DIM FUTURE FOR LOCAL TV
Local TV stations, already reeling from plummeting sales with the departure of automotive and financial advertisers in particular, were hit today (Tuesday) with a new report from analysts SNL Kagan indicating that they can expect revenue to fall even further for at least the next five years. After last year's decline of 7 percent, Kagan predicts that this year's drop will be 15 percent. In 2010, revenue is likely to stabilize somewhat but drop 2 percent per year thereafter -- until around 2015. In order to survive, the report said, stations will have to "transition their business models to develop digital assets and nontraditional revenue streams." Meanwhile, shares in CBS plummeted 17.8 percent Monday after UBS analyst Michael Morris downgraded it to "sell" and predicted that advertisers will not return even when the economy recovers from the recession.
ABC's two-hour Dancing With the Stars again dominated Monday night's ratings, averaging 20.23 million viewers, peaking in the final half hour with 21.88 million. Tonight's "results" episode is also likely to produce big ratings, and if "geeks" were a separate Nielsen demographic, their numbers would probably sail off the charts as they again are likely to turn out in force to support Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (who again received the lowest vote by the judges Monday night). His fans have kept him on his feet since the first performance episode, despite unanimous, unrestrained pans from the judges.
NICKELODEON SCORES BIG ON SATURDAY
Nickelodeon's animated The Penguins of Madagascar drew the most viewers for a series premiere in the network's history Saturday. The episode drew 6.1 million viewers, 2.3 million of them between the ages of 6 and 11 and another 2.3 million between the ages of 9 and 14. It aired following the cable network's Kids' Choice Awards which itself attracted 7.7 million total viewers -- more than any program on any of the broadcast networks, except for CBS's coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH HULU?
Despite a huge surge in online viewers, Hulu has been unable to convert its popularity into profitability, with one analyst estimating that 40 percent of its ad inventory is being used for public service announcements. In an interview with Business Week magazine, Arash Amel, who covers digital entertainment content for Britain's Screen Digest trade publication, said that he has revised his prediction that Hulu would generate $180 million in spending this year. He now estimates that the amount will be about $120 million. "What we've seen is rapid growth in consumption, but the advertising isn't keeping up," he commented. While online advertising offers numerous benefits that TV advertising alone cannot -- it can target certain groups and offer online elements -- those benefits are being disregarded in the current economic crisis. "Right now advertisers are trying to cut back anywhere they can," Jason Blackwell, an analyst at ABI Research, told Business Week. "So unproven models like Hulu are usually the first things to go." Moreover, the magazine observed, as the popularity of Hulu grows, so too does concern by its principal owners, NBC and Fox, that it is cannibalizing their TV audiences and have begun limiting the number of shows being offered. As Brahm Eiley, head of Convergence Consulting, told Business Week: "They don't put everything they have online because they don't want to kill their cash cow, which is television."
LIGHTS TO REMAIN ON FOR FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
The ratings-challenged but critically praised Friday Night Lights got another new lease on life Monday as NBC and DirecTV confirmed that they would renew the series for two more seasons, but with just 13 episodes in each season. As part of the deal, DirecTV will air the episodes first, commercial free. NBC will then run the episodes afterwards. David Nevins, president of Imagine TV, which produces the series, told Daily Variety: "This show always seems to find new ground about what's possible in television, both creatively and what we're can do on the business end. ... It's really a symbol of the different ways that good television can be made these days."
TEEN SOAP FEATURES LESBIAN KISS
The producers of Home and Away, an Australian soap opera aimed at teenagers, did not censor a lesbian kiss between two of the characters on today's (Tuesday) episode, contrary to the prediction of local news media. Newspapers belonging to Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd. had taken the lead in protesting the expected kiss, with one of them, the Melbourne tabloid Herald-Sun recently headlining, "Gay TV for kids." The News Ltd. newspapers reported over the weekend that Channel Seven officials had agreed to remove the scene following complaints from viewers. The report prompted a demonstration at Federation Square in Melbourne where hundreds of gay and straight couples were expected to participate in a mass "kiss-off" to protest the censorship. Only about 20 turned out, however, with one of the demonstrators telling the Melbourne The Age newspaper that her friends were worried about being photographed. "They work in the public sector or with children or as teachers and were very afraid of their faces being shown," she said. Another demonstrator, a lawyer, said that she was worried about the kind of message a decision to censor the kiss would have sent to Home and Away's young audience.