOL, Campbell’s, Southwest Airlines, Damon’s, GlaxoSmithKline, EA Sports, Sony PlayStation and Dairy Management among the network’s sponsors. NFL Network is carried on DirecTV’s basic service, putting it in 12 million homes.

Fox Gets ‘Arrested’: Fox has picked up the back nine episodes of Sunday sitcom “Arrested Development,” which gives it a full-season order. While the show has stumbled in the ratings, it has been a critical favorite. Fox also plans to air a mini-marathon of four back-to-back repeats of the show on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Arrested” is produced by Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Mitch Hurwitz are executive producers.

Big HD Push by Time Warner Systems: Time Warner Cable plans to launch on Wednesday, Nov. 26 its first retail high-definition marketing effort, a massive promotion that will reach across 1,300 retailers nationwide.

The promotion is designed to drive interest in HDTV, expected to be a huge hit this holiday season. As part of the promotion, HDTV set maker Pioneer will offer customers $500 cash back on a Pioneer HDTV set and Time Warner will pony up six free months of digital cable service, which includes HD content from Discovery, iN Demand, Fox Sports Net, HBO, Showtime and the broadcast networks.

The offer will be available at about 1,300 retailers across the country in Time Warner’s footprint, including Best Buy, Sears, Wal-Mart and Circuit City as well as regional and local audio and video stores, said Charles Haugabrook, VP of sales channel development at Time Warner Cable. It will run through Feb. 8.