MediaFile

CBS, Clear Channel do some radio dealing

In case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t exactly a great environment for wheeling and dealing. That only compounds the challenge CBS CEO Les Moonves faces in trying to reshape his radio division — it’s not like there was a thriving market for radio station M&A before this whole credit crisis.

But give CBS credit. Seems like they came up with an innovative way to swap a handful of their smaller stations for a couple of  larger stations in markets that CBS wants to be in. They struck the deal with Clear Channel, which needed to get something done to satisfy regulators looking at their buyout by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital.  

Here’s what the deal boils down to, courtesy of the press release:

In the trade, Clear Channel will obtain CBS RADIO’s KBKS-FM (Seattle), WQSR-FM (Baltimore), KXJM-FM and KLTH-FM (Portland, Ore.), and KQJK-FM (Sacramento, Calif.). In return, CBS RADIO will acquire two stations in Houston, the country’s 6th-largest radio market, KLOL-FM (Mega 101.1) and KHMX-FM (Mix 96.5).

We’ve heard talk that the current economy and credit situation would prompt companies to take a look at different, innovative sorts of deals. This one was done on a small scale, but perhaps a signal of things to come for the media business?

(Reuters photo of Les Moonves)

Video games defy economic gloom

U.S. shoppers are still spending in a big way — they are just not buying cars, plane tickets, clothing, etc. But they are buying video games.

While most media segments try to maintain stability during today’s economic turmoil, the video game industry keeps on growing, with U.S. video game hardware and software sales up 10 percent last month according to NPD, fueled by record sales of Nintendo’s Wii console and DS hand-held system.

Nintendo’s Wii console sold over 2 million units in November, up from over 800,000 in the previous month.

Redstone’s last picture show

Media mogul Sumner Redstone appears to be sticking with his decision to not sell more shares in Viacom and CBS. Here’s the Financial Times:

Media mogul Sumner Redstone has reached agreement with his daughter, Shari, to put some of National Amusement’s 1,500 cinemas on the block rather than the entire division, as part of debt-restructuring discussions to avoid selling more shares of Viacom and CBS, according to people familiar with the matter.

If lenders agree, the plan would clear the way to sell a part of the US group and 19 theatres in the UK. A prospectus is not expected to be released until early January, one person familiar with the discussions said.

Desperately seeking hits: MPG

Are people going to watch more TV because they’ve no money to go out? According to media buying and planning agency MPG — a subsidiary of Havas, the world’s sixth-largest ad firm — the answer is no, unless the TV networks come up with better shows.

“That’s inventory for us, that’s our supply,” MPG Chief Operating Officer Steve Lanzano told the Reuters Media Summit in New York. “The thing is, there are no hit shows out there on the big networks,” he added. “And if there’s no supply in the marketplace, that just makes it harder and harder for us.”

With the economy seizing up and people seeking more stay-at-home entertainment, this could be the perfect time for the big networks to hook people on to some new shows and boost ratings. That would bring in advertising revenue at a time when many advertisers are scaling back spending.

It’s Midway or the highway for Redstone

Sumner Redstone is selling low — way low. Here’s The Wall Street Journal with the news:

In an effort to help resolve his debt problems, Sumner Redstone has sold his controlling stake in videogame company Midway Games Inc to a private investor.

Mr. Redstone’s holding company, National Amusements Inc., is expected to announce Monday that it sold its 87% stake in Midway to investor Mark Thomas, a move that represents a significant loss on the media mogul’s investment but secures a hefty tax benefit as he negotiates other asset sales.

What you watched on TV last week…

First President-Elect Barack Obama sparked a run on newspapers, and now his appearance on 60 Minutes helped deliver CBS the largest weekly audience of any network this season. The news program, featuring Obama’s first post-election interview, drew more than 25 million viewers, the biggest number since January 1999.

Not surprisingly, that helped CBS win the week in total viewers and in the 18-49 year-old category.  Season-to-date, CBS is tops in total viewers, and essentially tied with ABC for the 18-49 crowd. Here are the Nielsen figures for the week ending Nov 16::

Total Viewers (’000, change from 2007-08)

CBS 12,314, +3 percent

ABC, 10,467, +1 percent

NBC, 7,742, -6 percent

Fox, 6,782, -21 percent

Adults 18-49 (ratings, change from 2007-08)

CBS, 3.3, no change

ABC, 3.1, -9 percent

NBC, 2.9, -6 percent

Fox, 2.7, -21 percent

Week’s Top shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

Sunday Night Football, NBC, 7.4

60 Minutes, CBS, 6.3

Desperate Housewives, ABC, 6.2

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 5.7

House, Fox, 5.5

CSI, CBS, 5.1

CMA Awards, ABC, 5.0

Two And A Half Men, CBS, 4.9

Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, NBC, 4.6

Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 4.2

Family Guy, Fox, 4.2

How I Met Your Mother, CBS, 4.2

(Photo: Reuters)

Ouch! A bad day in the market for Redstone

This is shaping up as a bad day for Sumner Redstone — and he’s had a few of those lately — at least where his investments are concerned. Check out share prices of his three major holdings: CBS down 17 percent and Viacom down 11 percent. Midway Games takes first (or last) prize: down 34 percent.

All this wreckage puts more pressure on National Amusements, Redstone’s privately held company and investment vehicle. Recall, last month National Amusements ran into trouble with its banks when it could no longer maintain certain debt-to-asset ratios because the value of its investments in CBS and Viacom had fallen so sharply.

These days, National Amusements is trying to work out new agreements with its banks, and many analysts believe it will have to sell some assets to pay down debt coming due in December. Pali Research’s Rich Greenfield is one of them.

What you watched on TV last week…

What you — and everyone else –  watched on TV was the election, apparently. More than 71 million Americans tuned in to see the end of the presidential campaign, and coverage on ABC and NBC ranked among the top 10 shows during primetime last week, according to the latest Nielsen numbers.

Election night, combined with Sunday night football, left little room in the top 10 shows for regularly scheduled dramas and comedies. But it should be noted that ABC managed to squeeze in the top two rated dramas among 18 to 49 year-olds, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. ABC and NBC shared honors for the highest ratings among the 18-49 crowd for the week.

Total Viewers (’000)

CBS 11,040

ABC 10,400

NBC 8,900

Fox 5,870

Adults 18-49 (ratings)

ABC 3.2

NBC 3.2

CBS 3.0

Fox 2.3

Week’s Top Shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

Sunday Night Football, NBC, 6.7

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 6.0

Desperate Housewives, ABC 5.9

SNL Presidential Bash ’08, NBC 5.6

CSI, CBS 5.1

Vote 2008, ABC 4.9

Two and a Half Men, CBS 4.6

Decision ’08, NBC, 4.5

Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, NBC, 4.3

The Office, NBC, 4.3

What you watched on TV last week…

It was all about sports last week as the World Series and a couple of big football games ranked among the most-watched prime-time shows. Fox was the big winner, according the the latest Nielsen figures.

With the World Series Game 5, the hospital drama “House,” and the comedies “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” Fox brought in the highest ratings among adults 18-49 for the week ending Nov 2. Year over year, Fox boosted its ratings last week by 26 percent.  Just wait until ”American Idol” and “24″ return.

Total Viewers (’000, change from 2007-08)

CBS 11,384, down 8 percent

ABC 10,140, down 11 percent

Fox 9,527, up 36 percent

NBC 7,529, down 6 percent

Adults 18-49 (ratings, change from 2007-08)

Fox 3.4, up 26 percent

ABC 3.1, down 14 percent

NBC, 2.8, down 7 percent

CBS, 2.8 down 22 percent

Week’s Top Shows for Adults 18-49 (network, rating)

World Series Game 5, Fox 6.2

Sunday Night Football, NBC 6.2

The Simpsons, Fox 6.2

Desperate Housewives, ABC 5.8

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC 5.7

House, Fox 5.4

Family Guy, Fox 5.1

Office, NBC 4.8

CBS, CBS 4.8

The OT, Fox 4.4

Saturday Night Football, ABC 4.4

Redstone + Viacom = True Love Always

A couple of things we know about Viacom in the aftermath of its earnings report: Sumner Redstone is madly in love with the media company, and he is still not selling any more shares.

It’s interesting that Redstone has repeatedly insisted that he won’t sell any more shares in Viacom or CBS to take care of the debt problems at his privately-held National Amusements (Recall, he sold about $230 million of stock in Viacom and CBS last month).

Sure, he’s assuaging the immediate concerns of investors, who obviously don’t want to see more shares on the open market. But he’s also backing himself into a corner (of course, he can always do what he wants, even sell shares after he said he wouldn’t, but he does have a reputation to think about).