NBC announced how it intends to handle coverage of Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law during its coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi: guest commentary. Sorry, Bob Costas. The network announced this morning it has hired New Yorker editor (and former Washington Post Moscow bureau chief) David Remnick to provide guest commentary on the network’s air during its coverage of the Games. Remnick, will contribute to NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony and will offer commentary for NBC News in Sochi, the network said.
“We are facing an Olympics that have a number of issues around them — substantial, meaty, news issues,” NBC’s Olympics exec producer Jim Bell told Sports Illustrated over the weekend. “For us to be able to have an opportunity to address them with someone like David made perfect sense. We would be remiss not to rely on some of the best and brightest minds to help present this to our viewers the right way.”
Added Remnick: “I think they want to have someone who has a familiarity with Russian politics and culture, various controversies, Vladimir Putin and all these questions I have stepped in for a very long time.” Bell said Remnick will kick off his in-Games commentary during the “creative part” of the opening ceremonies. Remnick served as a Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post and he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days Of The … Read More »
TV networks should be encouraged by the ad forecasts presented this morning at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. Global spending on the medium will grow 7.7% in 2014, up from +1.8% this year, Magna Global EVP Vincent Letang says, In the U.S., broadcast TV will benefit most from the mid-term elections and Winter Olympics. Spending will increase 9.3%, in contrast to this year’s 5.7% drop. Cable will be +7.8% vs. +4.4% in 2013. Much of the growth will come from technology and telecom companies as they introduce game consoles and gadgets — but auto and pharmaceutical spending will rise. Entertainment, however, will be down in 2014, due in part to efforts by studios to trim their release slates. Political spending likely will be about a third higher than it was in 2010 at $3B, Letang says. He also expects about $600M in spending around the Winter Olympics. Generally speaking “television and digital media are sharing the eyeballs and dollars that print and radio are losing,” Letang says.
Dan Patrick and Rebecca Lowe will host NBCSN’s live weekday and weekend coverage and Lester will anchor weekday afternoon coverage of the XXII Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia, NBC Olympics said today. They join previously announced Bob Costas, NBC’s primetime and late night host, and Al Michaels, who will serve as host for NBC on weekend afternoons and NBCSN on weekdays. Patrick is co-host of NBC’s Football Night In America and previously hosted NBC’s daytime coverage at the 2012 London Olympics. Lowe joined NBC Sports Group this year as host of its exclusive Premier League coverage in the U.S. And Holt is anchor of Dateline, weekend anchor of NBC Nightly News and co-anchor of NBC’s weekend edition of Today. He previously served as a sports desk reporter for the 2012 London, 2010 Vancouver, 2008 Beijing and 2006 Torino Games. The Winter Games begin on February 6.
Bob Costas will host the network’s primetime and late night coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February. No big surprise there — Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992. But it’s only the second time he’s hosted both in primetime and late night (he did same during the 2000 Sydney Olympics). With the 2014 assignment, he becomes U.S. television’s first 10-time Olympic primetime host. The previous record-holder, Jim McKay, hosted eight times for ABC. (Costas served as NBC’s late night host at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.)
In today’s announcement, Costas, who has the longest tenure of the network’s sports announcers (34 years), called the Olympics “a three-week miniseries which, if done well, should bring viewers not only compelling athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live alumna Maya Rudolph is returning to NBC with a new variety series project produced by SNL honcho Lorne Michaels, this time in primetime. The network has ordered a pilot for a variety series headlined by Rudolph. I hear the plan is to air the pilot as a special after the Winter Olympics. Rudolph is executive producing with Michaels, Erin David and Dave Becky. The project has been in the works for several months. When NBC comedy series Up All Night, in which Rudolph co-starred with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, did not go forward with the planned multi-camera revamp in February, Rudolph, along with her co-stars, began fielding pilot offers. Rudolph didn’t entertain them, indicating to studios and networks that she was interested in doing a variety show instead. NBC was among several suitors who began pursuing the project, leading to the pilot order. This marks the latest collaboration between Rudolph and Michaels, who also produced Up All Night. Rudolph, daughter of soul singer Minnie Riperton, was one of SNL‘s most popular cast members of the past decade. Her seven-year stint produced a string of memorable impersonations and original characters that often included music performances, including her recurring gigs as Beyoncé Knowles, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand as well as Oprah, Donnatella Versace and Michelle Obama. Last year she made a triumphant return to SNL with a … Read More »
NBCUniversal’s Symphony Initiative, of which we’ve heard so much of late, will reach a deafening crescendo on October 29, when the networks of NBCU will do its best to make sure you see a new promo for the media conglom’s coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. That date marks 100 days before the start of the Games in Sochi, Russia – which, to put this in perspective, is similar to retailers’ practice these days of starting their Christmas season just before Halloween, but not as bad as cable news networks’ perpetual-presidential-race strategy.
To kick off the 100-day push, 20 NBCU networks will telecast a promo “roadblock” in the 8 PM hour. For the uninitiated, that means 20 of the conglom’s networks will telecast the promo at the same time, making it hard-ish to miss. Since Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in January 2011, NBCUniversal has 40% more capacity, including 20 broadcast/cable channels and more than 65 websites, to promote the upcoming Winter Games than it had for Vancouver in 2010. The Symphony roadblock will begin a period of increased Olympics promotion across NBCUniversal’s network and digital assets, its 230-plus broadcast affiliates and regional partners, and its social, radio and cable properties, the company said today. Consider yourselves warned.
NBC and NBC Sports had the exclusive this afternoon as Tokyo won the coveted 2020 Summer Olympics hosting gig, announced by the IOC’s Jacques Rogge. The 16 hour time difference doesn’t bode well for TV although NBC Olympics exec producer Jim Bell called Tokyo the “safest bet.” Tweeted Bell: “Congrats to all the 2020 bid cities. Would have loved any of them. IOC went with safest bet in Tokyo.”
On Sunday, Andy Murray became the first British tennis player to win the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles trophy since Fred Perry’s victory in 1936. Breaking the 77-year non-Brit streak, the Scotsman’s final against Novak Djokovic was watched by a peak audience of 17.3M in the UK on BBC One, according to overnight data. That beat last year’s final peak of 16.9M when Murray lost to Roger Federer. It was also higher than all Olympic sporting events last year except the 100 meter final which peaked with 20M viewers, according to Overnights.tv. Until Sunday, Murray’s Friday semi-final win over Jerzy Janowicz was the most watched TV moment of the year in Britain, peaking at 13.2M viewers and scoring an average of 10.4M. The Sunday final had an average 12.09M viewers for a 72.8% share. The BBC has calculated that there were 120,000 tweets sent at the climax of Sunday’s final. That beat a high during last year’s Olympics of 116,000 tweets per minute during a performance by the Spice Girls. Murray is being hailed as a hero in Britain today where even the Queen sent him a congratulatory message. The BBC will continue the tributes with an updated version of documentary Andy Murray: The Man Behind The Racquet to air tonight.
BREAKING…NBC‘s Upfront presentation today officially announced that Jay Leno will end his 22-year run on The Tonight Show during the week leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics which start February 7th. And that Jimmy Fallon will be introduced during the second week of the Sochi games when ratings are at their highest. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said Fallon will settle into his 11:30 PM Tonight Show slot on Monday, February 24th, followed by the debut of Late Night With Seth Meyers at 12:30 AM.
NBC Broadcasting chief Ted Harbert kicked off the upfront by explaining the changeover with this understated description: “Things are shifting and changing in late-night.” But if any of the media buyers or advertisers in the audience thought NBC was going to candidly say why they’re taking off the network’s #1 Tonight Show host for two decades, they got a joke instead. Promising a “slight change” in late night, Greenblatt deadpanned, “I’m stepping down in 2014 and Jay Leno will be taking my job.” Later, Greenblatt offered as explanation only the ”increasingly competitive” late night landscape and that the network wanted to “pass the baton while still No. 1…” Then he launched into praise for the guy he’s replacing. ”We owe a great debt of gratitude to Jay Leno and extend Jay our sincerest thanks for an unparalleled run.” Stressing how Leno “always has … Read More »
NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert told advertisers today that the 2013-14 season “will be better than this season” as NBCUniversal “speaks to our customers with unity, clarity and precision….Everybody is talking to each other a lot.” Other execs echoed the theme that they’re on the case to turn things around following NBC’s disappointing ratings this season. “We have no illusions about how much work is ahead of us to grow our business,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at his company’s upfront presentation. Although he says he “doesn’t usually believe in testing” for new shows, this year “testing really seemed to go our way.” NBCU Advertising Sales President Linda Yaccarino called the upcoming slate “an outstanding lineup filled with innovation and creativity.” She adds that following Comcast’s acquisition of the company from General Electric, “NBCUniversal is a different kind of media company” that’s “determined to invest in the content, analytics, technology and people to help you sell your products.”
She touted Comcast‘s ability to sell ads and promote programs across NBC, Telemundo and 18 cable networks. “Making it easier for you to do business with us is the top priority…We’ve done it. It works. And we can … Read More »
NBC led the league at the Sports Emmy Awards, handed out tonight in New York. The Peacock scored 10 wins, including five for its coverage of last year’s London Olympics, and its NFL ratings beast Sunday Night Football won the outstanding live sports series trophy for the fifth consecutive year. HBO was next with six nods, including two for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, bringing the veteran show’s career haul to 25. The nascent NBC Sports Network — which launched early last year with the rebranding of Versus — was third with four wins, followed by ESPN, MLB Network, TBS and TNT with three apiece. NATAS doled out its 34th Annual Sports Emmy Awards at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan.
The 2012 London Olympics were nothing short of smashing (and wouldn’t NBC love some of those ratings today?). Now comes the official documentary of the games, First, an insider look at several rookie Olympians who bypassed car surfing and beer pong to focus on their golden dreams. The film focuses on young athletes in sports ranging from running to swimming, gymnastics to diving, cycling to BMX, boxing to judo and covering Olympians from the U.S. — including teenage four-time gold medalist Missy Franklin — China, Kenya, Ireland, South Africa and elsewhere. The doc from writer-director-producer Caroline Rowland will hit theaters May 30, followed by a July 27 airing on NBC.
Danny Boyle threatened to resign as artistic director of the opening ceremony of last year’s Olympic Games in London, he has disclosed. In an updated book of conversations with journalist Amy Raphael, to be published on April 4, Boyle claims he butted heads with Games organizers Locog over creative differences and his displeasure with certain decisions being made for the Games. He came “close to walking away” when he heard of plans for ground-to-air missile silos to be installed on buildings near the Olympic site, and became “unbelievably unpleasant” during meetings with Locog. “Occasional threats to resign were useful,” he said. “There’s a terror of bad headlines in the press, which you have to turn to your advantage.” A major point of contention was a stadium wrap being designed by the artist Damien Hirst. Hirst pulled out over a row about sponsorship from Dow Chemical and its links to the Bhopal gas disaster in India in 1984, which killed 15,000 people. “He didn’t want to be associated with Dow,” Boyle said, although Hirst did later contribute a design to the closing ceremony.
The companies say that they have a “multi-year affiliation agreement” that includes all of NBCUniversal‘s broadcast and cable properties as well as “expansive rights to carry the Olympic Games.” In addition, Mediacom‘s 1M video subscribers can access content on-demand, as well as some unspecified live channels “across multiple platforms, both in and out of the home across the U.S.” NBCU “wants to ensure Mediacom’s customers can experience its award-winning programming whenever and wherever they want,” EVP Content Distribution Matt Bond says. The Comcast-controlled entertainment company recently made similar deals with Cablevision, Suddenlink and Verizon.
Jim Bell was executive producer of both NBCUniversal’s London Olympics coverage and NBC‘s morning show Today over the summer. He was replaced yesterday at Today after seven years amid flailing ratings and a widely perceived mishandling of Ann Curry’s ouster, with reports that he would land back at the NBC Olympics unit led by Gary Zenkel. Now he will settle in full-time at NBC Sports Group under chairman Mark Lazarus and have “editorial and creative control.” Here’s the full release:
NEW YORK – November 13, 2012 – Jim Bell, who served as the executive producer of the 2012 London Olympics, the most-watched event in U.S. television history, has been named the full-time Executive Producer of NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympic Games. Bell reports to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, who made the announcement today.
It must feel good for the executives from Philadelphia to issue a quarterly earnings report that doesn’t have to urge investors to be patient with NBCUniversal. The cable and entertainment giant generated net income in Q3 of nearly $3B, up 155.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.5B, +15.4%. Comcast‘s revenue figure was well ahead of the $16.1B that analysts expected. And after factoring out one-time gains from the sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless, and NBCUniversal’s interest in A&E Networks, earnings per share came in a 46 cents — just what the Street anticipated. NBCUniversal more than held its own this time, although with some caveats. The cable networks delivered $2.2B in revenues (+3.2%) and $809M in operating cash flow (+7.6%) as increases in payments from pay TV distributors compensated for what the company says were “flat” advertising sales in the quarter. NBC’s broadcast operations, puffed up by the Olympics, generated $2.8B in revenues (+83.8%) with operating cash flow of $88M (up from a $7M loss last year). The picture looks far less cheery, though, if you take away the impact of the London Games: That would have left broadcast revenues of $1.6B (+5.2%) and a cash flow loss of $25M due to the high programming costs for fall season shows and news expenses to cover the presidential election.
At the Universal Studios film unit, hits including Ted and The Bourne Legacy contributed to revenues of $1.4B (+23.6%) and operating cash flow of $72M (+31.1%). And Universal’s theme park revenues came in at $614M (+5.8%) with operating cash flow of $316M (+11.2%). Read More »
Television stations were the star performers for Gannett, helping to overcome weak results in its core newspaper business to edge past Wall Street’s expectations for Q3. The company reported net income of $148.6M, up 32.9% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.31B, +3.4%. Revenues were slightly ahead of the $1.29B that analysts anticipated. And earnings, excluding unusual events, came in at 56 cents a share — beating the 53 cents that company watchers forecast. The largest independent owner of NBC affiliates says it benefited from $37M in ad sales related to the Summer Olympics in London, $41.7M in political ads, and $22.3M in retransmission consent payments from pay TV distributors. All told, the Broadcasting division generated $237.0M in revenues (+36%) with operating income of $118.7M (+73.1%). Gannett needed the boost: Revenues at its Publishing division, which includes USA Today, fell 3% to $890.2M, with operating income of $73.7M, down 31.7%. Ad sales at the U.S. publishing operations dropped 6.%%; with the 7.4% decline at UK-based Newsquest they were down 6.6% to $552.7M. Employment and real estate ads were especially weak in the U.S. although auto-related sales were up 1.3%. Meanwhile, Gannett’s Digital segment — which includes CareerBuilder — saw a 4.7% increase in revenues, to $182.0M while operating income rose 16.2% to $34.4M. “Our results this quarter demonstrate that the growth strategy we announced in February is gaining traction,” CEO Gracia Martore says. “In September we re-launched … Read More »
NBC is learning much more about who watched its coverage of the London Olympics — and as importantly how they watched them. It’s information the network hopes will help it turn a profit on future Olympic Games since NBC has all U.S. TV rights through 2020 via a successful $4.38 billion bid in June. A record 217 million U.S. viewers watched the Summer Games last month, and results from a dozen studies of the viewing habits of 50,000 participants have been revealed to the New York Times ahead of presentations to advertisers next week. Read More »
NBC Sports Group president Mark Lazarus said today at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that strong performances at the London Olympics by U.S. teams and athletes led to strong ratings, which boosted the bottom line. NBC had projected a $200M loss, but NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke said last month it might have a shot at breaking even. Advertising sales topped $1B, up 50% from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and 219.4M American viewers tuned in, making the London Games the most-watched TV event ever here. NBCUniversal lost $200 million covering the 2008 Vancouver Winter Olympics and since then its new parent company Comcast has ponied up $4.38B for rights to the 2014 and 2016 Games with the expectations it can figure out how to turn a profit.