TV WATCHING ON THE INCREASE

Another indication that the recession is requiring people to spend more time at home, rather than going to restaurants and entertainment venues, comes from a report by the Nielsen Co. concluding that television viewing in the fourth quarter reached an all-time high. Its "Three Screen Report" (TV, PCs, mobile devices) said that during the quarter the average American watched more than 151 hours of TV a month, up 3.6 percent from the 145 hours reported during the same period a year ago. A significant factor in the increase, the report indicated, was the rapid proliferation of digital video recorders. It estimated that 29 percent of U.S. households now own DVRs and that watching time-shifted television is up 33 percent from a year ago. Online viewing is also on the increase, with the average adult now spending more than four hours a week watching video on their PCs, with 65 percent of them watching during work hours. Surprisingly, watching TV shows on mobile devices has risen 9 percent, with teens now watching video about 6.5 hours per month; adults do so 3 hours per month.

SAG, AMPTP: BACK TO THE TRENCHES

Following the Screen Actors Guild's rejection of the "last, best and final" contract offer by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, several analysts are now forecasting that the current stalemate will continue for many months. Most suggest that a strike is unlikely, but that the union is likely to continue to balk at signing the contract that is currently on the table. "What the hardliners among the studios want is a Screen Actors Guild unable to strike and unable to negotiate with any real leverage," entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel told Reuters Monday. Meanwhile, joint talks between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on the one side and ad industry executives on the other were scheduled to begin in New York today (Tuesday).

OSCAR NIGHT: THE ADS WERE RERUNS

Advertisers rolled out few new commercials during the Oscar telecast Sunday, another sign of the recession's effects on advertising and television, the New York Times reported today (Tuesday). In one instance, the newspaper noted, three Mastercard commercials that aired during the 2004 Oscar telecast, were compressed by editing into one. Advertising columnist Stuart Elliot observed: "For the last several years, marketers have used the Academy Awards as a showcase for new work, much as they do each year with the Super Bowl. But on Sunday, advertiser after advertiser rolled out retreads."

FOX WINS TIGHT MONDAY-NIGHT RATINGS RACE

Despite presenting a night of reruns, CBS managed to fight off a slew of tough competitors Monday, and although it finished in second place, it scored some impressive numbers, especially with Two and a Half Men and CSI: Miami, both of which placed first in their time periods. Fox, however, was the night's winner, as it attracted 14.64 million viewers for House and 11.61 million for 24. ABC managed to put up a good fight with a two-hour edition of The Bachelor: The Women Tell All, which averaged 10.96 million viewers, peaking in the 9:30 p.m. half hour with 11.54 million viewers. NBC remained far behind in fourth place for most of the night, except for Medium, which climbed to second place.