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Consumers Dislike Cable Companies More Than Any Other Industry: Report

American Customer Satisfaction IndexIt’s time for the pay TV industry’s annual slap in the face from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which surveys 70,000 people about the products and services they use most. Cable and satellite distributors always fare badly in these polls — but this year’s results are especially disturbing after a slight uptick last year. The companies’ pay TV services collectively scored 65 out of 100, down 4.4% from last year, making subscription TV the second-least liked of the 43 industries ACSI tracks. What’s worse? Internet service providers, with a score of 63, down 3.1% — and which mostly consists of the same companies. People ”question the value proposition as both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability,” ACSI Chairman Claes Fornell says.

Related: Can Comcast Be Trusted? Company Report Says It Exceeded Promises In NBCU Deal

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Deadline Big Media 66 – The CES Preview Podcast

Deadline Big Media podcast 66In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, which David L. will be covering in Las Vegas.

Among the big trends the Davids say we can expect from the mammoth show: big, big TVs showing ultra-high-definition “4K” images; new technology from Google to help transmit that high-bandwidth video to screens of all sizes; and what this all will mean for cable TV companies, telcos, satellite TV providers, theatrical exhibition and Hollywood itself.

They also look at other likely areas of focus at the show, and preview appearances by the CEOs of Sony, Yahoo! and Twitter, and possibly even a new CEO for Microsoft, which is back on the show floor after last year’s surprising absence.

Deadline Big Media podcast 66 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 66 (.M4A version)
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Comic-Con: Why Cable Is Soaring Thanks To Creative Erosion In Films And Network Fare

By | Thursday July 18, 2013 @ 10:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

ANALYSIS FROM COMIC-CON: Last evening, I attended a Comic-Con preview screening for the USA series Psych and saw that rabid fans camped out 12 hours in a line around the block just to glimpse an episode that will soon screen on their TV sets. Today, I see an Emmy nomination count for cable TV series that dwarfs network television, certainly in all of the sexiest categories. And back here at Comic-Con, movie studios start today trying to hook the geek crowd on big-ticket films with a parade of stars and hype, but there will be lines just as long for panels for cable shows like The Walking Dead, Sons Of Anarchy (which I’ll moderate), Breaking Bad, Vikings and others. Cable is surely doing something right, in the middle of a creative period that will be remembered years from now as something approaching the way feature aficionados remember the 1970s.

This isn’t new to the likes of HBO, built on the network reject The Sopranos and other series. But how did it become so widespread that even Netflix is getting into the act? I’d argue cable is reaping the benefits of a creative drought at the play-it-safe major networks, but mostly from an increasingly polarized feature film business that has marginalized the value of sophisticated and edgy mid-budget projects. That has sent a whole middle class of writers and actors flocking to cable as an alternative to high concept global-minded tent poles or no-budget genre fare. I recall being skeptical when Tony Gilroy told me a year ago that mid-budget dramas like his gem Michael Clayton will become extinct. He wouldn’t mourn it, he said, because the writers, directors and actors who make them will tell their stories on cable and get the sense of authorship he did on his Oscar-nominated George Clooney film. Boy, was Gilroy on to something. Consumers clearly don’t want sameness. They crave different and edgy, and cable seems to answer that call regularly enough, most recently with Showtime’s recent ratings sensation Ray Donovan, anchored by its movie cast of Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. Noah Emmerich, who after a long feature career now stars in the superb FX series The Americans, told me recently that he is still shocked that after customarily spending half a year immersing himself in characters for features that often disappear, he never got as much recognition for anything as for a two episode stint on The Walking Dead, where he had hours to prepare. The response from The Americans has been even more profound and he has grown comfortable to the quicker pace.

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Consumers Warm Slightly To Cable But Still Prefer Satellite And Telco Video: Study

By | Monday May 20, 2013 @ 9:01pm PDT

Despite the growing talk about pay TV cord cutting, providers can feel OK — not great — about consumer attitudes toward them, according to the latest annual measure from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Subscribers gave cable, satellite, and telco video providers the highest overall satisfaction score ACSI has seen in the 13 years it has measured the public’s feelings about subscription TV. The score of 68 is up 3% vs last year, which ACSI calls “a glimmer of good news.” Even so, researchers say that pay TV remains “among the lowest-scoring industries” they study. Annual price hikes of 6% or so and “sporadic reliability” keep the group just slightly ahead of airlines (67) and Internet service providers (65) but well behind TV and video players/recorders (86), soft drinks (84) and autos and light vehicles (83). (Internet news and information services also come out ahead at 73.) Consumer attitudes vary widely by provider. Time Warner Cable took it on the chin with an industry-low score of 60, down 5% from 2012. Moving up we see Comcast (63, +3%), Charter (64, +8%) and Cox (65, +3%). Satellite and telco video providers scored highest with Verizon FiOS leading (73, -1%) followed by DirecTV (72, +6%), AT&T U-verse (71, +4%) and Dish Network (70, +1%). Read More »

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Cable Operators Will Consolidate To Grab Commercial Customers: Moody’s

If you think cable companies already have too much power, just wait. Over the next five years or so the industry “will consolidate to around 3-4 dominant cable operators, which will have sizeable footprints,” Moody’s Investors Service SVP Neil Begley says in a report today. The big guys will start to snap up smaller operators, and swap systems, because it will help them compete with phone companies to attract business customers. “Business services, primarily including voice and data, will be the largest single growth driver for cable over the next decade as residential services growth stagnates,” Begley says. Commercial customers soon will spend about $80B a year for voice, video, and Internet, and cable operators just collected $7.5B from them last year. But cable has a problem because operators’ systems “are like a jigsaw puzzle of efficiency customized to serve the residential customer” but are “inefficient or insufficient to serve multi-location commercial customers compared to most telecom competitors.” The problem is especially acute for mid-sized companies including Cox, Charter, and Cequel Communications, forcing them to choose to be either buyers or sellers. Comcast may have to sit out the consolidation wave “given the regulatory scrutiny it already faces as the largest U.S. cable operator.” But Time Warner Cable “has substantial financial flexibility” to buy.

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FCC OKs Basic Cable TV Tier Encryption

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 6:01pm PDT

The FCC voted unanimously to allow cable companies such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to encrypt basic services, Bloomberg reported. Prior to the ruling issued late Friday, cable companies encrypted premium cable programming but were barred from scrambling basic channels so consumers would not be forced to rent set-top boxes to watch local TV stations. The cable companies contended that encryption prevents theft and reduces service calls. Satcasters DirecTV and Dish and telco-delivered services from Verizon and AT&T have been exempt from the ban on basic-tier encryption. The cable industry said the ban cost providers almost $5 billion in lost revenue from viewers obtaining signals illegally. Encryption and set-top boxes allow cable companies to start and stop service remotely without sending a technician.

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Google Outlines 1Gig Internet, TV Service Planned For Kansas City

By | Friday July 27, 2012 @ 12:12am PDT

Google has disclosed details of a planned 1 gigabit per second Internet service in the Kansas City area to go with an IPTV service with 161 channels, reports. Google plans to charge $70 a month for the standalone fiber-optic delivered Internet connection or $120 per month for TV plus 1-Gig service with a two-year contract. Users also have the option to get 5 Mbps downstream Internet access for no monthly charge for at least seven years — if they pay a one-time $300 “construction fee” or pay $25 per month for 12 months. The initial channel lineup listing however does not appear to include HBO, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News Channel, TNT, TBS and AMC. Google Fiber isn’t actually available yet and initial hookups will require that 10% of a neighborhood’s households will need to sign up to be in the first wave of customers. The Internet service will have no caps and no overage charges and will provide 1 Gbps both downstream and upstream. The Google Fiber TV service includes a 2-Terabyte DVR and the ability to record up to eight shows at once. The TV service also will be available on Android and iOS devices, and will include a voice-enabled search function. Google also will throw in an Android tablet for use as a remote.

Related: Google Eyes Potential Strategy To Deliver Cable TV Services To Consumers

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2011 TV: Comedy Is Back, Soaps Are Out, Charlie Sheen Is Out Then Back, Netflix Challenges TV, & Oprah’s OWN Struggles

By | Saturday December 31, 2011 @ 4:50pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Who knew that the biggest TV story of 2011 would be a sitcom cast change? The Charlie Sheen meltdown and subsequent public firing from the CBS hit Two And A Half Men, followed by the show’s successful  transition with new star Ashton Kutcher and Sheen’s comeback in the new comedy series Anger Management, grabbed the biggest headlines. But it was eventful year, featuring major shakeups in daytime and off-network syndication as well as ushering in new players in original programming and a comeback for comedy.

No other TV area saw more dramatic changes in 2011 than daytime. Soaps’ march toward extinction accelerated with the demise of ABC’s One Life To Live and All My Children. Two other staples of daytime TV, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and another longtime host Regis Philbin, made their departures. Winfrey’s exit changed the landscape of daytime television, which she had dominated for a quarter of a century. With her gone, two big names threw their hats in the daytime talk show ring this year — former Today co-host-turned-CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, whose job change once again became a media circus, and Queen Latifah. Couric’s Disney-ABC talker launches next fall, Queen Latifah’s Sony TV-produced talk show is targeted for fall 2012.

Closing one chapter, Winfrey and the ABC soaps tried to open another, but the transition proved bumpy for all. On Jan. 1, 2011, Winfrey launched OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. A year and some $300 million in investment by Discovery Communications later, OWN is still struggling to find an audience and outperform the Discovery Health network it replaced. Heavily promoted entries like Mark Burnett’s reality series Your OWN Show, Oprah Presents Master Class and the Rosie O’Donnell talk show have disappointed, and the network has been mulling a more niche approach, catering to African American audiences. Winfrey will make another attempt to salvage her network with Oprah’s Next Chapter, a new weekly primetime show, which premieres on Jan. 1, OWN’s first anniversary.

There will be no next chapter for canceled ABC soaps All My Children and One Life To Live. After a five-month effort to secure financial backers and union agreements, Jeff Kwatinetz’s Prospect Park recently abandoned its plans to continue the daytime dramas online after licensing the shows from ABC in July.

While Prospect Park couldn’t find a business model that would sustain network quality series online, another company, Netflix, made a big bet this year that it can make it work. In the most significant challenge to traditional TV networks to date, the streaming giant last spring outbid the network with deepest pockets, HBO, for the David Fincher-Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards in a deal that could be worth more than $100 million. Since then, despite the company’s stock price woes stemming from blunders in the core DVD rental/movie and TV shows streaming business like the ill-fated Qwikster spin-off and fee hike, Netflix has been aggressively building a slate of original series. In the past couple of months, it picked up Jenji Kohan’s comedy Orange Is The New Black, Eli Roth’s horror thriller Hemlock Grove and a new season of Arrested Development.
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Kurt Sutter Hopes To Keep ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Going For At Least 7 Seasons

By | Wednesday December 7, 2011 @ 11:59am PST

Kurt Sutter, the colorful and occasionally churlish creator of the FX biker smash Sons Of Anarchy that wrapped its fourth and most successful campaign last night, is optimistic that his show will see a seventh season. Or more. SOA already has been renewed for a fifth season of 13 episodes. He said during a conference call with reporters this morning: “We’re hoping to be able to tell the story we want to tell in a seven-season arc, to have the length of time to do that. At least we’re open to exploring that.” But he added that his experience as a writer/executive producer on The Shield tells him that “the above-the-line costs can become too much” when trying to go beyond season seven. The reason Sutter is even able to consider three seasons into the future is the fact SOA just enjoyed its highest-rated season, standing as the No. 2 scripted drama on basic cable (trailing only AMC’s The Walking Dead) and the highest-rated series ever on FX. He credits the show’s increasing viewership in part to its availability over Netflix. “It helped people really plug into and get into the show the first few seasons,” Sutter believes. “It’s been really important to our rise.” Read More »

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Analyst Warns: Pay TV Will Fade As Young Viewers Look For Cheaper Alternatives

It’s a big deal when an analyst as respected as Credit Suisse’s Stefan Anninger slashes his  pay TV subscription forecast for 2012 to a 200,000 loss from a 250,000 gain, which is what he did this morning. But the rationale behind his decision is even more noteworthy: He cites a Credit Suisse-commissioned survey that found evidence of a youthful revolt against the pricey video packages. Lots of young adults aren’t cutting the cord; they never subscribe in the first place. Anninger says that while the evidence is still mostly anecdotal, “we are confident  that a relationship exists” between high pay TV prices and declining subscriptions. And the growing group of “cord nevers” (as opposed to “cord cutters”) is “the biggest challenge pay TV will face over the next 10 years” after piracy and soaring programming costs — although “it does not feel like the industry is yet willing to admit that reality.” Execs still accept the conventional wisdom that the recent decline in pay TV subs is due to the weak economy. Once things improve, they believe, then young people will jump on the pay TV bandwagon — especially when they have kids. But Anninger says things could play out differently: These young adults and their children will have grown up “in a world in which the Internet (at least from a technological perspective) was capable of delivering a reasonably satisfying video experience” for free, or a lot less than a cable or satellite TV … Read More »

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VIDEO: HBO Roast Is Medium Well

By | Tuesday November 8, 2011 @ 2:17pm PST

AMC, USA and other competitors in TV’s world of letters take turns lobbing barbs at HBO and each other in this number from College Humor.

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Google Eyes Potential Strategy To Deliver Cable TV Services To Consumers

By | Friday November 4, 2011 @ 12:44am PDT

Google is working on a strategy to offer paid cable TV services to consumers, the Wall Street Journal reports, as part of a previously announced project to build a super-high-speed fiber optic service in metropolitan Kansas City. The strategy would involve combinging Internet, video and phone services similar to cable and telecom companies, and Google has had exploratory talks with Disney, Time Warner and Discovery Communications about delivering TV channels over the video service. In September, Google hired former cable TV executive Jeremy Stern, who is leading those discussions. Google’s actions could accelerate the competition for a share of the more than $150 billion per year that traditional TV in the U.S. receives from advertisers and consumers paying monthly fees. Already the biggest seller of Web ads, Google wants some of those TV dollars. Read More »

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Cable News: A&E Pushes Reality Series Because Of Heat Wave, TLC Renews ‘NY Ink’

By | Wednesday August 3, 2011 @ 8:09am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Because of the extreme heat wave and drought in Central Texas, A&E is pushing the premiere date of Thom Beers’ new docu-reality series American Hoggers that follows the Campbell family as they hunt wild boars that attack residents and ranches. The eight-episode half-hour series originally was slated to premiere Aug. 16 but now will air sometime this fall (date TBD). “Due to the recent extreme weather in Texas, we think it’s best to move American Hoggers to the fall out of consideration to the Campbell family, the crew, and the horses and dogs the family use to hunt,” said David McKillop, EVP, A&E Programming. “In this record-breaking heat, even the hogs can use a break.”

TLC has renewed spinoff series NY Ink for a 10-episode second season to premiere in December. The show’s freshman season averaged 1.3 million viewers.

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SNL Kagan: 10% Of All Homes Will Cut Pay TV Cord By End Of 2015

Some bad news today for the cable and satellite companies that have been pooh-poohing the possibility that millions of subscribers will cut the pay TV cord. Researchers at SNL Kagan — one of the most cable-friendly forecasting firms — say they expect 12.1 million homes in 2015 will receive TV shows and movies from Internet services such as Netflix instead of a traditional pay TV provider. That would represent 10% of all households and would be up dramatically from 2.5 million cord cutting homes at the end of 2010 and 4.5 million expected at the end of this year. Although cable and satellite companies still may add pay TV subscribers, SNL Kagan says that “the pace is not expected to keep up with occupied household formation.” About 86% of all homes subscribed to pay TV in 2009 and that dropped to 84.9% last year.

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Dan Silberman Upped To SVP Publicity At A&E Network And Bio Channel

By | Wednesday July 6, 2011 @ 12:31pm PDT

Dan Silberman has been promoted to SVP Publicity at A&E Network and Bio Channel, where he will be responsible for corporate and trade communication strategy and oversee all program-based consumer press efforts, talent relations and awards strategy for a portfolio of cable networks including A&E Network, Bio Channel and the Crime & Investigation Network, as well as the feature documentary unit A&E IndieFilms. He will continue to report to A&E Network and Bio Channel GM Bob DeBitetto.

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Is Comcast Selling Stake In G4 Network?

By | Thursday June 9, 2011 @ 9:51am PDT

Comcast is continuing to mull what to do with all of its NBCUniversal assets. The latest example: The Wall Street Journal reports today that NBCU is in talks with mixed-martial arts league Ultimate Fighting Championship to take a controlling stake in the company’s struggling G4 cable network. The league is looking for an outlet to promote its sport to a growing fan base of young men, the exact target demographic of G4, which focuses on gaming and gadgets but is struggling ratings-wise and recently was dropped by DirecTV. It makes sense — UFC has a distribution deal with Spike TV that expires at year’s end and already shows events on Comcast’s Versus network — but NBCU should watch out for that backlash: It has added wrestling programming to its Syfy channel, sparking complaints from fans angry that their core sci-fi programming is being pushed aside.

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OWN To Go Dark During Finale Of ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ & Celebrate Oprah For Week

By | Tuesday May 24, 2011 @ 2:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will preempt its regular programming from 4-5 PM ET when the finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show will air in most East Coast markets to run a message directing viewers to the finale. The cable channel is also planning six days of special Oprah-themed programming May 25-May 30 every night at 8:00 PM ET/PT, and from 11AM-6 PM ET/PT Memorial Day Weekend. “We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to honor Oprah than for OWN to celebrate her ongoing legacy and enormous contribution to daytime television,” said Peter Liguori, OWN’s interim CEO. “We will all be watching this truly historic event.” Winfrey’s hiatus from the small screen will be brief as she is slated to launch her new nighttime show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, on OWN in January 2012.

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Discovery Readies Channel Rebrand With Velocity

By | Thursday April 14, 2011 @ 9:07am PDT

Discovery announced today that it is renaming its HD Theater cable network Velocity, which they plan to position as “an upscale male lifestyle network” with automotive, sports and leisure, adventure and travel programming. Current HD Theater series like Inside West Coast Customs, Mecum Auto Auctions and Chasing Classic Cars will help anchor the new channel’s primetime lineup. The switchover, planned for fourth-quarter 2011, will put Velocity in about 40 million homes. “Velocity continues Discovery’s tradition of maximizing the value of each of its cable platforms; it is going to be a game-changer when it officially joins our portfolio of U.S. networks later this year,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. “As the first network devoted to the upscale men’s market, Velocity will be a hub for viewers within this key demographic, as well as the wealth of advertisers that target them.”

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OWN Renews 4 Series, Orders 6 New Shows At Upfront

By | Thursday April 14, 2011 @ 7:37am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

In its first upfront presentation since its Jan. 1 launch, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced the pickup of six new unscripted series and the renewal of four existing shows. The announcement didn’t include the most anticipated new OWN series, an Oprah Winfrey show, which will launch in September, after the end of her syndicated talk show. The network is yet to share details about it, though it is expected to be a talk show. OWN has been slow out of the gate, barely outperforming the channel it replaced, Discovery Health. One of the most heavily promoted first new series, Your OWN Show, flopped, and Oprah Presents Master Class has underperformed. But the network found early success with Our America With Lisa Ling, the first OWN series to get renewed, and Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. The Judds also had a promising premiere on Sunday. Joining Our America on the list of renewed OWN series are Ask Oprah’s All Stars (picked up for six more episodes), Enough Already! With Peter Walsh (six episodes), In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman (six episodes) and Oprah Presents Master Class (eight episodes). The six new series include Confronting…, I Owe You My Life, Louie Spence Dance Project, My Mom And Me, Sweetie Pies and Unfaithful: Stories Of Betrayal. Here are description of the newly picked-up shows: Read More »

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