Showbiz Sandbox 256: A Proposal For Fixing Television Ratings

Thanks to mobile devices, laptops, streaming video, DVRs and good old fashioned live viewing, it’s never been easier to watch your favorite television shows. However this explosion of viewing options has made it harder to keep track of how many people view each show, precisely when and on what device. Despite the difficulty of getting accurate figures networks still feel the need to report overnight ratings even if they don’t reflect a program’s total viewership.

We propose taking a new approach to television ratings that might fix this problem. For starters stop making a distinction between broadcast and cable networks. Same goes for differentiating ratings based on a show’s specific time slot or which day it airs on. And those are just a few of the suggestions we debate.

Another complicated issue the entertainment industry is grappling with is net neutrality. The FCC is reportedly weighing a “hybrid” solution to open Internet legislation which would classify entities as either wholesale or retail providers. Granted, there is no clear cut way to make such categorizations and consumers could wind up getting stuck with higher broadband fees, but why quibble over details?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams may be headed to court to defend their hit song “Blurred Lines”, movie theaters ban the use of wearable devices like Google Glass and Taylor Swift once again dominates album sales.

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Showbiz Sandbox 234: Scandal and Politics Invade Hollywood (Again)

Two real-life controversies are presently complicating life in Hollywood where studios prefer to make lots of money and ignore complicated social issues or the sometimes tawdry private lives of their executives and talent. The first involves accusations of forcible rape by movie director Bryan Singer. The second involves boycotting a historic Tinseltown hotel over its owners politics.

In less contentious news it appears our prediction about the future of Craig Ferguson as host of the “Late Late Show” was correct, and he will indeed be departing by the end of this year. The host says the decision was entirely his own, despite what it might look like with David Letterman retiring from his show’s lead in, “Late Night”.

Tony nominations were announced last week to honor some of this year’s best and brightest Broadway productions and performers. We give you a rundown of all the front runners as well as a look at a few that didn’t make the cut.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the “Star Wars Episode VII” casting announcement, AT&T’s acquisition offer of DirecTV and Ben Affleck’s blackjack trouble.

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Showbiz Sandbox 60: Reality TV Doesn’t Kid Around

If you are a minor working on a reality television series it turns out there are no child labor laws that protect you. A month long investigation by the Los Angeles Times found  dozens of kids appearing on reality programs without legal safeguards due to widespread uncertainty about how to classify the shows. Times staff writers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier reveal that most of the popular shows had not obtained work permits to employ minors. Gold joins us this week to provide all the details.

It was good news and bad news at the box office. Good news for “Toy Story 3”, which finished in first place for the second week and bad news for Tom Cruise, whose latest movie, “Knight and Day” didn’t open to boffo numbers. If you’d like to place a bet on how much Cruise’s next movie might make, you might never get the chance. The U.S. Congress is set to pass a financial reform bill that would prevent two box office futures exchanges from operating.

The government is also getting involved in the annual Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, and not in a good way. The events promoters was subpoenaed last week for an anti-trust investigation. Turns out the “radius clause” in Lollapalooza’s contract is preventing Chicago night clubs from booking musical acts. Maybe Coachella’s booking rules aren’t so bad after all.

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