Part II of TVNewsCheck‘s annual roundup of the big news of the year (complete with links to earlier stories) covers programming, journalism, sales/advertising and new media. The two biggest names in TV programming of 2009 were Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey. Their moves sent large ripples through the network and syndication worlds.
This is part II of TVNewsCheck’s annual roundup of the big news of the year. It covers programming, journalism, sales/advertising and new media. In Part I, which appeared yesterday, you can review the year’s happening in business, management, Washington and technology and pay final respects to the TV people who died this year.
In TV broadcasting, the biggest programmming news involved two individuals — Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey — and two different flavors of television: network and syndication. Both stories sent large ripples throughout the business.
Jay Leno wrapped up 17 years as Tonight host on May 29 with jabs at favorite targets, including politicians and his own network, and with an unusual touch of sentiment. Leno’s swan song averaged an 8.8 household rating/20 share in Nielsen’s 56 overnight metered markets, which cover more than 70 percent of U.S. TV households. That marked a 126 percent hike over the show’s metered-market average (3.9) during the past quarter.
Taking his spot behind the Tonight desk was Conan O’Brien, who debuted on June 2.
Rather than lose Leno to a competing network, NBC decided to remake his show as a comedy hour that it could strip syndication-style every night at 10 o’clock. Far cheaper than a slate of hour dramas, the network figured, Leno would make money for the network and deliver a big enough audience to appease affiliates concerned about the lead-in to their late newscasts.
The great Leno experiment began on Sept. 14. Blessed with stars, a contrite Kanye West, Jerry Seinfeld, the industry’s nearly undivided attention and a lack of competition from NBC’s rivals, The Jay Leno Show had a strong opening week. All five of its episodes finished among The Nielsen’s 24 most-watched primetime shows.
But, by October, ratings were fallling and affiliates were grumbling. As some had predicted, the move was undermining viewership of some local latenight newscasts, a crucial source of revenue for the network’s affiliates.
The November sweep numbers offered more detail on Leno’s sinking ratings and negative impact on local newscasts. The lousy lead-in numbers hammered NBC affils all over the country, turning the late news landscape upside down in November.
On Nov. 19, the rumors and reports became official: The Oprah Winfrey Show would end its run in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air. The syndication powerhouse is an iconic broadcast that began as a local Chicago talk show and grew over two decades into the foundation of a media empire worth billions.
Winfrey will turn her attention to her new cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is a co-venture with Discovery Communications and is scheduled to premiere in January 2011.
Financial repercussions from Winfrey’s decision include hits to CBS and Walt Disney Co.’s ABC. The ABC O&Os carry Oprah and over the years it has served as a strong and reliable lead-in to the evening newscasts. CBS, which acquired Winfrey’s original syndicator, King World, for $2.5 billion 10 years ago, has taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in distribution fees from the show.
The move immediately opened up syndication to a wide range of contenders, some of them linked to Oprah Winfrey herself, who will vie for the dominant role in daytime. The move also means broadcasters need to be thinking once again about how they can stop the migration of their best programming to cable and what they need to do to get some new best programming.
The regular broadcast season ended in May with Fox at No. 1 in 18-49s and CBS No. 1 in households. But it’s only toward the end of June that media buyers saw the networks’ rankings on the measure used in negotiating ad buys, C3, or live viewing plus three days of DVR playback. And on this all-important measure, Fox’s lead in 18-49s over the other Big Four networks was even wider.
Viewership to TV stations in the two weeks following the June 12 end of full-power analog dipped, according to Nielsen on July 24, but that was “largely temporary” and levels returned in the ensuing weeks.
The first week of the new season showed TV’s biggest programs grabbing even more viewership from DVR playback after seven days. Some of the top-rated broadcast network shows added anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent more adult 18-49 viewers after seven days of DVR playback.
A look at Nielsen’s new live-plus-three ratings for local markets showed that 90 percent of time-shifted viewing occurs within three days of broadcast, and DVRs boost viewing by 21 percent in the key 18-to-49 demo.
Other DVR data for the 2008-09 season gave some pause to network execs fretting about declining ratings. At least 30 percent of viewers for Lost, The Office and Heroes were procrastinators, watching either later that night or up to seven days after the programs first aired.
For the first time, the NATPE presented content panels at January’s MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. The sessions offered a first look at never-before-seen interactive mobile video technologies, present the ways in which traditional programming content is being customized for the iPhone and competing mobile platforms and explore the options available to content creators in new media.
The surest sign of the misery local TV stations were enduring amid the economic meltdown was the slim roster of daytime strips that were hawked at the syndie biz’s annual NATPE confab in January.
Emphasizing that point was John Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution, who said in advance of the syndication show: “The syndication business is considering 2009 to be a rebuilding year, a pulling-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps year. And 2010 is going to be an exciting launch year.”
Dispelling the widespread “this-may-be-the-last-NATPE” speculation amid the troubled economic climate, NATPE CEO Rick Feldman announced the organization will once again hold its annual conference in January 2010. He later announced that the show would return in 2011, but in Miami, rather than Las Vegas.
At the beginning of the year, three studios — Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate – announced they were developing a premium movie channel to be called Epix that will compete with HBO and Showtime.
After failing with telenovelas and low-cost original programming, MyNetworkTV announced in February that it planned to offer proven off-network programming as a “program distribution service.” It hopes the plan will boost ratings while allowing it to cut costs in development, sales and promotion. “The traditional network business model just doesn’t work for us,” says President Greg Meidel.
No longer a network, MyNetworkTV dropped out of the nightly ratings game. Nielsen informed its clients Sept. 29 that MNT has stopped supplying program information to its daily reporting service effective this week. Instead, MNT will now receive its numbers as part of the weekly syndication ratings report, which is released every Tuesday.
Meidel in August was named president of Twentieth Television, reporting directly to Jack Abernethy, CEO, Fox Television Stations., Meidel was given responsibility for overseeing all first-run, network and off-network programming and distribution for the syndicator and the new MNT programming service.
Thom Beers, the creator of Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, sold a controlling stake (75 percent) of his production company Original Productions to FremantleMedia (American Idol) in February.
Also in February, Fox ordered two more seasons of The Simpsons, which will make the animated hit the longest-running series in primetime TV history, surpassing Gunsmoke‘s 20 years on CBS.
NBC is also gunning for the record. It announced in May that it was renewing Dick Wolf’s Law & Order for a 20th season, which will tie the crime drama with Gunsmoke.
Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men may be the last off-net program to be sold exclusively to TV stations because stations don’t have the cash to deal the way they used to, according to syndication executives and analysts.
In a year when everything seems to be down, TV viewership is up. According to Nielsen figures released on Nov. 10, Americans on average watched four hours and 49 minutes of TV per day during the 2008-09 season — a record high. One quarter of the viewing was during primetime, the research firm said.
Counting computers and mobile devices, the average American adult spends eight hours a day in front of screens, being exposed to an hour of commercials. Computer use has replaced radio as the second most common media activity, according to data released in March.
In April, The CW said it will air original programming this summer, a first for the network. The two summer series are Washington docudrama Blonde Charity Mafia (originally developed for Lifetime) and reality relationship series Hitched or Ditched.
The next month, the CW confirmed rumors that beginning in the fall it will turn back Sunday night to its affiliates to program, following its unsuccessful experiment of outsourcing its Sunday lineup to an outside company, MRC.
CBS announced in April that after 72 years and nearly 16,000 episodes, CBS’s Guiding Light will end its network run on Friday, Sept. 18. Light was the lowest-rated of the eight network soaps still on the air. Its ratings had fallen 25 percent in the past year following a radical change in production designed to make it more cost-effective.
Then, in December, CBS said that it would end As the World Turns in September 2010. It and Guiding Light were produced by a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term “soap operas” was created because it used the shows to hawk products like Ivory soap and Duz laundry detergent.
TV execs breathed a sigh of relief after avoiding another strike. The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached an agreement on a new contract in April.
For the first time anyone in TV circles can recall, a network used a pilot for a show not as the beginning of a series, but as the start of a marketing campaign. That’s because after Glee had its post-American Idol bow on May 19, Fox didn’t air the second episode of the series until the fall.
Broadcast TV emerged from the wreckage of the writers strike with what advertising executives called a better development season than many have seen in years.
In June, just after the broadcasting business completed its transition from analog to digital broadcasting, Nielsen unveiled plans to step up how it “follows the video” across all of the platform that people watch it on, including “enhanced” TV, online and mobile. In an expansion of a relationship it entered into with copyright protection company Digimarc in 2007, Nielsen announced plans for two new, 50-50 joint ventures to monitor the consumption of video content wherever it shows up.
On June 18, ABC announced its long-expected final reorganized structure, integrating business and operational arms of ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios. Under the new structure, business affairs, business development, casting, program planning and scheduling and distribution for ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios will be combined, while each will maintain separate creative teams.
Time Warner and Comcast Corp. pushed ahead with a plan they’re calling TV Everwhere to make big cable network shows available online to existing cable subscribers shortly after their first airing.
On June 25, television organizations scrambled to pull together retrospective news specials on Michael Jackson, who was pronounced dead that day at the age of 50 after going into cardiac arrest.
Jeff Gaspin was made chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment on July 27 after co-chairman Ben Silverman announced he’s leaving for a new venture after a turbulent run. Gaspin retained responsibility for NBCU’s cable networks and TV distribution.
In October, a CBS News employee was accused of trying to extort $2 million from David Letterman, forcing the late-night host to admit in an extraordinary monologue before millions of viewers that he had sexual relationships with female employees.
In October, Sony’s Dr. Oz, produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, emerged as first-run syndication’s first out-of-the-box hit since Rachael Ray, also produced by Harpo, launched in 2006. Starring Oprah-groomed surgeon Mehmet Oz, Oz could succeed Oprah show as the afternoon franchise in 2011.
Among the syndicated shows to meet their demise during the year were Twentieth TV’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Cristina’s Court; Warner Bros.’ Bonnie Hunt; and Program Partners’ Marie (it never made it to air).
ABC had just enough juice to hold off CBS for second place during the November sweeps, though neither network could catch up to a baseball-fueled Fox. As expected, Fox captured its first-ever November sweeps victory, ending ABC’s run of four consecutive wins.
As the year opened, a shrinking economy and increasing competition forced TV stations to cut newsroom costs and look for ways to do the news more efficiently. Among the initiatives:
News-sharing arrangements among competing stations in a market. However, some were wary of this development. The spate of news-sharing announcements spanned the country:
- Fox and NBC created the Local News Service for O&Os in Chicago and Philadelphia.
- Then came WOIO and WKYC Cleveland.
- KPHO, KPNX and KTVK Phoenix (helicopter sharing).
- WCMH and WSYX Columbus, Ohio
- WFXT and WBZ Boston
- WAGA, WXIA and WGCL Atlanta (WGCL pulled out after six weeks)
- WTTG, WRC and WUSA Washington
- WTVT, WFTS and WTSP Tampa, Fla.
- KTTV, KNBC and KTLA Los Angeles
- KDFW, KXAS and KDAF Dallas
- WNYW, WNBC, WPIX and WCBS New York
- WKMG, WOFL Orlando, Fla., and Central Florida News 13 (the cable news net pulled out after four weeks)
- WCPO and WXIX Cincinnati
- Layoffs that in many cases were group-wide (such as that at Media General). In many cases those affected were longtime, big name anchors with large salaries.
- Canceling newscasts (on the flip side of that coin, however, were a number of stations that added news broadcasts to their lineups as less expensive substitutes for high-priced syndicated programming.
- Patnering with newspapers on joint Web and other ventures.
- Doing more with less. This includes equipping journalists with compact cameras, tripods and editing equipment that they use by themselves to help TV stations make the transition to 24-hour-a-day news operations. Outlets are producing stories not just for a few newscasts, but also for Web sites and mobile platforms without having to add cost to tight budgets.
In other news about TV news:
The National Transportation Safety Board in January called for new limits on helicopter pilots who report for TV, following an investigation into the deadly collision between two Arizona news helicopters in July 2007.
News producers, writers and editors at NBC O&O WMAQ Chicago were told on Jan. Jan. 28 that they must reapply for new multi-faceted positions, the demands of which reflect the station’s efforts to provide content not just for TV but the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging platforms.
In February, veteran ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, 74, retired after 41 years at the network. Whatever else he accomplished in his years at ABC News, Donaldson knows he’ll be remembered mainly for his bellowing voice. “I guess it’ll be on my tombstone: ‘He yelled at Ronald Reagan,’ ” Donaldson said.
Tribune Co. told the nine broadcasting members of its Washington bureau on Feb. 27 that their positions would be eliminated in March. Tribune said it has news sharing agreements with CNN that it will use to service its stations.
WNBC New York’s long-promised new digital channel, New York Nonstop, launched March 9, at 5 a.m. as the company’s latest step to drive content to as many people as possible. New York Nonstop will be available to 5.7 million viewers on cable and over the air over the O&O’s digital ch. 4.2.
One advantage to the tough economic times is that when times are tough, people turn more often to local TV for news. According to a Frank N. Magid Associates study for Hearst-Argyle Television, 99 percent of respondents said they are watching local TV news at least as much as or more frequently than in the past due to the troubled economy.
In a small victory for old-fashioned journalism, in April WNBC New York stopped referring to its newsroom as its “content center.”
In May, the Federal Trade Commission became concerned about the future of news on TV and radio as well as newspapers and launched a new series entitled “Can News Media Survive the Internet Age? Competition, Consumer Protection and the First Amendment,” and will consider a range of fixes including possible nonprofit models.
News directors were getting a better shot at making general manager. With stations creating round-the-clock content on an array of platforms, some believe it makes more sense to have an experienced content producer as general manager.
KOLD, the Raycom Tucson, Ariz., CBS affiliate, went live for about 90 minutes on its secondary channel to cover a three-alarm fire at a recycling plant in August.
In August, Former TV news anchor Dan Rather sued CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward in an attempt to have them reinstated as defendants in his $70 million lawsuit against the network. In September, however, more than two years after Rather filed the suit claiming breach of contract and fraud, a New York Supreme Court appellate division tossed out his claim.
The anchor of ABC’s World News since May of 2006, Charles Gibson, announced in September that he would step down from the post at the end of the year and retire from full-time employment at ABC News. Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer will replace Gibson beginning Dec. 21.
And George Stephanopoulos replaced Sawyer on GMA. He will also continue to anchor the Sunday program This Week for the time being.
President Obama called the late CBS anchor Walter Cronkite “a voice of certainty in a world that was growing more and more uncertain.” Speaking at a memorial service for the legendary newsman, Obama acknowledged he hadn’t known Cronkite personally, “but I have benefited as a citizen from his dogged pursuit of the truth.”
The Radio-Television News Directors Association changed its name on Oct. 13 to the Radio Television Digital News Association.
NBC affiliates’ weather content got a bit richer in September, as NBC’s cable network Weather Channel has joined NBC NewsChannel, the back-end content sharing system that allows participating NBC affiliates to share footage of major breaking news with each other.
In a bid to save money, the Washington Fox O&O WTTG reassigns the technicians who operate the electronic prompters that feed scripted news copy to the anchors while they’re on the air. Instead, the station wants the anchors to do the job themselves.
Friends, family and colleagues gathered to celebrate the life and career of longtime CBS newsman Don Hewitt on Oct. 19 at Lincoln Center.
On Nov. 12, a jury sentenced Curtis Lavelle Vance to life in prison for the beating death in 2008 of KATV Little Rock, Ark., anchor Anne Pressly, sparing him the death penalty.
PBS mainstay Bill Moyers said in November that he was retiring from weekly television and would end his Friday night public affairs show, Bill Moyers Journal, on April 30, 2010.
CBS’s two TV and five radio stations in Philadelphia teamed with a local marketing and technology company to offer a 24-hours news ticker and a flat-screen high-definition television set to broadcast news, weather and sports updates along with tourist information about Philadelphia, eventually at 120 locations across the market.
Meredith’s Fox affiliate in Portland, Ore., KPTV, adopted Nomad Innovations’ LiveEdge unit to send coverage from the field back to the station via 3G and 4G WiMAX networks.
Stations suffering from plunging auto and retail sales got some relief as the year went on from the government’s Cash for Clunkers program, health care issue advertising and a slowly, but steadily improving economy.
With DVR penetration time-shifted viewing growing steadily, TVB-led local broadcasters said they want to sell time using live-plus-three days ratings, but media buyer want nothing to do with the new metric. They see live only or commercial ratings as the way to go in local.
YouTube tried convince big media companies that love is better than war by giving them a cut of ad revenues from their videos that appear on YouTube, regardless of who put them there.
The two operating groups under Petry Holdings — Petry and Blair — are reorganized into one unit in February.
The Absolut Vodka commercials that aired in 15 cities during February’s Grammy Awards marked the first time in years that liquor ads ran in primetime on network-owned stations.
In February Fox introduced a “fewer-commercials” strategy based on the theory that with shorter commercial breaks, viewers will be less likely to reach for the remote control. Each episode of Fringe includes about 10 minutes of commercials, four to six minutes fewer than the typical hour-long show. In May, the network announced in would continue the strategy in the upcoming fall season, but in a more limited fashion.
A group of top buyers and sellers recommended radical changes to the spot-buying market, including altering the decades-old negotiating currency: switching from using cost-per-point as its currency to a cost-per-thousand metric.
In a move that could set off a new competitive arms race on Madison Avenue, WPP’s GroupM unit struck a deal with Nielsen Co. in February for a new “real-time” commercial tracking system that will put competitive advertising analysis on a hair trigger.
Some of the biggest advertisers in the U.S., including auto maker General Motors and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, are putting the squeeze on companies that produce and broadcast their ads, as part of an effort to rework contracts with suppliers to cut costs.
Some signs of improvement came in March when automakers began using scatter and spot to make ad buys ahead of the important spring selling season.
TV stations and networks ran more direct-response advertising — ads that offer an 800 number so viewers can respond immediately — and paid programming. Both forms of advertising have been on the rise in the past year, and that means even fewer opportunities for syndicators.
In April, the 50 remaining employees of what was once the largest office of the world’s largest advertising agency network were given the news that JWT’s Chicago office was closing. The Windy City institution never recovered from the 2007 loss of Kraft and Federated Stores.
A study commissioned jointly by one of the biggest publishers of magazines and distributors of television programming, found that 30-second TV spots and full-page, four-color magazine ads were proven to be more effective than standard online banner ads.
An April study from TiVo and Innerscope Research provided data supporting what advertisers have long suspected: Viewers are less likely to fast-forward through emotionally engaging advertising — provided it’s able to grab them in the first few seconds.
Allbritton Commications injected $1.4 million of economic fuel into local auto dealerships, one of the staples of local TV ad sales. Launched at WJLA Washington, the program was meant to help local dealers by giving each Allbritton employee $2,000 so long as they spent it on a car at one of those dealerships.
With Chrysler reneging on its promise to shift money from national to spot, auto led the pack of category losers in the second quarter. It was off a whopping 41 percent compared to last year. Other key categories were relatively good. Retail was off 12 percent despite robust spending by value chains like Wal-Mart. And telecom was down just 11 percent
Nielsen told clients in July that it would increase by 25 percent the size of its Local People Meter samples in each of the country’s two largest markets. By next summer, the sample sizes in New York and Los Angeles will rise from the current 800 to 1,000.
The federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program has dramatically fueled auto sales across America, and has kicked local TV advertising into gear as well. The initial round of the program replaced an estimated 250,000 gas-guzzling automobiles with fuel-efficient new rides.
It’s as if the election season has come early, as advertising related to President Obama’s plan to reform the nation’s health care system continued to flow into station coffers during the summer.
In September, Nielsen launched a system that will allow networks and syndicators to automatically log when and where their commercials ran and reduce the chance of discrepancies in Nielsen’s C3 ratings system. A Nielsen spokesman said the new automated log system is 100% compliant for all networks, including cable.
Top U.S. media companies and marketers created a consortium to challenge the dominant force in TV audience measurement, Nielsen. The Council for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) includes the major TV networks and big media shops such as WPP’s GroupM, Interpublic’s Mediabrands, Omnicom’s Omnicom Media Group, and Havas’ MPG, Publicis’ MediaVest, and big advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
In another step toward the integration of online and television, Nielsen Co. informed its clients in September that it is adding new sample characteristics to its ratings software that will enable advertisers, agencies and media companies to identify the composition of TV audiences based on their household Internet connection speed, persons Internet usage, whether the households are “telephone-capable,” and whether the households play video games.
In October, Nielsen Co. decided on a plan to install Internet meters alongside TV meters in its entire TV measurement panel over the next year, with the possibility of providing a so-called “single source” measurement of television programming viewed across the two media as soon as 2011.
Nielsen pulled out its checkbook in October and deposited $2.5 million into the Council for Research Excellence, dwarfing the financial coffers of the recently formed Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. The new grant to the CRE, formed in 2005 to conduct methodological research for improving media measurement, brings Nielsen’s total investment to $10 million.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies wrote a blistering letter to Nielsen in November over a decision to soon substitute a live-plus-same-day measurement for local viewership for the traditional live-only metric, to take into account viewers who watch specific programs either live or within 24 hours of their airing.
The Federal Trade Commission said in December that it wants advertisers of violent movies, music and video games to do more to restrict the advertising and promotion of that content, including on broadcast and cable TV.
Just this week, Schurz Communications opted to drop its subscription to Nielsen for its three stations in Wichita-Hutchinson, Kan., opting instead to sell spots based on consumer data from Marshall Marketing and viewership data from Rentrak gleaned from set-top cable boxes in 8,000 homes in the sprawling 67-county market. Schurz was not not the first station to forsake Nielsen. Nexstar Broadcasting did it across all its small- and medium-market stations a few years ago. And at least a few other broadcasters have followed suit. Earlier this year, Granite dropped the service for the three stations it operates in Peoria, Ill., including the NBC (WEEK) and ABC (WHOI) affiliates. Because the only other commercial broadcaster in Peoria is Nexstar, no commercial broadcaster in the market now subscribes to Nielsen.
2009 was a bad year for online advertising, too. This year figures to be the first down year for online ads since 2002. Spending on online advertising is expected to come in at $22.8 billion in 2009 in the U.S., down 2.9% from a year ago.
Sling Media demonstrated an application in January called SlingPlayer Mobile that allows users to watch TV signals delivered to their cable or satellite set-top box on their iPhone. In addition, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone users will be able to control their home DVR to watch recorded shows; pause, rewind and fast forward live TV; or even queue new recordings while away from home
Tribune Interactive created The Syndicate to provide online multimedia packages to the Web sites of its TV stations and newspapers, as well as to those owned by Local TV.
ESPN positioned itself to capitalize on the demise of local newspapers. It announced in February that it plans to launch ESPNChicago.com, a Web site devoted to the Chicago sports scene. The site will feature a daily Chicago version of Sportscenter, ESPN’s signature sports news show, and contributions from ESPN columnists and radio personalities with ties to the city.
In February, CBS’s TV.com fired the latest salvo in an ongoing battle with News Corp./NBC Universal backed video site, Hulu, over who gets to air which shows online and where.
Sinclair partnered with Rev Up, which will provide Web search and local business directory offerings to help Sinclair’s stations generate additional local sales revenue.
Underscoring the urgent need for advertising standards in the online video business, the Interactive Advertising Bureau launched its first effort in February to develop best practices for ads in TV shows on the Web.
In February, Hearst Television’s NBC affiliate in Lancaster, Pa., WGAL began airing a daily live chat on its Web site where the public can follow the station’s morning news meeting.
In a move that will likely align the ROI of online advertising more closely with that of traditional media such as television, influential source of media marketplace data SQAD announced in February that it will use Madison Avenue’s long-standing CPM, or cost-per-thousand, metric as the currency for tracking online advertising.
Media General-owned WCMH Columbus, Ohio, began airing its @5:30 on 4 newscast that incorporates Internet interaction with viewers — one of several experiments the Media General station group is undertaking to incorporate social media such as Twitter and Facebook into newscasts.
DirecTV Group Inc. said in March that it’s open to giving subscribers exclusive online access to television shows such as HBO’s Entourage that are normally not available for free over the Internet, agreeing with a growing consortium of cable companies and networks.
March Madness on Demand looked like a slam dunk for CBSSports.com. After the first day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament got underway, CBS reported 2.7 million unique visits to its online video player, a 56 percent increase from last year.
The two television academies, Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, have settled their differences over governing awards for broadband TV content. After a years-long legal dispute, NATAS has dropped all appeals against arbitration won by ATAS.
ABC News launched a weekly political webcast, Top Line, on March 30. The 15-minute webcast streams live on the ABCNews.com homepage each Monday at noon, and is hosted by Rick Klein (political reporter and author of The Note) and political director David Chalian.
Beginning in April, news content from the Fox O&Os was made available to bloggers and news-oriented Web sites at Redlasso.com and MySpace and Fox News launched uReport, where users can share their citizen journalist-produced content with the MySpace uReport community for the chance to be featured on Fox News.
YouTube is having success in selling advertising against its more than 1.2 billion videos that it streams each day. The company confirmed in April that it is selling ads in the U.S. against more video views than its nearest competitor, Fox Interactive, meaning nine percent of its total U.S. views, up from six percent in the previous year.
The new Search and Discovery for Media service by DataSphere let visitors to Fisher stations’ Web sites search across real-time video, audio and text articles, while letting advertisers target consumers.
In April, the Walt Disney Co. joined fellow multimedia giants NBC Universal and News Corp. as a stakeholders and content providers for Hulu, the growing TV Web site.
In October, Hulu was experimenting with different business models and initiatives, from bumping up advertising to designing subscription-based content, to boost revenue. But Hulu later said it is committed to the ad-supported model, for now.
Looking to jump-start sales on its Web platforms, Univision adopted a service in April that allows advertisers with limited budgets to place banner ads online by doing little more than uploading a logo and typing in a credit card number.
In trying to win over television programmers and the brand advertisers that want to sponsor their shows, YouTube offered more flexible terms for providers of premium TV content. The new inducements? Functionality that lets programmers run pre-roll ads before shows and a policy that lets networks use their own video players on the site.
Nielsen began measuring the Internet usage of some members of its national TV ratings sample at the end of April, and if the controversial test goes well, plans to make a decision in the fall on whether to expand the integration of TV and Internet measurement.
In May, ABC News launched a YouTube channel, featuring programming from all shows and platforms, including World News Tonight, Good Morning America, Nightline, This Week, Primetime and 20/20.
Google TV Ads began booking upfront deals in May with major agencies and advertisers for the first time. Marketers are committing upwards of seven figures to buy ads through the TV spot buying system in the year ahead.
Partnering with startup Ustream, CBS News announced plans in June to live-stream all of its Evening News broadcasts and breaking news reports over the Internet. It’s a non-exclusive, ad-revenue sharing deal.
Beginning in June, viewers in any of the 17 markets where LIN owns a TV station could download a free application that allows them to view local news on their iPhone.
As broadcasters increasingly produce content for new platforms, including the Internet and mobile devices, The Associated Press in June changed the underlying architecture of its ENPS (Electronic News Production System) newsroom computer system to keep pace.
In July, New York’s PBS station WNET launched a new, hyperlocal version of its online video portal. Users can watch not only their favorite national public TV shows, but also find all of the station’s locally produced, exclusive programming.
As TV stations lose viewers and advertising revenue, they are turning to social networking Web sites for help. In recent months, news directors have used such sites as Facebook and Twitter to generate stories and, hopefully, boost ratings.
In July, Netflix unveiled a partnership with Sony Electronics that will allow certain Netflix subscribers to instantly watch movies streamed from Netflix on certain of Sony’s Bravia TV sets.
YouTube got into the local news business in August when nearly 200 news outlets agreed to post videos on the Web site and split the revenue from ads alongside them.
The chairman of IAC/InterActive, Barry Diller, and the just-departed NBC Entertainment co-chairman, Ben Silverman, launched a firm that would get advertisers and producers together to create ‘branded’ entertainment and bridge “the gap between traditional television and the Internet.”
Fisher Communications in August used DataSphere Technologies’ new LocalNet service to construct a network of 43 hyperlocal neighborhood sites in Seattle. Its KOMO there restructured its newsroom “to effectively and efficiently capture and post community news on a real-time basis.” Then in October, Fisher extended its hyperlocal push by launching 38 neighborhood sites in Portland and Eugene, Ore.
Setting its sights on local markets, msnbc.com acquired Chicago-based local online news provider EveryBlock in August.
Fox teamed with Twitter in September to introduce “tweet-peats” of Fringe and Glee: encore presentations accompanied by messages from cast and producers via the social network. Viewers can follow Twitter-sent messages (online and on-air via a scroll near the bottom of the screen) providing commentary, revealing behind-the-scenes details and answering fan questions.
AT&T, parent of TV provider U-Verse, launched an online destination in September that looks a lot like Hulu. The site, at www.entertainment.att.net, features ad-supported movies and TV shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, the CW, USA Network and others.
The new fall TV season, though lacking a true breakout hit, provided a boost to Google’s new Video Plus Box ad unit. That placement, introduced last spring as part of an ongoing beta test, consists of a small graphical box that appears within Google’s text-based search results. The box features a small plus sign that indicates that a video is available with a click of the mouse.
NPR received $3 million in funding in October to launch a new journalism project that will focus on providing in-depth, hyperlocal coverage on community-specific issues on an online platform.
In November, iTunes is reported to be considering an all-you-can eat $30-a-month TV service. A new subscription service would turn iTunes into a pseudo cable and satellite TV operator. The difference is that the iTunes service would carry advertising.
For reasons that include saving money, convenience, personal choice and a hatred of commercials, more and more viewers are cutting the cord from cable, satellite and telephone suppliers of TV service, even throwing away the rabbit ears and other antennas that brought in free over-the-air broadcasts.
The Local TV-owned Fox affiliate in Cleveland, WJW, began streaming its newscasts and local programming live on the iPhone and iPod Touch in November. The live video stream works over a 3G network or WiFi connection.
Nielsen has decided on a plan to install Internet meters alongside TV meters in its entire TV measurement panel over the next year, with the possibility of providing a so-called “single source” measurement of television programming viewed across the two media as soon as next year.
NBC may continue to have problems on traditional TV — but that’s not the case with its new digital video platforms. In September, the first month of the new TV season, NBC.com rocketed past ABC.com, CBS.com and Fox.com, according to comScore Media Metrix, to become the No. 1 network online.
One year after NBC Local Media relaunched and reoriented its TV station Web sites with a hyper-local focus, the strategy is paying off. According to new figures, the number of visitors to the 10 Web sites doubled from 6 million in Nov. 2008 to 12 million in Oct. 2009.
An agreement announced in December with YouTube/Google, Sprint TV, Grab Networks, 5min and News Inc. will allow Meredith Video Studios to create and distribute content based on Meredith’s national brands – such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Parents and Fitness – to millions of consumers through more than 150,000 Web sites.
RTDNA expanded its annual Edward R. Murrow Awards by welcoming submissions from exclusively online news organizations in each of the categories for the 2010 honors.
Microsoft partnered with NBC Universal Local Media and Hearst Television to syndicate local television content via Microsoft’s MSN Local Edition project.