Alan Wolk: How is the industry going to handle this new interim period, where traditional pay TV is far from dead, but streaming is rapidly growing an audience?
Margaret Sullivan: “Savannah Guthrie brought her A game to last week’s NBC town hall with President Trump. As Thursday’s final debate between Trump and Joe Biden approaches, Guthrie’s NBC colleague, White House correspondent Kristen Welker, needs to have the best night of her career, too — but in a very different way. To make this debate something that serves the public interest rather than being the disastrous circus that it could be, she needs to be in control.”
A single week’s worth of entertainment business news demonstrates just how much movies and television have been upended by covid-19. Assessing the magnitude of change in a single industry is a good way to consider how different the world could look by the time we feel safe enough to emerge from seclusion.
Tech and philanthropic institutions are giving thousands of $5,000 to $250,000 grants to individual newsrooms, but… then what?
Broadcasters would welcome reformation of the outdated newspaper-TV crossownership rule, but the Supreme Court’s decision to hear an appeal of the Third Circuit decision doesn’t solve all the industry’s COVID-induced woes. The FCC still needs to eliminate the Top 4 rule and online video distributors need to be classified as MVPDs.
Streaming services need to offer a synchronous, interactive livestream of sports options if they want to hold on to the cord cutters they’ve gained since the pandemic.
The events of the past week show that in-person showdowns won’t work in this pandemic, with this administration.
Margaret Sullivan: “With President Trump apparently struck by covid-19 a month before a critical election and after 200,000 American deaths from the disease, what we really need right now is an entirely credible, fact-based voice from the White House. Good luck with that.”
There is an old adage about negotiations that states one can only be truly confident of a fair and equitable agreement when both sides walk away from the table feeling like they each got the short end of the stick. I’m reminded of that old saw following the first 2020 presidential debate from Tuesday night, and the equal amounts of animus directed towards Chris Wallace for the job he did as moderator.
Nexstar’s new national newscast shows promise with its polish and presentation, but to really compete in the ratings it needs an earlier start time and more resources behind it.
NAB CEO Gordon Smith: “The work of our most-trusted sources of news — our local radio and TV stations, broadcast network partners and community and national newspapers — during the most important events of the past six months have shown how essential a free press is to keeping people informed. Yet, these historic times have also laid bare the existential threats facing journalism brought on by economic, cultural and political factors.”
With all businesses now forced to conduct business remotely, some are embracing employee flexibility as more than just a temporary solution. There are benefits to adopting flexible work schedules — flexibility, reduced turnover and lower expenses. With that, can come increased company loyalty. Offering this type of work-life balance can lead to increased productivity, even if the arrangement is part-time. Such offerings can also make the company an employer of choice, boosting both recruitment and retention.
Hank Price: “I, for one, did not expect Ellen’s initial nervousness and lack of comfort [in her first show of the new season]. The past few weeks must have been far more difficult than anyone imagined. Instead of naturalness, Ellen had to call on her inner reserves and go into full actor mode. A highly placed executive who is not part of the show told me: “No one looked more relieved than Ellen when it was over.”
Gray Television CEO Hilton H. Howell Jr.: “With the nation facing multiple overlapping crises, local news outlets are stepping up with critical local news and information, providing updates on health warnings, coverage of local economies, reports from the street, and news conferences from local officials. The story you won’t see in these broadcasts is that many of these stations, especially those serving small, rural markets, are at risk due to the economic downturn and the shift of local ad dollars to largely unregulated internet platforms, like Google and Facebook.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has battered the live sports industry, including broadcasting and cable networks, creative minds have been working on a variety of new cross-platform opportunities to attract fans and advertisers.
Broadcasters, advertisers and agencies need an approach to buying and selling spot TV that streamlines and simplifies the entire process end-to-end for traditional and automated transactions.
AT&T never had a clear plan to integrate DirecTV into its overall strategy, and instead piddled away its brand and showed an utter failure of leadership in the process.
Ben Smith: President Trump will try to put the media on the ballot, and reporters face the increasing temptation to posture for those most eager to oust him.
Analyst Michael Nathanson last week suggested Fox Corp. sell off its broadcast assets, which are a drag on its bottom line. That prompts some guessing about who could bid — WarnerMedia? Sony? Amazon? — and the many reasons they are likelier to sit it out.
More and more, fact-checkers seem to be trying to bail out an ancient, rusty and sinking freighter with the energetic use of measuring cups and thimbles.
Margaret Sullivan: “Perhaps more than any other Trump official, she has undermined the entire notion that truthful information should be expected from the White House and that public officials at the highest level should be held accountable for their words and deeds. Yet she kept being invited on the air, she continued being a key source for reporters, and she schmoozed her way through every problem.”
Last week’s Democratic National Convention proved that innovative solutions are everywhere, and they are looking better and better as their use is expanded over the broadcast and digital spectrum.
With no fans in the stands, colorful language is getting extra play on the field and on air.
Margaret Sullivan: “Some corrections are almost pointless, such as the one that prompted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to light into NBC on Wednesday morning. Her complaint identifies one of the problems with corrections by news organizations: They rarely — and maybe never — can undo the damage caused by the original error.”
Frank Radice: Every ad dollar in the United States last year led to $9 in sales, according to the research firm IHS Markit. But when those ad dollars dry up, the outlets that execute and display them go out like lights. From the ad agencies to the sign companies, to the TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines—a ripple effect hits the businesses, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. As a result of this global quieting of the advertising marketplace, companies that want to sell their products with the help of messaging must rethink their strategies.
Mario Diaz Becar: Broadcasters have seen firsthand the agility, stability and reliability of the cloud since the pandemic accelerated its adoption. Functions like cloud ingest, edit while ingest and secure reliable transport are also promisingly on the horizon.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly saw his nomination withdrawn by President Trump for having the temerity to question whether the FCC has the authority to adopt rules to limit the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Act. All clear legal signs point to the fact that it doesn’t.
President Trump’s withdrawal of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination isn’t just a breathtaking punishment for a perceived lack of loyalty. It presages a potential Trump second-term FCC that would advance any of his desires and punish any FCC-regulated company he targets.
There’s little chance that either Ellen DeGeneres or Warner Bros. will walk away from a staple of daytime TV that has flourished for almost two decades. Look for a carefully-orchestrated mea culpa and a triumphant return — she’s too good an actress for any other outcome.
That is an inherently uncomfortable proposition. But, as we are seeing amid civil unrest and protests across this country and abroad, having frank and honest conversations on the subject, including the ability to air grievances without negative repercussions, is really the only way we can move forward. These conversations must be followed by meaningful actions. Learn about five such actions to help companies keep the lines of communication open while making the changes that need to be made.
Once upon a time in a far more stable America, our national agenda was largely shaped by network news, The New York Times, weekly news magazines like Time and The Associated Press. Media productions like the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite not only determined what we would talk about, but also how we would talk about it. Today, the Times and AP are still playing an important role in what we talk about in Congress, at the White House podium, in the media and at dinner tables around the country. But cable TV is the medium most responsible for shaping the national agenda. Yes, that cable TV with all its opinionated talk, conflict, vitriol and coverage often based in ideology more than journalism on a channel like Fox News.
Margaret Sullivan: Here we are, roughly three months out from Tuesday, Nov. 3. Whatever the lost opportunities of the last cycle, there’s one last chance to get it right — or at least closer to right. Here are some ideas about how the media can use this crucial time to best serve the public good so that election night 2020 doesn’t amount to another epic journalistic failure.
It’s been called a “civil war” in some of the nation’s leading newsrooms, a battle between generations of reporters and writers over the directions and goals of journalism, especially in how it covers challenging topics like race, gender and a certain figure in the White House.
Harry Jessell: Affiliates with whom I spoke were clearly ticked off by last week’s show, with many preempting it. “Bone-headed,” said one. Compounding the insult of being asked to air an infomercial for a host of competitors was their feeling that that they had paid through their reverse comp for actual entertainment programming on Thursday night.