Garth Ancier, former chairman of The WB television network, is taking over as president of BBC Worldwide America, a new position in which he is to oversee all BBC Worldwide activity in the U.S. He will be based in New York. Mr. Ancier will be charged with developing the BBC brand in the U.S. and expanding BBC Worldwide’s portfolio of networks beyond the flagship BBC America cable channel, now in more than 53 million homes. He also is to work with U.S. networks on behalf of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Productions. Those shows include ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and NBC’s “Grease: You’re the One That I Want!” plus three scripted pilots picked up by U.S. networks.
Olbermann Counting Down Four More Years
Keith Olbermann signed for four more years as host of MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann.” Mr. Olbermann, who has swayed MSNBC’s prime-time tone to the left, also picks up a chance to do occasional essays for “NBC Nightly News” and host two “Countdown” specials each year. An MSNBC spokesperson declined to comment on speculation that Mr. Olbermann accomplished his goal of effectively doubling his salary to some $4 million per year.
`Idol’ Viewers Poised for Surprise
Within the next two weeks, “American Idol” viewers will see “the biggest thing to happen to `Idol’ in five years,” Nigel Lythgoe, the show’s executive producer, said in an interview last week. “It does include `American Idol,’ and it does include America,” he told TelevisionWeek Editorial Director Chuck Ross in an interview. Mr. Lythgoe also dispelled rumors that Michael Jackson will be making an appearance this season, contradicting news reports that said the pop star would appear on the talent show.
Academy Award Spots Sell Out
ABC last week sold out its commercials for the Feb. 25 broadcast of the Academy Awards. Thirty-second spots were reportedly going for $1.6 million. The broadcast lured advertisers including AT&T, Careerbuilder.com, Coca-Cola, Dove beauty products, General Motors, JC Penney, Kodak, L’Oreal, Masterfoods, MasterCard, McDonald’s and Microsoft. The Academy Awards show was the top-rated entertainment program of the 2005-06 broadcast year among adults 18 to 49 with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, college degrees and managerial jobs. The awards ceremony this year will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
`Tyra’ to Experiment in 3-D
Telepicture’s “The Tyra Banks Show” is poised to introduce a virtual world component to its show this week at themusiclounge.com. The 3-D online virtual world lets fans hang out on Ms. Banks’ virtual stage and interact with other fans around the world. TV networks are just starting to explore how to use virtual worlds online. MTV has experimented with a virtual world for “Laguna Beach” and Showtime recently launched one for “The L Word”
DirecTV, Nielsen Partner on Data
DirecTV last week agreed to provide the Nielsen Co. with set-top data from 300,000 interactive customers. Nielsen has been trying to move beyond its small sample of viewers with people meters to gather information on how people are using TV and new media. Competitor TNS Media Research made a deal to launch audience measurement services focusing on DirecTV interactive subscriber households last September. Last week Nielsen also announced the creation of Nielsen DigitalPlus, a new service designed to help clients understand consumer interaction through digital set-top boxes. “This agreement with DirecTV is an exciting new opportunity to gain valuable insight into how new technology is influencing the behavior of interactive satellite subscribers,” Scott L Brown, senior VP for Nielsen, said last week. “The television industry is at the very beginning of understanding the uses and applications of expanding digital services. Nielsen is using our full resources to help clients create valuable new uses for their digital information.” -Jon Lafayette