Ryan Seacrest will split his allegiances on May 1 when Fox‘s American Idol, which he hosts, airs against NBC‘s iHeartRadio Music Awards, which his company produces with Clear Channel. The programs involve all three of Seacrest’s major employers: Fox, where he has been making $15 million a year hosting Idol; NBCUniversal, where he has a wide-ranging deal spanning Today, the Olympics and E!; and Clear Channel, where he has his radio show and has been involved in the iHeartRadio franchise as host and producer. Two of the three deals — the Fox and NBCU ones — are coming up in the next few weeks, while the Clear Channel radio pact has another year on it. It seems neither Fox nor NBC has objections to Seacrest promoting programs that compete against each other as both companies are looking to extend their relationship with him. Seacrest is near a deal with Fox to continue on Idol, which is set to return for a 14th season next year despite its ratings slide. He also is expected to reach a new agreement with NBCU, though its scope is still in flux. Seacrest has a long history at both places, which launched his TV career, and loyalty has marked a lot of his business decisions so far.
The original video programming initiative will debut first on NBCUniversal’s various digital platforms, including channel websites, Hulu and VOD, NBCU said today in a statement. Promos for the digital series will appear during various programs on NBCU TV networks. In some cases, development of the digital series will be in collaboration with advertising partners. “This original, digital-first programming, scaled with the unmatched resources of our company and our production partners, underscores the unparalleled opportunities we can create,” said Linda Yaccarino, President, Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal. “The combination of digital video alongside television content is extremely powerful and becoming an increasingly important part of the connection advertisers make with consumers. We want to offer our partners the unique ability to harness the power of our creative assets along with our distribution capabilities including the video-on-demand platform like no other company can do.”’
Among the digital projects slated to come from Universal Cable Prods include new series Tesla And Twain and Last Single Girl. UCP is also developing additional original series in collaboration with 72 and Sunny Productions. Tesla And Twain is a comedic series loosely based on the real friendship between the great author and the great inventor… if they were suddenly transported to modern day Los Angeles. Last Single Girl tells the story of a single, over-educated and under-employed young woman who is coming to terms with being a grown-up while all of her best friends are getting married.
The company that owns the largest collection of cable systems plus NBCUniversal has about 3.6 times the market value of CBS — yet CEO Brian Roberts made less than half of what CBS paid Les Moonves in 2013? No need to shed any tears: After all, Roberts’ family controls Comcast, and it gave him his best pay day in years for a period when the stock value appreciated 39.1%. The package consists of $2.8M salary, $5.3M stock awards, $5.3M option awards, $9.2M in non-equity incentives, $5.1M change in pension value and $3.7M in other compensation. NBCU chief Steve Burke came close to his boss with an 18.1% raise that brought him to $31.1M. Roberts’ take includes $192,177 for personal use of the company jet; Burke’s aircraft use came to $390,994. The board says that Roberts “continued to demonstrate strong leadership” and adds that Burke “successfully managed NBCUniversal.” In a letter to shareholders Roberts talks up Comcast’s planned $45.2B acquisition of Time Warner Cable noting that “once again” he has called on his government affairs consigliere David Cohen “to help guide us through the government approval process so we can achieve a timely close.” The EVP, who is becoming a celeb in his own right from his appearances to defend the controversial deal, made $14M last year, down 12.1%. Comcast will hold its annual meeting on …
Oxygen Media unveiled seven new original series for its 2014 slate today under new president Francis Berwick and said it is planning a rebrand for later this year “targeting modern, young women.” Docu-series on the roster range in subjects from finding the next female hip-hop star (executive produced by rapper T.I.) to comediennes, and competition series involving street artists and nail designers. They will join returning series Preachers Of LA, which recently was picked up for a second season after becoming the most-watched freshman series in network history among adults 25-54, averaging more than 1 million total viewers. It will premiere in summer. The network said today it will soon begin casting new Preachers editions in New York, Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit. Berwick, the president at sister NBCUniversal network Bravo, was tapped in September to oversee Oxygen. Here is more detail from the network on the new series:
Steve Burke doesn’t want people, or advertisers, to pay attention to total viewer ratings because “we’re in the 18-to-49 business,” he told a press gathering today in the run-up to the upfront sales season. Indeed, if presented with a program that would attract a big total audience, but not would be weak in the target demo, “we wouldn’t pick that show up,” he says. That’s required a change in thinking at the NBC, where shows such as Today and Nightly News With Brian Williams often are promoted on the basis of the 25-54 demo. “They should at least know both” the younger and older demo numbers, Burke says. He acknowledges that older viewers can be attractive for advertisers; for example, NBC has tried to capitalize on The Blacklist‘s popularity with 55-to-64 year olds, a group it calls the Alpha Boomers. Still, Burke says, “it’s very hard to get the industry to change” and “as long as people keep score that way [by focusing on young adults], that’s how we’re going to broadcast.”
The NBCUniversal exec renewed a familiar call for the industry to look at 52 weeks of programming instead of the 35 weeks from September to May. “We’re living in a completely different time now,” he says. “We’re competing straight through the summer.” He and research chief Alan Wurtzel also want Nielsen to step up its efforts to measure viewing on mobile devices, and advertisers to buy spots based on the number of people watching over seven days, not just three. “Those are things the industry can do today,” Wurtzel says. Burke adds that for some shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show as much as 40% of the views “we’re not monetizing and we need to change that.
Seven years bad luck is what you usually get for breaking a mirror so looks like NBCUniversal has finally put the pieces together and outrun the curse – literally and figuratively. After more than 7 years of legal haunting and a near-trip to the Supreme Court, the media company seemingly has been freed of the Ghost Hunters lawsuit that claimed it lifted the idea for the flagship Syfy reality show. California’s 2nd Court of Appeals this week granted NBCU a summary judgment and said that parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller’s initial 2006 case hadn’t brought their claims within the applicable two-year statute of limitations. “In sum, the undisputed facts and the law established the right of petitioners to an order granting their motion for summary judgment,” said the April 1 order (read it here) by Judge Nora Margaret Manella. Now of course this isn’t totally over as Montz and Smoller could appeal again — though their chances of success at this point look dim.
Turns out there’s not enough room in Hollywood for two British agents with a license to kill. Aiming for a clean shot, MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq earlier this week went after Universal in federal court over the latter’s Section 6 project. Calling the WW1-set Aaron Berg-scripted pic a “James Bond knockoff” the plaintiffs want unspecified damage and they want the court to declare an injunction shutting down the Universal property that Joe Cornish was recently brought on board to helm. “This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain,” the heavily censored April 3 filing says (read it here). “Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not.”
NBCUniversal is knocking out its exclusive multi-year streaming deals in short order. A day after NBCU’s Television & New Media Distribution arm announced a TV licensing pact with Hulu, it has unveiled a deal with Sony TV’s Crackle for ad-supported VOD rights to stream feature films from NBCU’s library. More than 140 titles will eventually roll out over the next three years on the multi-platform entertainment service, including the Miami Vice reboot, the war pic Jarhead, King Kong and the Ray Charles biopic Ray. The Sony-owned video hub is beefing up its film offerings to go with TV and its own original series, including the Jerry Seinfeld-fronted Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee that in January passed 25 million streams, making it Crackle’s No. 1 original. It recently was renewed for a fourth season. “Crackle is an innovative and growing new platform and we are excited that their viewers will be able to enjoy these great films from Universal’s film library,” Todd Whiting, SVP for NBCUniversal Television & New Media Distribution, said about today’s deal.
The exclusive licensing deal announced today makes Hulu Plus the exclusive destination for all previous seasons of Universal TV’s The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with Bravo series like The Real Housewives and Top Chef franchises and E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians also available exclusively in the coming weeks — and Parks And Recreation coming non-exclusively. The multi-year SVOD rights deal follows similar Hulu pacts inked in February — one an extension with CBS for 2,600 new episodes of shows including Undercover Boss, United States Of Tara, Everybody Loves Raymond, Ghost Whisperer and library fare like The Brady Bunch and Laverne & Shirley; and another with Disney/ABC Television group that netted SVOD rights to Nashville. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the deal via a blog post today.
NEW YORK, March 7, 2014 – NBCUniversal today announced that, for the first time ever, its entire portfolio of entertainment networks will give their 2014 Upfront presentations during the traditional Upfront week in May. This year, NBCUniversal will surround the “Broadcast Upfront week” which will begin with the NBC Entertainment network presentation on Monday, May 12, at the Javits Center in New York City; followed by a presentation from Telemundo Media at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center in New York City on Tuesday, May 13; and, closing out the week with a unique presentation on Thursday, May 15 by NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group at the Javits Center. NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group will combine its entire family of networks into one presentation on Thursday. Historically, each network held individual presentations to advertising partners throughout the February to May pre-Upfront period.
In his new role as VP Legal, Yakub Hazzard will be handling profit participation litigation and related matters for all of the company’s television businesses, NBCUniversal said today. He will report to Jamie Lichtman, EVP and General Counsel, NBCUniversal Television & Entertainment. Hazzard comes to NBCU from the firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, where he was co-chair of the Entertainment and Media Department. Previously, he was co-chair of the Entertainment and Media Practice at Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods & George.
The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes.
As VP Communications, Nidia Caceros Kilde is responsible for leading strategic communications for the cable entertainment group’s President and Chief Content Officer, Jeff Wachtel, and the studios under his purview — Universal Cable Prods and Wilshire Studios, including USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, E! Entertainment, Oxygen and Esquire Network. Caceros Kilde is responsible for all consumer and trade media relations on behalf of the studios. Additionally, she’ll work with Cory Shields, EVP Communications, NBCU Cable Entertainment, in developing West Coast communications strategy for the cable portfolio including business affairs. She reports to both Wachtel and Shields.
Looks like GE will be a co-star of sorts in The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the result of what the manufacturing conglom and NBCUniversal refer to as a new “multiplatform, integrated partnership.” The “GE-sponsored in-show integrations” will begin on Wednesday with a segment called “Tonight Show Fallonventions,” where the host will showcase inventions with three kids. There’ll also be a GE-branded “Fallonventions” section on the Tonight Show‘s website with “exclusive digital content tied to each in-show segment.” The companies will replicate the formula for two other segments this year. In addition, GE will be the launch sponsor of the late night show’s app. “Bringing GE into the show in a way that stays true to what Jimmy is developing with the new Tonight Show, is an important part of our innovative thinking here at NBCUniversal,” says Entertainment Advertising Sales Group EVP Dan Lovinger. GE Global Brand Marketing Executive Director Linda Boff says that “this type of first-mover, innovative content is exactly what GE is looking to develop with our media partners.”
New York, NY – February 3, 2014 – NBCUniversal today announced the launch of the NBCUniversal Technology Center, a state-of-the-art technology center located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which will be the new center for the company’s core technology team, as well as the home of the new Media Labs operation.
The creation of the 63,000 square foot Technology Center represents an investment of approximately $17 million in the company’s New Jersey operations, and serves as a complement to NBCUniversal’s previously announced investments in the infrastructure of its New York operations.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Dogwoof Sells ‘Blackfish’ Docu To Multiple Territories; BAFTA Awards To Kick Off With Tinie Tempah-Laura Mvula Duet
Dogwoof Closes Slew Of Deals For ‘Blackfish’ Documentary
Sales outfit Dogwoof has closed a multi-territory deal with Universal Pictures International Entertainment on 2013 Sundance documentary Blackfish. The territories include Asia, Italy, Portugal, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Scandinavia and Latin America. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale who killed several people while in captivity. The controversial and popular film was shortlisted in the Oscar documentary category and has a BAFTA nomination this year. Other territories sold by Dogwoof include German- and French-speaking Europe, Spain, The Netherlands, and a multi-territory deal with Netflix.
Tinie Tempah-Laura Mvula Duet Will Open BAFTA Awards
For this year’s musical opening, the BAFTA Awards on February 16 will kick off with a duet by multiplatinum-selling English rapper Tinie Tempah and English soul singer Laura Mvula. The pair will sing the track “Heroes,” which appears on Tempah’s album Demonstration. Not to be confused with the classic David Bowie song, the refrain incorporates the lyrics, “Here everyone’s a hero/We all got a second chance.” (Heroes are popular this year: two weeks after the BAFTAs, the Oscars will honor big-screen real-life heroes, super heroes, popular heroes and animated heroes, both past and present.) In previous years, the likes of Paloma Faith and Tom Jones have performed ahead of the BAFTA ceremony.
“No other media company today can do this,” NBCUniversal Ad Sales President Linda Yaccarino says of the new initiative called “NBCU+ Powered By Comcast.” The goal is to give national advertisers additional audience data — beyond age and gender — to help them decide what brands to promote on which shows. But it also will help them to aim particular spots at particular Comcast subscribers who watch shows on VOD, where ad skipping is disabled. “It’s almost like the cherry on top,” she says. “We’re here to help clients move inventory.” Execs hope to help advertisers who are struggling to make sense of the flood of data that they now receive. NBCU hasn’t determined how much extra it will charge. “The pricing will find balance in the marketplace,” Yaccarino says. She adds that NBCU will continue to “keep sophisticating the product.” The initiative is one of several that NBCU plans to introduce with Comcast Media 360 that take advantage of the company’s combination of content and distribution.
Months ago, when NBC was deciding to move The Tonight Show back to New York, part of the NBCUniversal-think was that it would allow the company to streamline booking of talent across its many talk-show platforms based in New York – also including Late Night, Today, Saturday Night Live, Meredith Vieira’s new show, Watch What Happens Live, Access Hollywood, E! News, etc. Last month, NBC Broadcast chairman Ted Harbert told Deadline that NBCU was working to streamline guest booking across its various celebrity-centric New York-based shows, including the Jimmy Fallon-hosted Tonight. The ability to orchestrate an “event” across multiple programs for a celeb with something to plug would give Tonight a big booking edge over its late-night competition, for example.
Today, less than three weeks before Tonight makes the move, NBCU announced it had promoted Kathy Kelly-Brown to the newly created post of SVP Global Talent Booking, where she will develop “strategic, customized publicity opportunities incorporating the many powerful brands” in the NBCU portfolio. Kelly-Brown will collaborate with producers, bookers and talent execs to “assemble comprehensive publicity opportunities for projects such as upcoming film and television premieres, album releases and book launches.” She will report to NBCU EVP Adam Miller.
Execs put the Street on notice that Universal‘s movie profits may take a hit this year, but for what they see as a good cause: They expect healthy returns in 2015 from films including Jurassic World (aka Jurassic Park 4), Fast & Furious 7, The Minions (an animated spinoff of the Despicable Me franchise) and Fifty Shades Of Grey. “It’s a little bit of an up-and-down business,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a conference call with analysts to discuss this morning’s Q4 earnings report. NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke assured them, though, that “we have a very strong year” planned for 2015 and “we’re incurring that investment [in 2014] as we gear up.” CFO Michael Angelakis also said that the productions will “absorb some cash,” but he characterized the increased spending as a kind of normalization, noting that last year Comcast went “lighter on the production spend for the 2014 slate.” The company spent $1.16B on capital expenditures for all of NBCU last year — up $397M from 2012 — with much of it going to Harry Potter and Transformers theme park attractions. It expects the level for NBCU to remain “relatively flat” in 2014, with continuing theme park investments.