“This is the program we know is going to be on the air for many, many years,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said of his network’s new Thursday NFL package, to TV critics he noted have slogged through about two weeks of Q&A’s for new TV series, almost all of which will die quick deaths — “even ours.”
“This, however, is a sure thing,” Moonves boasted at his Q&A session at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “This is the single best product on television anywhere.”
That said, the deal is a one-year pact only, after which the NFL could take all that increased awareness CBS has ginned up for the franchise and slap it back on NFL Network exclusively. “We have not made a determination beyond one year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when asked this afternoon if he’d commit to more. “We made the decision knowing it’s a short term, for what we think is a long-term strategy to build Thursday night [for NFL]. We believe the awareness of Thursday football will go up significantly,” he said, stating the obvious.
“We knew going in this was a one-year deal,” Moonves jumped in. “It’s our job to show the NFL what we can do. And we’re confident they’re going to feel like CBS did a tremendous job; we’re confident after this year is over they’ll sit down and hopefully give us a longer deal than that,” he said. Read More »
CBS will kick off its new NFL Thursday football franchise September 11 and roll out its Thursday entertainment lineup October 30. It’s part of the net’s “multi-phase rollout” for its new season announced today. In between those two Thursdays: the network’s Sunday slate will unveil the night before the official start of the TV season — traditionally Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, except when it’s NBC’s turn to broadcast the trophy show, including this year, when the ceremony gets bumped to steer clear of NBC’s NFL commitments. Also, Premiere Week will open with a one-hour The Big Bang Theory leading in to the premiere of new series Scorpion on that first Monday of the season. NCIS: Los Angeles will move to its new Monday time period the following week, joining launches of new drama Stalker and returning Criminal Minds during the season’s second week.
“The addition of Thursday Night Football provides the flexibility to strategically roll out our fall season in multiple waves, maximizing promotional platforms and scheduling opportunities to give our new and returning series the best possible launch,” CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said in today’s announcement. Here’s CBS’s primetime rollout schedule: Read More »
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN is partnering with Pilgrim Studios and filmmaker Amy Rice to produce The Untitled Michael Sam Project (working title), a multi-part original documentary series about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL. The series takes a deeply personal, up-close look at the All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as he enters the competitive world of pro football, says OWN. Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL. “We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever,” said Oprah Winfrey.
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The NFL is coming off most-watched program in U.S. TV history with the Super Bowl, and its just-released 2014 schedule arrives today with a couple key differences from last year – one of which is bound to make NBC execs smile. The league said that its “flex” scheduling for the Paeaock’s Sunday Night Football games can begin as early as Week 5, moving up from Week 11 in the past. That means the NFL can move any scheduled day game into primetime to air on what has been the No. 1 show in primetime viewership for four consecutive years and tops in the adults 18-49 demo for six straight. But there is a catch: The flex option can be exercised only twice between Weeks 5 and 10, which means Fox or CBS won’t have to give up their best matchups every week during that span. The flex-scheduling say-so remains with the league, which must make the call no fewer than 12 days ahead of time. (Regular Sunday night flex scheduling remains in play after Week 10.) Meanwhile, the NFL also is introducing a plan to “cross flex” Sunday day games on CBS and Fox, which have over-the-air rights to the AFC and NFC, respectively. In previous years, a game between two AFC teams had to be on CBS, but now the league can choose to move those games to Fox (and vice versa). This could help during weeks when one network happens to have the potentially biggest games.
Related: ESPN To Air Cable’s First NFL Playoff Game
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The NFL regular-season schedule comes out tomorrow, but we already know something big about the postseason. The league said today that ESPN will air a wild card game during the first weekend of the playoffs in early January. The milestone game will mark the first postseason NFL game on pay TV — and should draw astronomical ratings for the cable universe. Last season’s wild card weekend was a goldmine for NBC, CBS and especially Fox, whose 49ers-Packers contest was the most-watched wild card game on any network since the Reagan administration with 47.1 million viewers. Even that weekend’s lowest-rated game — in which the Colts erased a four-touchdown deficit to stun the Chiefs — drew 27.6 million. But that’s more than the largest cable TV audience ever: the 2011 Auburn-Oregon college football title game, which pulled in 27.3 million viewers for ESPN. The sports network, which carries Monday Night Football games, signed an eight-year contract extension with the NFL in 2011 to keep the lucrative franchise through the 2021 season. That pact — which also covers international TV rights to NFL games including the Super Bowl — included an option for the league to give a postseason game to ESPN. The network’s MNF team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the Wild Card game, which also will be available via WatchESPN.
Broadcasting veteran Ted Bergmann, who produced the first NFL and Grammy telecasts and was present to record the German surrender to the Allies for radio in 1945, has died. He was 93. Bergmann died March 2 following surgery at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. During the course of his 70-year broadcast career, Bergmann produced such shows as Three’s Company and its two spinoffs; The Arthur Godfrey Show; and Love Thy Neighbor, a 1973 ABC series about a black couple in a white neighborhood that was so controversial that Sears and Proctor & Gamble pulled their advertising. A Brooklyn native, Bergmann started his TV career as an NBC page. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army, soon earning the rank of captain and covering stories in the European theater for the NBC radio program Army Hour. On May 6, 1945, the 24-year-old Bergmann took a recording crew to a schoolhouse Reims, France, to preserve the German surrender to the Allies for radio. He was the last surviving witness to the event. Returning to the U.S., Bergmann rejoined NBC. Within five years he became a top executive with the DuMont Network, where he was the first to broadcast NFL games and live boxing and launched such notable TV personalities as Jackie Gleason and Bishop Fulton Sheen. During the 1950s, Bergmann segued to TV advertising, working with such firms as McCann-Erickson and Parkson Advertisting Agency. Read More »
“We’re not going to wait until November” to kick off this fall’s new season of the sitcom, or for crime drama Elementary, CEO Les Moonves told analysts in a call to discuss Q4 earnings. “It’ll be on some other night.” And he’s unfazed by the disruption on Thursdays: The eight NFL games that CBS plans to offer will “tighten up our existing schedule” especially since the network has “a lot of O&Os in NFL markets.” Moonves’ comments confirmed the assumption that Big Bang would continue to call Thursday its permanent home and hinted that Elementary too may stay on the night (after airing originals elsewhere during the weeks NFL takes over Thursday.)
Related: CBS Adds More Bang To Thursday With Football, But ‘Big Bang’ Likely To Stay Put
Moonves also rejected the suggestion that the male-skewing football games will make it difficult for the network to return to its female-skewing shows when the eight weeks are up. “There are still a lot of women who watch [football],” he says. “The male-female balance is not something we’re in the slightest concerned about.” CBS won the coveted deal not because of money — estimated at less than $300M — but because the league believes that the network “would do a better job” than its rivals in creating a Thursday night franchise for the NFL, … Read More »
This has become an interesting debate among investors as they await more details about yesterday’s deal, which they expect to hear on Wednesday when CBS reports its Q4 earnings. Most analysts are cheering the one-year agreement (potentially two if the NFL wants), and company shares are up nearly 4.2% since Tuesday’s close. They agree that CBS’ finances should fare well from the commitment to present eight Thursday night NFL games — simulcast with the NFL Network — this fall. The price CBS paid, estimated at less than $300M, “should allow CBS to make a small profit on the deal” as it “all but guarantees that CBS will win each night of the M-F ratings war,” says UBS’ John Janedis. CBS will sell the ads for the broadcast and cable telecasts and that “will bolster CPMs for those spots,” Nomura’s Anthony DiClemete says. (NFL Network will sell ads for eight subsequent games that it will air exclusively.) What’s more, RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank notes, “with 32 hours less per season to program in prime time, CBS could arguably cut back on original programming orders, especially for the series it doesn’t own.”
But Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger didn’t pick up the pom-poms. “This deal hampers their ability to launch and maintain their entertainment lineup, which in turn puts their syndication pipeline at risk,” he says. All of the games will also be on cable, so it won’t strengthen CBS’ ability to … Read More »
Probably no network would’ve benefited by a football boost on Thursday more than NBC, which has been struggling mightily on the night. Instead, the NFL’s Thursday primetime games went to the network that regularly wins the night, CBS, with the biggest scripted show on television, comedy The Big Bang Theory. By snatching half of the NFL Thursday package, CBS ensures that its Thursday lineup won’t have to face football on another broadcast network. The limited scope of the commitment — eight weeks, half of the length of Sunday Night Football on NBC — and its timing early into the TV season (NFL Network got the late-season games) are expected to have lesser impact on CBS’ Thursday schedule than SNF has on NBC. That means that Big Bang Theory, which has been anchoring CBS’ Thursday lineup since fall 2010, most likely will stay put.
Related: CBS And NFL Network To Offer Thursday Night Games
Two of the eight games will air before the beginning of the TV season, so CBS will launch its regular Thursday lineup at the beginning of November this fall. With networks more and more staggering their fall rollouts, that is not that late. (The CW has been employing an October fall rollout for the past couple of seasons.) CBS can use its fall-launch marketing dollars for the rest of the nights and then rely on football to hype its Thursday shows. I hear the promotional opportunity for the Thursday primetime football games was a big draw for CBS brass as they can get more eyeballs for the trailers of their new shows in the two weeks leading to the beginning of the season. Additionally, NFL football gives extra ratings muscle to a night where CBS already has been dominant and where advertisers traditionally love to spend premium dollars heading into the weekend. Read More »
This appears to be a big get for CBS, bringing one of television’s few sure-fire audience magnets to the most lucrative night for programming. Just about everyone – including Google — was interested in rights to the NFL games. CBS and NFL Network will simulcast eight early season games on Thursday nights; the NFL’s cable channel will air eight additional ones including two Saturday matches. The NFL and CBS didn’t announce financial terms for the deal that just runs for the 2014 season unless the NFL wants to extend it to 2015. ABC, Fox, NBC and Turner also bid for the package with initial offers that approached $300M, Sports Business Daily reports. CBS will produce all 16 of the games, and the Thursday night ones will include its lead broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. CBS announcers will join NFL Network hosts and analysts in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows. The NFL “represents the best premium content there is,” CBS chief Les Moonves says. “I look forward to all this new deal will do for us not only on Thursday nights, but across our entire schedule.” The addition to the network’s Sunday AFC package “further strengthens our position in the sports marketplace,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus adds. The NFL Network has aired Thursday Night Football… Read More »
‘The Time In Between’ Finale Sets Records In Spain
Deadline readers who follow international closely will know that I’ve been high on Spanish period miniseries The Time In Between. The 11-part mini debuted in Spain in October as the best local drama premiere of the last eight years. It concluded its run on Antena 3 on Tuesday night with an all-time record high of over 5.5M viewers and a 27.8% share. It also hit a peak of 5.88M viewers. The series overall averaged 5M viewers and had a 25.5% average share. Produced by Boomerang TV for Antena 3, it led among over 35s with a 25.2% share, and reached a 37.7% share among audiences aged 55-64. Based on María Dueñas’ novel, The Time In Between is set during the Spanish Civil War and the run-up to World War II. It’s the story of a woman raised by a poor single mother and taught to be a seamstress. When she falls for a handsome young man, she moves with him to Morocco and spends months living the high life. But when the money runs out and she falls pregnant, he leaves. She ultimately builds a new life and becomes the most sought-after couture designer for the socialite wives of German Nazi officers. She also begins working for the British government, passing information to the Secret Service. Interest from abroad has been high: The series already is running in Romania and offers on remake rights and/or the original are in from the U.S., Canada, Italy, France, Portugal, the former Yugoslavia, Russia, Croatia, and several territories in Latin America and Africa.
Fox International Channels Airing Super Bowl Live In Europe
While Europeans eagerly await this summer’s World Cup, they’ll be able to check out the biggest game of the year for the other kind of football in just a few weeks. Fox International Channels is bringing the Super Bowl to the continent. When the Seattle Seahawks face off with the Denver Broncos on February 2 in East Rutherford, N.J., NFL fans in Europe will be able to watch the full Fox coverage beginning at 12:25 AM on February 3. More than 12 million households in Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia will have access to the game. This will be the first time the Super Bowl is broadcast live on the FIC channels in Europe. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers are the halftime act. Separately, Fox International Channels said today that it has appointed Fabrizio Salini to managing director of its Italian operation, effective February 17. Salini was VP Entertainment Channels for FIC Italy from 2003 and 2011, and returns after a two-year stint serving senior management roles at SKY Italia, Discovery Communications Italia and Switchover Media. Read More »
The primetime Fox News Channel host will conduct the live sit-down from the White House during the Fox Super Bowl Sunday pregame show February 2. Bill O’Reilly‘s interview with President Obama is set to begin around 4:30 PM ET. Following the live interview, said to cover a wide variety of topics as you’d expect, O’Reilly and Obama will talk more for an additional taped portion that will air the next day on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. The interview will mark the third time O’Reilly has gone one-on-one with Obama, the first during Obama’s first run for president in 2008 and again during Fox’s 2011 Super Bowl pregame show.
As the NFL regular season heads into its final week, Summit has suited up the first trailer for its football flick. Kevin Costner stars in Draft Day as the employment-imperiled general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who tries to wheel and deal his way into the hearts of the team’s fans, new coach and owner. Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella and Denis Leary also star in the pic directed by Ivan Reitman from Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman’s script. Draft Day takes the field April 11. Watch the highlights here: