MediaFile

Wolff opines on Murdoch… again

Can you tell it’s book-flacking time?

Vanity Fair is running the second excerpt from the forthcoming book that Michael Wolff wrote about News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (this one centers on his family), and Wolff is making the rounds this week to talk about it. He was on CNBC moments ago, engaging in everyone’s favorite media parlor game: Parsing Murdoch’s every move like a multi-clause sentence. Friday’s appearance follows a panel discussion at a PaidContent.org conference earlier this week where he made similar remarks. Here’s what he said on CNBC.

What will Murdoch do after buying The Wall Street Journal? What’s his next move?

“I’m not sure that he exactly knows. One of the problems here is that he bought a newspaper and not only did he buy a newspaper, but if he had only waited six months to buy that newspaper he would have saved a billion and a half dollars.” (Nothing like hindsight, is there?)

What will he buy? What will he sell?

“I don’t think that he’ll do either in the short term. I think in the short term they’ll try to manage their businesses the best way they know how.”

Does Rupert care that his stock is down?

“Does he care? No! Do the people around him care? The people holding stock options? Well, let me put it this way. Having spent a lot of time around that building, I have heard people at the highest echelons of that company complaining deeply about the price of News Corp shares.”

What you watched on TV last week…

Helped by the World Series, Fox last week scored five of the top 10 shows among 18-49 year-olds. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Fox ratings were nonethless down 22 percent for the week, and are down 17 percent year-to-date, according to the latest Nielsen data.

Fox isn’t alone. Season-to-date ratings for NBC and ABC are down similar amounts. That leaves CBS on top. But even CBS is down 6 percent, so it’s dubious honor.

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

CBS 11,351, up 2 percent

Fox, 10,875, down 21 percent

ABC 9,958, down 11 percent

NBC 6,098, down 13 percent

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

Fox 3.6, down 22 percent

CBS 3.0, no change

ABC 3.0, down 19 percent

NBC 2.2, down 15 percent

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

Desperate Housewives, ABC 5.8

House, Fox, 5.6

CSI, CBS 5.5

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC 5.4

Two and a Half Men, CBS 5.1

Fox World Series Game 4, Fox 5.1

The OT, Fox 5.0

Fox World Series Game 1, Fox 4.8

Fox World Series Game 4-Pre, Fox, 4.4

Survivor Gabon, CBS, 4.4

(Photo: Reuters)

Take my savings — but not my mediocre TV shows

No doubt about it, the financial crisis has been tough on the media business. Just ask Sumner Redstone, the folks over at the Associated Press, or anyone on Madison Avenue.

Then there are some of the poorly rated television shows to consider… The Hollywood Reporter writes that thanks to the economic downturn, the broadcast networks could play it safe and order full-seasons of some low-rated programs rather than replace them with new series.

There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that it costs money to order and market a new series.

Sumner Redstone: World could end tomorrow!

Step off — CBS and Viacom are not for sale!

That comes courtesy of Sumner Redstone, who should know since he holds a controlling stake in both of the media companies. Here’s what he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview:

Asked whether he would consider selling one of the companies, Mr. Redstone said: “Not a chance. I will not sell Viacom and I will not sell CBS. They’re two great companies.” He added: “We have no intention to sell any more stock and I’m decisive about that.”

Redstone’s interview with the Journal should help clear the air on much recent speculation about the future of Viacom and CBS — both suffering badly in the stock market. In the last month, shares of Viacom have dropped about 30 percent, while CBS shares have fallen a staggering 45 percent.

What you watched on TV last week…

tvwatching.jpgIt was another solid week for CBS, which has become a regular at the top of the TV ratings race so far this season, according to the latest figures from Nielsen.

But while CBS was the most-watched network and brought in the most 18-49 year-olds, it was ABC’s soapy dramas that were the most popular individual shows. Sexy doctors and sexy housewives, pretty bankable as ratings winners.

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

CBS 11,472, up 4 percent

NBC 7,207, down 13 percent

ABC 9,147, down 14 percent

Fox, 6,727, down 43 percent

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

CBS 3.2, up 7 percent

NBC 2.7, down 13 percent

ABC 2.8, down 20 percent

Fox 2.5, down 36 percent

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

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 5.9)

Desperate Housewives (ABC, 5.7)

Two and a Half Men (CBS 5.3)

House (Fox, 5.3)

CSI (CBS, 5.2)

Family Guy (Fox, 4.7)

Heroes (NBC, 4.3)

The Office (NBC, 4.3)

SNL: Weekend Update (NBC, 4.2)

Survivor: Gabon (CBS, 4.2)

(Photo: Reuters)

National Amusements: Time to talk to the bank

redstone2.jpgAnother day, another twist in the latest Sumner Redstone drama. This time, the media mogul’s company, National Amusements, announced that it’s having sit-downs with its lenders over some debt covenants? What are the covenants? And how much debt to they cover? Nobody outside of the company seems quite sure at this point.

What we do know, is that all of this has been caused by the sharp drop in CBS and Viacom shares — since they are worth far less as assets than they were a a month ago, we assume that some debt-to-assets ratio has become a problem.

What does this mean for Viacom and CBS? Not much, in the short term. Stock of both were steady to slightly higher in early trade. But it does underscore what’s at stake for Redstone, and probably turns up the heat on the companies to perform better and get the stock price moving higher.

What’s new with the Redstone family?

sumner.jpgThe Redstone family knows drama. Late last week, Sumner Redstone’s family holding, National Amusements, announced that it was making a substantial stock sale in each of its key holdings, CBS and Viacom to comply with debt covenants. 

But the sale raised questions about whether some of the proceeds from the sales were actually earmarked to fund and expansion of National Amusements movie theater business, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Sumner Redstone’s daughter, Shari, who runs National Amusements, issued a statement to the Wall Street Journal denying that the stock sale had anything to do with expanding the theater business.

What you watched on TV last week…

It was a big week in the TV world for CBS, according to the latest Nielsen data.

Its live plus same day ratings for the week ending October 12, the third week of the new TV season, are below. As you can see, CBS won in total viewers, adults aged 18-49, and had the top show of the week in CSI.

TOTAL VIEWERS (Average ratings/Audience)
CBS 3.8/11.0 million
ABC 3.3/9.6 million
Fox 2.7/8.0 million
NBC 2.4/7.0 million

ADULTS 18-49 (Average rating/Audience)
CBS 3.2/4.2 million
ABC 3.0/3.9 million
Fox 2.7/3.6 million
NBC 2.7/3.5 million

What to say at times like these?

wallstreet.jpgThe financial crisis is tough on everybody — Madison Avenue copywriters included.

Stuart Elliott of the New York Times looks at how tough it can be to craft an advertising campaign in this climate, particularly if your client is in financial services.

He points to a new campaign by Washington Mutual, which was sold to JP Morgan Chase amid all the upheaval. What do you say to consumers? The creatives working on the campaign went for humor, Elliot writes, deciding on a headline reading “We love Chase,” followed by “And not just because they have a trillion dollars.”

It’s 8:00 p.m. — do you know where your TV is?

television-set.jpgThe new prime-time TV season is starting and that means all eyes are on Nielsen ratings. While that’s the case every fall, this one is a bit different — the industry is recovering from a writers’ strike that threw the 2007-08 season into disarray.

AdAge points out, for instance, that serialized dramas already appear to be having trouble getting their footing back. It says two NBC dramas, “Chuck” and “Life,” both opened the season to sharply lower viewing numbers for the 18-49 demographic than they did a year ago.

Both are indicative of how many serialized dramas lost media momentum last year due to the strike, and how hard it will be to rebuild it without the buildup of free media any new show receives