January 20, 2022

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: Strong Ratings for ‘Downton,’ and New Life for Two Soaps

The Breakfast Meeting

What’s making news in media.

“Downton Abbey” began it third season on PBS by drawing nearly 8 million viewers to local public broadcasting stations. As Brian Stelter reports, preliminary ratings suggest that the show catapulted PBS into the same league as commercial broadcasters like ABC and NBC — at least for a night. With 7.9 million viewers, the premiere on Sunday night “quadrupled the average PBS primetime rating” and exceeded the average rating of the second season premiere by 96 percent, according to PBS and member station WGBH. While “Downton Abbey” was on, PBS outrated Fox, ABC and NBC, according preliminary Nielsen ratings. (CBS still ranked No. 1 for the night with episodes of “The Good Wife” and “The Mentalist” that had 10 and 10.7 million viewers, respectively.)

The music of Led Zeppelin may be coming to an online streaming service soon. Ben Sisario reports that the band is in negotiations with a number of subscription services for the right to stream “Whole Lotta Love,” “Stairway to Heaven” and the rest of the band’s classic catalog. If it does reach a deal, the band — one of the biggest-selling acts in history — could help legitimize the subscription market, which has been slow to build a large customer base. Among the companies in potential competition for the exclusive rights are Spotify, Rhapsody and Rdio, along with Deezer, which began in France and is interested in the American market. Depending on which service gets the deal, the band’s presence could tip the competitive scales between them, putting a leader like Spotify far ahead or giving a needed boost to a smaller company like Rdio.

The canceled ABC soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are being given a new lease on life by Prospect Park, a Hollywood production company. Brooks Barnes reports that the company, run by Jeff Kwatinetz, will resume production on the serial dramas in February. Prospect Park has solved the union and financing problems that torpedoed the soap-saving effort after it was first announced last fall. The company on Monday confirmed that new agreements are in place with the major actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, and with the Directors Guild of America. The “necessary financing” is also set, as is the involvement of Agnes Nixon, the creator of both soaps. The Online Network also named three other senior executives. “All My Children” last aired in September 2011; the last airing of “One Life to Live” came in January 2012.

A new advertising campaign for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America features print and television ads designed to increase awareness of the debilitating ailments. The pro bono effort is by the New York office of DraftFCB, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. Print ads encourage readers to learn more about Crohn’s disease by visiting a microsite, EscapeTheStall.com. In a commercial for the campaign, the viewer hears, “Chances are you know someone with I.B.D.” The voice turns out to be that of the actress Amy Brenneman(“Judging Amy” and “Private Practice”), who says near the end of the spot, “Someone like me.” As Andrew Adam Newman reports, the organization hopes that the public service announcement will run widely on television and in movie theaters. Other elements for the campaign include billboards and ads online and in airports. Ads printed on transparent adhesive film will even appear on mirrors in public restrooms.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/the-breakfast-meeting-strong-ratings-for-downton-and-new-life-for-two-soaps/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Nearly 8 Million Tuned to ‘Downton’ Premiere

Preliminary ratings for the third season premiere of “Downton Abbey” suggest that the show has done something remarkable: catapulted PBS into the same league as commercial broadcasters like ABC and NBC, at least for a night.

With 7.9 million viewers, the premiere on Sunday night “quadrupled the average PBS prime time rating and exceeded the average rating of the second season premiere of “’Downton Abbey”’ by 96 percent,” PBS and a member station, WGBH, said in a news release on Monday.

The high viewership indicates two things: that many fans of the first two seasons tolerated the delay of months between the British premiere of the third season and the American premiere and that positive press for the show has generated new fans.

While “Downton Abbey” was on, PBS outrated Fox, ABC and NBC, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. (CBS still ranked No. 1 for the night with episodes of “The Good Wife” with 10 million viewers and “The Mentalist” with 10.7 million.)

” ‘“Downton Abbey’’ continues to enthrall audiences nationwide, and this season is especially riveting with the addition of Shirley MacLaine to the cast and the lively interaction between her and Maggie Smith,”” Paula Kerger, chief executive of PBS, said in a statement. “”I’m so pleased that audiences have returned to ‘‘Downton Abbey’’ on their local stations to continue to enjoy some of the best drama on television.””

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/nearly-8-million-tuned-to-downton-premiere/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: CBS Broadcast of Kennedy Center Honors Draws 8 Million Viewers

Among those honored at the Kennedy Center in December were Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, David Letterman and Buddy Guy.Jason Reed/Reuters Among those honored at the Kennedy Center in December were Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, David Letterman and Buddy Guy.

CBS’s broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors, a 35-year holiday tradition for the network, attracted more than eight million viewers on Wednesday, easily outdrawing its competitors for the night.

The network noted that the awards telecast had its highest rating in three years among 25- to 54-year-olds, a target demographic for advertisers.

The awards for lifetime achievement in the performing arts were presented on Dec. 2 in Washington and were edited down to a two-hour format by CBS, as is the network’s custom. The recipients this year were David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, Natalia Makarova and the rock band Led Zeppelin. CBS has supported the awards since they were conceived in 1978.

CBS swept the night in part because the reruns shown by the other broadcast networks were relatively low rated. The Spanish-language network Univision beat all the English language broadcasters, CBS included, among 18- to 49-year-olds for the night with its lineup of telenovelas.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/cbs-broadcast-of-kennedy-center-honors-draws-8-million-viewers/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: For Networks and Sponsors, the Sweet DVR Bonusthe economic system

Consider the case of ABC’s “Modern Family,” already television’s biggest hit comedy. Every week when the ratings get reported, “Modern Family” looks to be soaring along, starting with its live broadcast on Wednesday at 9 p.m., with 10 million viewers and a 3.9 rating in the prime ad-buying category of viewers from 18 to 49.

But that does not measure how popular the show really is. When Nielsen delivers final ratings for how many viewers watched the show on DVRs, the numbers grow to more than 18 million viewers and an 8.1 rating in the 18-49 measure.

These figures represent the number of people who watched the show within a week after its telecast. But ABC is able to charge advertisers for only three days worth of that viewing, because of the economic system that measures viewership based on commercials that are watched.

Using that three-day measure, “Modern Family” gets credit for only 13 million of the 18 million viewers who actually watch within a week. The five million extra viewers turn out to be, in essence, a nice bonus for the sponsors.

As Brad Adgate, the director of research for the media-buying firm Horizon Media put it, “For advertisers, DVR viewing is a sweet deal.” He added, that “some day the dam’s going to burst” on this advantage, and networks will press for extra cash for the extra viewers.


But, he said, the disparity is currently mitigated by other factors. Among these are the “lucrative upfront sales” that networks have enjoyed in recent years, referring to the preseason market for commercials. “No one wants to upset that apple cart right now,” Mr. Adgate said.

Another factor is that many advertisers would have good reason to fight being charged for ads that run a week late, because their weekend sales events or movie openings would be long over by then.

In general, the statistics that define success in television have never been so malleable, thanks largely to the ability of viewers to delay viewing, either through DVRs, video-on-demand selections or streaming online.

Shows that appear to be marginal in the traditional ratings can look like pleasant surprises when delayed viewing is counted, and hit network shows can add to their audience totals, sometimes in staggering numbers.

One case pointed to by David F. Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS, is the drama “Hawaii Five-O.” The show, considered a modest success, has a live rating this season of 2.7 and about 10 million viewers. But after seven days of playback, those numbers lift to a 4.3 rating in the 18-49 group and 14.5 million viewers.

Mr. Poltrack said that the DVR results were crucial in how networks viewed their shows now. “Absolutely, they are important,” he said, noting that what seem to be chronic issues with unimpressive ratings for network 10 p.m. series are deceiving because “a lot of people are watching the 9 p.m. shows at 10.” The 10 p.m. shows tend to be watched later in the week, he said.

Mr. Adgate said that the trend toward comedy this season was underscored by how well certain shows, like “New Girl” on Fox and “The Office” on NBC, fared when their delayed viewing was included.

He pointed to one striking example. The new comedy “Up All Night” on NBC looks both weak and older-skewing during its live telecasts. But it improves 47 percent when delayed viewing is included. More remarkable, Mr. Adgate said, is that “the median age for the live viewing audience is 50.2, but when you add in the delayed viewing it drops to 43.2.”


The rate of improvement demonstrated by shows that start with smaller bases of live audience can be spectacular. This is especially true of cable networks with younger viewers. Colleen Fahey Rush, the chief researcher for Viacom’s cable networks, pointed to “Tosh.O” on Comedy Central. Its 18-49 audience grows 142 percent when delayed viewing is included.

The overall amount of delayed viewing has continued to increase as more homes have added DVRs, but Mr. Poltrack said these figures were going to level off. (DVRs are now in 43 percent of homes nationally.) He said that CBS’s research indicated that the people who do not have DVRs now say “I don’t need them” because they are considered too expensive.

These people are depending more and more on streaming and video-on-demand, Mr. Poltrack said. That “is very positive for networks,” Mr. Poltrack said, citing statistics that show network shows are streamed and ordered on demand far more often than cable series.

He agreed that advertisers continued to get a bonus because of DVR playback, with all the added viewers they did not pay for. But he also agreed that commercials in shows a week old often had lost their relevance.

Mr. Poltrack argued that the DVR was a “transitional technology,” one that would be outflanked at some point by streaming and video-on-demand. Both those technologies still allow viewers to program shows on their own schedules, he said, but don’t add a DVR’s extra cost.

The added benefit for show owners like networks is that the commercials can be adjusted long after the live telecast of the episode is viewed. And the fast-forward function is eliminated in these forms of playback, meaning the commercials can not be zipped through.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=18883edff09c09729a74f7ea09af811e

Grading the Digital School: Khan Academy Blends Its YouTube Approach With Classrooms

He can see that a girl sitting against the wall is zipping through geometry exercises; that a boy with long curls over his eyes is stuck on a lesson on long equations; and that another boy in the front row is getting a handle on probability.

Each student’s math journey shows up instantly on the laptop Mr. Roe carries as he wanders the room. He stops at each desk, cajoles, offers tips, reassures. For an hour, this crowded, dimly lighted classroom in the hardscrabble shadow of Silicon Valley hums with the sound of fingers clicking on keyboards, pencils scratching on paper and an occasional whoop when a student scores a streak of right answers.

The software program unleashed in this classroom is the brainchild of Salman Khan, an Ivy League-trained math whiz and the son of an immigrant single mother. Mr. Khan, 35, has become something of an online sensation with his Khan Academy math and science lessons on YouTube, which has attracted up to 3.5 million viewers a month.

Now he wants to weave those digital lessons into the fabric of the school curriculum — a more ambitious and as yet untested proposition.

This semester, at least 36 schools nationwide are trying out Mr. Khan’s experiment: splitting up the work of teaching between man and machine, and combining teacher-led lessons with computer-based lectures and exercises.

As schools try to sort out confusing claims about the benefits of using technology in the classroom, and companies ponder the profits from big education contracts, Khan Academy may seem like just another product vying for attention.

But what makes Mr. Khan’s venture stand out is that the lessons and software tools are entirely free — available to anyone with access to a reasonably fast Internet connection.

“The core of our mission is to give material to people who need it,” Mr. Khan said. “You could ask, ‘Why should it be free?’ But why shouldn’t it be free?”

For now, Mr. Khan’s small team is subsidized by more than $16.5 million from technology donors, including Bill Gates, Google, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the O’Sullivan Foundation. He intends to raise an endowment. And this summer, starting in the Bay Area, where he is based, he plans to hold an educational summer camp.

It is too early to know whether the Khan Academy software makes a real difference in learning. A limited study with students in Oakland, Calif., this year found that children who had fallen behind in math caught up equally well if they used the software or were tutored in small groups. The research firm SRI International is working on an evaluation of the software in the classroom.

Mr. Khan’s critics say that his model is really a return to rote learning under a high-tech facade, and that it would be far better to help children puzzle through a concept than drill it into their heads.

“Instead of showing our students a better lecture, let’s get them doing something better than lecture,” Frank Noschese, a high school physics teacher in Cross River, N.Y., wrote on his blog in June.

But in education circles, Mr. Khan’s efforts have captured imaginations and spawned imitators. Two Stanford professors have drawn on his model to offer a free online artificial intelligence class. Thirty-four thousand people are now taking the course, and many more have signed up. Stanford Medical School, which allows its students to take lectures online if they want, summoned Mr. Khan to help its faculty spice up their presentations.

And a New York-based luxury real estate company credited Mr. Khan with inspiring its profit-making venture: the Floating University, a set of online courses taught by academic superstars, repackaged and sold to Ivy League colleges and eventually to anyone who wants to pay for them.

“What Khan represents is a model that’s tapped into the desire that everyone has to personalize the learning experience and get it cheap and quick,” said Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the Education Department.

Mr. Shelton predicted that there would be “a bunch of knockoffs” that would take the Khan approach and try to expand on it. “This is going to spread like wildfire,” he said.

Mr. Khan grew up in a suburb of New Orleans, where his mother, who is from Bangladesh, raised him on her own by cobbling together a series of jobs and businesses. He went to public schools, where, as he recalls, a few classmates were fresh out of jail and others were bound for top universities.

Math became his passion. He pored over textbooks and joined the math club. He came to see math as storytelling. “Math is a language for thinking,” he said, “as opposed to voodoo magical incantations where you have no idea where they’re coming from.”

Matt Richtel contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3e3a46995fb7a125453af2dbdcff3702

Media Decoder: Glenn Beck to End Daily Fox News Program

Glenn Beck.

4:45 p.m. | Updated | Glenn Beck will end his daily Fox News Channel program later this year.

His departure was jointly announced in a statement on Wednesday by Fox and Mr. Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts.

Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, which have clashed over the making of “Glenn Beck,” will “work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties,” the companies said in the statement.

As expected, a senior Fox News executive, Joel Cheatwood, will join Mr. Beck at Mercury Radio Arts starting later this month.

The joint statement did not specify an end date for Mr. Beck’s show, called “Glenn Beck,” which has been telecast at 5 p.m. on Fox News since early 2009. Asked if Fox News had a rough end date for “Glenn Beck,” a spokeswoman referred back to the statement. Mr. Beck’s contract with Fox ends in December.

Mr. Beck is a hugely popular figure on Fox News, averaging 2.2 million viewers each weekday, though his ratings have fallen somewhat in the last year. He is beloved by his fans for speaking out against what he sees as threats from progressives, socialists and people he deems “radicals.” His opponents — and there are many — condemn him for his conspiratorial views and apocalyptic predictions.

Notably, his program is a rare daily broadcast platform for a strain of libertarian politics that is also evident in the Tea Party, a movement he embraced and encouraged.

Though it rarely spilled onto the television broadcasts, Mr. Beck and his managers repeatedly clashed with Fox, and they had been contemplating an exit from Fox for some time. Two of the post-Fox options Mr. Beck has considered, according to people who have spoken about it with him, are a partial or wholesale takeover of a cable channel, or an expansion of his subscription video service on the Web. His company has been staffing up — making Web shows, some of which have little or nothing to do with Mr. Beck, and charging a monthly subscription for access to the shows.

A spokesman for Mr. Beck declined to say whether the agreement announced Wednesday included a non-compete agreement that would preclude Mr. Beck from hosting a television show elsewhere for a period of time.

Mr. Beck also hosts a syndicated radio show on weekday mornings. He was estimated to earn about $32 million in total revenues in 2009, the first year that he worked at Fox.

In the statement on Wednesday, Mr. Beck said he would be starting a “new phase” of a partnership with Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News. “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News,” he said.

Mr. Ailes said in the statement, “Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Almost immediately after Mr. Beck’s announcement, the progressive group Media Matters for America, which combats Fox on a daily basis, said it was “no surprise” that he was leaving, given that many advertisers had shunned Mr. Beck’s show ever since he labeled President Obama a racist in the summer of 2009. (Fox has said in the past that the advertisers simply moved over to other programs on the channel.)

Color of Change, the group that spearheaded an advertiser boycott of Mr. Beck, asserted that the program lost “over 300 advertisers.” James Rucker, the executive director of the group, said in a statement, “Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fc57bd85c105bd847a01cff9caaebc8e