Right up there with death and taxes on the inevitability scale is an enormous TV rating for the NFL‘s annual championship game. Advertisers, of course, are hip to that — and Fox announced today that its ad inventory for Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2 is completely sold out, nearly two months before the Big Game. Sponsors are shelling out an average of $4M for a 30-second chunk of the prime airtime during the game — one of the few remaining events most TV viewers watch (gasp!) live. Some late spots scooped $4.5M. By contrast, CBS didn’t announce an ad sellout for its 2013 Super Bowl until January 10, when 30 seconds was averaging $3.7M-$3.8M. Fox Sports Media Group EVP Sales Neal Mulcahy wouldn’t divulge exactly who bought which spots for the game, but he noted that there’s still some ad time available during the postgame and endless pregame programming.
Remember that joke Jimmy Kimmel made at ABC’s 2010 upfront a day after Fox had announced that Glee would air after its Super Bowl broadcast? “Apparently, they are trying to set a new Guinness World record for the most 43-year-old drunk guys saying ‘What the fuck is this?’ all at once”? He could crack another one tomorrow as Fox has slated another female-centered series to air after the Big Game on February 2: comedy New Girl. The quirky show starring Zooey Deschanel won’t be airing an hourlong episode. Instead, Fox plans to pair it with one of its new comedy series. Fox is launching three male comedies next fall that would work well for the football game — cop show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Army half-hour Enlisted and guys-and-their-dads sitcom Dads. Fox seems particularly high on Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which have been slotted as part of Fox’s Tuesday comedy block.
The company says this is the first quarter since 2006, when it split from Viacom, that it generated more than $4B in revenues. CBS ended up with net earnings of $443M, +22% vs the first three months of 2011, on revenues of $4.04B, +6.4%. The top line is just a hair more than the $4.02B that analysts expected. Diluted earnings at 69 cents beat forecasts for 68 cents. But if you take away the billboard business in Europe and Asia — which CBS plans to sell, and deems “discontinued” — then earnings hit 73 cents. Ad sales across the company’s properties were up 8.2% to $2.46B. At the Entertainment unit, the largest operation which includes the broadcast network, revenues hit $2.54B (+9.5%) with operating income of $440M (+18.9%). CBS says that the Super Bowl broadcast helped, as did a 62% increase in retransmission consent fees. The cable channels, including Showtime, saw revenues of $478M (+5.8%) with operating income of $227M (+11.3%) due in part to higher affiliate fees.
Here’s yet another mixed-bag Big Media report on this unusually busy morning, although the 2% pre-market jump in Comcast‘s shares suggests that the earnings growth here is especially impressive. The cable and entertainment colossus generated $1.65B in net income in Q1, +13.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $15.3B, +2.9%. Analysts thought that revenues would come in a little higher, at $15.4B. But earnings of 54 cents a share beat forecasts for 50 cents. NBCUniversal did its part, with operating cash flow +17.2% to $953M — despite a 2.4% drop in revenues to $5.34B. (It would have been up 2.4% if you factor out last year’s $259M from NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.) Cable network revenue was +4.6% to $2.2B with operating cash flow +6.2% to $859M. Comcast says that affiliate fees were up 8.6% while ad price increases offset lower ratings to raise sales 2.5%. The story’s drearier at the broadcast operation: Its operating loss increased to $35M from $14M last year while revenues fell 18.5% to $1.5B. (The drop would be just 5.3% without last year’s Super Bowl.) The main culprits, the company says, were “lower primetime ratings at the NBC broadcast network and lower content licensing revenue.” In Filmed Entertainment, the company says that Les Miserables helped to propel revenues +2% to $1.2B with operating cash flow up to $69M from $6M in the period last year. Theme Parks also performed with revenues +12.2% to $462M and operating cash flow +10.3% to $173M. CEO Brian Roberts says that following his company’s acquisition of General Electric’s stake in NBCU it will “drive innovation and operational excellence to deliver superior entertainment and communications choices for consumers.”
I hate to say I TOLDJA but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences today announced its Oscar season schedule for 2014 and, predictably, with the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl taking every Sunday in February, the Academy moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March, the 2nd, as forecast here in a column on March 4th. I also predicted it would give them the opportunity to allow more time for seeing movies by moving the nominations back a week from where they were this year on January 10th (two weeks earlier than usual), and the Academy has done just that, moving the voting period back to where it has been in previous years with ballots going out December 27 and due back on January 8th (for 2013 ballots were mailed December 17 and came back January 4).
There were complaints from members that there just wasn’t enough time to see all the movies and then vote in that two week Holiday period, especially with so many other distractions of the season. This gives the Academy a lot more breathing room in making nominations but still allows for a six-week period between the announcement and the due date of February 25 for final ballots. This is important because it gives the public a lot more time to see the nominated movies and pleases exhibitors who have two extra weeks to exploit those nominations.
Are the Oscars moving even later into March next year? All signs say ‘yes’ and the Academy would be wise to announce this sooner than later.
Despite annual (and always wrong) media speculation (including a recent column in a well-known show biz trade) that the Academy Awards are planning to move a month earlier into January insiders have repeatedly told me the Academy’s Board has no taste for that, and as at least one former top officer in the organization told me over the weekend, contractually they can’t do it.
Though they haven’t yet announced any dates for the next Oscar race, the schedule of the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia February 7 through the 23rd puts a big crimp in any plans to keep the Oscars even on in its current berth on the last Sunday of February where it would run smack into the Closing Night ceremonies. In the past when this has come up the Academy has always moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March which would be on the 2nd next year. Quite frankly there is nowhere else for the show to go. Do the math.
With the Super Bowl already claiming Sunday February 2nd and the Olympics taking the remaining three Sundays, the earliest date available would be January 26th and every source with whom I have spoken tells me that is the date CBS is claiming for the Grammys next year (moving two weeks earlier than their February 10, 2013 date). Also getting the message are the major show biz Guilds which have all already staked out their 2014 dates and sprayed the territory.
Turns out there were people watching something on TV last night besides Super Bowl XLVII. PBS’ Downton Abbey had the second-highest-rated and -viewed show of primetime Sunday. The 4.4 household rating for Sunday’s 9 PM one-hour broadcast of Masterpiece Classic‘s aristocratic British soap soundly thrashed anything else on in primetime except the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen. Down from last week’s 5.1, that household rating was still up a very strong 69% from the Downton that ran last year on Super Bowl Sunday. The series also pulled in 6.6 million viewers; the second-most-watched show on the Big Four last night after the Super Bowl was the 8 PM America’s Funniest Home Videos repeat on ABC, which drew 2.59 million viewers.
Paramount’s 2nd-quarter Super Bowl spot for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness has gone up on Apple/iTunes but you can watch it here:
After the spot’s debut during the Super Bowl, viewers who have downloaded the app (www.startrekmovie.com/startrekapp) can watch a longer version of the game …
Quill.com is a real-life office-products provider that partnered with NBCUniversal‘s consumer products unit in 2011 to offer paper branded Dunder Mifflin — the fictional Scranton, PA-based paper-supply company at the center of NBC’s The Office. It turns out the initiative has been a major success, and now …
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
In both the U.S. and Canada, the Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year. But unlike Americans, a 2012 poll showed that more Canadians planned to watch the ads rather than the game itself. Unfortunately most of the big-budget commercials in Sunday’s game aren’t available to Canadian viewers. The result, according to CBC, is a yearly rush on TV antennas by Canadians living close to the US-Canada border. In the Great White North, stations pay a fee for the right to air the Super Bowl in individual markets. That fee doesn’t include the right to air ads from the U.S. broadcast (due to royalties issues, regional ad strategies and the way media is segregated between different countries). These stations sell their own ad time at a much cheaper rate. While the U.S. ads quickly appear online, Canadian regulations have created what Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos called “almost third-world access” to the Internet. Extremely low data caps and huge fees for exceeding them make streaming video dicey for Canadians. The best option for people living close to the U.S. is to get a pair of rabbit ears and catch the signal from U.S. TV stations.
Here’s Disney/Marvel’s teaser for the Iron Man 3 TV spot that will debut during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The teaser aired last night on Entertainment Tonight, with another one due this evening so marketers are working hard to squeeze as much exposure as they can out of …