LAST BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST

It may be the fourth-place television network, but NBC has succeed in getting advertisers to sign on the line to $1.9 billion in commitments for the coming season -- a $100-million increase over last year, according to Advertising Age magazine. One unnamed media buyer told the trade publication that the increase could be attributed to the fact that some advertisers are moving more money into the upfront market from the "scatter" market in order to lock down lower prices. The network has also begun selling spots for next year's Super Bowl game, with two advertisers agreeing to spend $3 million each for a single spot, a record.

TV GUIDE MAKES A COMEBACK

TV Guide, which last month reported its first profitable quarter in nearly four years, announced Thursday that its TV Guide Online unit had experienced record growth in May. It said that more than 12.1 million unique visitors logged on to TVGuide.com in May, a 58-percent increase over May of last year. (The figure actually pales in comparison with the magazine's circulation of more than 20 million in its heyday.) While the magazine underwent a total makeover in October 2005, doing away with its video-log format, the online division said that the number of visitors to its online video guide increased 205 percent from May of last year to 540,000 unique users.

NEW YORKER COLUMNIST SAYS CBS-CNET MERGER WON'T FLY

In his popular "The Financial Page" column for The New Yorker, James Surowiecki writes in the June 9 edition that CBS's $1.9-billion purchase of the online company CNET is unlikely to make money for the broadcasting company. Surowiecki writes that the deal's rationale rests on "the myth of synergy" but that in practice few companies have been "able to take acquired firms and improve their performance and profitabiliity." Moreover, paying a 40-percent premium for the publicly traded company puts the onus on CBS to increase CNET's value substantially. "If CBS and CNET had simply agreed to cross-promote each other's brands and distribute each other's content, CBS would have had many of the benefits of merging without the costs." Surowiecki also suggests that CBS may have bought CNET simply to show shareholders that it is growing and revitalizing itself. But, he concludes, "Deals like the CNET acquisition are a bit like an aging outfielder taking steroids in order to stave off the boobirds. The difference is that steroids usually work."

FCC'S TEST MARKET DOESN'T KNOW IT'S BEING TESTED

Wilmington, DE may be the first city in the nation to switch from analog to digital-only television on Sept. 8, but only 18 percent of the residents of the city are aware that the switch is coming early, according to a survey by the National Association of Broadcasters. Wilmington has been singled out as a test market by the FCC to determine what problems, if any, might occur when the nation as a whole is required to make the switch to all-digital next February 17.

FOX PLANNING TWO-HOUR SEASON PREMIERES

Fox plans to kick off its fall season on September 1 with a series of nightly two-hour season premieres. (Fox airs only two hours of primetime programming on weekdays, versus three on the other major networks.) The season gets under way with a two-hour permiere of Prison Break on Monday, Bones on Wednesday, The Moment of Truth on Thursday and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? on Friday. The following Tuesday, Fox plans to launch its new J.J. Abrams-produced Fringe with a two-hour series premiere.

MORE CHANNELS, FEWER VIEWERS

While people living in the average U.S. home are able to watch any of 118.6 channels these days, they actually watch only 16 of them according to a study by Nielsen Media Research. Not included in the Nielsen study is the myriad of additional channels available to viewers on the Internet and via pay-per-view services.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.