BRITISH SPINSTER BECOMES INSTANT STAR
In what appeared to be the fastest-spreading viral video ever, a clip from Britain's Got Talent featuring the electrifying performance of Susan Boyle, a Scottish, middle-age spinster, has been viewed by more than 15 million people on YouTube in four days. (In the U.K. it has been viewed by more than 1 million people on the ITV website.) The list of record holders for YouTube videos is considered suspect since it includes commercial music videos whose viewing numbers have been boosted by fans using software that "refreshes" their YouTube feed every few seconds. (The actual champ is believed to be comic Judson Laipply's video, "Evolution of Dance," which has recorded more than 100 million views.) What is clear, however, is that the clip from a U.K. TV show has already been seen in the U.S. by more people than tune in to the average American TV show. And the numbers are escalating. One viewer who received an email with a link to the clip replied that she had received the same link from everyone she knows. Portions of the clip were carried on the nightly newscasts and cable news channels. British newspapers reported that she was an odds-on favorite to win the ITV talent contest and nearly certain to be cast in the West End productions of Les Miserables. (She performed "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical on the show. Producer Cameron Mackintosh issued a statement Wednesday saying, "Vocally it is one of the best versions of the song I've ever heard. Touching, thrilling and uplifting. I do hope she gets to sing it for the Queen."
JUDGES "SAVE" IDOL CONTESTANT
Some 23.49 million viewers tuned in to the "results" episode of Fox's American Idol Wednesday nightthat saw the judges use their once-a-season "save" for the first time. It rescued 23-year-old Matt Giraud, who received the fewest votes after his performance on Tuesday night. "Idol history has been made," Ryan Seacrest declared afterwards. But while other contestants crowded around Giraud, judge Simon Cowell remarked, "I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate him."
NEWS SHOWS REPLACING SYNDICATED FARE
Even while they are issuing pink slips and otherwise cutting costs at their news units, many TV stations around the country are expanding their news programming. Bloomberg News reported today (Thursday) that several stations are dropping expensive syndicated programming and replacing it with newscasts. For example, it noted, Fox-owned Detroit station WJBK-TV has replaced reruns of Seinfeld at 11:00 p.m. with a newscast. Tribune-owned KTLA in Los Angeles has launched a one-hour newscast at 1:00 p.m. and Young Broadcasting, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, has added an hour of news at 10:00 on KRON-TV in San Francisco. Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox stations,told Bloomberg: "Local news is less expensive and has better revenue potential than many syndicated programs."
PHONE HOME TO PROGRAM YOUR DVR
DirecTV said Wednesday that a new iPhone "app" that allows users to program their digital video recorders remotely up to two weeks in advance has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since it became available on March 30. The DVR Schedulerk, as it is called, quickly vaulted into the top ten among all iPhone/iPod Touch items available online at the Apple Store.
ZELL: "I MADE A MISTAKE" BUYING TRIBUNE
Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell has admitted that he made a mistake when he bought the company in a highly leveraged $8.2-billion deal in 2007. "I was too optimistic," he added in an interview with Bloomberg television. Tribune's properties include the Los Angeles Times, L.A. TV station KTLA, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago TV station WGN. The company has laid off hundreds of employees in order to make the interest payments on its $13-billion debt, even while ad sales have fallen. Asked whether he would sell off any of Tribune's assets, Zell replied, "We are seriously looking at everything because in effect the future of the newspaper industry is at risk today,"