MediaFile

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.

But, the article points out, the “most obvious reasons for the pickups are that many series this fall are doing poorly, and these shows are performing among the best of the worst. Networks are loath to exit the fall without at least one series to tout as a success. Plus, the writers strike, as Rash noted, has delayed quality mid-season replacements. And with ratings declining overall because of increasing DVR penetration and audience erosion to cable networks and the Internet, the bar for success keeps being lowered.”

So even if your retirement savings isn’t what it used to be, at least you’ll be able to enjoy “Knight Rider” for a while longer.

Anyone care to bet on World Series TV ratings?

rays.jpgThere’s been quite a bit of hand-wringing over this year’s World Series, which starts this week. It boils down to how Tampa Bay vs. Philadephia doesn’t exactly have the sex appeal of Los Angeles vs. Boston.

But those killjoys are thinking about it all wrong, a number of experts say. What Fox and advertisers really want is a long, competitive series, regardless of who is playing.  ”What gets overstated is the importance of the matchup and what gets understated is the importance of volume,” Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio says in an article we just posted.

What’s more, Jeff Gagne, a vice president with MPG North America, responsible for national sports negotiations, points out that this Tampa Bay worst-to-first story is pretty intriguing. It all comes down to the Tampa Bay story. “If that storyline can see itself over a long series, the ratings should actually do okay.”

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)

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

Do you know who’s watching?

telescope.jpgIt’s called deep-packet inspection. Congress wonders if it’s plain-old spying. Basically, it’s when web companies track their customers’ visits online and use the information to tailor Internet advertisements for them.

Congress was worried about it enough to begin questioning some of the biggest Internet companies about the practice this month.  And guess what? It seems some web companies are indeed using targeting without informing their customers.

The Washington Post writes that the revelations come from letters released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Television totally rules!

dollars.jpgWhat’s all this talk about the struggles of the TV industry?

Sure, ratings were down again last season. Screenwriters walked off the job, and while they eventually settled, the actors may be next to strike. No new shows really caught fire, and that Web thing sure does seem to be stealing advertising dollars. Then there’s $4/gallon gasoline, a housing slump, job losses — which all adds up to a generally lousy economy.

And yet… the upfront market looked pretty strong. Last week, NBC gave an early indication that the market was healthy and moving more quickly than expected as reports surfaced that it had booked deals worth about $1.9 billion, with prices up by mid-single digits to high-single digits on a percentage basis.

Yesterday, word spread that ABC’s prices were up about 9 percent and CBS landed gains of 7 percent to 9 percent. Fox is believed to have done even better.

Fox: King of the world!

strike.jpgTV strike? What TV strike?

Seems that Fox survived the 14-week writers strike, and arguably thrived if you stack its prime-time ratings up against major broadcast networks. It has  finished the season as the undisputed ratings leader for the first time, thanks to a combination of the Super Bowl and that little talent show known as “American Idol.”

Sure, “American Idol” ended its latest run with year-to-year declines in both overall audience and ratings for viewers aged 18 to 49 – and the show notched some record ratings lows this season. But let’s be honest here, it’s coming off pretty tough comparisons.

Even if the talent show is fading a bit, the network has built a strong supporting cast around “American Idol,” one that includes “House,” “Bones,” and “24,” which will be back next year after the strike kept it off the schedule this season.

Anyone want some cash back?

dollars.jpgTake that Google!

Microsoft, in a bid to win share of the search market from Google and Yahoo, now plans to offer a new “cashback” service that provides a rebate when users buy something they found searching with Windows Live.

Chairman Bill Gates’ announcement of the rebate plan is the latest loud and clear sign of how much importance Microsoft is placing on advertising. (It apparently has been in talks with a company named, ummm, Yahoo, about just this).

“This is giving you a reason why you should use a particular search engine,” Gates said at the company’s Advance 08 advertising conference.