FOOTBALL: TV'S MOST EXPENSIVE TICKET

This season, NBC is offering both the most expensive and the cheapest TV spots on network television, according to Advertising Age. The highest-priced 30-second spot averages $339,700 for Sunday Night Football, it noted. By contrast, a spot on TheJay Leno Show can be had for as little as $48,803. The trade publication cautions however that the "figures should be taken as directional indicators, not gospel." Nevertheless, AdAge figures that overall, network ad prices are declining. For example, it notes that a spot on the CBS hit Two and a Half Men, which cost an average of $276,433 a year ago, is going for $226,635 this season. Ads on CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fell to $198,647 from $262,600 a year ago. On the other hand, Wells Fargo Securities is reporting that ad prices are rising in the so-called scatter market (for ads purchased close to the actual airdates).

BASEBALL BEATS FOOTBALL IN SUNDAY-NIGHT RATINGS

The rain-out of Saturday's 6th game of the Yankees-Angels American League Championship Series set the stage for a contest between baseball and football on Sunday's primetime schedule. According to preliminary overnight figures, the final game of Fox's telecast of the baseball series, won by the Yankees, eked out a small victory over NBC's telecast of the Arizona-New York Giants football game, with baseball averaging an 11.0 rating and a 16 share (14.01 million viewers) and football, a 10.2/16 (13.26 million viewers).

ADVERTISING AGE COLUMNIST WHACKS NBC ON "LENO STRATEGY"

Advertising Age media columnist Simon Dumenco has excoriated NBC for its decision to replace its nightly 10:00 p.m. programming with The Jay Leno Show. In an article headlined: "Top 10 Lessons to Learn from NBC's Failing Leno Strategy" and subheaded, "How a Network Shot Itself in the Foot by Cynical Cost-Cutting -- and Betraying Its Viewers and Affiliates," Dumenco writes that the network is committing "brand suicide" by its blatant cost-cutting. "People don't want to feel like they're being made to consume a substandard product when they were used to getting a higher-quality product from the same source," he observes, while also noting that the strategy has had a "ripple effect" on all of the network's programming. Dumenco's top-ten list of "lessons" concludes with No. 1: "Jay Leno is a helluva lot more annoying when you're still wide awake." (On Friday, Leno got a slight boost in the ratings from an appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama, which gave him a second-place win in the time period among overall households but put him in third-place among viewers 18-49.)

BBC'S IPLAYER COMING TO U.S.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of Britain's publicly funded broadcaster, has announced plans to launch an international version of its popular iPlayer service. Published reports indicated that the iPlayer service would allow a number of BBC shows including Torchwood, Doctor Who, and Top Gear, as well as numerous shows from the BBC archives, to become available -- at a price -- internationally. The reports suggested that BBC Worldwide would likely yank the programs from Apple's iTunes Store, where they are currently available for $1.99. Luke Bradley Jones, chief of the BBC Worldwide's digital operations in the US, said in a statement: "Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay ten bucks an episode rather than two bucks." No single television program on any U.S. video website charges anything approaching $10.00 per episode and most are available free or as part of a relatively low-cost monthly subscription service. Moreover, the BBC said that many of its most popular domestic shows would not be available on the international iPlayer service because of "rights issues." However, it hinted that it might invite the BBC's commercial competitors to join the service, making it kind of a U.K. version of the U.S.'s Hulu.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER

Andrew Lloyd Webber is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, a spokesman for the British producer/composer said Sunday. The unidentified spokesman said in a statement to the BBC that Lloyd Webber, who has been working on a sequel to his The Phantom of the Opera titled Love Never Dies, expects to return to work before the end of the year and to open the musical in London on March 9 and in New York on November 11, 2010. When the dates were announced earlier this month, some writers expressed surprise, given the fact that Lloyd Webber had originally said that he planned to open the musical simultaneously in London, New York and Shanghai this fall. The composer's spokesman also indicated that his cancer treatment is not expected to affect plans for a BBC talent search for a child actress and a dog to play the lead roles in Lloyd Webber's planned stage version of The Wizard of Oz. Initial auditions are due to begin in early 2010, with a panel of judges expected to be announced before the end of this year.

COLUMNIST SAYS "BALLOON BOY" HOAX A PRODUCT OF CURRENT TV

New York Times columnist Frank Rich has condoned the actions of "balloon boy" father Richard Heene and blamed the news media in general and cable news outlets in particular for setting the stage for Heene's alleged hoax. That so few viewers questioned their coverage, he wrote on Sunday, "is an indication of how practiced we are at suspending disbelief when watching anything labeled news, whether the subject is W.M.D.'s in Iraq or celebrity gossip in Hollywood." Heene, Rich commented, is the "inevitable product" of a culture in which news and reality TV "are hopelessly scrambled." Heene, an experienced reality TV performer, he observed, "knew how easy it would be to float 'balloon boy' when the demarcation between truth and fiction has been obliterated."