Showbiz Sandbox 291: Media Companies Come Clean On Cord Cutting

August 24, 2015

After years of denying cord cutting was happening on any level, several large media companies are finally confessing that cord cutting is a growing trend which may soon affect their bottom lines. After decades of steady growth, cable operators are now beginning to see flat or declining subscriber numbers as new content streaming services pop-up.

Clearly, the business models the television industry has relied on in the past are evolving rapidly, more so than movies or theater or even publishing at the moment. Yet some industry insiders believe the cable cord isn’t being cut, but that it’s slowly fraying as the definition of what it means to be a television network has changed.

Some media companies aren’t waiting to study market indicators before making strategic moves. Last week NBCUniversal made a $200-million investment in the online news outlet Buzzfeed, leaving many to wonder how this could possibly benefit the network.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how boy band One Direction wants to take a break, why Spotify wants to breach your privacy and Cirque du Soleil is headed to Broadway.

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Showbiz Sandbox 282: Broadway’s Not So Big Night at the Tony Awards

June 8, 2015

A musical about family, sexuality and suicide along with a play about an adolescent with Aspberger’s syndrome won the top prizes at this year’s Tony Awards over the weekend. Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, “Fun Home” was awarded Best Musical and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” earned Best New Play. On paper, both could have been marginal longshots to win Tonys, which can at times go to more commercial productions.

We go over the list of this year’s Tony Award winners and choose a few highlights from a ceremony in which they were quite sparse. It was great to see Kelli O’Hara win a Tony for Best Actress In A Musical after she had been overlooked the last five times she was nominated. Yet, in a year which saw Broadway break box office records, the telecast flirted with all-time low ratings.

Meanwhile, as we record this episode Apple appears set to announce their streaming music service which some big record label executives see as a tipping point that could save the industry. That seems like a tall order given how late the company is getting to market, but it’s never a good idea to underestimate Apple.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including how Netflix is heading to Spain, Senator Chris Dodd is staying on as head of the MPAA and Showtime is going over the top with its new streaming service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 231: Could Vince Vaughn Be The Next David Letterman?

April 7, 2014

Late night talk show personality David Letterman surprised everyone last week by announcing that he would be retiring as host of the “Late Show” in 2015. News that Letterman would be exiting on his own terms after 30 years as a late night headliner broke in a thoroughly modern way; first via Twitter, then through the media’s career retrospectives and ultimately with stories about who would make a good replacement. We nominate Vince Vaughn.

In other television news, Time Warner Cable is in a bitter dispute with satellite provider DirecTV. The two companies are butting heads over the broadcast rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games TWC paid more than $8 billion for last year. With negotiations seemingly stalled, more than 30% of the market’s paid television subscribers have been blacked out of each game’s telecast.

Meanwhile, this year’s Broadway season is about to kick off in earnest on the run up to the Tony Awards. Our own Michael Giltz gives us a complete rundown on which productions he’s putting his own figurative money on.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including a trademark dispute over Mickey Mouse, a new contract for the Writers Guild of America and the continuing struggles of Entertainment Weekly.

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Showbiz Sandbox 228: The Dish On That Disney Deal With Dish

March 11, 2014

After months of rancorous public and legal battles with television networks over their ad-skipping Hopper technology, U.S. satellite provider Dish Network reached a landmark retransmission consent agreement with the Walt Disney Company. The deal calls for Dish to disable bypassing commercials for three days after a show originally airs. In return Dish is getting the rights to provide Disney’s networks via the Internet for any future IP-television offering they might develop.

Meanwhile, the city which has become known for producing movies and television shows is under siege. Not from a foreign invader, but rather Los Angeles (and California) is suffering from what is known as “runaway production” thanks to tax incentives being offered in other states and countries.

Austin Texas has also been invaded over the past week by attendees at the annual South by Southwest festival. Neil Young marked the occasion by announcing Pono, his long awaited high-def music player, along with its accompanying store filled with digital tracks for audiophiles.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Sandra Bullock’s giant “Gravity” payday, television networks start premiering their shows in summer and why time-shifting made HBO’s “True Detective” a huge hit.

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Showbiz Sandbox 224: How Leno’s Departure Will Affect Late Night and Los Angeles

February 10, 2014

When Jay Leno signed off as host of “The Tonight Show” last week he left late night television and the city of Los Angeles in different states than when he first began the job 22-years earlier. Scott Collins, TV reporter for the Los Angeles Times, discusses the legacy Leno leaves behind in a late night landscape that now includes two dozen shows, along with what “The Tonight Show’s” move to New York City means for L.A. production jobs.

If you weren’t one of the more than 14 million viewers tuning in to Leno’s last late night stints, then maybe you’re watching the Winter Olympics. Networks such as NBC in the United States are making it easier to stream the Olympic Games online… sort of. The catch is that you must already be a subscriber to cable or satellite television services.

Meanwhile the Berlin Film Festival is currently taking place in Germany though the person making most of the headlines at the event is an actor who claims to no longer be famous. Can you guess who it is? (Hint: It’s Shia Labeouf).

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including singer Clay Aiken’s run for seat in Congress, Fox puts an end to the “X Factor” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers get called out for miming their Super Bowl halftime performance.

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Showbiz Sandbox 50: Coachella Gets Its Crowd On

April 20, 2010

This year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival was hot, sweaty and packed with great music from more than 120 bands. Though an Icelandic volcano prevented some bands from traveling to Coachella this past weekend, a record setting sold out crowd of 75,000 attended the festival in the Southern California desert. Among them were Todd Martens, the co-editor of the Los Angeles Times Pop & Hiss blog and Lauren Bradshaw, the co-editor of BuzzSugar (not to mention our very own J. Sperling Reich). They stop by to fill us in on which musical acts were worth catching and which should have stayed home.

Meanwhile the superhero comedy “Kick-Ass” opened in movie theaters last Friday, however the film did not live up to it’s name. It barely squeaked into first place over the animated 3D film, “How To Train Your Dragon”. But is “Kick-Ass” really a flop, or have we become jaded when it comes to box office analysis?

As summer draws near, so too does the end of the television season. Which shows will stick around until next fall and which will be looking at the wrong end of the network’s ax? We’ll go over all the shows which are “on the bubble”.  Read more

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