Showbiz Sandbox 292: There Is Simply Too Much Television

August 31, 2015

Television network executives have begun publicly acknowledging a predicament their audiences recognized some time ago; there is simply too much television. In the midst of what has been dubbed a “golden age” of television, viewers are becoming reluctant to sign up for yet another new or existing series.

In fact, John Landgraf, the head of FX Networks, recently told the Television Critics Association that the glut of TV content means it has become more difficult to “cut through the clutter and create real buzz” when producing a show. With so much programming available, great shows can often go unnoticed or take longer to find an audience.

Then there are countries in which content is being suppressed. In Russia a politically active Ukrainian filmmaker was recently handed a 20 year prison sentence drawing international criticism that the charges were fabricated. Bangladesh meanwhile has banned a banned a new movie because it shed light on the country’s billion dollar garment industry, which is well known for exploiting its workers.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Warner Bros. is headed to China, Spongebob Squarepants is headed to Broadway and how Netflix is about to lose more than 1000 movie titles.

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Showbiz Sandbox 272: Why The TV Industry Is Fighting Over Your Viewing Habits

March 9, 2015

Time-shifting content consumption has grown astronomically over the past several years thanks to technology like streaming and DVRs. Nearly half of all TV viewers no longer watch shows when they are first aired, upending the traditional ratings system used to measure audiences. Networks now want advertisers to pay for all the viewers of a program up to a week after its original telecast.

Presently, advertisers only pay for viewers of a show during the first three days after its broadcast, a timeframe the don’t wish to extend. Complicating the matter is a dramatic increase in the number of shows airing during primetime, fracturing audiences and forcing ad execs to sift through 1,700 programs in which commercials can be placed.

Buying ad time during the Academy Awards ceremony is usually a no-brainer for marketing moguls, however the Oscars telecast has become so predictably dull that it’s audience has begun to shrink. In an effort to boost ratings, the Academy’s Board of Governors is now hinting they may revert back to having only five Best Picture nominees, rather than the potential of ten. We debate why this is not such a good idea.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the high profile court battle over the authoriship of a hit song, NBC goes over-the-top and Bruce Willis heads to Broadway.

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Showbiz Sandbox 251: In the Digital Age, Content Rights Are King

September 29, 2014

Whether an illustrator creating legendary comic book characters for Marvel or a 1960’s pop group that hasn’t had a hit in decades, owning the rights to the content one produces has never been more important thanks to emerging digital distribution platforms. Unfortunately, determining who owns the rights for specific content is becoming increasingly more difficult.

For example, last week’s landmark court ruling against satellite radio provider Sirius XM could mean the company has to start paying public performance royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings. The case has huge copyright implications not just for Sirius XM, but also to streaming radio services like Pandora.

Access to content is likely the reason Softbank is making a play to acquire DreamWorks Animation. Should a deal be struck then only time will tell whether there is actually any synergy between the animation studio and the Japanese conglomerate.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the approval of drones for film production, new stars for the upcoming season of “True Detective” and remixing actor Stephen Fry’s new memoir.

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Showbiz Sandbox 213: Has Thor Brought The Hammer Down On 3D Movies?

November 11, 2013

There is no disputing the financial success of “Thor: The Dark World”, a sequel in the franchise based on the Marvel Comics superhero. What’s less clear is what the film’s box office grosses say about the adoption of 3D. During opening weekend 700 2D screens in North America accounted for 60% of tickets sales, as opposed to the 40% earned by 3,100 3D screens. Is this yet another sign audiences have given up on 3D movies?

Netflix doesn’t care how you see a superhero movie, so long as you’re watching it through their service. Last week the on-demand video powerhouse cut a deal with Disney to produce four new original series based on Marvel superheroes, all of which will lead up to a crossover miniseries.

As if competing with Netflix wasn’t bad enough, television broadcasters are still figuring out how to deal with DVRs and the growing number of audiences who time shift their content. One major broadcast network is pushing for advertisers to pay for increased viewership on DVRs for up to seven days after a show originally airs.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the death of Blockbuster Video, the official release date for “Star Wars: Episode VII” and Richard Branson brings reality television into space.

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Showbiz Sandbox 210: Record Labels Look To YouTube As The New Radio

October 21, 2013

Instead of promoting new releases through traditional avenues such as radio and television, record labels are beginning to rely on YouTube as the most effective method for reaching younger audiences. As Dawn C. Chmielewski, an entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times explains, its not just musicians that are getting a boost from this new practice, but also some of the self-made tastemakers who have become YouTube stars.

Television networks are also beginning to love technology, specifically DVRs. Though the industry has long despised the timeshifting devices which allow viewers to skip commercials, executives are once again discovering how they can significantly boost ratings.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging about why the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey” lost its male lead. Beyond being uncomfortable with his new found stardom, Charlie Hunnam was also pushing for script revisions according to some reports.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why the creators of “South Park” missed the deadline for their latest episode, “The Lion King” becomes Broadway’s first billion dollar production and the hit television series “Glee” announces its final season.

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Showbiz Sandbox 123: DVR Data Can Save TV Shows From Cancellation

October 17, 2011

It turns out your DVR can be helpful beyond just recording your favorite television shows. Examining which commercials you skip past might be able to help predict box office flops and monitoring which shows you watch can save a borderline series from being canceled. We’ll debate whether television networks and movie studios can benefit from the data being collected from your DVR.

Apple however may be trying to make your DVR obsolete. The long standing rumors that Apple might be working on a next generation television set have heated up once again. Would you welcome Apple into your living room?

Dozens of entries make up this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar list, though all of them will ultimately be nominated. We’ll explain how the list ultimately gets whittled down to just five movies.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including why Hulu is no longer for sale, why Jonny Depp’s “Lone Ranger” is back in production and how Amazon plans to make publishers unnecessary.

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Showbiz Sandbox 105: The Dark Truth About Digital Cinema

June 1, 2011

When Ty Burr, film critic for The Boston Globe, noticed that the films he was seeing didn’t appear as bright as they usually do he did a little investigating to figure out why. What he discovered, and documented in a recent front page article, is that some major theater chains are leaving moviegoers in the dark by regularly misusing digital projection equipment. Burr joins us to explain why this is happening and what cinema patrons can do about it.

Meanwhile, the market for streaming music online hasn’t cooled off. Apple is about to announce a service the company has dubbed iCloud and it is rumored that Facebook may integrate Spotify into its website. It seems more people are listening to more music than ever before. That may be why the Coachella Music Festival is doubling down and expanding the event to two weekends next year.

Oprah Winfrey ended her long-running talk show last week and nearly 17 million people tuned in to watch. Yet that audience pales in comparison to the 28 million viewers that watched the final episode of this season’s “American Idol”. That’s nearly a 20% increase over last years finale.

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Showbiz Sandbox 25: Mr. Television Grades Freshman TV Shows (and Leno Flunks)

October 19, 2009

Mr. Television himself is our guest this week, which means we talk a lot about TV. Marc Berman is the senior television editor at MediaWeek and creator/editor of The Programming Insider, a daily online bible focused on all things television that reaches more than 50,000 readers per day. He even has a daily companion podcast to catch you up on all the latest television news.

But first, “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Paranormal Activity” win box office kudos this week, earning the number 1 and number 3 spots, respectively (sandwiching “Law Abiding Citizen,” at number two, as if anyone cares).

Motion Picture Association of America chief Dan Glickman will step down as Hollywood’s top lobbyist next year. He claims that at the ripe old age of 65, it’s time for him to “move on back into the world of either academia, public service, or non profits….This is a very difficult job. From the outside world, this job has the perception of being very glamorous. People think Angelina Jolie goes home with me every night. It hasn’t happened yet.” Poor Dan. Maybe we know someone who knows someone who can work the Angelina thing out for him before he steps down next September.  Read more