Like most other broadcasters this upfront week, CW execs today urged advertisers to consider the network’s involvement with digital platforms — and announced that its streamed shows, now available on Windows and Xbox, will also work with Apple TV. “This year we’re reaching more viewers on more platforms,” CW President Mark Pedowitz said during the CW presentation. With more than 20% of the network’s audience coming from digital sources, CW “will continue to make it as easy for you [to advertise] on every platform we’re on now and in the future.” He also announced that his CWD digital studio, which produces original videos for the Web, will be renamed CW Seed. “If the CW is what’s now, then CW Seed is what’s next,” he says. It will offer “new ways to connect to our viewers…It is about continuing our momentum.” After the presentation, Pedowitz said that the television network has cut some deals with advertisers based on the number of viewers who see an ad up to seven days after it airs, as opposed to the conventional three days. Some broadcasters would like to shift to a 7-day standard as DVR usage grows. Pedowitz calls it ”a good opportunity for some advertisers” that don’t have time-sensitive messages.
Related: CW New Series First Looks: Video
As expected, the CW announced today that the six-episode renewal for Nikita will mark the spy drama’s final installment. The pickup came after Nikita creator Craig Silverstein, who has a hot new pilot, Turn, at AMC, closed a deal for one last short order. Nikita‘s final chapter, which is yet to be scheduled, will bring the series full circle, with Nikita (Maggie Q) once again on the run as a hunted rogue for a murder she didn’t commit as she attempts to clear her name as well as spare the people she loves. The pickup is part of CW president Mark Pedowitz’s efforts to give the network’s long-running series a satisfying ending for fans. Nikita, a very modest performer on Friday night, has had solid digital play and ranks as one of the CW’s top series on social media. It also has been a strong international seller for producing studio Warner Bros TV.
Related: CW 2013-14 Schedule Read More »
It’s been another upfront where projects that had been rejected in the past got to shine. Of the four new scripted series showcased at the Turner upfront presentation today, three had been previously developed at other … Read More »
The VFX industry has seen recent mass migrations to tax-friendly locales overseas. Until now Belgium hasn’t been one of those major runaway destinations. But European film company uMedia has unveiled a new financing deal through its … Read More »
There are several comedy and drama pilots not picked up to series yet that are still in play. But among returning scripted series, only one, NBC drama Hannibal, went through the upfronts without learning its … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: All3Media America, the recently launched U.S. branch of the UK’s All3Media, is formally starting a scripted division. It will be run by former Bad Robot executive Eric Lehrman, named VP Scripted Television. The move reflects the company’s desire to enter the U.S. scripted business and build on All3Media’s slate of international scripted formats, including shows from Company Pictures (Shameless, Skins, The Village, Secret State), Lime Pictures (Hollyoaks), Objective Productions (Peep Show, Fresh Meat), South Pacific (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons), and Bentley (Midsomer Murders). All3Media America principals Eli Holzman and Stephen Lambert said that getting into scripted is something they had been looking to do since the two launched Studio Lambert USA in 2008. Read More »
The billionaire founder of hedge fund Third Point startled many in entertainment today with the news that he has paid $1.1B for a 6.4% stake in Sony – and wants the company to create a stock for its movie, TV, and music businesses, selling as much as 20% to the public. But on Wall Street, where Daniel Loeb is an A-list celeb, the big surprises are that he showed any interest in showbiz — and that his language in the letter he sent to Sony was so polite. As a value investor managing more than $13B, Loeb, 51, likes to engage in deep research and then bet on relatively boring companies and assets that others overlook. Third Point’s most recent quarterly investor letter highlights its holdings in International Paper and mortgages, as well as John Malone’s European cable company Liberty Global. Although Loeb was raised in Los Angeles, the son of a lawyer and an historian, he’s known as a New Yorker. He earned an economics degree from Columbia University before he hit Wall Street. After working 12 years for firms including Citibank, Jefferies and Warburg Pincus, he founded Third Point in 1995 with about $3M from family and friends. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 2:15 PM: Sony doesn’t slam the door on Third Point‘s proposal for it to sell up to a 20% stake in its entertainment assets — but doesn’t encourage the idea either. Sony “welcomes investment in the company,” SVP Corporate Communications Shiro Kambe says. But he adds: “We are focused on creating shareholder value by executing on our plan to revitalize and grow the electronics business, while further strengthening the stable business foundations of the entertainment and financial service businesses. As President and CEO Kazuo Hirai has said repeatedly, the entertainment businesses are important contributors to Sony’s growth and are not for sale, and we look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with our shareholders as we pursue our strategy.”
UPDATE, 10:28 AM: The CBS speculation has taken on new life following this morning’s news that hedge fund Third Point wants the electronics company to create a public stock for its entertainment assets. Third Point proposed that Sony keep at least an 80% stake in the studio and music properties. Still, the plan “will concentrate investor attention” on the businesses and “the synergies that potential acquirers such as CBS might eventually realize,” says Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser — who likes the idea. Sony shares are +10.5% in mid-day trading and CBS is +2.6%. Late last year Sony firmly rejected a sale after CBS’ Les Moonves mused that he “would want to look at them” if the properties were for sale. Sony execs might start to think differently if they take the movie, TV, and music assets public. The stock would give them a clearer sense of how much the properties are worth and, therefore, how much they could collect from a buyer. And Wiser believes that CBS could show that it would do a better job than Sony — which he says “has never bridged a significant cultural gap nor overcome its hierarchical bureaucracy to work better with the U.S.-centered operations.” CBS will be flush with cash soon as it prepares to sell and restructure its billboard ad properties. Read More »
Looks like Univision saved something extra for their upfront presentation today in NY. Promising “fun, fast-paced entertainment” Univision Networks president Cesar Conde announced that the company has a new partnership with El Rey Network, the upcoming English-language cable network from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade. El Rey is set to launch at the end of the year via Comcast. Univision will be responsible for the back-office operations, sales and distribution of the network. “The El Rey Network is going to be the home of kick-ass entertainment,” said Rodriguez today onstage. The filmmaker said that the first shows from El Rey will be a TV version of his and Quentin Tarantino’s Dusk Till Dawn movie and an as yet unnamed action series developed by Fringe and Star Trek Into Darkness producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
Related: Univision Announces ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Gossip Girl’ Adaptations
The network today also announced Va Por Ti, a new singing competition series for Sunday nights. Additionally, Conde said Univision will be showing the award show Premios TyNovelas that will cover Hispanic programming in both Mexico and the U.S. The show will air the same day in the States and Mexico. Read More »
Twitter users soon will be able to see — rather than just read about — more hail Marys, big air, and golden goals. ESPN said today it is broadening its ties to the 140-character world, making ad-embedded clips of several major events available on Twitter and mobile devices, creating yet another potential revenue stream. The sports behemoth becomes the latest TV entity to get cozier with the site as video becomes a bigger part of the twitterverse. Last month, Twitter was said to be holding talks with Viacom and NBCUniversal about hosting clips from those companies’ shows, and BBC America tweeted a few weeks back that it had signed up for the first “in-Tweet branded video synced to entertainment TV series.” The Disney-run “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” as it brands itself, soon will make the clips available on Twitter and mobile devices shortly after they happen live on-air. Expect video from NCAA football, the X Games and action from the pitch during the run-up to next year’s soccer World Cup. The net will detail its plans during its upfront Tuesday in New York. Read More »
HBO acquired all television rights for the U.S. and Canada to James Toback‘s feature documentary Seduced And Abandoned. Produced by Michael Mailer, Alec Baldwin and Toback and exec-produced by Morris Levy, Alan Helene, Larry Herbert … Read More »
Jack Bauer is back! I’ve learned that, after marathon negotiations, Kiefer Sutherland has closed a deal for a new installment of 24 on Fox. With him on board, I hear … Read More »
In its second buy into a U.S. production company in less than six months, ITV has acquired a controlling interest in Cake Boss producer High Noon Entertainment. In December Duck Dynasty maker Gurney Productions sold a controlling stake to ITV for $40M. In the High Noon deal, ITV will pay $25.65M upfront for 60% of the company with a further payment in 2015 contingent on High Noon’s performance. In keeping with the way it structures most of its acquisitions deals, ITV also has a put and call option to buy the rest of the company which can be exercised in four-six years. Read More »
UPDATE SUNDAY 2 PM: Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara is finally confirming internally my news that Warner Bros Television Group Bruce Rosenblum is exiting. This, after Tsujihara for months and even in recent weeks has told almost everyone there that Rosenblum was staying.
BREAKING … SATURDAY 10 PM… EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood always fires people in success, or so the saying goes. I’ve learned that the announcement by Warner Bros Entertainment CEO (and soon-to-be-chairman) Kevin Tsujihara is planned for 7 to 14 days after next week’s TV upfront presentations. Despite Tsujihara’s claims for months that he hadn’t made up his mind what to do about the brilliant but sharp-elbowed Bruce Rosenblum, I can tell you Tsujihara declared from Day One of his new job that “Bruce is an unnecessary layer of management”. This, even though Rosenblum’s Warner Bros Television Group consistently contributes half of Warner Bros Entertainment’s profits year after year. I’m told that Rosenblum won’t be replaced as President of the Warner Bros Television Group now that he’s quietly settled out his contract which expires in August. (Tsujihara never made a move to negotiate a new one for him.) Some already expect Rosenblum not to turn up at next week’s upfronts. Instead Bruce is sitting on a fat severance package in recognition of his more than two outstanding decades at Warner Bros and for keeping his mouth shut during the humiliation of losing the WB CEO job and then getting kicked to the curb on top of that. Many in Hollywood thought Tsujihara might keep Rosenblum in place rather than bust up what is so obviously a winning formula atop the TV group. Instead Tsujihara proved that, just like his Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes, he is more obsessed by politics and personality than profit. (“It would have been pretty awkward, quite frankly,” Tsujihara told the TV community about keeping Rosenblum on.)
Warner Bros Television President Peter Roth has just been signed to a new long-term deal and will report to Tsujihara for the first time. Roth reps the increasing power of content and the executives directly responsible for its creation. ”As I look at the key people that exist, Peter comes at the top of the list. He’s at the top of the game right now creatively,” Tsujihara enthused privately on Day One of his new job. But Rosenblum’s roles will be assumed by a new WBTV leadership mix including Warner Bros TV Group EVP Craig Hunegs, Warner Bros International Distribution President Jeffrey Schlesinger, and Warner Bros Television EVP Brett Paul. (“Peter is the big teddy bear but Brent was sent in to beat you up,” notes one exec.) These guys are some of what Bewkes was referring to back on January 28th when he talked about the “very strong benches of people beneath”. All will become the TV group’s new sharp-elbowed negotiators who won’t rub people the wrong way like Rosenblum did.
It’s been a professional and emotional roller-coaster for Rosenblum ever since he expected the top job and didn’t get it. Read More »
The real winner here is Lorne Michaels, who now controls all three NBC late night shows. NBC completed its late-night revamp by naming Seth Meyers host of Late Night. He will … Read More »
NBC faces the task of scheduling six new comedies for next season with only two returning half-hour series: Community, which received an eleventh-hour 13-episode renewal, and Parks & Recreation. The network may just have the right man for the job. This is head of scheduling Jeff Bader‘s first turn at bat after moving to NBC last summer. As a long-time scheduling topper at ABC, he was presented with a similar challenge four years ago when the network picked up five new comedy series and returned two. Like Parks & Rec and Community, those two returning comedies, Scrubs and Better Off Ted, were quirky cult shows and not anchors that could launch new series. What Bader and ABC brass did back then was let Scrubs and Ted be, pairing them together for what became both series’ final season. Then they took four new comedies and launched a new two-hour comedy block on Wednesday. It worked – three of the four comedies are still on the air: Modern Family and The Middle on ABC and Cougar Town on TBS. (The fourth, Hank, was quickly cancelled.)
Bader may take a similar approach at NBC. Like at ABC in 2009, the two returning NBC comedies are workplace, while most of the new series are family or family-esque (Michael J. Fox, Welcome To The Family, The Family Guide, Sean Saves The World, About A Boy). Coincidentally, the last new comedy series this year, Undateable, is a multi-camera show about dating, which was also the case at ABC in 2009 with Romantically Challenged, which was scheduled behind Dancing With The Stars. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of her starring role in Hemingway & Gellhorn, which earned her Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations, Nicole Kidman is back in business with HBO Films on Reconstructing Amelia, a … Read More »
It looks like NBC will be handing its venerable news division to a Brit. Deborah Turness, the editor of ITV News, is expected to become the first female president of NBC News, replacing Steve … Read More »
The clock may start ticking again on Fox. I’ve learned that the network is looking to bring back its signature real-time drama 24 as a limited series. Kiefer Sutherland is in talks to reprise … Read More »