Showbiz Sandbox 302: The Long Slow Death of Overnight Television Ratings

Taking a cue from cable networks like AMC and USA, Fox recently became the first major network to abandon the practice of touting overnight television ratings numbers. The move simply confirms the growing realization within the industry of a sea change in viewing habits that is having a massive impact on when shows are watched, what shows are produced and how they get promoted.

The publishing industry is undergoing its own set of struggles. New reports on book sales paint a dire picture for the ebook format and mid-size publishers. We’ll go over the numbers and explain what they actually mean.

Speaking of numbers, Adele’s new album “25” broke sales records selling 3.38 million copies in its first week, accounting for 67% of all record sales in Billboard’s Top 200. While you can hear songs from the album on the radio or purchase it via digital download and even on compact disc, Adele is not allowing you to stream it on services such as Spotify or Apple Music

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how French television series were big winners at the International Emmy Awards, why only one of this season’s new TV shows have been cancelled and Sony’s decision to stop manufacturing Betamax tapes.

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Showbiz Sandbox 229: Making South by Southwest A Family Affair

Countless bands long to play at South by Southwest, the music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas every March. The event has grown into an important showcases for undiscovered, unsigned and fast rising artists. The Family Crest, an indie rock band from San Francisco, is one of the buzzworthy acts that played at this year’s SxSW. Liam McCormick, the group’s songwriter and founding member, joins us to discuss what it’s being officially invited to play at such a prestigious festival.

In an in-depth conversation, McCormick walks us through how The Family Crest has managed to follow through on all the necessary achievements modern bands strive for in search of success; they’ve funded two albums via Kickstarter which feature hundreds of musicians, they’re signed to an indie record label and NPR is touting the group’s music, which of course can be easily found on all the popular streaming services. On top of all that, television series and advertising campaigns have begun licensing their music.

Much like The Family Crest, Disney is doing quite well for itself these days, at least when it comes to Broadway. What’s surprising is that it isn’t one of the company’s hot new productions that’s the highest grossing production on the Great White Way, but rather “The Lion King”, which opened 16 years ago. It’s all thanks to the new trend of dynamic ticket pricing. We’ll explain.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why the NFL is suing M.I.A., Amazon prepares to enter the streaming music business, and “Big Bang Theory” gets renewed for three whole seasons.

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Showbiz Sandbox 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

Hollywood movie studios have been raking in the yuan at the Chinese box office over the past year. This despite China missing the most recent World Trade Organization deadline to open its market to more foreign films. Forced to work through government sanctioned monopolies, studios have been aggressive about getting their movies in front of China’s billion plus citizens. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale have headed east to star in China’s big blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou’s Heroes of Nanking.

Maybe a film from China will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the near future. Of course, contenders will have to figure out the new Best Picture nomination process put forth by the Academy last week. In an effort to create an air of suspense, the number of nominees for the year’s big film prize will fluctuate between 5 and 10 entries, depending on how balloting shakes out. We’ll explain all the new rules.

It looks as if Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, may be launching in the United States as early as July. They’ll go up against well established offerings like Pandora, which went public last week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 107: The Pros And Cons Of Cloud Music Services

After months of rumors and speculation Apple finally announced their cloud music service last week. Aptly named iCloud, the new service joins similar offerings from both Amazon and Google. Though each of the services has their benefits, no two are exactly alike. Amazon and Google stream music over the Internet and require you to upload your entire music library. Apple doesn’t do any of those things. We dissect the pros and cons of all three services and wonder why anyone really needs them in the first place.

Something else that’s probably not needed is a sequel to “Tron: Legacy” but thanks to a television series spinoff of last year’s sci-fi blockbuster, we’ll probably get one. And it will probably be in 3D like its predecessor even though Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg is heartbroken over the decline of the format.

The Tony Awards were handed out on Sunday and as we predicted, “The Book Of Mormon” walked off with the most trophies, including Best Musical. But what is a Tony really worth to a Broadway show’s bottom line? We’ll try and find out.

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Showbiz Sandbox 106: A Tony Awards Preview Of Broadway’s Billion Dollar Year

Even without all the news surrounding the troubled production of “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”, Broadway gave us plenty to talk about over the past year. This season brought more critically acclaimed (and financially successful) productions than during any time in recent memory. Brian Scott Lipton, editor-in-chief of TheaterMania.com, tells us who he thinks will win the year’s top Tony Awards on Sunday evening.

Movie box office is also on the rise after a disappointing first half of the year. Even so, the film grosses being earned in North America are being dwarfed by international box office. We’ll explain why.

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga ruled the album charts with her new release thanks to some help from Amazon.com. A number of artists are finding new and innovative ways to sell their music. In fact, the Kaiser Chiefs are allowing fans to create and sell their own albums with the band’s music.

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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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