January 20, 2022

CBS Acquires 50% Stake in Former TV Guide Network

The deal, in the works for several weeks, puts CBS into partnership with Lionsgate, which will retain the other half of the company. The management structure was not announced, but the official statement about the deal promised that a rebranding effort and a new programming strategy would be announced later.

CBS, which already owns the pay-cable channel Showtime, paid about $100 million to acquire the 50 percent of TVGN and of the Web site TVGuide.com that had been owned by One Equity Partners, a unit of JPMorgan Chase. The price means the value of the half-stake has declined since 2009, when One Equity paid $122 million for a 49 percent share.

Lionsgate, the entertainment company responsible for such television shows as “Mad Men” and “Nurse Jackie,” bought the network in 2000 for $241 million. TVGN is available in more than 80 million homes.

CBS’s top executive, Leslie Moonves, has been looking to expand in the basic cable arena for some time, but only at the right price, he has said. (CBS also owns a sports network and the Smithsonian Channel on basic cable.)

In January, the company announced its intention to divest itself of its outdoor advertising unit, a move that was viewed as consistent with Mr. Moonves’s frequent statements that he intended to build CBS as a pure “content company.” Adding a basic cable channel will offer both a potential outlet for new original programming and for the large library of CBS programming.

Mr. Moonves and Jon Feltheimer, the chief executive of Lionsgate, are longtime close personal friends.

TVGN, which is a separate entity from TV Guide magazine, began in 1981 as an on-screen program guide. It later began acquiring repeat episodes of network series and added some original programming. But early on those shows had to share the screen with program listings.

Now, in a large majority of the homes that receive the channel, the screen is not split between programming and a channel guide, though some of its remaining deals with cable systems require the channel to display a running list of shows and channels.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/business/media/cbs-acquires-stake-in-tvgn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Media Equation: ‘Walking Dead’ Helps Solidify AMC’s Ratings Success

When a show about the walking dead on basic cable beats every network show in the ratings demographic that advertisers care most about, you have to wonder who the real zombies are.

A zombie, after all, is something that continues to roam, and tries to devour all in its path even though its natural life is over — a description that does not sound that far-fetched when it comes to broadcast networks.

During its run last fall, “The Walking Dead” was the highest-rated show among viewers 18 to 49, the most-sought age group, with a bigger audience than network winners like “The Big Bang Theory,” “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Modern Family.”

Now the zombies are back for the second half of the show’s third season, and they continue to gnaw on everything in their path, including the broadcast networks’ historical claim to being the only place to find a mass audience. Three weeks ago, the zombies owned Sunday night, attracting 7.7 million viewers in the 18 to 49 range, more than any broadcast show in the land.

It gets better (or worse, if you are a network). AMC has a spinoff chat show about zombies called “The Talking Dead,” and even that is making waves. That same Sunday three weeks ago, “The Talking Dead” drew almost 2.8 million viewers ages 18 to 49, trumping NBC not just for the night, but for all of February.

Being a cable network, it’s clear, is less of a disadvantage than it used to be, as broadcast networks become just one more click on a seemingly infinite dial.

A couple of things are at work here. For years, inertia kept viewers locked on the big broadcast channels, but these days, consumers are roaming omnivores, hunting down whatever has heat and water-cooler value. And network appointment viewing has given way to foraging and bingeing.

AMC, along with its studio partners, has always made sure that if someone wants to catch up with America’s favorite zombies, or “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men,” two of its other hits, then past seasons are readily available — on demand, on Netflix or on iTunes. As a result, the audience for “The Walking Dead” is up 51 percent overall last year, and it is one of the most consistently talked about shows on social media.

It’s worth noting that the gap between basic cable and broadcast television has gradually shrunk as satellite and telecommunications companies have joined the fray. There are about 115 million television households in America, and some 99 million of them have access to AMC. On the networks, old franchises are tiring, new efforts are flopping in record time and a show like “The Walking Dead,” whose audience grew slowly and steadily over three seasons, is just not in the playbook.

“AMC sold the show to Netflix early, so when people started talking about it, it was there for the watching,” said Alexia Quadrani, a media analyst at JPMorgan.

Last Thursday, I visited Josh Sapan, the chief executive of AMC Networks, at his office across the street from Madison Square Garden. You might expect him to be celebrating his zombies’ success, but you’d be wrong. Mr. Sapan has been at AMC for 25 years and he is too superstitious to tempt the gods like that. As a collector of lightning rods — he has acquired more than a hundred, two of them on display in his office — he knows that sticking out has a cost.

“I would have put big odds against a cable show winning over network five years ago,” he said. Still, he warns, “People’s taste in what is popular can be very fleeting and short-lived. There is some alchemy at work here that is hard to diagnose and replicate.”

“It’s a big moment to those of us who are in the business,” he added, “but I don’t think the general public, especially young people, even think about where programming comes from.”

E-mail: carr@nytimes.com;

twitter.com/carr2n

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 3, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of years Josh Sapan has been at AMC. It is 25 years, not 24.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/business/media/walking-dead-helps-solidify-amcs-ratings-success.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain Runs Nonstop

There are 160 million so-called set-top boxes in the United States, one for every two people, and that number is rising. Many homes now have one or more basic cable boxes as well as add-on DVRs, or digital video recorders, which use 40 percent more power than the set-top box.

One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

“People in the energy efficiency community worry a lot about these boxes, since they will make it more difficult to lower home energy use,” said John Wilson, a former member of the California Energy Commission who is now with the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation. “Companies say it can’t be done or it’s too expensive. But in my experience, neither one is true. It can be done, and it often doesn’t cost much, if anything.”

The perpetually “powered on” state is largely a function of design and programming choices made by electronics companies and cable and Internet providers, which are related to the way cable networks function in the United States. Fixes exist, but they are not currently being mandated or deployed in the United States, critics say.

Similar devices in some European countries, for example, can automatically go into standby mode when not in use, cutting power drawn by half. They can also go into an optional “deep sleep,” which can reduce energy consumption by about 95 percent compared with when the machine is active.

One British company, Pace, sells such boxes to American providers, who do not take advantage of the reduced energy options because of worries that the lowest energy states could disrupt service. Cable companies say customers will not tolerate the time it takes to reboot the system once the system has been shut down or put to sleep.

“The issue of having more efficient equipment is of interest to us,” said Justin Venech, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable. But, he added, “when we purchase the equipment, functionality and cost are the primary considerations.”

But energy efficiency experts say that technical fixes could eliminate or minimize the waiting time and inconvenience, some at little expense. Low-energy European systems reboot from deep sleep in one to two minutes.

Alan Meier, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said of the industry in the United States, “I don’t want to use the word ‘lazy,’ but they have had different priorities, and saving energy is not one of them.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has established Energy Star standards for set-top boxes and has plans to tighten them significantly by 2013, said Ann Bailey, director of Energy Star product labeling, in an e-mail. The voluntary seal indicates products that use energy efficiently. But today, there are many boxes on the list of products that meet the Energy Star standard that do not offer an automatic standby or sleep mode.

“If you hit the on/off button it only dims the clock, it doesn’t significantly reduce power use,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the natural resources council.

Energy efficiency is a function of hardware, software, the cable network and how a customer uses the service, said Robert Turner, an engineer at Pace, which makes set-top boxes that can operate using less power while not in active use.

Sometimes energy efficiency can be vastly improved by remotely adjusting software over a cable, Mr. Turner said. In this way, Pace reduced the energy consumption of some of its older boxes by half.

Cable boxes are not designed to be turned completely off, and even when in deep sleep mode, it takes time to reconnect and “talk” with their cable or satellite network, though that time is highly variable depending on the technology.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7d2c401a30265269a89332e5c0b0ed66