Showbiz Sandbox 317: Bundling Cable Networks May Work For Advertisers, But Not For Cable Customers

In yet another sign that the difference between broadcast and cable networks is eroding, NBCUniversal announced that it would include all of its cable outlets in their traditional upfront presentation to advertisers for NBC. By combining shows from networks such as Bravo, Telemundo and Oxygen with the big primetime hits on NBC, the Comcast owned media giant is signaling that the best way for advertisers to reach viewers is through aggregating audiences.

Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, is struggling to distribute its own content through different cable providers. Specifically, none of the other pay-TV companies is willing to force their customers to pay for SportsNet LA, the regional sports network owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Could this be an indication that cable operators finally understand that technology will force them to unbundle their basic cable offering?

Meanwhile, short, cheap and entertaining books – once called dime store novels or pulp fiction – are making a comeback. As are serialized novels, short stories and lots of things that don’t fit into the 250 pages or more standard of most books today. Technology and the need to hold the attention of readers are the reasons it’s happening.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the controversial film pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival lineup, the death of comedian Gary Shandling and the porn industry gets into virtual reality.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 317: Bundling Cable Networks May Work For Advertisers, But Not For Cable Customers

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 261: Sony Hack Gives New Meaning To The Term Box Office Bomb

As if Sony Pictures didn’t have enough to worry about with all their corporate emails and documents being leaked by hackers, now the perpetrators of the cybercrime have threatened movie theaters showing “The Interview” with terrorist attacks. What started out as a voyeuristic peek at the inner workings of a Hollywood studio has turned into a far more serious international incident. This has left the media questioning their own ethics and culpability for originally publishing portions of Sony’s stolen data.

With Sony’s dilemma getting so much attention, the announcement of this year’s Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations seemed rather subdued and tame by comparison. Maybe that’s because an awards season front runner has yet to emerge, or possibly because everyone is just tired of award shows.

Thanks to a listener email, we also discuss why the difference between screens and theaters matters when tallying up box office. The two words are often improperly used interchangeably.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including David Letterman’s final show, the latest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and this year’s lack of platinum albums.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 261: Sony Hack Gives New Meaning To The Term Box Office Bomb

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 180: Binge-Viewing Is Transforming The Way We Watch Television

With new streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime popping up all the time, we now have the ability to watch entire seasons of episodic television series all at once.  Now Netflix is taking binge-viewing one step further by releasing all 13-episodes of their original drama series “House of Cards” at once.  Dawn Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times explains how the trend is altering narrative structures, existing revenue models and the entire television landscape.

Speaking of television, the Super Bowl proved once again to be a huge ratings bonanza with more than 108 million viewers tuning in to the football championship game.  Unfortunately a power outage delayed the airing of a post-game television show which had hoped to get a boost from carryover viewers.

Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” continues to top the worldwide box office, leading a pack of Oscar contenders that continues to attract big audiences well into the new year.

Of course we also cover the top entertainment headlines from the past week including news about a film version of the hit series “Entourage”, plans for subscription channels on YouTube and Ticketmaster (sort of) ditches its horrible security system.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 180: Binge-Viewing Is Transforming The Way We Watch Television

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 171: Cost Of Sports Could Be Cable’s Unbundling

The rights to broadcast Major League Baseball games through 2021 were recently scooped up by ESPN for a cool $5.6 billion. That’s nothing compared to the $15.2 billion the network will be paying the NFL for “Monday Night Football” over the next eight years. Now News Corp. has coughed up billions for a stake in the New York Yankees network and are on the verge of paying a rumored $6 billion for the rights to air Los Angeles Dodger baseball games for 25-years. Some cable operators are now saying the skyrocketing costs of sports programming is out of control and unrealistic.

Since we’re talking about billions of dollars, we may as well mention Sony Pictures. Thanks to films such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Skyfall” the studio has taken in more than $4 billion worldwide this year at the box office. Lionsgate isn’t doing too bad either, earning $1 billion with releases such as “Hunger Games” and “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”.

In fact, the North American box office is on pace to set a new record this year, much like the grosses recorded over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The $290 million was a new high for the four day period.

Of course, we also cover all the big entertainment headlines from the past two weeks including the ongoing sexual abuse scandal rocking Sesame Street, the death of actor Larry Hagman and NBC’s big win during the November sweeps.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 171: Cost Of Sports Could Be Cable’s Unbundling

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 118: Mr. Television Rates This Year’s New Shows

There’s a good reason Marc Berman is known as Mr. Television. As the man behind MediaWeek’s daily television newsletter The Programming Insider his commentary on the medium reached more than 50,000 readers per day. Berman recently launched TV Media Insights, a new online destination for television and media with its own newsletter, forum and podcast. Berman handicaps this year’s Emmy Awards and also tells us which new shows are worth watching in the upcoming season.

We also continue our discussion on the publishing industry, which due to the dramatic changes in how they do business, is becoming one of the more fascinating parts of the entertainment industry. As e-book sales increase, popular authors are beginning to announce plans to release new work directly to readers and Amazon plans on creating a Netflix fof books.

Meanwhile, a The Hollywood Reporter served a cease and desist order on Deadline.com which sparked a war of words between the two trade outlets. Is the Reporter in financial trouble, and if so, should Deadline staff be spreading the word to potential advertisers?

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 118: Mr. Television Rates This Year’s New Shows

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 109: Making Grammar Fun (And F*cking Funny)

When Chris Baker isn’t working on Madison Avenue for a big advertising firm, he is creating some of the world’s most exclusive websites… literarily.  TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite.com only lets verified celebrities and big wigs past the home page. His website M. Night School is crowd-sourcing enough funds to send director M. Night Shyamalan back to film school. Baker joins us to discuss his latest effort, “The Elements of F*cking Style“, a book that, unlike the one it parodies, employs sex, drugs and swearing to help teach readers proper English grammar.

After this past weekend, Baker may want to send Pixar back to film school. “Cars 2”, the company’s highly anticipated sequel to their blockbuster “Cars”, was given a drubbing by critics. However, critical acclaim may not matter for a film that earns $2 billion a year in merchandising.

At least nobody’s forcing you to see “Cars 2”. That might not be an option in China where the government is “suggesting” that everyone see “Beginning of the Great Revival,” a propaganda film disguised as a historical epic detailing the founding of China’s Communist Party.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 109: Making Grammar Fun (And F*cking Funny)

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 63: Mel Gibson Wishes It Were All A Dream

Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film “Inception” jumped to the top of the North American box office upon release. The follow-up to the director’s blockbuster “The Dark Knight” has some critics buzzing about a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Academy Award nominations are the least of Mel Gibson’s problems. After being caught on tape screaming obscenities and death threats at his ex-girlfriend, the actor and filmmaker should be happy if his next film,“The Beaver”, simply makes it into theaters.

A number of important court decisions were handed down this past week having to do with First Amendment rights. These include a ruling about “fleeting epithets” and whether broadcasters can be fined for airing them. An appeals court told the Federal Communications Commission their definition of “indecency” was too vague and may encroach on the freedom of speech.

We go over all the week’s top entertainment headlines during Big Deal or Big Whoop, including why the R.I.A.A. has spent $17 million suing music fans only to collect $391k, whether Tom Cruise will be cast in “Mission Impossible IV” and e-book sales outpacing those of real books on Amazon. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 63: Mel Gibson Wishes It Were All A Dream

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 16: Hollywood Thinks Outside The Redbox

David Poland of Movie City News joins us this week.  You might know Poland from his days at the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly or Roughcut, but he is most known as the columnist behind The Hot Button which has morphed into his blog, The Hot Blog.  He can also be seen on DP30 or his new video podcast Super Movie Friends.  You can follow Poland on Twitter by visiting twitter.com/davidpoland.

“District 9” topped the box office in North America over the weekend with $37 million, but will it have legs?  Warner Bros saved a New Line movie once again with “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” which had been sitting on the shelf since last year.  It made a respectable showing with $19.2 million.

Some interesting/baffling/exciting movie news this week. Aaron Sorkin uh, is writing, uh, a draft of the Facebook movie, which, um, is a movie about social networking.  (Listen to the episode to, ah, get the joke).  And if you think that’s crazy, Warner Bros is putting together a movie based on the Legos toys, and Bryan Singer is directing a big screen version of “Battlestar Gallactica.” Will Starbuck still be dead? Does anyone care? Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 16: Hollywood Thinks Outside The Redbox

Play