BASEBALL CAN'T GET ON BASE
Game Two of the World Series was down in the ratings considerably from last year's second game, attracting an average of 11.73 million viewers versus 16.95 million in 2007. Moreover, the game never rose above second place in total audience in any half hour Thursday night and was beaten by CBS's strong Thursday-night slate in each of them. NBC, meanwhile, had a disastrous night, languishing in last place throughout most of the night (although veteran ER placed third). Its new sitcom, Kath & Kim, which had drawn mediocre ratings for its first two episodes, drew just 4.98 million viewers in its third time out, suggesting to TV analysts that its days are numbered.
MOVIES -- DOWNLOADED IN 5 MINUTES
Hoping to counter a slowdown in subscriber growth rate, Comcast said Thursday that it will begin rolling out a superfast "wideband" Internet service that will increase download speeds to 50 Mbps, thereby making it possible to download a full-length movie in standard definition in about five minutes. The DOCSIS 3.0 service, which Comcast calls "Wideband Extreme 50," will be deployed in a handful of markets, including Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey, during the next few weeks and in the top ten markets where Comcast operates by the end of the year. The service comes with a hefty price tag, however -- $139.95 a month for homes, $190 for businesses. While the service represents a major improvement for cable, it is already exceeded by cable services in Japan, where speeds of 63 Mbps are common.
MSNBC DELAYS HDTV ROLLOUT
After having predicted that MSNBC would be simulcasting in high definition before the presidential election, MSNBC acknowledged that it probably won't be able to do so before the second quarter of 2009. In an interview with Multichannel News, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said that the prediction turned out to be "a little aggressive." He insisted, however, that he "pushed our guys hard." MSNBC is the only cable news channel that is not already broadcasting in HD, and although it has seen a substantial ratings growth over the past year due in large part to the intense interest in the presidential election, it has not come close to equaling the growth rate of its primary competitors, Fox News Channel and CNN. Griffin told Multichannel News that in order to gain a larger audience among HDTV viewers, it's important for MSNBC to have space in the HDTV tier that cable operators sell to their customers. "You better be in HD in the next year or so, because you have to be in that tier."
GROUP CALLS FCC CHAIRMAN A "PORKER"
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin came under attack from the Washington DC-based taxpayer watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste for spending $355,000 to sponsor NASCAR racer David Gilliland's car to raise public awareness about the switchover to digital TV on February 17. Gilliland hails from Martin's home state of North Carolina. In bestowing its "Porker of the Month" award to Martin, the CAGW, which claims to have more than one million members, said that it was doing so "for using taxpayer funds on an unnecessary project, diverting focus from more important telecommunications concerns, recklessly spending without consulting with his peers and attempting to use his influence to shore up his own political prospects." An FCC spokeswoman said that the sponsorship was aimed at reaching millions of NASCAR fans, many of whom "are at risk of losing their TV signals as a result of the transition."
THE UNINVITED WAS TOO INVITED, STAR TREK STAR SAYS
Star Trek actor George Takei, responding to William Shatner's comments on his website claiming that he was conspicuously excluded from Takei's wedding, has said that he did indeed invite Shatner but that Shatner never RSVPed. In his video, Shatner alluded to the public attacks Takei had made against him in interviews and in his biography over the years. "It's so patently obvious that there is a psychosis there. I don't know what his original thing about me was," he said in the video. Takei responded, "It is unfortunate that Bill was unable to join us for our wedding as he indeed was invited to attend." In an interview broadcast on Entertainment Tonight, he added, "It wasn't surprising [that Shatner did not attend] because it's true to his history. He's never responded to an invitation. Every time there was something happy to celebrate amongst us [cast members] ... he never showed up."
MEDIA COMPANIES HAVE ANOTHER BAD DAY ON WALL STREET
Media conglomerates appeared to be bracing for another rough day today (Friday), with many of them falling to new 52-week lows in midday trading. Sony, which plummeted 14 percent on Thursday after slashing in half its profit and sales forecasts for the 2008 fiscal year, was down another 4.2 percent; News Corp was down 8.7 percent; GE, 6.6 percent; and CBS, 6.29 percent. Likewise, Disney, Time Warner and Viacom were also down nearly 6 percent.