This is “a new, developing phenomenon,” AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan told investors this morning at the Barclays’ Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference. Although advertisers still crave ratings points, they also increasingly want to reach people who say that “there are only two or three shows I watch and I live and die for them.” The trend is gaining momentum as viewers discover opportunities to binge view shows on pay TV, VOD and streaming services including Netflix and Amazon Prime. In addition, young viewers become obsessive about programs when social networks such as Facebook and Twitter help to connect them with others who share their passion. As a result, “that favorite stuff in media is emerging as the most important [driver] of value,” Sapan says. That’s encouraging for networks such as AMC — which has high-engagement hits with dramas including Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. But it’s hard to build a business around the trend: “Good dramatic TV shows aren’t known until they’re on,” he says. And nobody has perfect pitch. “There are many shows that have spectacular television pedigree and the show doesn’t work” while others from untested producers or stars “take off like crazy.” Sapan says he’s encouraged by his upcoming shows including Low Winter Sun (a police drama), Turn (about Revolutionary War spies), Halt & Catch Fire (about the computing boom in the 1980s), and Line Of Sight (a sci-fi drama the AMC chief calls “nuanced and exquisite”).
Disney Channel is not backlash intolerant. After catching flak over an episode of its sophomore comedy Jessie that made fun of a young character’s gluten intolerance in two scenes, the cable outlet has offered a mea culpa — apologizing and pulling the half-hour titled “Quitting Cold Koala.” “We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet,” Disney Channel said on Facebook. “Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family.”
UPDATE: Broadcast Nets Expand Nightly News For Tornado Coverage; NBC To Air Live Special In ‘Voice’ Recap Slot
UPDATED, 9:40 AM: ABC News and NBC News said they will expand their evening newscasts to an hour tonight to cover the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado that so far has killed 24 including many children stuck in their schools. On CBS, the CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley is expanding to 90 minutes from 6:30-8 PM. ABC also is airing a special edition of Nightline dedicated to tornado coverage, and ABC News’ David Muir, Ginger Zee, and Mike Boettcher will report in from Oklahoma this afternoon on Katie.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: The network and its sister outlets MSNBC and the Weather Channel will focus Tuesday on coverage of today’s massive twister that cut a huge swath of destruction near Oklahoma City. Along with live coverage from devastated Moore, OK, on NBC’s Today and MSNBC’s morning programs, the broadcast network will air a one-hour special hosted by Brian Williams live from the scene at 8 PM ET (delayed in other time zones). That will pre-empt a recap show of The Voice featuring the top 10 performances; a new live episode of the singing competition will air as scheduled in the 9 PM hour.
“Look out Facebook!” the News Corp CEO wrote today in a tweet. “Hours spent participating per member dropping seriously. First really bad sign as seen by crappy MySpace years ago.” Easy to see why he’s still smarting over the “crappy” asset that he bought in 2005 for $508M and sold two years ago for $35M. But his warning also reflects the passion Facebook inspires among supporters and critics alike on the anniversary of its ill-fated initial public offering at $38 a share. The stock closed today at $26.25 — down 31.3% — and has been pretty much flat for more than five months. Bears say that Facebook can’t sustain its torrid growth as it faces potent competitors — including Google, Twitter and Tumblr — and a shift among users from personal computers to advertising unfriendly small screened mobile phones and tablets. “Facebook is now scrambling to boost revenues through bigger ads that take over the entire screen,” BTIG’s Rich Greenfield notes today. He contrasts that to Google+, a social network that “is not out to harm the user experience through disruptive, annoying, spammy ads, they simply want the data to improve search and other products.”
“The demo didn’t evolve, it’s just endured” since the 1960s when ABC promoted the measurement to sell ads on American Bandstand, Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin told ad buyers this morning at his company’s upfront presentation. That’s a problem he says because “demos just measure eyeballs. Today it’s about engagement.” For example he noted how Conan O’Brien uses social media to rally fans and how TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles inspires viewers to write stories based on the characters, “There’s so much more we can do with analytics,” Koonin says. He says that his company is working with Facebook “in an unprecedented way” to generate “the type of deep research that hasn’t been done before.…The more we know, the faster we move from delivering demos to delivering engagement.”
Koonin said is a good time to change the measurement paradigm, he says, now that cable networks have reached a “tipping point” in their relationship vs broadcast. “Over the past decade the term ‘basic cable’ has become an oxymoron. There’s nothing basic about it.” Continuing the industry’s embrace of technology, Koonin also touted the streaming initiative his company announced this morning. It will “make our brands even stronger,” he says.
This summer Fox will begin testing technology that can update or swap ads that people see when they watch shows on demand, the network’s President of Sales Toby Byrne told buyers today. The goal is to have the service ready for next year. “A consumer can watch Fox on any device wherever they are, and your ad can be there too,” he said at the network’s upfront presentation at New York’s Beacon Theater. It was part of a joint presentation with Fox Broadcasting Chairman Kevin Reilly to underscore the company’s eagerness to work with new technology to help build ratings. “We will be No. 1 again next season,” Reilly vowed. The execs said that – unlike their broadcast and cable competitors — the network offers buyers “scale, youth, and influence.” Technology helps, they said: The network benefits from DVR time shifting, as well as streaming and VOD even though many of those viewers still aren’t fully included in Nielsen’s ratings. They added that Fox shows are especially popular with people on social networks including Facebook ad Twitter. “We dominate in the social space,“ Reilly said. “It indicates a certain level of engagement and that has value.” The …
Media CEOs don’t run their companies by themselves. Having looked at chiefs whose pay is out of whack, and those who are paid the most, here are others of note: the five best compensated company chairs, COOs, CFOs, and General Counsels as well as 10 other execs with standout compensation. We find that the five highest paid chairs collectively made $106.5M (+4.1% vs. 2011), with the COOs at $136.2M (+7.5%), CFOs at $77.9M (-15.0%), and General Counsels at $42M (+6.4%). Keep some caveats in mind with these results: I looked only at chairs who aren’t also CEOs, and there aren’t that many. (To avoid duplication, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collected at CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan received at Cablevision and AMC Networks.) Also, it’s often hard to define the roles that execs play. For example, Disney and Comcast don’t list a COO and Comcast’s CFO is also the Vice Chairman. So these compensation figures from company proxy statements can help you to see how the media power elite stack up, but only tell part of the story. Finally, remember that the SEC requires companies to provide compensation information for their five top executives. It’s safe to assume that several unlisted execs at big companies were paid more than some listed execs at smaller ones. Here’s how some of media’s top non-CEOs fared in 2012:
This one falls into the ”they didn’t really do that, did they?” category. Managers of Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, MO, are apologizing for a stunt last weekend in which a man — dressed in black, wearing body armor and carrying a fake rifle –walked into the movie house after a screening of Iron Man 3. Turns out he was an actor arriving for a show as a part of a publicity stunt for the film’s opening weekend. But the incident instead prompted numerous 911 calls by panicked moviegoers and a full-out police response, reminding many of last summer’s movie-theater shooting in Aurora, CO that left 12 dead and dozens injured. Police thought they were responding to a call of an active shooting. “We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters,” Cpt. Doug Shoemaker of the Jefferson City Police Department told local ABC 17 News. “Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen. There’s really no good that can come of this.” Capital 8 Theaters posted the apology below today on its Facebook page:
We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This
Gordon Ramsay‘s worldwide restaurant empire is in shambles with splashy eateries closing left and right or sitting empty. But Fox continues to prop up his image by signing a new multiyear deal with the bad-tempered, foul-mouthed chef and ordering a new Masterchef spinoff for the 2013-2014 season as well as additional season orders for Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef. This now brings to five the number of stale Ramsay shows which Fox will air, demonstrating how unscripted TV czar Mike Darnell is utterly devoid of new ideas and new faces:
FOX has picked up JUNIOR MASTERCHEF, a new culinary competition series for talented kids between the ages of eight and 13 who love to cook, as part of a new multi-year deal with award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay, it was announced today by Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.
As part of Ramsay’s new deal, FOX also has picked up one additional season of HELL’S KITCHEN and two more seasons of MASTERCHEF. The deal will extend HELL’S KITCHEN to a 13th season and bring MASTERCHEF to a fifth and sixth season. The addition of JUNIOR MASTERCHEF brings the total number of Ramsay-led shows airing on FOX to five, including MASTERCHEF, HELL’S KITCHEN, HOTEL HELL and KITCHEN NIGHTMARES.
After tapping into the social media zeitgeist last year with a campaign built around the popular “Keep Calm” Internet memes, Warner Bros TV is going low-tech, grassroots and green for its 2013 Emmy campaign. Starting next week, the studio will distribute 11 different show-specific reusable tote bags for some of its top series at farmers’ markets in Sherman Oaks (May 14), Beverly Glen (May 18), and Brentwood (May 19). The series featured are The Big Bang Theory, The Following, 2 Broke Girls, Arrow, The Mentalist, The Middle, Mike & Molly, Person Of Interest, Revolution, Suburgatory and Two And A Half Men. The farmers’ market campaign, which will have a strong fan element, will be anchored by a fully wrapped Airstream trailer where episodes of select WBTV series will be screening. Additionally, it will include artists applying glitter tattoo and nail art featuring staples from Warner Bros series, including Soft Kitty and the atom logo from The Big Bang Theory, a raven from The Following, the Revolution power button, and cupcakes from 2 Broke Girls. Visitors also can have their photo as their favorite WBTV character taken at the SocialPix station and upload images to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. using the hashtag #WBFYC.
BitTorrent seems an unlikely ally for content creators given its past association with online piracy. But the file sharing site today unveiled yet another tool designed to help media makers to connect with fans – and profit from it. Its latest initiative, the BitTorrent Bundle, introduces a “gated” multimedia torrent designed to boost engagement within its 170 million-strong user base. The format allows creators to put content on offer on BitTorrent, add supplemental multimedia content of any file format or size, and set parameters for how fans can access the bonus materials, potentially via email gate, donation, or pay gate. BitTorrent’s Bundle launches in alpha with EDM music label Ultra Music but the company hopes film and TV creators take advantage of the program as an option for digital distribution. Bundle’s gated torrent could be unlocked, for example, by driving fans to Netflix, iTunes, a movie theater, or a Facebook page for a like. The file sharing site got a huge response last month when it partnered with Cinedigm to release the first seven minutes of Arthur Newman free to BitTorrent users, even if the experiment was more of a success for BitTorrent than for the film. The promo had 1.4 million downloads with 150,000 of those downloaders subsequently visiting the movie’s website for more information.
Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, whose work influenced filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and George Lucas, died today in London. He was 92. His family announced the death via The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation Facebook page. The Oscar and BAFTA award winner was known as the master of stop-motion animation on such films as 1963′s Jason And The Argonauts, for which he’s remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven sword-fighting skeletons. In 2003, Harryhausen wrote: “Each of the model skeletons was about eight to 10 inches high, and six of the seven were made for the sequence. The remaining one was a veteran from The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, slightly repainted to match the new members of the family. When all the skeletons have manifested themselves to Jason and his men, they are commanded by Acetes to ‘Kill, kill, kill them all,’ and we hear an unearthly scream. What follows is a sequence of which I am very proud. I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronised to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing less than one second of screen time; in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months.”
No surprise about who topped the list of 2012′s highest paid CEOs at the media companies whose compensation practices I track most closely. (See here for an explanation). CBS’ Les Moonves returns to the head of the pack with $62.2M, even though his package was 11.1% smaller than it was in 2011. That was an anomaly: The top 20 collectively made $542.7M, up from $416.6M in 2011, according to company proxy statements filed at the SEC. It took $25.9M to crack the Top 10 — last year Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt made it with $16.4M. The most notable change in this year’s list vs 2011 is the jump by Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei to No. 2 from No. 28 as his company adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer also joins the top 10 following her move there from Google. Her appearance also highlights a quirk in this year’s list which has more CEOs than companies: Yahoo had three CEOs last year (Mayer is still there) and there were two apiece at Sirius XM (James Meyer replaced Mel Karmazin) and Cinemark (Tim Warner is now in charge). Also, remember that this list just includes corporate CEOs, not division chiefs or board chairs. I’ll be back soon with a list of the highest-paid media execs. The numbers on the right are the amount in millions of dollars for the total compensation as reported by each company.
Here’s our list of 2012′s highest-paid media CEOs:
EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.
Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, here, here, here, and here.)
This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)
A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.
I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:
1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.)
Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg were bullish about mobile ads and the apps that help drive them during the company’s Q1 earnings call today. Facebook posted revenue of $1.46B for the quarter, up 38% from $1.06B in the same period last year. Earnings excluding items were $312M, or 12 cents a share, a penny shy of Wall Street estimates. Mobile ads accounted for almost 30% of ad revenue in the quarter, up from 23% in Q4 2012. Total revenue from ads was $1.25B, up 45%. The company had an average of 665M daily active users in March, up 26% year-over-year, and 751M mobile monthly users, up 54%. The social media company’s numbers follow its recent unveiling of Facebook Home, a software-only adaptation that will “turn your Android phone into a great social device” — that also eventually will sell more mobile ads. Facebook’s share price is flat in after-hours trading.
CBS was the most nominated network at the 40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards announced this morning with 50 nominations, almost half of them for soap The Young And The Restless, which was the most nominated program with 23. All surviving soaps on the broadcast networks received a best drama series nomination, plus One Life To Live for its final episodes on ABC. (The Daytime Emmy Awards cover the previous calendar year. OLTL and All My Children‘s reboots by Prospect Park will be eligible next year.) Among talk shows, stalwart The Ellen DeGeneres Show again leads the way with 10 noms and will square off for best talk show with Live!, The View and The Talk. Katie Couric’s freshman syndicated talk show was the only newcomer in the top talk show categories, nominated for best talk show/informative alongside The Doctors and Dr. Oz. However, fellow rookie talk show host Steve Harvey snagged a nomination for his game show host duties on Family Feud.
The National Academy Of TV Arts & Sciences kept with tradition in the morning show category, nominating the three broadcast network morning programs including the embattled Today. Speaking of embattled, Kevin Clash, subject of multiple sexual abuse lawsuits, landed his last nomination as Elmo puppeteer. This year’s Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award for lifetime achievement will be presented to game show veterans Monty Hall and Bob Stewart. The 40th Daytime Emmys will he held June 16 at the Beverly Hilton and air on HLN. Here is a full list of the nominees and tallies by network and by program:
One of Silicon Valley’s top investors — and a key, early supporter of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network company — won’t stand for re-election at the June 11 annual meeting, Facebook says in an SEC filing. James Breyer has been on the company’s board since 2005. This isn’t a complete surprise: Breyer has been selling Facebook shares at least since October, when he unloaded about $81M of his holdings in the company. Breyer is a board member at News Corp and privately held Legendary Pictures as well as Walmart and Dell. Facebook shares closed Friday at $26.85, well below the $38 IPO price last May but up from the low of $17.55 in September.
2ND UPDATE 2:30 PM: The largest domestic movie theater chain Regal Entertainment says this post is going up on its Facebook page: “Regal has Iron Man 3! After some extensive talks with Disney, we’re glad to say that Tony Stark will definitely be in our theatres for Iron Man 3. We’ve got Fandango working overtime right now to place tickets back on sale at all Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres.”
UPDATE 12:37 PM: AMC just released this pro forma statement. (Don’t you love how everybody is friends again?): “Iron Man 3 tickets are now on sale and we’re excited to welcome guests to the 9 PM debut and Marvel’s Iron Man Marathon at AMC, both on May 2. We thank our partners at Disney for working with us to achieve economical terms so we can present our guests with one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013 and solidly kick off the summer movie season.”
BREAKING… As I first broke the news on April 16th, AMC was one of the biggest theater chains refusing to put Iron Man 3 tickets on advance sale even though this summer’s hotly anticipated movie opens on May 3rd. That’s because Disney decided to leverage the film in order to renegotiate the studio’s future terms with the chains beginning with this humongous Marvel blockbuster. At one point AMC, Regal, and Carmike were among those holding out. On …