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

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 172: The TV Industry Has Its Head Up Its Ass

Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, realizes the ways people watch TV have radically and irrevocably changed. He believes the industry has not even remotely caught up to that fact yet. Or, as he puts it, “We have our head up our ass.” We’ll discuss the checklist Reilly provided at recent industry event which touched on every facet of the business.

As the year draws to a close the awards season has begun to heat up as both the Gotham Awards and European Film Awards were handed out last week. We’ll give you a rundown of who the big winners were and which movies are topping the first few year-end critics polls.

In theater news one can make it big with an Off-Broadway production, they just can’t make big money. A few recent hit shows are closing after barely breaking even or never turning a profit.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a list of top earning musicians, Jeff Zucker lands at CNN and why China may surpass the United States as the biggest movie market in the world.

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Showbiz Sandbox 158: A Rundown of The Year’s Top-Earning Authors

James Patterson tops the list of this year’s highest-paid authors according to Forbes. Working with a team of writers Patterson published an astounding 14 best-selling novels in 2011 to earn an estimated $94 million. Joining Patterson were regulars such as Stephen King and John Grisham among others, as well as newcomer George R.R. Martin whose “Game Of Thrones” series has become a best seller.

The Summer Olympics came to a close over the weekend. This must be disappointing to NBC which was just getting used to actually having an audience for a change. In fact, ratings for coverage of this year’s games set viewership records in both North America and Europe.

On previous episodes we’ve mentioned Hollywood’s new-found appreciation of China and it seems to only be growing. Last week filmmaker James Cameron announced the expansion of his 3D production company through a joint venture in China and DreamWorks Animation said they had agreed to work with a group of Chinese investors to develop a $3.1 billion culture and entertainment district in Shanghai.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including how Google plans to punish copyright thieves, a rumor that dead pop stars will perform on this season’s “X-Factor” and plans to adapt a cult 80’s television show featuring an alien puppet into a hit movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 140: Nollywood Love – Inside The Booming Nigerian Film Industry

Oil rich Nigeria may be best known for political upheavals and brutal civil wars, though over the past twenty years the country has given birth to a thriving film industry. New York Times Magazine contributing writer Andrew Rice explains that what started out as a surplus of blank VHS tapes has grown into what is now called Nollywood; the world’s third largest movie business.  Nollywood films now suffer from the same issues faced by Hollywood and Bollywood; piracy and escalating production costs.

The budget for Disney’s “John Carter” was about five thousand times that of the average Nollywood film, which is probably why a $100 million worldwide opening is seen as a bit of a disappointment. Directing his first live-action film, Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton seems to be getting most of the blame for the movie’s lack of success, though it just as easily could be pinned on a studio full of senior executives that lacked experience producing big blockbusters.

Speaking of pricey failures, Fox canceled its sci-fi series “Terra Nova”. Producers hope the show will be picked up by another network, though at $4 million per episode few can afford it.

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Showbiz Sandbox 121: Why 3D Movie Tickets Are About To Get More Expensive

As moviegoers grow more skeptical over paying premiums to see 3D movies you would think now would be a bad time to raise ticket prices yet again. However, if Sony Pictures has their way that’s just what may happen. Last week the studio told exhibitors they would no longer pay for 3D glasses after May 2012 triggering the start of a war between studios and cinemas that may wind up hitting movie audiences right in the wallet. We take a deeper look at the history and reasons behind this ongoing dispute.

Maybe movie buffs should forego the multiplex altogether and choose to stay home with a hot new independent film. Prescreen is an innovative new movie marketing and distribution platform for filmmakers and distributors that can help you find just the right one. Shawn Bercuson, the company’s CEO, joins us to explain what Prescreen is all about.

Facebook has also gotten into the discovery game with Open Graph, a new features which allows users to share experiences with friends in realtime. Now whenever a Facebook user is listening to music on Pandora or watching a movie on Netflix it will broadcast to everyone they are connected with on Facebook. What does Facebook’s entry into media recommendation mean for existing players such as Last.fm, Spotify and Pandora?

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Showbiz Sandbox 98: Why New Distribution Models Terrify Hollywood

Movie studios, television networks and record labels still haven’t updated their business models to account for video and music streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Now companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple plan on introducing a whole new group of media subscription services. With premium video-on-demand on the horizon it’s no surprise the entertainment industry is concerned about all these disruptive distribution methods.

One of the biggest players in the current content licensing wars has been Netflix. Showtime and Starz began pulling shows from the video rental giant, while Fox and Paramount offered up popular series and hit movies. Cable operators have also entered the fray by allowing viewers to watch live television on mobile device apps.

The creator of “Mad Men” was embroiled in his own fight with AMC and Lionsgate over the future of the series. In the end, Matthew Weiner was able to reach an agreement on a new contract, though new episodes won’t air until 2012.

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Showbiz Sandbox 86: Why TV Viewing Is Rising As Moviegoing Declines

On more than a few occasions during 2010 one could hardly fault moviegoers for feeling as if they’d been duped as they left theaters. Movieline journalist and author Alonso Duralde believes that in at least seven instances films were misrepresented by their marketing campaigns. He discusses, among others, the arthouse movie that was sold as an action thriller, the riotous comedy that isn’t funny at all, and a princess tale disguised as a swashbuckling adventure.

Marketing could hardly be the primary reason 2010’s box office was down slightly from the previous year’s record earnings. With ticket sales off by an estimated 5.36% the only thing propping up film grosses were higher ticket prices, which noticeably rose over the past year.

On the other hand, Nielsen reports that Americans are watching more television than last year, around 34 hours per week. Unfortunately for the major broadcast networks which once ruled the airwaves, viewership has become fractured as it spread out across hundreds of cable channels. The only big TV winner during 2010 was living sporting events, which accounted for eight of the top ten highest rated shows of the year.

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Showbiz Sandbox 84: A Black List Every Screenwriter Wants To Be On

Since 2005 Hollywood studio executive Franklin Leonard has compiled an annual list of the industry’s “most liked” unproduced screenplays. Dubbed The Black List, past selections have gone on to win Academy Awards (“Juno”) or be turned into critically acclaimed films (“The Social Network”). Leonard talks about the project he began on a whim and how it has grown to a point where it can help launch a screenwriter’s career.

Also joining us on this week’s show is Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times. Boucher explains how he recently broke two big stories in the film world. His first scoop was about filmmaker Jon Favreau who, after helming the first two installments of the Iron Man franchise, has opted not to direct “Iron Man 3”. Instead he’ll make a big budget film about Disneyland. That’s right… Disneyland. Meanwhile, Boucher also spoke at length with director Ron Howard who is working closely with author Stephen King to adapt the writer’s “Dark Tower” series for the big screen.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had many in Hollywood scratching their heads this week after they announced their Golden Globe nominations. Exactly how (or why) they nominated an action film such as “The Tourist” in the Best Musical or Comedy category is anybody’s guess.

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