By: Tori Eisenstadt

The media world has evolved since the birth of broadcast television in the 1950s.  First there were the three broadcast networks—CBS, ABC, and NBC.  With only three options and no recording devices for later viewing, people watched the same programs at the same time.  When cable arrived in the 1980s, content expanded, and viewers had more options.  Today, with the Internet, and streaming devices, people can watch what they want, when they want.  The programming options are endless, with numerous platforms of distribution.  Therefore the viewing habits have changed for television’s audience, and programmers have had to adapt to these habits in order to continue to capture their target demographics.  The Internet specifically has been one of the forces to change viewing habits, as content viewing services such as Netflix and Hulu began streaming shows online.


“As television in the United States evolved, its principal purpose has become the distribution of commercials.  That is, television networks in the U.S. exist primarily to deliver audiences composed of specific demographics to advertisers” (Blumenthal and Goodenough 2006).

Television followed radio broadcasting’s business model.  From the start of radio, advertisers funded the stations to produce programming in exchange for associations with those programs.  Early on some television programs were fully sponsored by a single company and others were often interrupted for commercials.  With both radio and television, certain times of the day, “dayparts” were designed to draw different audiences.  For instance afternoon soap operas are targeted to woman, while prime time television is targeted to more general audiences.

When cable was introduced in the 1980s, it used the audience segmentation strategy to create individual brands.  Content created for each cable network goes along with the target audience the network is trying to reach.  (Blumenthal & Goodenough 2006).

Cable vs Broadcast Networks: program trends

In recent years, the quality of cable programming has significantly improved and has proven successful in the ratings. Just this week, AMC’s “Walking Dead” was the cable show viewed, with 12.419 million viewers (triple the size of the audience for CBS’ “The Good Wife” on that same night); The History Channel’s “The Bible” came in second with 11.745 million.  (1)   A major difference between cable & network programming is cable television shows include more violence and sexual content.For the first time at the 2012 Emmys, cable series beat the networks.  Not a single network show was nominated for best drama. (2)

Television Ad Sales Decline:

CBS sales

It’s a known fact that without advertising, a television or cable station can’t survive.  Though maybe not always supportive of each other’s roles, programming needs the ad revenue, and advertisers need programming to reach the audience they need.

Many of the networks ratings have dropped significantly this season.  NBC once in the lead finds itself in last place of the top 4 networks. As The New York Times reported on February 24th, “The ratings of last September through December, when NBC shocked the television industry by winning 13 of 15 weeks, have dissipated to numbers so small they have not been seen before by any broadcast network — certainly not during a rating period known as a sweeps month, when networks present their strongest programming.” (3)

With ratings at an all time low this year for the broadcast networks, advertising agencies are likely to invest more in cable and online ad placement.  Even though the cable ratings are lower, the ad spots are cheaper, and since broadcast ratings have decreased, more advertisers are likely to spend the money on cable slots.  (4)

Programming Moves Online





Online streaming services have changed the way people watch television, and has now become a viable alternative to network and cable programming.  For last few years, the Internet has spurred the audience trend of “binge viewing”, with the availability of full series streaming online.  This gives viewers the opportunity to both catch up on a show, or start a new series, and often people will watch a full series at once (hence the term “binge viewing”). In January, Netflix released their  first original series, the $100 million dollar drama, “House of Cards” all at once.  In May, the online subscription service will launch a new season of the successful comedy “Arrested Development”, which originally aired on FOX.  Netflix has four more series on the way this year. and Hulu are also joining in on the trend of internet original programming.  Amazon has produced several pilot episodes for at least six comedies, and five children’s shows, and they plan to announce more soon.  Unlike earlier internet programming, these shows look and feel like traditional television.  That’s because the companies involved in the production are spending millions:  Amazon is said to have invested $1 million for each of their comedy pilots, which is less than the $2 million invested in a broadcast comedy pilot, but more than what is usually invested in a cable pilot.  Other companies such as  Microsoft, Twitter, AOL, Sony, and satellite provider DirecTV are also said to follow the online original programming trend. (5)

Daytime Trends

 GHall my childrenthe chew


Once a network staple, the soap opera has virtually become non-existent in the world of daytime television, due to it’s severe drop in viewership.   Soaps’ primary audience has traditionally been women ages 25-34, mostly homemakers.  (2) However, with more women in the workforce today, less women are home during the day, and therefore less women are watching soap operas.

In the last few years, the networks have cancelled soap operas.  In 2009, CBS cancelled “Guiding Light”, and a year later cancelled “As the World Turns”.  In 2011, ABC cancelled “All My Children” and “One Life to Live”, leaving just “General Hospital as the only soap on the network. NBC as well only has one soap remaining, “Days of our Lives, making CBS the only network to have more than one soap on its schedule:  “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”.  (6)

ABC replaced its two cancelled soaps with the cooking talk show last year with “The Chew”, and in September 2012 added Katie Couric’s talk show “Katie” to its schedule.  These shows are cheaper to produce than soap operas, so since soap opera viewership dropped, it made more sense to cancel most and schedule cheaper programming. (7)

Although the networks have cancelled most of the soap operas, fans of the genre may soon be able to watch their favorite soaps online.  Both “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” are said to air new episodes either via Hulu, Youtube, or Prospect Park’s website The “OnLine Network” on April 29th.  (8)

Late-Night Trends

Jay Lenojimmy kimmellettermanfallon

Currently  late-night programming is experiencing an audience shift.  Originally created to target older audiences, it is now skewing younger.  The main story in this area of television has been who will replace Jay Leno once his contract is up in 2014.  As of April 3rd, it became official that Jimmy Fallon would move to Leno’s 11:35 pm slot.  There has been no announcement of who will replace Fallon in his 12:35 slot.  More evidence of late-night skewing younger is shown by Jimmy Kimmel beating David Letterman in the 18-34 demo.   For multiple weeks Jimmy Kimmel beat both Letterman and Leno for multiple weeks this season, and overall ABC has been ranked #1 in late-night for younger audiences.  (9)

It is clear that television programming has changed the viewers’ habits and tastes throughout the years.  Viewership is no longer limited to watching on a television set anymore.  With the advent of cable TV and the internet, television has come a long way from the original programming made for the masses.  Today there is a niche for everyone, and many ways to watch.


Regulating Risque Content: Obscenity and Violence on Television

by Macy Jenkins

First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” [1]

Material labeled “obscene” is not protected by the First Amendment, and therefore is subject to banning and criminal prosecution by federal and state governments.

Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was established by Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.  The Commission had the right to restrict content, to require fairness in political programming and to regulate public use.  The fairness doctrine was dropped in the 1980’s but laws against obscenity, indecency, and profanity have prevailed since the 1950’s. [2]

Obscenity vs. Indecency vs. Profanity

A three-pronged test was established by the Supreme Court to define obscenity:

  • An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest
  • The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law
  • The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. [3]

Indecency is defined by the FCC as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

Source: West Seattle Funblog

Source: West Seattle Funblog

Profanity is defined by the FCC as “language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”

It is a violation of federal law to (1) air obscene programming at any time, or (2) air indecent programming or profane language on broadcast television or radio between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm time. [3]

Although the FCC has the power to revoke a station’s license for noncompliance, it will typically charge the network with fine but leave their licenses in place.

Federal Communications Commission vs. Fox Television Stations (2012)

The gist of it: The FCC wanted to fine FOX for “fleeting expletives” on awards shows by Cher and Nicole Richie in 2002 and 2003.  (Before 2004, the FCC banned only repeated uses of certain four letter words).  The FCC also fined ABC over one million dollars for showing seven seconds of buttocks and a glimpse of “side breast” on NYPD Blue.

The ruling: The Supreme Court ruled that the FCC’s regulations were unconstitutionally vague and not clear enough for broadcasters to be able to follow them. [4] It held that broadcasters had a right to be warned if changes were going to be made to FCC policy. [5]

Recent headlines

Superbowl profanity

CBS is currently under fire after airing profanity during the Superbowl.  Just after the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco used the F-word and another player said another curse word.  The moment aired on CBS because the network hadn’t set up a time delay.  The Parents Television Council (PTC) is calling for the FCC to fine CBS.

Ironically, CBS had set up a time delay for Beyonce’s halftime performance – remember Janet? – but did not set up a time delay for the on-field coverage. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Ironically, CBS had set up a time delay for Beyonce’s halftime performance – remember Janet? – but did not set up a time delay for the on-field coverage. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

PTC president Tim Winter said the following in a statement [6]:

“Now nine years after the infamous Janet Jackson incident, the broadcast networks continue to have ‘malfunctions’ during the most-watched television event of the year, and enough is enough.  After more than four years of inaction on broadcast decency enforcement, the FCC must step up to its legal obligation to enforce the law, or families will continue to be blindsided.”

A 2011 study by The Parents Television Council found a 69% increase in profanity on primetime television between 2005 and 2010.  [7]  Source: Parenting Starts Here

A 2011 study by The Parents Television Council found a 69% increase in profanity on primetime television between 2005 and 2010. [7] Source: Parenting Starts Here

Egregious Cases ONLY

On April 1st, the FCC announced that September 2012, it had eliminated 70% of its pending indecency complaints.  That’s over one million cases.  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that FCC officials will only focus on the “most egregious examples” of violations. [8]

A large concern is the amount of backlog that the agency is up against.  At the same time of the announcement, the FCC asked for a public comment as to whether the cut back on the enforcement should actually occur.

PTC’s Winter weighed in on this, saying “either material is legally indecent or it is not.”

Violence in American Television

Violence is more prevalent than sex in American television.  Some believe we’ve simply become desensitized to violent scenes.  Experts believe the effects of continuous violent depiction is detrimental to society as a whole.

Self Regulation

Each network has a standards and practices department, which reviews programming and advertisements.  The idea is to regulate content to keep many different parties happy.  They have to meet FCC restrictions, intellectual property guidelines and personal rights requirements.  At the same time, the networks are concerned with serving the good of society and also preserving the image of the network.  And they have to keep a broader range of advertisers happy than cable networks do. [9]

V-Chip Technology

A “V-chip” allows adults to block television programs that they don’t want children to watch.  Each program is encoded with a rating (see below).  Adults can then program their televisions to only allow programs with a certain rating to be accessible.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required all U.S. television sets to have V-chips. [10]

Content Rating System

The ratings system established in 1997 [9]:

  • TV-Y:         Appropriate for all children
  • TV-Y7:       Appropriate for children 7 and older
  • TV-Y7-FV: Programs in the Y7 category with more intense or combative fantasy violence
  • TV-G:         Appropriate for a general audience
  • TV-PG:      Parental guidance suggested
  • TV-14:       Parents strongly cautioned – probably not suitable for children under 14
  • TV-MA:      Mature audiences only

Many are unhappy with the V-chip because a lot of people don’t even know how to use it.  And networks tend to “go light” with ratings or risk scaring off advertisers.  [11]

Violent Content Research Act

Senator Jay Rockefeller Source:

Senator Jay Rockefeller

Senator Jay Rockefeller (also chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee) D-W.Va., introduced the “Violent Content Research Act” in January.

His aim is to get the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of media violence.  Specifically, he wants them to look at the effect that violent programming has on child behavior. [12]

Congress should do everything we can to address gun violence.  We need comprehensive policies to fully protect our communities. This study is an important element of this approach.” [13]

Future of Content Regulation

When you boil it down, the content we see on television is determined by the green.  If it’s too risque for advertisers, networks will adjust to please them. If it’s too risque for the viewers (and their children), networks will adjust to please them.  Networks want plenty of happy advertisers; advertisers want plenty of happy viewers; and viewers…well what they want changes from minute to minute.  The challenge is keeping up.


[1] “Bill of Rights”

[2] “Regulating Television”

[3] “Obscene, Indecent and Profane Broadcasts”

[4] “Critic’s notebook: FCC vs. Fox, the Supreme Court decides”

[5] “Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc.”

[6]  “Super Bowl F-bomb could put FCC in a bind.”

[7] “PTC Files Supreme Court Brief in Support of Broadcast Decency.”

[8] “FCC to target ‘Egregious’ Indecency Cases”

[9] “This Business of Television,” Third Edition; Blumenthal, Howard J. & Goodenough, Oliver R.; Billboard Books (2006).

[10] “Children and TV Violence”

[11] “A 15-year failure? Parents Television Council says TV content ratings are flawed”

[12] “Rockefeller Pushes Senate Bill Calling for Study of Violent Content”

[13] ”Gun Violence Legislation: Senate Bills Emerge With Bipartisan Support”


ABC Television Network

by Macy Jenkins


The American Broadcasting Company began in 1943, after previously operating as the NBC Blue Radio Network.   The first television broadcast was in 1948.  In 1996, The Walt Disney Company bought ABC, which is now a part of the Disney-ABC Television Group.    Corporate headquarters and network news are based in New York City, while programming is based in Burbank, California.

The Players

Bob Iger



Bob Iger

Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

Iger began his career at ABC in 1974. Most recently, he acquired Pixar (2006) and Marvel (2009).  He directed the merger between Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. and The Walt Disney Company. [1]

Courtesy of




Anne Sweeney

Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks; President, Disney/ABC Television Group.

Sweeney oversees ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, the ABC Television Network, Disney Channels Worldwide, ABC Family, SOAPnet, and A&E Television Networks.





Kevin Brockman

Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group.

Brockman oversees all corporate, news and entertainment communication efforts worldwide on behalf of the Disney/ABC Television Group.


Courtesy of




Rebecca Campbell

President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group.

Campbell is responsible for the company’s eight local TV stations and their digital assets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.

First Quarter Report

The Walt Disney Company’s media networks (which include cable and broadcast stations) increased by 7% in 2012, ending with $5.1 billion in revenue.  ABC Broadcasting revenue increased by 6% over the last year, going from $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion.  This comes after broadcasting operating income increased by $36 million to $262 million in 2012.  The increase in operating income was able to increase because of higher advertising revenues.  The amount of online advertising increased, as did advertising rates. [2]


Each of the broadcast networks has seen a decreased in ratings from last year.  As of March 24th, ABC is in fourth place (after CBS, FOX, and NBC) with a 26-week season average of a 2.3 rating.  ABC is down 8% from last season.  Among total viewers, ABC’s 7.8 million is second only to CBS’ 12.1 million viewers (CBS had the Superbowl and the Grammy’s, while ABC’s main event was the Academy Awards). [3]

Courtesy of


On Sunday February 24th, 40 million people tuned in to watch Seth MacFarlane host the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.  It was the most watched Oscars since 2010.  And this year’s saw 1 million more viewers than Billy Crystal’s 2012 ceremony. [4]

Primetime Programming

In January 2013, ABC had television’s number 1 scripted program for adults 18-49, “Modern Family.”

In January 2013, ABC had television’s number 1 scripted program for adults 18-49,
“Modern Family.” [5]  Source:

Top Rated Shows: Modern Family,  Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Once Upon a Time, Dancing With the Stars, The Middle, The Bachelor, Castle, and 20/20.

On March 21, 2013, Grey’s Anatomy beat American Idol for the first time ever.  And ABC delivers its most-watched non Oscar week since November during the week of March 18th.

On March 21, 2013, “Grey’s Anatomy” beat “American Idol” in the ratings for the first time. And ABC delivered its most-watched non-Oscar week since November during the week of March 18th. [6]  Source:

New Shows – Winter 2013:

The Taste: The competitive reality cooking show premiered on Tuesday January 22, 2013.  The eight-episode season consisted of auditions where the judges blindly tasted food and eventually eliminated teams to find the winner.  The premiere earned a 4.0 rating but the spring finale raked in a mere 1.1.   Critics say The Taste is simply a less exciting version of NBC’s The Voice. [7] [8]

Zero Hour: The drama premiered on Thursday February 14, 2013.  It was the least-watched premiere for a scripted series in ABC’s history (1.3 rating/6.3 million viewers).  Two weeks later, it was canceled. [9]

Red Widow: The drama premiered on Sunday March 3, 2013 and was picked up for eight episodes.  It’s centered around a woman who discovered her husband’s secret business life after he is murdered.  The premiere earned a 1.5 rating and it’s currently the lowest-rated show on the network.  However, ABC hasn’t pulled the plug yet. [10]

Splash: The series premiered on Tuesday March 19, 2013 to an audience of 8.8 million and earned a 2.6 rating.  It’s ABC’s highest-rated reality TV premiere in two years and the highest-rated reality TV premiere since The X Factor’s Fall 2011 premiere. [11]

Source: zap2it

Cast of “Splash”.  Source: zap2it

How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life): The comedy premiered on Wednesday April 3, 2013.  It stars Sarah Chalke as a divorced mother who moves back in with her hippie parents.  The show premiered with a 2.9 rating.  It airs after ABC’s #1 show, Modern Family. [12]

Source: Slant Magazine

Source: Slant Magazine

(See the “How to Live with your parents…” trailer)

Family Tools: The comedy will premiere on Wednesday May 1, 2013 as a part of ABC’s Wednesday comedy line-up.  The series is centered on a man who returns home from the army and has to take over his father’s hardware business. [13]

The only new shows from fall 2012 to escape cancellation (so far) have been Nashville, Malibu Country, and The Neighbors.  

ABC Daytime

Daytime television as a whole is not what it once was.  The soap opera era is over and only four traditional American soap operas remain on the air across all of the networks.  Due to declining ratings, ABC canceled the long-running dramas All My Children in 2011 and One Life to Live in 2012.  The sole survivor is General Hospital, which airs at 2pm.

Source: webpronews

Source: webpronews

The only other daytime programming the network offers is The View at 11am and The Chew at 1pm.

ABC News

ABC’s news programming includes World News with Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, Nightline, Primetime, 20/20, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Good Morning America was the number 1 morning program in total viewers and in the Adult 25-54 demographic during the fourth quarter of 2012.  In fact, it marked the first time the program has won the Adult 25-54 demographic since 1994.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Nightline was the number 1 late-night program in total viewers and in the Adult 25-54 demo.

World News with Diane Sawyer beat CBS Evening News in fourth quarter ratings and saw its strongest fourth quarter performance since 2009.

Diane Sawyer has been with ABC News since 1989 and serves as the leading face of ABC's News Department.  Source: ABC News

Diane Sawyer has been with ABC News since 1989 and serves as the leading face of ABC’s News Department. Source: ABC News

Online and Mobile

Election Night 2012 was the most streamed live event in the history of ABC News. [14] Source: Sun Times

Election Night 2012 was the most streamed live event in the history of ABC News. [14] Source: Sun Times has a comedy web series that infuses recaps from the network’s programs with comedic situations.  The latest is called “Taye Diggs Destroys Hip Hop.”  Actor Taye Diggs leaves Private Practice and starts a career in the world of Hip Hop music. [15]

ABC was the first network to offer a mobile app (released in april 2010).  As of April 5th, the app had been downloaded 10 million times, there have been 200 million episode views and more than 1.3 billion ads run.  [16]

ABC's video player is the sixth most downloaded free iPad app of all time.  Source: ABC

ABC’s video player is the sixth most downloaded free iPad app of all time. Source: ABC

The Future

ABC still claims the number 1 scripted show, Modern Family, and has a large online presence.  But overall, in the era of “blinkandyoumissit,” the major networks have no time to rest before they plot their next moves.


[1] “Robert A. Iger”

[2] “The Walt Disney Company Reports First Quarter Earnings For Fiscal 2013”

[3] “2012-2013 Season: CBS Leads Among Adults 18-49 & With Total Viewers Through Week 26 Ending March 24, 2013”

[4] “Seth MacFarlane-Hosted Oscars Watched By 40.3M, Up From 2012”

[5] “ABC The Only Major Net to Grow Year to Year”

[6] “ABC Delivers Its Most-Watched Non-“Oscar” Week Since November”

[7] “The Taste’s Two-Hour Premiere Earned Solid Ratings”

[8] “’The Taste’ Ends First Season With A Sad Whimper”

[9]” ‘Zero Hour’ Canceled: ABC Pulls Anthony Edwards Drama After Three Episodes”

[10] “Red Widow: New ABC TV Series; Cancel or Keep It?”

[11] “Ratings: ABC Makes a Big Splash, Body of Proof Rises, Smash Dips, New Normal Drops”

[12] “’How to Live with Your Parents’ Opens Strong, ‘Modern Family’ is Wednesday’s Number 1 TV Show”

[13] “’Family Tools’ Cut Down To 10 Episodes: ABC’s Midseason Comedy Affected By ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Schedule”

[14] “ABC News surges into 2013 propelled by strong 4th quarter 2012 ratings.”

[15] “It’s No April Fools Joke: ‘Taye Diggs Destroys Hip Hop’ on – Video”

[16] “Disney/ABC App Downloaded 10 Million Times.”


By Ali Zaslav

          What’s Changed in TV Distribution?

In the television business, distribution is the key component in making content accessible and viewable by consumers on traditional and new platforms. Distribution is not only the way programming reaches audiences, but is a large component of programmers and distributors business models.

laptop_ipad_iphoneTraditionally TV distribution used to be much simpler; it was primarily through TV and consumed on the TV set. In this old media structure there were barriers to reaching consumers, (you would have to own a network or have a program carried by one). Today broadband allows for video content to be carried and viewed on the web. Countless individuals and companies can now reach viewers in new ways with all types of video content.

promo-tv-everywhereTelevision is still the primary way people consume video but new devices and new content are beginning to change consumers viewing behavior.  Viewers can watch traditional TV or now have the option to aggregate their favorite videos through many new options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or TV Everywhere and watch them on their TV, or a tablet, phone or computer. The rise of new platforms to distribute TV content through DVR and VOD plus online viewership has resulted in a number of exciting developments for programmers and distributors, as well as real threats and challenges.

cableRight now television content distribution can be broken down into three categories: traditional distributors, new challenging distributors, and programmers that try to take advantage of all avenues of distribution.  Programmers now distribute through the traditional multi-channel operators (Time Warner), phone companies (Verizon & AT&T) and satellite distributors (like Dish and DirectTV) and new avenues like apps, TV Everywhere through a cable operator or digital offerings like Netflix.

Traditional Distributors in the TV Market

MSO’s, satellite, and phone companies are actively trying to delve into the growing market of cross platform viewing and video streaming. A recent development is TV Everywhere.

xfinity_logoComcast successfully released Xfinity on demand and struck deals with cable networks, broadcasters, and pay TV to stream their content online for Comcast subscribers. Applications like TV Everywhere are being released by a multitude of distributors, allowing consumers to stream their carried programming on any tablet, phone or computer. Time Warner now has TWC TV and Cablevision has TVtoGO.  Phone companies also provide online streaming; Verizon streams FiOS TV and AT&T streams U-verse.

directv everywhere

In February, DirectTV joined the online game and released DirectTV Everywhere. For traditional distributors, “TV Everywhere” has become an important part of their distribution model. But their applications have a lot of competition coming from Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon which offer library’s of content and more recently original or exclusive programming.

Rising Challengers to Traditional Distributors


The development of broadband as a vehicle for video has spurred huge entrepreneurial investment in companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube as well as user-generated content. Traditional distributors are being challenged by new online distribution channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV, and Google (YouTube). These distributors are offering very appealing services to consumers and at low costs (Netflix & HuluPlus: both $8 a month and Amazon Prime $79/ yearly), or in the case of the web, Google or YouTube for free (you only need to have broadband). In addition, there is easy access through many devices like the computer, Xbox, iPad, etc with a wide range of content. We know this is appealing to consumers since Netflix recently grew to almost 28 million subscribers[1].house-of-cards-poster

For the past few years Netflix, Amazon and HuluPlus have provided old shows, almost like a library service. This year Netflix shook up its programming strategy when it released original content “House of Cards”. They did what no distributor or programmer has done before: presenting an entire television series “House of Cards” to subscribers upfront.  The viewer can than choose to watch the show all at once or at their own pace instead of once a week. In some ways, this strategy makes Netflix a competitor to HBO and cable channels. It also has blurred the lines as to what kind of company Netflix is: a distributor or original programmer? Further following a similar lead, Amazon is now promoting that they have exclusive content that you can only find and watch on Amazon[2].

apple_tv_boxApple’s release of the Apple TV has further blurred the lines of traditional distribution; offering the perks of online streaming and TV together. Further Hulu Plus and other services are offered on the Apple TV [3]. These advancements have changed how the media works and how television content is distributed to consumers. Netflix offering original content, the Apple TV, Hulu Plus and Amazon’s exclusive content offerings shows how fast things are transforming in the distribution and video content business
  TV Programming Distribution Strategies
Broadcast and cable networks, to stay competitive, have been dabbing into online streaming, tablet apps, and phone applications. Most cable networks do their best to offer applications that distribute some recent episodes, behind the scenes clips, best of clips, etc. However cable networks tend to limit the amount of long-form content because the distributors they partner with would not pay them as high of a sub fee for their programming. A critical part of the business model for cable programming services is maintaining a strong sub fee with distributors.

[15]Cable channels like A&E, Discovery, History, Lifetime and many others have iPad applications. Disney offers “Watch” to stream ESPN and Disney Channel to computers and other devices [4]. Recently on the broadcast side, broadcasters have been making more content available on their websites and through services like Hulu.  Since broadcast don’t rely on sub fees they have been much more aggressive in moving their content to other platforms than cable. And just this month ABC and CBS both came out with tablet applications to stream their television series.


Distributors have been and must adapt to new technologies, platforms and consumer demands.  Despite the buzz that cable and broadcast are “dying mediums,” the Neilson graph below shows that while online viewership is increasing, people are still consuming a large percent of content on the TV set[5]eeeee

The real measure of the success of TV distributors will be how well their offerings satisfy consumer interests in viewing content how and when they want too. If the traditional distributors don’t provide it, new companies like Netflix and Apple will meet that demand.



Regional Sports Networks

By Tim Doehler


The idea of regional cable networks is not a new one. In fact, the first regional cable network, the Madison Square Garden Network, was founded in the New York metropolitan area in 1969 — over 40 years ago. Eventually the idea caught on in other cities in the 1980s, mainly as a way to distribute sports programming within limited geographic areas [1]. Over the years RSN’s (Regional Sports Networks) have provided fans with live broadcasts and consistent coverage of their local teams.

The Players

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The major players in the regional sports network industry consist mostly of FOX Sports Network and Comcast SportsNet, which acquired NBC Universal (including NBC Sports Network) in January of 2011 [2]. Most regional sports networks in the United States are affiliated with one of these two networks, which both feature affiliates that span across the country.

However, a new player might be emerging in the industry. While the company still has a long way to go to reach the heights that FOX and Comcast have, Time Warner Cable made a significant splash in the industry earlier this year when they outbid News Corp. to eventually sign a lucrative, 25-year deal worth $7 billion with the Los Angeles Dodgers and announced that they were starting a new regional sports network, SportsNet LA [3]. It is important to note that the Dodgers — not Time Warner Cable — will program the new channel. Therefore, this network, which will not air until 2014, will only feature the Dodgers, even though Time Warner Cable also has a current deal in place with the Los Angeles Lakers. This deal, which gives Time Warner Cable exclusive regional TV rights to the Lakers, was agreed upon between the two sides in 2011 and is estimated to be wroth $3 billion over 20 years [4]. This network is called Time Warner Cable SportsNet, a name that the company believes is distinctive enough from the new SportsNet LA network being launched for the Dodgers next year [11] . Ultimately it will be difficult to compete with FOX and Comcast, but cornering one of the largest markets in the nation is a move that should not go unnoticed in the industry.

Watch analysts discuss the TWC-Dodgers deal.

Current Events

While the TWC-Dodgers deal is one of the most noteworthy as of late, there have been other important moves made throughout the industry, one also involving Time Warner Cable. In late February the company agreed with FC Dallas to the most extensive television broadcast deal in the club’s 18-year history. This season, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will air 22 FC Dallas regular-season games with all games being broadcast in HD. Also, it will allow FC Dallas to travel its broadcast team to all 17 road games and provide fans with additional in-depth programming about FC Dallas [5]. This further demonstrates a willingness to expand for Time Warner Cable and get involved in the industry in various ways, such as soccer.

Also in late February, FOX, specifically FOX Sports South, acquired the 45 Atlanta Braves games that previously aired on Turner’s Peachtree TV network. This will be the first time Turner will be out of the Braves TV business since the mid-1970s. In addition, the move means that Braves telecasts are moving from a free over-the-air station to cable [6].

Another major move by FOX Sports came about a month later, when the Big East Conference and FOX Sports agreed upon a 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The newly reconstructed Big East Conference now features Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University. The agreement grants FOX Sports rights to all conference-controlled men’s basketball games, select rights to women’s basketball, all Olympic sports and extensive rights for highlights and to produce ancillary programming [7].

The Result

More money are coming out of the pockets of consumers. While these regional sports networks across the country are convenient for fans, they do not come without a price.

“Pretty much everybody in the business agrees that overall costs are outrageous. Nobody has an easy solution,” said News Corp. COO, Chase Carey in light of the TWC-Dodgers deal as he “conceded” that the TV sports landscape is “becoming increasingly tricky — and expensive.” Carey also went on to refer to the business as “invaluable yet complicated [8].”

As a result of lucrative deals such as the TWC-Dodgers agreement, as mentioned by Carey, consumers are being asked to pay more. For example, this particular deal will include an estimated $4-5 per month carriage fee for subscribers throughout the area. In addition, DirecTV, the country’s most popular satellite service and VerizonFiOS have started adding a $2 to $3 monthly surcharge in markets like New York and Los Angeles to pay for regional sports networks [9]. This is a cause of concern for many, especially those who are not avid sports fans, such as David Sirota, as shown in the video below. Sirota, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, daily drive-time radio host on AM760 in Colorado, and New York Times bestselling author shares his opinion and some relevant facts regarding these issues…  [10]

What’s Next?

In today’s day and age of rapid technological advancements, distributors and programmers, like ESPN, need to do everything in their power to keep this live programming in the age of digital video recorder and the Internet, sports leagues and organizations know they have leverage in this particular situation [9]. As Brian Stelter, New York Times writer states, “Sports are the television industry’s bulwark against rapid technological change: while the companies fear cord-cutting by customers who can cobble together a diet of TV on the Internet, they rest a little easier knowing that former customers would be hard-pressed to find their favorite teams live online [9].”

Unfortunately, a reasonable solution has not yet been discovered. A potential solution that analysts and industry critics have discussed is an “a la carte” model of pricing [9]. This would mean that customers would be allowed to pick and choose which channels they want to subscribe to instead of being forced to purchase packages. As Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department antitrust lawyer says, “The cable industry has done everything it can to bundle programming and force consumers to buy things they don’t want. Finally, one piece of their bundle has become so expensive that it may finally force the cable industry to shift gears and split the bundle out of fear of pricing its own customers out of the market [9].”

There are many options being brainstormed and discussed in trying to fix this evolving issue, and although many feel that a solution is necessary, there is not a strong indicator of exactly what it will be. For now, consumers are going to continue paying premium dollars for these sports networks, especially as lucrative deals such as the TWC-Dodgers deal continue to happen.



[1] Blumenthal, Howard J., and Oliver R. Goodenough. “Chapter 2.” This Business of Television. New York: BillBoard, 2006. 16. Print.

[2] Adegoke, Yinka, and Dan Levine. “Comcast Completes NBC Universal Merger.” Reuters. N.p., 29 Jan. 2011. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. <>.

[3] Rovell, Darren. “Dodgers Launching Sports TV network.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[4] “Time Warner Cable Cuts First Major Lakers Deal.” Yahoo! Finance. N.p., 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[5] “FC Dallas Inks Landmark Television Deal with Time Warner Cable.” FC Dallas. N.p., 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[6] “Braves Move Remaining Local Telecasts To Fox RSNs, Ending Long Run With Turner.” SportsBusiness Daily. N.p., 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[7] “Big East, FOX Reach Rights Agreement.” FOX Sports. N.p., 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[8] “News Corp. COO Chase Carey Discusses Sports Rights; Calls Dodgers Deal “Too Rich”” SportsBusiness Daily. N.p., 7 Feb. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. <>.

[9] Stelter, Brian. “Rising TV Fees Mean All Viewers Pay to Keep Sports Fans Happy.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.

[10] “David Sirota.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. <>.

[11] Shaikin, Bill. “Dodgers, Time Warner Cable Announce New Channel: SportsNet LA.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. <>.



Big Media Ownership

by Max Berkowitz



On the business side, Viacom will announce their quarterly financial results on May 1, 2013 on the web. Their stockholders and future investors can call the number given on the website to call in and ask questions. Currently, their stock has recently increased to sixty two dollars. It is a positive change of fifty seven cents and the volume is increasing to 357,865. Walt Disney’s (1) stock is fifty seven dollars and twenty five cents. That is also a positive change in price. News Corp. is $30.16 and CBS is $46.63.

Verizon wants to pay a different way now: They will not package channels together anymore. Now, you will be able to determine the viewership. They will pay by how many people are viewing their show. People are paying up for their favorite channels. This could change the landscape of how the industry looks. This new economic model is called a la carte. There will be no more packaging if this goes through. Here is a video that explains how this system will work. (3)


Video: A La Carte….CNBC

Viacom announces that it will be giving off debt offerings for a staggering amount. It will be giving out $550 million in debt offering. The sale of these debt offerings have closed on March 14, 2013. The speculation is that they are doing this so that they can repay their debts and repurchase shares under their share repurchasing program. (2)



Fortune 500 Viacom Information

Fortune 500

As of now Viacom is ranked number #177 and their revenues are $14.963 Billion.

The industry rankings: (4)

1. Walt Disney: #66 at $40.893 Billion

2. News Corp. #91 #33.405 Billion

3. Time Warner #103 $28.97 Billion

What happened to all the advertisement revenue?

Many “Big Media” companies such as CBS, Disney, and Time Warner have seen their advertisement revenues stay at a current pace. There is no growth margin to be seen in the future as well. Furthermore, after going through all the numbers and taking out all the advertisement revenue from the political campaign this year and the Olympics it showed that there really wasn’t any growth at all in sales. They project a growth rate of 3.6% this year. In this industry that is not an encouraging number.

News Corp. and Viacom have actually seen decreases in advertising revenue. They expect each one of these companies to get rid of some of their other operations. A lot of the “Big Media” companies are looking to get rid of billboard businesses and publishing operations. (5)

Viacom is also returning to television series production with Paramount. They will be conducting television production business actions with them. This could help create more of a buzz and a bigger following for them. They will be advertising overseas as well with their production of a Spongebob movie. (6)

Attack Against Viacom (7) 


Viacom dollar subsciber

Viacom has recently been sued by Cablevision. Cablevision feels that their customers aren’t getting the price they should be paying for Viacom’s networks. Viacom is burdening it’s customers by making them take on shows that they do not want to pay for. The only way customers like Cablevision will get Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central is that they take on smaller channels such as Palladia, MTV Hits, and VH1 Classic. “Viacom effectively forces Cablevision’s customers to pay for and receive little-watched channels in order to get the channels they actually want. Viacom’s abuse of its market power is not only illegal, but also prevents Cablevision from delivering the programming that its customers want and that competes with Viacom’s less popular channels” (8). As stated before, if Cablevision wins this lawsuit then the whole industry could change drastically.

Viacom President’s Salary Breakdown (9)

Bee Movie Premiere

Viacom’s President & CEO Philippe Dauman

Here is a breakdown of what a CEO makes for a Big Media company. Viacom’s President & CEO Philippe Dauman is receiving $33.45 million this year. What is eye-boggling is the fact that this is his lowest pay day in over six years. Lets breakdown his salary: He makes $3.5 million in salary, $10.27 million in annual stock awards, $1.85 million in one-time stock, $6 million in annual option awards, $11.5 million in non-equity incentives, $54,720 in pension fund, and the one that is incredible is the $269,363 in “other” compensations. The “other” compensations mainly refer to the Viacom aircraft he uses for personal use and for safety.

News Corp Stock Rising 

Regis Philbin to host Fox 1

Regis Philbin to host Fox 1

News Corp. stock value is drastically rising because of the new channel they will be launching called Fox Sports 1. They are after all sorts of sporting rights including major games and events. After this year the NCAA will be losing a lot of their Big East teams who are fleeing to the ACC. Fox Sports 1 wants to take over the Big East basketball tournament rights next year. They are also targeting Thursday night National Football Ball League games, and National Basketball League games. Rupert Murdoch, is putting all of his eggs in one basket. This is a huge investment for him. The report is that they are spending $500 million on the Big East. What they are forecasting is revenues for their affiliates to raise $1.1 billion in revenue, which started out at $312 million. Many companies will also pay $1 for the Fox Sports 1 rights to their channel which was raised from a minuscule 22 cents.

The launch date for the channel is in August with Regis Philbin hosting the show. They have been forecasted as a major competitor to ESPN, who dominates the market and has 98.5 million subscribers. There are also other big competitors out there such as NBC sports, CBS sports, MLB Network, NFL Network, etc. Furthermore, Fox Sports 1 will host the World cup in 2018 and 2022. Last year they also purchased 49% of the YES Network which owns the rights to the Yankees. (10)


Time Warner interestingly spinned off a new company called Time Inc. The company is a publishing unit in which many people speculate they will be burdening their debt upon their affiliate company. They are doing this so that they can increase their profits in the television division by raising their stock (which has gone up by 1.3% since the announcement. (11)


1. “The Walt Disney Company: NYSE:DIS Quotes & News – Google Finance.” The Walt Disney Company: NYSE:DIS Quotes & News – Google Finance. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

2. Viacom, Inc. “Viacom Announces $550 Million Debt Offering.” N.p., 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

3. “Verizon Seeks to Change How It Pays TV Channels for Shows.” N.p., 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

4. “Viacom.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 21 May 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

5. Lieberman, David. “TV Advertising Is “Surprisingly Weak” Due To Internet And Economy: Analyst.” Deadlinecom. N.p., 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

6. Lieberman, David. “Paramount To Return To TV Series Production.” Deadlinecom. N.p., 04 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

7. Wall Street Journal Video: February 27, 2013

8. Lieberman, David. “Cablevision Charges Viacom With Antitrust Violation For Demands To Carry Little-Watched Channels.” Deadlinecom. N.p., 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

9. Lieberman, David. “Viacom’s Philippe Dauman Makes $33.45M In 2012, A 22.4% Cut.” Deadlinecom. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

10. Lieberman, David. “Wall Street Predicts News Corp Will Score With Fox Sports 1.”Deadlinecom. N.p., 06 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

11. Lieberman, David. “Did Time Warner Wait Too Long To Spin Off Time Inc?”Deadlinecom. N.p., 07 Mar. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.




Television Production

by Elice Miller





In the television business, producing a successful show involves many factors. There are normally three stages to television production, Pre-Production, Principal Photography and Post Production. The main locations where shows are produced are either Los Angeles or New York, however some other U.S. metropolitan areas are also used to produce a show. Before a show can even reach the stage or pre-production programmers will require a package. This is a collection of key assets that differentiate one property from another. The main performers, the producers and the story line are also closely related to the concept and how it will be executed.


Pre-Production is the stage of production which involves planning and development, financing and deal making as well as securing people to produce and appear in the television show. This is the period of time when a series is scripted, the actors are cast, sets are built and a production crew is hired. The producer or production company create a full-scale budget, schedule and production plan once a project is given a green light. The budget must be planned very carefully in order to assure that the project is delivered without exceeding the available funding and to make sure that the producer makes a profit. Pre-production on a show ends once the planning ends and content starts being produced. Most shows do not get a green light, because they cannot secure financing.



Once a network has given a script a green light, it will order a pilot of the television show. Television pilots are standalone episodes of a television series that are used to sell the television show to a network. These episodes are used as testing grounds to gauge if a series will be successful. Sometimes a network will pick up a show after watching a pilot but will not air the episode. Instead, it will be reshot and even recast after it is given the green light. Variety estimates that around 20 pilots are ordered by a network, which are typically made up of half comedy, half drama. About half a dozen of these are actually picked up to become the premier episodes for the show. The rest are passed by the network and generally never seen again.

The big five networks, ABCNBCCBSFox, and CW have ordered nearly 100 pilots for the fall 2013 season. The networks ordered a total of 87 pilots last year. The Hollywood Reporter offered a breakdown of the pilots ordered:

Grand total: 98 (vs. 87 in 2012)
Drama total: 50 (vs. 42 in 2012)
Comedy total: 48 (vs. 45 in 2012)
Single-camera total: 34 (vs. 30 in 2012)
Multicamera total: 14 (vs. 15 in 2012)

Just because a network has picked up a pilot does not mean that it will last throughout the season. If the television show receives low ratings within the first few weeks of airing, a network will normally cancel a show. This spring 2013 saw many new television shows get canceled. Zero Hour (ABC), Do No Harm (NBC), and The Job (CBS) are notable shows that were canceled after airing less than five episodes.

Principal Photography 



This is the phase of production when the actors are finalized for their roles and locations have been secured for filming. At this point the development team has created a plan for filming and financing the show. The term principal photography refers to the phase of production when the majority of footage and sound are recorded. This stage takes place either at a soundstage or filmed on location. Filming on location means securing permits to shoot in an actual real-life setting. Shooting a show normally means rigorous 12-hour workdays. Television episodes are filmed in groups called blocks, and rely on the availability of resources and the restrictions of the production schedule. Large sets can be altered to look like many different locations simply by changing set pieces or lighting. For example, a dark scary park can also be a beautiful garden by using contrasting lighting and changing a few set pieces. Techniques like this help to keep the cost of production down, since this is the most expensive phase of production. Most directors and producers will shoot the most expensive production elements first so that the budget can be allocated for the rest of the scenes.

Post Production

Once the first few episodes of a show have been filmed, the post-production phase begins. All of the footage that has been recorded is edited and sequenced and special effects are added. Sometimes additional dialogue needs to be recorded in the studio and it is layered into the recorded footage. During this last stage of production the production team will screen episodes to their target demographic. This can help gauge the public response to the show and if it is negatively received then it can be altered or reedited before releasing to the public.

Production Companies



Production companies provide the physical basis for filming. Television programs are produced in a variety of entities, from small companies to large multinational corporations. Many corporations employ in-house producers for internal communication reasons. Outside production companies will handle Television networks and local stations will employ producers, who’s main job are to control costs and manage brand identities. Producers are held responsible for a television show’s overall quality and survivability. There are a variety of producers that work on a television show.


Typically, the main producer and the writer are normally the same person; this ensures that a producer can make sure that a project stays true to its brand. There are many different types of producers; the executive producer or the “chief executive” is in charge or everything relating to the production of the show. Executive producers can be the head writers of a show, the CEO of a production company, or a producer on the writing team and may serve on the board of directors. The co-executive producer is second in charge behind the executive producer, and assists with the development and daily management of the show. The associate producer runs day-to-day operations for the show.

Many stations will have producers that work on multiple projects for the network. For example, Seth MacFarlane has three television shows in production on Fox network. Another notable producer is J.J. Abrams, who has produced shows on multiple networks throughout the years.


1. The Business of Television, Bleumenthol & Goodenough














Programming and Program Development

Programming has traditionally been made up of two dominant genres, the drama and the situational comedy (or sitcom). In a typical week’s prime time schedule, the major five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, and NBC) air a combined 43 hours of dramas and 18 hours of comedy. Another notable genre in the current schedule is reality and competition shows which currently make up 14 hours of the broadcast schedule. When looking into the broader scope of television, more and more genres begin to emerge. Currently on cable and premium networks, dramas and sitcoms also dominate the schedule but they are accompanied by more diverse programming such as mini-series, more reality, and developing genres such as mock reality. Schedules are constantly changing and adapting as new programs are developed and programs begin to come off the air. The development process is unique for each genre and the current season has already showed some success and failures.


The beginning of any drama series typically happens in one of three ways. Either a writer-producer meets with the network and a concept emerges which then turns into a script or a writer-producer already has a script and pitches it to the network. The third common way for a show to develop is for a highly regarded star to decide they want to do a television program and a team is assigned to develop something which fits their needs. Once a script is written and the network approves along with a cast and crew, a pilot is produced and shown to the network. How many pilots are commissioned is dependent upon the networks overall tone, for example The CW is unlikely to produce a large amount of comedy pilots since their schedule is dominated by dramas, along with their current needs. If not many dramas survive the season, more are likely to be commissioned for the next season.

In the current pilot season, Vulture magazine has already spotted several programming trends. One of which is franchise programming. Shows such as NCIS, The Vampire Diaries, and Chicago Fire all have related pilots being worked on. Going off of the success of Once Upon a Time, there is also a tendency towards magical or supernatural themed programs. Vulture predicts a rise in “House” type characters as well as many bigger name stars following Kevin Bacon back to the smaller screen. Much of this is based off of the successes of this past season and an effort to keep promising trends rolling.

One of the more successful launches this Spring was Fox’s The Following starring Kevin Bacon. The show has already been picked up for a second season and has been consistently winning it’s time slot.

A significant drama which went off the air this spring was The CW’s Gossip Girl. While not a major player in the ratings, Gossip Girl was still influential in it’s run on the CW as a trend setter for other programming. The network saw an uptick in the amount of programs focusing on the glamorous and elite such as 90210 and this season’s The Carrie Diaries.

Cable networks typically are more adventurous in their programming and have been seeing a lot of success lately.

walking-dead-season-3-castAmong the biggest successes is AMC’s The Walking Dead. It is a slightly nontraditional show that has garnered huge ratings for the cable network. It was a major Sunday night competitor this season despite not being on a major broadcast network.

Another major program this spring was The History Channel’s mini series The Bible. It received a lot of attention for it’s content and created a viewing war with The Walking Dead.


Comedies are developed in a very similar way to dramas. Typically more comedy pilots are produced each year because they are shorter and quicker to make. However, more concepts are abandoned and there are different standards for determining what shows get picked up. A comedy will rarely be picked up just because it’s funny. Comedies are evaluated more based on the current schedule and where there are holes. If a current show is going off the air or needs a stronger lead in, then a comedy has a stronger chance of making it to air. There is also a different target demographic for comedies. They are intended to appeal to younger, typically less educated, and lower income than other types of programming.

30983NBC had a much hyped new series in 1600 Penn which was given an early release of the pilot. The show did not hold an audience well and saw continually declining ratings. NBC chose to end the season early by airing multiple episodes in a night. The scheduling change combined with declining ratings led to cancellation rumors.

A more successful show this spring has been ABC’s How to Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life. It had a late premiere date but has still seen favorable ratings. It focuses on a single mom having to move back in with her parents and the struggles that ensue from her eccentric family.

This season will see the end of the long running NBC comedy The Office. The show was a hit for the network for many years and led to similar programs such as Parks and Recreation which is still on air. Show Runner Greg Daniels promises a heartfelt goodbye to match the series all around tone and characters.


There are four general rules that define reality television. The first is that they do not involve actors, at least in the traditional sense. Second, while they may be planned, they are not written in the way that comedies and dramas are. They are always produced on location, and finally they have some sort of special gimmick. When in development, these programs are judged more on the potential of the idea than the reputations of the writers or performers. Reality television has created a place for itself in the schedule over the past few decades. It is especially prominent on cable networks with networks such as E! and Bravo airing almost exclusively reality in their prime time slots. Bravo recently announced they have 17 new series being planned, nearly all of which are reality.


On broadcast networks, it is most common to see reality programming in the form of competition. The Voice saw a cast change this spring with Shakira and Usher replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green as judges. The show has been seeing decent numbers with the new judges.

Emerging Trends

Mock Reality

Reality is clearly a genre which is here to stay. Over the years, reality programming has reached to some pretty extreme levels as far as the types of stories and characters that are put on the air. This has led to a new trend of mock realities, shows which are meant to look like reality shows but are scripted or improv and actually make fun of reality programming.

Mock Block Monday

E! has an hour every week titled “Mock Block Monday” which features two of these Mock Reality Shows. The first is Burning Love which is an imitation of dating shows such as The Bachelor. The second is After Lately which is a supposed documentary of the office of Chelsea Lately, another popular program of theirs.

Other networks are picking up on this trend as well. MTV recently announced a new show, appropriately called Reality Stars, which will be about four friends who get involved in reality television. BET has committed to a second season of The Real Husbands of Hollywood. The show follows men of Hollywood in their “natural environment”.

Social Media


Nielsen announced earlier this winter that it plans to begin using Twitter to measure program popularity. This focus on the “second screen” could give more insight into what viewers are responding too and begin to dictate programming decisions. It can help programmers adapt to the growing social engagement of viewers and use social media trends to their advantage.










19. The Business of Television, Bleumenthol & Goodenough



Legal and Business Affairs

by Leonardo Feldman

                                           Changes in Television Contracts 

There are millions of contracts that have been, and will be negotiated in the United States in all kinds of different industries.  Before 1677, verbal contracts were allowed under Common Law. However, there was a change when the “Statute of frauds” came about. The “Statue of Frauds” is a “measure intended to prevent the frauds that may occur whenever there is no signed, written agreement” [1].  Therefore, to prevent fraud a verbal agreement is not a binding commitment. Nowadays, written agreements are necessary with signatures unless they “performed the agreement”. This means that if the parties involved started performing their tasks as required in the contract, then a signature is not necessary.  With the rapid changes in technology, contracts can also be enforced under the law if they are conducted in an e-mail or in another digital manner.

The television industry is very particular about the way its contracts are enforced. has a very interesting article written by Glenn Halbrooks that details the basics of a TV contract. In summary, the article says that the contract should contain a list of services, compensation, station rights, moral clauses, a covenant not to compete, and termination penalties [2].

Some TV actors have mastered contract negotiations. Currently, Ashton Kutcher is the highest paid actor in television [3]


Courtesy by Michael Prince

Courtesy by Michael Prince [4]

The Current Highest Paid Television Actors  are:

1. Ashton Kutcher- “Two and a Half Men”- $ 16.8 Million

2. Jon Cryer- “Two and a Half Men”- $ 14.4 Million

3. Mark Harmon- “NCIS”- $ 12 Million

4. Mariska Hargitay- “Law and Order: SVU”- $ 11.5 Million

5. Sandra Oh, Ellen Pompeo, and Patrick Dempsey-“Grey’s Anatomy”- $ 8.4 Million

6. Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco-“The Big Bang Theory” $ 7.2 Million

7. Simon Baker- “The Mentalist!”- $ 7.2 Million

8. Angus T. Jones- “Two and a Half Men”- $ 7.2 Million

9. David Boreanaz- “Bones”- $ 5.85 Million

10.  Patricia Heaton-“The Middle”-$ 5.64 Million

Dancing with the Stars

All of these highest paid television actors are likely to be happy with their contracts. However, there are some frustrated television personalities that are upset because of the length of their contract. On March 29th there was an article written on Fox News which reported that a source closely connected to the series “Dancing with the Stars” said that some of the dancers are unhappy with the exclusivity and length of their contracts. The source claims that when they signed the contract they weren’t well-known, so they couldn’t really do much except to sign what was offered to them. But, now that they gained prominence, the exclusive rights along with its length have become a real issue for them [5]. 

Photo by Reuters (November 17th,2007) [6]

For Example, Julianne Hough got into the show when she was only 19 years old. After four seasons, she decided to split her time to pursue her music and movie career.  Currently, Hough is not a dancer in the show, but ABC still has control of what movies or other projects she can do. If ABC does not want her to participate in a specific project, Hough has to abide by their rules. As of yet, Hough nor ABC have commented about the current situation [7].

Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon

Photo courtesy of Getty Images [8]

Photo courtesy of Getty Images [8]

For 22 years Jay Leno has hosted the “Tonight Show” on NBC, however his luck has run out and his contract will not be renewed. Jimmy Fallon will become the sixth all time host of the 59 year old show, and is expected to begin in February of 2014. Leno’s contract is set to expire in September of 2014 and NBC has decided to give him $15 Million dollars to exit the show early. There is no word yet as to wether he will remain with the network, go elsewhere, or possibly retire [9].

Courtesy by

Courtesy by [10]

On the same day of the announcement. Jimmy Fallon tweeted, “Today was one of the most exciting days of my life.” He also addressed his viewers during his current show, ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ by saying, “I want to thank everyone here at ‘Late Night.’ The staff, the crew and, of course, The Roots…I have to say thanks to Jay Leno for being so gracious. It means so much to me to have his support” [11].

Fallon will become one of the youngest hosts ever to host the “Tonight Show” at the age of 38.

Television average salaries

Television salaries are definitely not all as glamorous as Jay Leno’s or Ashton Kutcher’s multi-million dollar contracts.  A website called PayScale had the following average salaries  a year for different positions in television [12]:

  • News Anchor- $54,895
  • News Producer- $39,316
  • Film/ Video Editor- $46,206
  • Film/ TV Producer- $50,498
  • News Reporter- $33,036
  • Promotions Producer- $44,191
  • Producer-Director, TV/Cable Broadcast- $54,180

The future of contracts is uncertain

There is a lot of speculation over the future of Television and other media contracts. A very radical article from believes contracts may go away completely. The article expresses the possibility of having robots be the Television anchors basing it on a new App.

Here is a video of a News Anchor Robot : Robot News Anchors [13]

The article talks about a new startup App called Guide that will be available through iTunes  and Android Play stores in May of this year.  The company transforms online news articles into video news pieces. This is done so viewers can pick what news they want to watch, and computerized characters (robots) can read them just like a human news anchor [14].

Courtesy by

Courtesy by [14]

The startup is trying to give viewers the “TV-Newscast-feel” by having online comments at the bottom of the screen in a ticker, and including commercials between segments.  The computerized characters include a non-human Avatar, a puppy. an anime character, and they are in the process of creating more variety. The founder says this could also be a source of revenue for the company by making viewers pay a small fee to buy the different computerized characters [14].

Although this article may be somewhat of a stretch, it is clear that television will keep changing as technology evolves. As of now contracts still exist, and are enforced under Common Law.


[1] Blumenthal, Howard J., and Oliver R. Goodenough. The Business of Television. New York: Billboard, 1998. Print.















By: Chelsea DeCesare


The story of NBCUniversal goes back more than a century and involves the dreams of two visionary entrepreneurs, David Sarnoff, who founded NBC, and Carl Laemmle, who created Universal.

Carl Laemmle

NBCUniversal was formed in 2004 when NBC and Universal merged to create a media powerhouse co-owned by General Electric and Vivendi. With the company’s acquisition by Comcast in 2009, a third visionary entrepreneur, Ralph J. Roberts, joined the sides of   Sarnoff and Laemmle as a key figure in the annals of the company. Roberts started Comcast in 1963, after he bought a tiny cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, setting in motion a remarkable American business success story.

Ralph J Roberts

Ralph J Roberts

All three companies were founded by men of modest backgrounds who were propelled by their visions of a new industry—movies, television, and cable distribution—and enthusiastic about the possibilities they represented for economic growth for the betterment of the community and people around them. Laemmle, Sarnoff, and Roberts dedicated themselves to turning their visions into the reality that represents Comcast and NBCUniversal in the present day.

comcast-logo-blackDavid Sarnoff was a radio visionary who through his work with RCA helped to make NBCUniversal into what it is today. In 1916, Sarnoff was a young Russian immigrant living in New York City. One day, he wrote a memo to his manager at the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. in New York City. In his “Radio Music Box” memo, Sarnoff imagined a world connected by wireless communication that would bring information and entertainment into the home. This audacious vision would become reality in 1926 with the first broadcast of the National Broadcasting Company.

David Sarnoff

Through the remainder of the twentieth century, these two companies, Universal Studios and NBC, would create extraordinary legacies of accomplishment in the exciting new worlds of motion picture production and distribution, location-based entertainment, and radio and television production and broadcasting.

On May 12, 2004, the parallel histories of the two companies converged, in the creation of a powerful new media entity, NBCUniversal. [1]

Parent Company

In December of 2009, the largest cable operator in the U.S, Comcast,  announced an agreement to acquire NBCUniversal from General Electric.

The deal valued NBCUniversal at around $30 billion, and has Comcast owning 51 percent and General Electric owning 49 percent of the NBCUniversal corporation. Comcast will contribute its own offering of cable channels, worth about $7.25 billion, and will pay General Electric about $6.5 billion in cash, for a total of $13.75 billion.

imagesOn January 18, 2011, the FCC and the United States Department of Justice officially approved the merger. [2]

Company Leaders

Stephen B. Burke Chief Executive Officer, NBCUniversal

Steve Burke oversees the company’s valuable portfolio of news, sports, and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks.

Burke assumed this role in January 2011, upon the closing of Comcast and General Electric’s joint venture merging the assets of NBC Universal with Comcast’s programming assets.

He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Comcast Corporation, where he was a driving force in its growth from a cable industry leader to one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communication products and services. [3]

Matt_Bond_3x4-162x216Matt Bond, Executive Vice President, Content Distribution, NBCUniversal

Bond is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the company’s content portfolio, and managing the distribution relationships for NBCUniversal cable channels, owned-and-operated televisions stations, and other licensing responsibilities.

Prior to this, Matt held the position of Executive Vice President of Content Acquisition for Comcast, overseeing the company’s content acquisition efforts including the negotiation of programming agreements for cable systems serving more than 24 million customers.  Bond also led content acquisition for new media rights and strategic multiplatform initiatives, including On Demand Online. [4]

CROPPED_PAT1Patricia Fili-Krushel,Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group, NBCUniversal

Patricia Fili-Krushel serves as Chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, the most influential and respected portfolio of on-air and digital news properties in the world, reaching more than 120M viewers each month.  She reports directly to Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal.

The News Group includes such assets as NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and the Weather Channel as well as digital platforms including NBC News Digital, and

Previously, Ms. Fili-Krushel was Executive Vice President of NBC Universal with a broad portfolio of functions reporting to her, including Operations and Technical Services, Business Strategy, Human Resources and Legal. [5]

BobGreenblatt1Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment

Robert Greenblatt joined NBC Universal in January 2011 as Chairman, NBC Entertainment and reports to Steve Burke.  In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of prime time and late night programming, business affairs, West Coast research, marketing, public relations and scheduling for NBC and also oversees Universal Media Studios. [6]




Universal Pictures


  • Focus Features
  • Working Title Films
  • Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Universal Animation Studios
  • Illumination Entertainment [7]
NBC Universal Cable


Cable Network  

Approximate U.S.
Subscribers at
December 31, 2011

(in millions) (a)

     Description of Programming
USA Network     99       General entertainment
Syfy     98       Imagination-based entertainment
E!     98       Entertainment and pop culture
CNBC     97       Business and financial news
MSNBC     95       24 hour news
Bravo     95       Entertainment, culture and arts
Golf Channel     85       Golf competition and golf entertainment
Oxygen     78       Women’s interests
NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS)     76       Sports
Style     76       Lifestyle
G4     61       Gamer lifestyle
Chiller     42       Horror and suspense
CNBC World     40       Global financial news
Cloo (formerly Sleuth)     39       Crime, mystery and suspense
Universal HD     25       HD, general entertainment programming


NBC Sports Group



  • Comcast Sports Group
  • Golf Channel
  • NBC Sports
  • NBC Sports Digital Network [10]

Entertainment and Digital Networks and Integrated Media


  • Bravo Media
  • Oxygen Media
  • Style Media
  • Telemundo
  • mun2
  • PBS Kids Sprout
  • TVOne [11]

NBC Universal News Group


  • NBC News
  • CNBC
  • The Weather Channel [12]


Local Television News Stations

DMA Served (a)   Station    General Market  Rank (b)      Percentage of U.S.
Television Households (d)
New York, NY   WNBC      1         7
Los Angeles, CA   KNBC      2         5
Chicago, IL   WMAQ      3         3
Philadelphia, PA   WCAU      4         3
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX   KXAS (c)      5         2
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA   KNTV      6         2
Washington, D.C.   WRC      8         2
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL   WTVJ      16         1
San Diego, CA   KNSD (c)      28         1
Hartford, CT   WVIT      30         1


Parks and Resorts


  • Universal Orlando Resort
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Universal Studios Japan
  • Universal Studios Singapore [14]

Digital Media



2013 Programming

RFL_KA_hoz_72dpi-570x3202013 Winter/Spring Series Premieres:
— New Drama “Deception” 
January 7
— New Comedy “1600 PennJanuary 10
— New Relationship Series “Ready for Love”  March 31

Anticipated Returns:
–“The Voice”  March 25/26
–“RevolutionMarch 25
–“The Biggest LoserJanuary 6/7
–“SmashFebruary 5
–“CommunityFebruary 7
–“The Celebrity ApprenticeMarch 3
–“Betty White’s Off Their RockersJanuary 8  [16]



1.) NBC Universal History                                                         

2.) Atlantic Magazine, “Comcast Buys GE Stake in NBCUniversal, Completing the ’30 Rock’ Prophecy.”                                                                           

3.) NBC Universal Senior Corporate Executives: Stephen B. Burke

4.) NBC Universal Senior Corporate Executives: Matt Bond        

5.) NBC Universal Senior Corporate Executives: Patricia Fili-Krushel

6.) NBC Universal Senior Corporate Executives: Robert Greenblatt

7.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast Corporation

8.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast Corporation

9.) NBC Universal Annual Shareholder’s Report                                       

10.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast Corporation

11.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast Corporation

12.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast Corporation

13.) NBC Universal Annual Shareholder’s Report             

14.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast          

15.) Columbia Journalism Review: Who Owns What, Comcast        

16.) NBC Reveals Changes for Mid-Season 2013