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

April 4, 2016

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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 314: As Expected, The Oscars Shine A Spotlight On Diversity

February 29, 2016

In a year when the Academy Awards were faulted for a lack of diversity among its nominees, ceremony host Chris Rock addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy head on in his opening monologue by mixing pointed criticism with biting humor. Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor at large, brings us along as she attends the 88th annual Oscars and explains just how difficult it was to predict this year’s winners.

Mind you, award season never really ends. France handed out their own awards for last year’s top movies and we’ll tell you who won all the big prizes at the Cesars. We even look at the nominations for the Olivier Awards, the London theater equivalent to the Tonys. Literally hours after winning his first Oscar, Mark Rylance was nominated again, this time for his performance in “Farinelli and the King”.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is planning to imitate its online rival Amazon by, oddly enough, opening new brick and mortar stores. And a reissue of the Alex Haley bestseller Roots brings up everything from copyright to the question of when a book goes out of print to ebook pricing.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix and other streaming services have decimated video sales, PBS will launch its own cable network and Adele tops the Brit Awards.

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Showbiz Sandbox 306: Deconstructing the 2015 Movie Box Office

January 4, 2016

Few, if any, can rival Paul Dergarabedian when it comes to analyzing the film industry’s global box office. Rentrak’s senior media analyst has been running movie numbers for upwards of 20 years now and is a regularly quoted box office pundit. Dergarabedian joins us to discuss how 2015 turned into a record breaking year at the box office all over the world.

We cover everything from how the winners at last year’s box office left little for the losers to the increasing role social media plays in the fortunes of any given movie, from the importance of international grosses to the record shattering “Star Wars” sequel. One big question is how 2016 could ever top last year’s figures or if that even matters.

We wind up in the music business where lawsuits are always a good indication on the issues affecting the industry. Two big new lawsuits target Spotify and Ticketmaster. We’ll explain what they are all about… and predict if they will actually make it to trial.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why The Beatles agreed to put their music on streaming services, how Taylor Swift’s concert tour topped the charts last year and the sexual assault charge against Bill Cosby.

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Showbiz Sandbox 284: Taylor Swift Takes A Bite Out of Apple

June 22, 2015

When Apple announced its new streaming music service earlier this month certain members of the music industry were quick to voice their dismay over the terms the tech giant was offering. Specifically, indie record labels weren’t happy to see that Apple wouldn’t be paying licensing fees during the three month trial period the company was offering new subscribers. As the chorus of opposition grew louder it was none other than Taylor Swift who pushed Apple to reverse its payment policy.

In an open letter published to her website, the country musician turned pop star criticised the world’s largest music retailer for not compensating writers, producers, or artists during a new subscriber’s three month trial period. She says new artists, young songwriters and independent producers depend on such royalties to survive. In a move that some will argue demonstrates Swift’s influence within the industry, Apple actually relented.

Another entertainment business model currently being disrupted is that of television. With more consumers opting to cut their cable cord for over the top solutions, the NBA announced they would let basketball fans purchase out-of-market games on a per-game and per-team basis. This has huge implications for the broadcast industry as programming continues to slowly become unbundled.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the box office success of “Jurassic World” and “Inside Out”, a big payday for Jennifer Lawrence on her next film and gambling on who will be the next actor to play James Bond.

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Showbiz Sandbox 215: How Many Music Streaming Services Does It Take To Make A Profit?

December 2, 2013

Just when you thought the online music streaming space couldn’t get any more crowded or competitive, along comes Deezer. The French company already boasts 5 million paying subscribers in 80 countries and now plans to launch in the United States, where Spotify and Pandora are the market leaders. However, none of these companies are actually profitable, which may be why services like Rdio went through a round of layoffs in November and Turtable.fm is shuttering.

Profitability seems to be an issue for Sony Pictures too. The movie studio lost $181 million last quarter leading to the announcement of significant cost cutting measures in the wake of some summer box office duds.

Disappointing earnings and a declining subscriber base are also a problem at Time Warner Cable. As telcos and satellite providers continue to erode their market share, rumors have begun swirling that the second largest cable operator in North America might be acquired by one or more of its competitors, including Comcast.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the Thanksgiving weekend’s record breaking box office, “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” lowers the curtains on its Broadway run and the mediocre sales figures of Lady Gaga’s latest album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 165: Neil Young Sings The Praises Of His New Digital Music Format

October 1, 2012

Singer-songwriter Neil Young has never been a fan of digital music.  The rock legend despises the inferior audio quality of MP3s and CDs so much that he released an anthology of his of his music on Blu-Ray; the only medium that could hold digital files large enough to offer the quality Young demanded.  Taking his quest for high fidelity one step further, next year Young will launch Pono, a portable music player and audio platform that uses technology to provide studio quality sound.

Time will tell whether high quality digital audio and Young’s notoriety will be enough to attract consumers to Pono, though the Beatles aren’t waiting around to find out.  EMI is releasing the bands entire catalog of albums on vinyl LPs.  Remember those?  Now all we need is a phonograph to play them on.

Meanwhile the movie awards season has begun to heat up leaving pundits speculating whether Disney might have not one, but three, entries in this year’s Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars; “Brave”, “Frankenweenie” and “Wreck It Ralph”.  How ironic that Seth MacFarlane, creator of the hit animated television series “The Family Guy”, has been tapped to host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

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Showbiz Sandbox 89: The Rising Fortunes Of Lady Gaga

January 24, 2011

Lady GaGa may be well on her way to earning more than $100 million dollars this year. With a new album and a world tour, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, a staff writer at Forbes, believes the pop star has the potential to become one of 2011’s highest paid musical performers. Greenburg stops by to help us do the math on Gaga’s ever increasing fortunes.

One event which won’t be contributing to Lady Gaga’s income is the Coachella Music Festival. Coachella, which is held in Southern California every April, anounced its lineup for this year’s event and Gaga isn’t on the bill. Even so, this year’s fest is overstuffed with acts you don’t want to miss and Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers fills us in on all of them.

Meanwhile, MTV has a new hit on its hands with “Skins”, but advertisers and parents groups are protesting the show over its portrayal of teenage sex and drug use. At least three big advertisers have already pulled their support of the show. Over on Fox, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have joined a revamped “American Idol”, which despite dropping 13% in the ratings still managed to beat out all its competitors.

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Showbiz Sandbox 61: Andrew Garfield Fills Spider-Man’s Reboots

July 5, 2010

That “Twilight Saga: Eclipse: wound up at the top of the box office over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with $280 million worldwide was not a big shock, however the casting of Andrew Garfield to play Spider-Man in the next installment of the franchise came as a surprise. Entertainment journalist Michael Giltz has been following the 26-year-old actor for several years, but the selection of the unknown had most industry insiders searching for his resume.

In all likelihood the next “Spider-Man” film will be shot in 3D though the format is not a guarantee of box office gold. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan whose “Last Airbender” had a disappointing opening despite being converted to 3D in post-production. Film critic Roger Ebert was not alone in trashing the film.

This week also saw Larry King announce his retirement from the nightly talk show he’s hosted on CNN for 25 years. King’s program has been slipping in ratings recently, as have late night talkers hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman. But viewership continues to grow on cable television, not to mention on Hulu which will begin offering monthly subscriptions for expanded content offerings.

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