News Briefs: In2TV ‘Ahead of Forecast’ in First Week

Mar 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

One week after launching In2TV with America Online, the service is “substantially ahead of forecast,” said Eric Frankel, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution. He declined to release precise numbers about how many episodes have been streamed since the March 16 debut, but AOL released a list of the most-viewed programs. Of the 30 shows available free on the Internet with limited commercial interruptions, the top five were “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Chico and the Man,” “Pinkie and the Brain,” “Alice” and “Growing Pains.” A fuller accounting of the service’s viewership probably won’t be released for a few months.

DirecTV Suing Lifetime for Breach of Contract

Satellite provider DirecTV filed a lawsuit Wednesday in a Los Angeles federal court charging Lifetime Entertainment Services with breach of contract. According to the suit, after Lifetime’s channels got knocked off EchoStar’s Dish Network on Dec. 31, Lifetime made a deal with DirecTV to offer EchoStar customers $200 to switch to DirecTV. DirecTV claims it was surprised when Lifetime later reached a carriage deal with EchoStar and terminated the $200 switch offer. DirecTV also claims Lifetime violated the agreement by giving EchoStar a better deal economically.

CBS Touts Schedule at Pre-Upfront

CBS has so much confidence in its current prime-time programming schedule it is taking bigger risks with its development slate for the fall season, said Nina Tassler, the network’s president of entertainment, at CBS’s pre-upfront presentation last Thursday morning in New York’s Ed Sullivan Theatre. Ms. Tassler described series in development, including the apocalyptic drama “Jericho”; the legal one-hour “Shark,” starring James Woods; the crime drama “Smith,” from “ER” producer John Wells; and the occult series “Orpheus.” Comedies highlighted included “The Angriest Man in Suburbia,” starring comedian Mitch Rouse; and Warner Bros. Television’s younger-skewing half-hour “The Class,” from “Friends” creator David Crane. “The Class,” which went to CBS after a bidding war among the networks, is “nontraditional in its structure,” Ms. Tassler said to TelevisionWeek, noting that the pilot will be more like a serialized drama with soap opera elements than a traditional comedy.

Verizon to Carry CBS Signal, Programs on FiOS

CBS Corp. and Verizon Communications said last week they have reached an agreement under which the telephone giant will carry CBS’s broadcast signal and offer CBS shows on-demand to customers of Verizon’s new video service FiOS. Verizon will have rights to CBS’s analog, digital, multicast and high-definition programming seen on CBS owned-and-operated television stations. Also included is video-on-demand content from the O&Os and from the broadcast network. The deal replaces a special agreement that had been reached between the two companies shortly before Verizon began offering FiOS last fall.

Zap2it Adds VOD Listings

Tribune Media Services is augmenting the listings on its entertainment Web site Zap2it.com to include a guide to on-demand programs that can be viewed on television, computers or hand-held devices. The new features supplement the site’s current listings, which Tribune said draw 3 million visitors per month for television, movies and DVD news and recommendations. The Web site will offer recommendations for video content and services that can be accessed on new on-demand and mobile formats, according to Jay Fehnel, VP of entertainment products for Tribune Media Services.

Sony Clears ‘Behrendt’; ‘Lopez,’ ‘Beakman’s’

Sony Pictures Television has cleared its syndicated talk strip “The Greg Behrendt Show” in 94 percent of the country for the fall and its courtroom half-hour strip “Judge Maria Lopez” in 98 percent of the country, Sony executives announced last week. In addition, Sony has cleared its live-action educational series “Beakman’s World” in 85 percent of the country.