THE LONG RUN Supernatural wraps its 15-season run this week, as Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS and other venerable series start new seasons. These broadcast staples may signal the end of an era.
V O L U M E 1 5 0 • N U M B E R 11 • N O V E M B E R 1 6 , 2 0 2 0 • $ 6 . 9 5
REMEMBERING JEOPARDY!’S ALEX TREBEK
WOMEN IN THE GAME TACKLE A TOUGH YEAR
VOLUME 150 • ISSUE 11 • NOVEMBER 16, 2020 WWW.BROADCASTINGCABLE.COM
FOLLOW US twitter.com/BCBeat www.facebook.com/BroadcastingandCable CONTENT VP/Global Editor-In-Chief Bill Gannon, firstname.lastname@example.org Content Director Kent Gibbons, email@example.com Content Manager Michael Demenchuk, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer - Washington John S. Eggerton, email@example.com Senior Content Producer - Programming Michael Malone, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer - Technology Daniel Frankel, email@example.com Senior Content Producer - Business Jon Lafayette, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Content Producer R. Thomas Umstead, email@example.com Senior Content Producer Mike Farrell, firstname.lastname@example.org Content Engagement Manager Jessika Walsten, email@example.com Contributor Paige Albiniak Production Manager Heather Tatrow Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban Art Editor Cliff Newman
SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.broadcastingcable.com and click on About Us, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 888-266-5828, or write P.O. Box 8688, Lowell, MA 01853. LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS Broadcasting+Cable is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw email@example.com MANAGEMENT Chief Revenue Officer Mike Peralta Senior Vice President , B2B Rick Stamberger Head of Production U.S. & U.K. Mark Constance Head of Design Rodney Dive FUTURE US, INC. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002 All contents ©2020 Future US, Inc. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.
6 COVER STORY FEATURES 6 COVER STORY Supernatural wraps up a 15-year run on The CW as other long-running series kick off new seasons. Streaming may make such longevity a thing of the past. By Michael Malone 10 SPECIAL REPORT: WOMEN IN THE GAME B+C’s annual list of women in starring roles in sports television spotlights executives who found a way to win during a pandemicchallenged year. By Stuart Miller 22 CURRENCY With Ion Media’s sale to E.W. Scripps, outgoing CEO Brandon Burgess is ready to take a break. He reflects on how Ion built a successful broadcast TV model and why Scripps is so well-suited to build on that strategy. By Jon Lafayette
10 SPECIAL REPORT DEPARTMENTS 4 LEAD-IN 18 LOCAL NEWS 19 TECH 20 SYNDICATION 24 POLICY 26 FATES & FORTUNES 28 DATA MINE 32 VIEWPOINT 34 THE FIVE SPOT
Please Recycle. We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from responsibly managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. The paper in this magazine was sourced and produced from sustainable managed forests, conforming to strict environmental and socioeconomic standards. The manufacturing paper mill and printer hold full FSC and PEFC certification and accreditation.
ON THE COVER
Jared Padalecki (l.) as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean in The CW series Supernatural. Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR) www.futureplc.com
Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Richard Huntingford Chief financial officer Rachel Addison Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244
Vol. 150 • No. 11 • November 16, 2020. B&C Broadcasting & Cable (ISSN 1068-6827) (USPS 066-000) is published monthly by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to B&C Broadcasting & Cable, P.O. Box 8688, Lowell, MA 01853-8688. Printed in U.S.A. © 2020 Future US, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Cover: Supernatural: Katie Yu/The CW. This page: Supernatural: Colin Bentley/The CW; Private Eye: Brooke Palmer
ADVERTISING SALES Director of Sales, Media Entertainment & Tech Laura Lubrano, firstname.lastname@example.org Ad Director Paul Mauriello, email@example.com Account Manager Katrina Frazer, firstname.lastname@example.org Japan Sales Sho Harihara, Yukari Media Inc., 81-64790-2222 or email@example.com
Remembering ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek Game-show icon lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8 at 80
By Paige Albiniak firstname.lastname@example.org @PaigeA
Jeopardy! Productions Inc.
conic Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek succumbed to pancreatic cancer on Sunday, Nov. 8, at the age of 80. The host, who had been the face of the syndicated game show since 1984, worked until almost the very end, taping his last shows on Oct. 29. Those final episodes will air through Christmas Day. “It feels very sudden to all of us,” Mike Richards, executive producer of Jeopardy!, said. “The hardest part of all of this is that we knew he was battling, we knew he was getting chemo, we knew he was in pain. When the light turned on and [show announcer] Johnny Gilbert said his name, he transformed into a healthy, charming, good-looking man who was capable of running the show at the highest levels. “If I understood how he did that, I would have all the keys to all the secrets in the world. He had a switch he was able to throw that was rooted somewhere in his immense work ethic. He was never going to turn in a bad performance, ever.” Trebek was diagnosed in March 2019, and he quickly made that public via a video in which he vowed to fight the disease. From that point on, fans all over the world were rooting for him, and he often released updates, either through videos or interviews on news programs such as Good Morning America. In July 2020, he also released a memoir, The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life. Until the end, Richards said, Trebek would still come into the studio and hang out with the writers, reviewing and tweaking questions before that day’s tapings. “Alex is a huge part of what makes Jeopardy! great, and that’s what he loved, he loved the game,” Richards said. “He stayed because he loved the game. He loved being around smart people, he reveled in a great game, he reveled in amazingly quick
answers. He loved being with the writers and researchers and going over the clues in the morning. Those were amazing sessions we all got to do with him.”
Past Winners Pay Tribute
Alex Trebek served as host of the syndicated version of Jeopardy! since its 1984 launch.
He stayed because he loved the game. He loved being around smart people, he reveled in a great game, he reveled in amazingly quick answers. — Mike Richards, executive producer, Jeopardy! Broadcastingcable.com
Upon hearing the news, tweets and tributes started pouring out, including from Jeopardy!’s official Greatest of All Time (GOAT) Ken Jennings and from the man who changed how the game was played, professional gambler James Holzhauer. “Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him,” tweeted Jennings, who now serves as a consulting producer on the show after winning ABC’s primetime Jeopardy! GOAT tournament last January. Similarly, Holzhauer, who drove Jeopardy! to new ratings highs with his daring play style during his 32-game streak in spring 2019, tweeted: “It was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life. You will never be replaced in our hearts, Alex.” Also chiming in with their respects were such celebrities as Ryan Reynolds, John Legend, Padma Lakshmi and Viola Davis; fellow syndicated hosts Dr. Phil McGraw, Steve Harvey and Ryan Seacrest; and trivia nerds all over the world. Jeopardy! — along with its sibling game show, Wheel of Fortune — airs in access on the Disney-ABC owned TV stations in the country’s top markets, including on WABC New York, KABC Los Angeles and WLS Chicago.
Said The Walt Disney Co. executive chairman Bob Iger: “Today we mourn the loss of Alex Trebek. A friend, a colleague, an icon…He graced us with his kindness, warmth, wit and pure elegance, which is why we welcomed him into our homes night after night, year after year. He also showed us what courage looks like as he battled cancer with dignity and determination. We are deeply saddened for his wife Jean, his family, and millions of Jeopardy! fans.” In the wake of Trebek’s death, Richards is unwilling to discuss what might be next for the show, but it’s been on a run over the past couple of years, with such events as Holzhauer’s historic run and ABC’s primetime GOAT tournament. “It’s really early for me and the Jeopardy! staff and crew to turn that page today. Jeopardy! has a very bright future and eventually we will turn the page and that’s what Alex would have wanted,” said Richards, who oversaw the transition from Bob Barker to Drew Carey at CBS’ daytime staple The Price is Right. In terms of successors to Trebek, Jennings has been reported to be in the running to take over hosting duties. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos also reportedly threw his hat in the ring, with other names mentioned including popular podcaster Joe Rogan, Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s LeVar Burton and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.
Trebek hosted Jeopardy! since it made its syndicated debut in 1984, taking the show through nearly 37 seasons and setting a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show. He won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding game-show host seven times and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award (along with Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak) from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. He and the show also won a Peabody Award that year. (The show in its original incarnation on network daytime ran on NBC from 1964 to 1974 with Art Fleming as the host.) In 2013, he was inducted into the Broadcasting+Cable Hall of Fame. He and Jeopardy! were both inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2018. Trebek was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and hosted numerous game shows before becoming the host of Jeopardy! He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean, and children Matthew, Emily and Nicky. Said Richards: “I think he knows his legacy was secure and that he was great at the greatest quiz show. That’s how I think he wanted to be remembered.” ●
WATCH THIS …
Senior content producer Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene
The Neighborhood The Neighborhood returns to CBS Monday. It is season three for the comedy, about a white family fitting in, or not, in a Black neighborhood in Los Angeles. The cast includes Cedric the Entertainer and Max Greenfield. Also on Monday, His Dark Materials starts season two on HBO. Based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy, the series follows Lyra, a brave young woman from another world. Wednesday, season two of For Life rolls on ABC. A prisoner becomes a lawyer, representing his fellow inmates while fighting
Bob Hearts Abishola
Bob Still Hearts Abishola on CBS
Season two of Bob Hearts Abishola is on CBS Nov. 16. Billy Gardell plays Bob and Folake Olowofoyeku portrays Abishola in this Chuck Lorre comedy, about a compression sock guy who falls for his Nigerian nurse. Exec producer and showrunner Al Higgins was pleased with how season one landed. “People who watch our show truly love our show,” he said. “They fell in love with these characters and this world.” Season two sees Bob looking at engagement rings. The producers wondered about working COVID into the show, especially with Abishola working in a hospital, then decided not to. “It would overtake everything else in the story,” said Higgins. “I’d rather not have it in my face.”
Producing in the COVID age was challenging, but the producers were pumped to have cast and crew back on the job, and psyched to offer America a bit of entertainment. Higgins said it’s encouraging when crew members laugh during shooting. “It’s always nice when the crew responds in the way you want the audience to respond,” he said. The season goes deeper on a wider array of characters, including Bob’s family and the warehouse guys. “We have a great ensemble,” said Higgins, “and we’re gonna use them to the utmost.”
ABC Shoots For the ‘Sky’ With David E. Kelley Thriller
Big Sky begins on ABC Nov. 17. It’s a David E. Kelley drama about two sisters who are kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. Searching for them are a pair of private detectives, and the estranged wife of one of them. They learn the sisters are not the only ones missing. The series comes from the C.J. Box novel The Mountain. “It’s cliche to say that I couldn’t put it down, but really, I couldn’t put it down,” Kelley said during a press event. It was a challenging novel to adapt. “The biggest challenge for me was to be able to deliver what the book did, and that is the tension, the thrill, the drama, the relational equations of the characters, which were rich and profound at times, and then the sense of escapism,” Kelley said. The cast includes Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury and Brian Geraghty. Showrunner Kelley’s recent work includes Big Little Lies and The Undoing on HBO. He admitted he was not all that pumped to get back to broadcast TV, where his past hits include Chicago Hope and Ally McBeal. “When we set forth with ABC, they were really frisky to break their own mold and to present storytelling to the audience that would be more in line with cable or streaming,” he said. “I think this show lends itself to be a great bingeing show.” ●
Bob Hearts Abishola: Michael Yarish/CBS; Big Sky: ABC; The Neighborhood: Monty Brinton/CBS; His Dark Materials: HBO; Holiday Crafters Gone Wild: HGTV
By Michael Malone email@example.com @BCMikeMalone
His Dark Materials to overturn his own life sentence. Nicholas Pinnock stars and 50 Cent produces. Friday, it’s the reboot of Animaniacs on Hulu. The Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and sister Dot, are back. Steven Spielberg presents. Also on Friday, Holiday Crafters Gone Wild begins on HGTV. It’s a two-hour special hosted by Jay Manuel, where craft aficionados compete to create over-the-top Christmas decor. — MM
Holiday Crafters Gone Wild 5
SERIES Broadcast shows such as The CW’s ‘Supernatural’, ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and CBS’s ‘NCIS’ enjoy extended runs not seen on streaming
By Michael Malone firstname.lastname@example.org @BCMikeMalone
Supernatural: The CW; The Simpsons: Fox; Law and Order SVU: NBC; NCIS: CBS
he series finale of Supernatural airs on The CW on Nov. 19, wrapping up 15 seasons of the fantasy drama, which sees the Winchester brothers face off with a variety of demons and monsters. The CW will air special Supernatural: The Long Way Home leading into the finale. It’s an extraordinary run for a series in an era when more and more shows on the streaming platforms have struggled to get past season three. “I can count on two hands — one hand — the series that reach 300 episodes and 15 years,” said Peter Roth, chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group, which produces Supernatural. “Supernatural has the basic fundamentals of success — great writing, great performances, great execution, and two stars whose skills and charisma and presence keep growing and growing and growing.” Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles play the Winchester brothers, racing around the country in a 1967 Chevy Impala. As rare as 15 seasons may be, Supernatural is hardly the only series extending well past the industry norm these days. NCIS begins season 18 on CBS Nov. 17. Season 22 of Law & Order: SVU started on NBC Nov. 12, the same day season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC. On Fox, season 32 of The Simpsons is plugging along. Also on Fox, season 19 of Hell’s Kitchen starts in January. Series lasting 15 or more seasons may well be going the way of Major League Baseball pitchers winning 300 games. “I don’t think it will ever happen again,” said Steven D. Binder, executive producer on NCIS. “People have been trained to binge-watch a whole season, which is leaning them away from watching each week. Getting people to come back and watch week after week for 12 years is really hard.”
Created by Eric Kripke, Supernatural is so old that it premiered on The WB, back in 2005. When The CW launched a year later, it slotted Supernatural into its primetime. Mark Pedowitz, chairman and CEO of The CW, said the edgy kinship between the Winchester brothers — older brother Dean is something of a guardian for Sam, who often wishes to quit demon hunting and live a normal life — is what has sustained the series over the many years. “The two brothers’ relationship is so identifiable to so many people,” he said.
The CW has frequently used Supernatural, which CW insiders say features a broad demographic audience, to promote new programs over the years, including Arrow, The Flash, The Vampire Diaries and Riverdale. “It’s
Getting people to come back and watch week after week for 12 years is really hard. — Steven D. Binder, executive producer, NCIS
stunning how many shows have been paired with Supernatural,” said Pedowitz. He added that the low-maintenance nature of Padalecki and Ackles has been a model for talent on other CW shows. “They set a tone that permeates the whole network,” Pedowitz said. The key to any show lasting for 15 seasons is a pleasant and productive atmosphere on the set. Executive producers on every show speak of the family atmosphere on their series, but only the shows that exist for 300 or so episodes can truly boast of it. “Bob [Singer, executive producer] and Eric [Kripke] did a good job creating an atmosphere that is functional and friendly,” said Andrew Dabb, executive producer and showrunner of Supernatural. “It’s a place that people want to be part of.” A long-running show ideally experiences an evolution over its lifetime. In the early years of Supernatural, a season would be composed mostly of standalone episodes, with a half-dozen tied to
ongoing mythology. Over time, those numbers flipped, and Supernatural became more serialized. NCIS, about a team investigating wrongdoing within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, rarely delved into its characters’ at-home happenings in the early days. “Season six took off when we started getting more into their personal lives,” executive producer Frank Cardea said. That became part of the NCIS game plan as each season went on. “For a character-based show, the evolution of the characters is the evolution of the show,” Binder said. So vital to the CBS primetime lineup is NCIS that spinoffs NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans just began seasons 12 and seven, respectively. For Grey’s Anatomy, staying relevant to viewers is a matter of having the show reflect, to a degree, what’s happening in the world today. “We’ve worked really hard to make our storytelling a balance between the core conceit of the series — the personal and profes-
The CW's Supernatural (top l.) will wrap up after 15 years on Nov. 19, while other venerable series like The Simpsons (bottom l.), Law & Order; Special Victims Unit (top) and NCIS roll on.
sional lives of surgeons at Grey Sloan Memorial — and the changing world around us,” said Grey’s executive producer Meg Marinis. “We adapt and manage to keep the show feeling true to itself.” Season 19 of unscripted Hell’s Kitchen starts on Fox in January. Executive producer Arthur Smith said the key to its longevity, besides a unique talent in Gordon Ramsay, is spicing it up just the right amount each season. “It’s a fine line between keeping it fresh and changing it so much that the show becomes something else,” he said. The new season of Hell’s happens in Las Vegas, not Los Angeles, for the first time. “Vegas provides us with a great new way to energize the show,” said Smith. Then again, an early episode of The Simpsons doesn’t feel all that different from one in season 32. The rules may be different for what works in animated comedies. “Animation is evergreen,” said Al Jean, executive producer and showrunner, noting that viewers seeing Bart Simpson in shorts and spiky hair at age 40 would look ridiculous. “Animation just extends your life exponentially.” Indeed, Fox has signed up Family Guy for seasons 19 and 20 and Bob’s Burgers for seasons 12 and 13. Voice talent on an animated show has a bit more freedom than cast on live-action shows, making it easier to retain talent. “You can do The Simpsons and not have to give up other ambitions,” Jean said. “You can be the character and then not be the character.”
Swimming in the Stream
All the long-running shows have seen a streaming partner introduce the series to a new, younger audience. Having The Simpsons on Disney Plus has been “a huge, huge help,” said Jean. “Kids who haven’t seen the show are drawn in when they see the short [“Playdate with Destiny”]. They watch it and think, Oh my god, there’s an immersive library of 31 seasons!” Pedowitz mentioned “a true rebound” for Supernatural after it turned up on Netflix in 2011. “A whole new audience is finding it,” he said. “They may not find it on The CW, but they’re finding it.” Added Dabb: “It keeps renewing itself over and over again on Netflix. It’s been key to our longevity.” It’s been well-documented how many teen girls binge Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, with many thinking of the medical drama as a Netflix original. That’s been essential to making new seasons on ABC. “Each month, we know many people start at season one, episode one,” said Marinis, “and then quickly binge 16 seasons to catch up to current times.” Besides crediting Netflix, the producers on NCIS single out USA Network, which airs the drama in
syndication. They credit USA for helping NCIS move up to No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings in season six.
Original shows on those digital platforms rarely have extended runs. Netflix, for one, has been quicker to axe a show after a lackluster first season, with three seasons emerging as something of a norm on the platform for a successful series. Unlike broadcast, Netflix does not go through the pilot process, so tough decisions are made after season one. “Broadcast networks live and die by the ratings and streamers don’t — they live and die by monthly subscriptions,” said Dominic Caristi, professor of telecommunications at Ball State University. “They operate different business models.” The streaming model isn’t built for growing a series over time, believe some producers. “Everybody wants a hit, but Netflix wants something loud and bombastic,” Dabb said. “When they go to season two, they’re trying to sell people something they already have.” Streaming is, of course, becoming more the viewing norm every day, and broadcasters are investing heavily in their own streaming products, be it Peacock or CBS All Access or Hulu. “As more network content moves to streaming, it will be more like the Netflix model,” said Caristi. “It’s not ratings, it’s subscriptions.” With a greater number of actors getting used to the 10- or 20-episode model on streaming, getting cast on board for 300 episodes is harder to pull off than it has ever been. “In terms of talent, everyone is commitment-phobic now,” said Binder.
As more network content moves to streaming, it will be more like the Netflix model. It’s not ratings, it’s subscriptions. — Dominic Caristi, professor of telecommunications, Ball State University
‘Supernatural’ Heads Home
The Supernatural crew is geared up for the show’s big send-off. Pedowitz said it will be very strange to start a new season in January and not have Supernatural as part of it. Peter Roth admitted getting “quite weepy” while watching the finale’s earlier cuts. “It’s as perfect an ending to a fantasy as exists,” he said. “It’s a perfect conclusion to these brothers’ journey.” The producers are pleased with the Supernatural farewell, too. “Andrew and I are happy with the way we decided to conclude the show,” executive producer and showrunner Robert Singer said. “We don’t feel like we left anything on the table.” ●
Greys Anatomy: ABC; Hell's Kitichen: Fox; Supernatural: The CW; The Simpsons: Fox
SHOWS WITH NO END IN SIGHT WHILE SUPERNATURAL COMES to an end this week, other long-running broadcast series don’t yet have an end date in mind. The Simpsons, for one, is in season 32 on Fox, and the animated colossus aims to keep chugging along. “No one talks” about a series finale, said Al Jean, executive producer and showrunner. “I guess it’s not imminent.” Jean has been with The Simpsons all 32 seasons, and has spent the last 22 as showrunner. The comedy will never run out of source material, he suggested. “It’s a family show,” said Jean. “As long as families have problems, the show goes on.” With some prodding, Jean thinks back on a lifetime spent on the series. “There will be a sense of accomplishment whenever we are done,” he said. “A sense of, well, that was a nice way to spend a life, working with people who were great and doing stuff that people enjoy.” Wrapping up 20 seasons of a show in 30 or 60 minutes is a tall order, and not that many series pull it off successfully. Game of Thrones fans are still debating how they would’ve wrapped that HBO series. Producers at Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen aren’t thinking of their swan song as season 19 arrives in January. “There has never been any talk of ending Hell’s Kitchen,” said Arthur Smith, executive producer. “Season 20 is already renewed, and we are looking forward to more after that.” With season 18 starting up this week, NCIS, with Mark Harmon, Sean Murray, Emily Wickersham and Wilmer Vilderrama in the cast, is not headed toward its denouement either. “How do we end it really never gets talked about,” said Frank Cardea, executive producer. “Is there life after the show? It’s hard to imagine.” — MM
SPECIAL REPORT: WOMEN IN THE GAME
MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF A MOST UNUSUAL SPORTS YEAR 2020’s Women in the Game make gender gains while managing pandemic hurdles
By Stuart Miller email@example.com @sfmsfm5186
n the midst of the strangest, most unnerving and upsetting year in decades, sports necessarily took a back seat to the pandemic. When the games returned, even without fans in the arena, sports on television gave U.S. audiences the jolt of semi-normalcy they craved. In the midst of all this, women continued to make gains behind the scenes and in front of the camera, frequently shouldering the responsibility for making sure the transition from shutdown to partial reopening went as smoothly as possible. This year’s Women in the Game feature — profiling women who are stars in their fields in TV sports — touched on the challenges the executives and on-air personnel faced, and overcame, during the pandemic. Profilees also talked about how the industry has changed, and continues changing, for women executives. “Things are so different now from when I started,” fubo Sports Network head Pamela Duckworth said. “There’s especially been a huge shift since #MeToo, bringing more awareness to the issues of equity.” Caroline Rebello, managing director at Evolution Media Capital, agreed. Now more
than ever, she said, top executives “recognize that you want as many different voices in your company to make the best product and produce the best vision.” These women say more change is needed and that they willingly take on some of that responsibility. “There’s still a long way to go, we need more women in leadership positions in all areas of sports and people of color too,” MLB Network senior VP, operations and engineering Susan Stone said. “If you see people [like you] in leadership, you believe it is a possibility for you,” she added, explaining that this will, in turn, attract more women and people of color to the field. Many of these women make mentoring, either formally or informally, a top priority, reaching back down the ladder to help the next generation. “I’m stubborn and I almost didn’t get into this field and I never want that to happen to anyone else,” said Kaitlin Urka, producer, NBC Sports & Olympics. “There are still roadblocks, but we’re chipping away at the glass ceiling.” Judy Boyd, senior VP, production and coordinating producer, Fox Sports, pointed out that women are not looking for special treatment. “We just need to make sure everybody gets an equal opportunity to do the job,” she said. “We don’t need to make it easier for women, we just need to put everyone on the same playing field.” ●
VP, Programming, CBS Sports KEY STATS: Bess Barnes, captain of Michigan’s golf team while in college, oversees golf programming for CBS Sports, including scheduling, acquisitions and partner relations. She also leads college basketball scheduling across CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament and regular-season contests. VARSITY STATUS: Barnes previously oversaw college football scheduling and has been involved in media-rights deals such as the renewals with the Big Ten for college basketball and the PGA Tour, as well as the extension of CBS’s joint March Madness deal with Turner Sports. She also created the CBS Sports Classic (an annual CBS college basketball doubleheader featuring Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA and Ohio State) and brought the first-ever college bowl game to CBS Sports Network, the Cure Bowl, in 2015. Barnes previously spent 10 years at ESPN. She is co-chair of CBS Sports’s corporate cross-departmental We Need to Talk Steering Committee and serves on the executive committee of the CBS Sports Women’s Group. IN HER OWN WORDS: “In college, I took an aptitude test that said I should be a reporter, but I don’t like speaking in front of people, so I went into TV and worked on sports shows, producing men’s hockey, women’s basketball and studio programs. I love working in the programming group because we’re involved in everything from scheduling to production, and that makes it fun. “Throughout the industry, there is now more of an understanding that a diverse perspective, which includes gender, provides greater value in the workplace. But even at CBS Sports, which is a very good place for women, we are not equal in number. I do think we have a responsibility to the next generation and that’s why I got involved with We Need to Talk and the executive committee of the CBS Sports Women’s Group. There was a young woman who mentioned that she was looking for mentorship and wanted to get to know the women executives outside of the office. It was a great idea because we’re all busy in the office, and this opened things up for a more casual and natural relationship and has turned into a great success.” ●
SPECIAL REPORT: WOMEN IN THE GAME
Senior VP, Production and Coordinating Producer, Fox Sports KEY STATS: Judy Boyd is a multisport star at Fox Sports, with Major League Baseball, college football and soccer, including the FIFA World Cup, under her purview. She handles oversight of all live event production for those three categories and is involved in other facets of production within Fox Sports. Boyd also works extensively with FS1, the company’s 24/7 national cable sports network. VARSITY STATUS: Boyd joined Fox Sports in 2000 as a broadcast associate, her first professional job. She primarily worked on MLB coverage. Since then, she has worked in various production roles on NFL, MLB, college
VP and Editor-in-Chief, Tennis Channel KEY STATS: Andi Chu oversees all of Tennis Channel’s nonlinear and operations activity, building a new multiplatform content division for the Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned channel. She and her team relaunched TennisChannel.com and its app as a streaming destination. She led the reboot of Tennis Channel Plus with longform content including curated playlists and new content. After Sinclair bought Tennis Media (which produced Tennis magazine and Tennis.com), she integrated it into the Tennis Channel operational and content structure. She also oversees e-letter Baseline and the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. Chu spearheaded Tennis’s first digital series, My Tennis Life, with active professional players. VARSITY STATUS: Before joining Tennis Channel in 2016 as executive director, digital operations and content, Chu spent six years at the Women’s Tennis Association, handling content and social media across
Senior VP of Marketing and Affiliate Relations, SNY KEY STATS: Marie DeParis is responsible for brand marketing for SportsNet New York — the official television home of the New York Mets, New York Jets and UConn Huskies — including on-air promotion, advertising, events and sales promotion and affiliate relations. DeParis has won eight New York Emmy Awards and six Promax North America/BDA Promotion & Marketing Awards for television commercial campaigns, promotional spots and digital projects. VARSITY STATUS: Prior to joining SNY in 2007, DeParis was senior VP of strategic marketing
football and NASCAR telecasts. Named coordinating producer of MLB in 2010, Boyd was elevated to VP in 2012; she was also coordinating producer for Fox Sports Digital Entertainment. IN HER OWN WORDS: “In college [at Cal State Northridge], I studied broadcast journalism and history and was thinking about law school. I really liked live television but not the news, which was all murders and car chases. I liked sports. Fox Sports is the only place I’ve ever worked. I’ve always been lucky, even when I was a production assistant here, there were always other women working in the group. The production side has been more male-dominated over the years. There was a time when women thought they couldn’t get into that world but that’s not the case anymore.
“What I love is the challenge of a new project of finding new ways to do things, whether it’s through the evolution of technology or the growth of our people. I do miss live television, being hands-on, sitting in the truck. So I still go and do it for the NFL show. I enjoy it, but also that way I know what my people are going through and how to help them get the resources they need. “With the pandemic, we had to figure out how to do broadcasts with Joe Buck in St. Louis and John Smoltz in Atlanta. They weren’t together at a ballpark until [Globe Life Field] in Texas in the postseason. When we were in the bubble there, we learned some things we will use in the future. Some, like cameras on top of the dugout because there were no fans, we won’t be able to [do], but cable-cams along the first- and third-base lines and different high-speed cameras, we will continue to use. We usually have 350 to 400 people on site, and we had 200 this year, with people like editors working remotely. I think that’s the future. There’s a learning curve, but we can embrace it.” ●
digital platforms for the tour and its players and sponsors. That came after a career in Los Angeles working in feature film and television, including roles as director of development at Paramount Pictures’ Alphaville Productions and director of distribution for ManiaTV. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I wanted to be in film development and production so I went to Los Angeles. Eventually, I moved to work for digital startups, in part because I’m an early adopter and I was looking for knowledge outside traditional formats and for creative ways to do storytelling. “When I got to the WTA, I had no sports experience but I wanted to see what it was like and found the fast pace — everything is so accelerated there, compared to film and television — so rewarding. I also got to see the world and
understand how production is done globally. “I’m especially proud of how we handled the pandemic this year. We were able to get up and running and then to fill our social channels with new content even when there were no matches on, leading to an increase in traffic. “I’m hands-on in all the areas that I oversee, but building a team has been one of the real highlights for me. When I joined, I had one hire but now I have a full-time team of 17 and another 17 reporters/talent under contract to provide print, online or on-air content. I’m very big on diversity: When I came to Hollywood as an AsianCanadian female, I saw how difficult it can be. Mentoring is also important for me to go back and give others the same opportunity.” ●
and sales for the New York Daily News, where she led all consumer and trade marketing; she also served as associate publisher of the Daily News website. She previously held management positions at Fox Television and Radio City Music Hall Productions in New York. She also serves on the Bethany College Board of Trustees (her alma mater) and the Professional Advisory Board of the Business of Sports School, a New York City public high school. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I always gravitated to sports. In college, I was the first female analyst on radio for baseball there. In my job at a publicrelations firm, my boss asked me to research Johnny Bench for a Crest promotion but he was my favorite player and I said, ‘I know everything there is to know about
him.’ I got to do a lot of sports work there, though it wasn’t all baseball: I did have to do a tractor pull promotion for a motor oil company, too. “At Radio City, I learned about working in live entertainment, so I feel that in my career one thing always leads to the next. At the Daily News there was always sports in promotions and partnerships. I worked with all the leagues, so when I came to SNY it didn’t feel like there was a transition, especially because I worked on SNY’s first live show, Daily News Live, from the Daily News side. “At SNY, the senior staff is 10 or 11 people and I was the only woman for years, but now there are four women, which is really refreshing. We provide such a difference in perspective and since all our jobs cross over to everything from programming to human resources, it’s important to have that. Everybody is starting to move more toward that direction. Cable is much more female-friendly than the teams and leagues — they are still dominated by men — but I’ve definitely seen a change.” ●
SPECIAL REPORT: WOMEN IN THE GAME
Head, fubo Sports Network KEY STATS: As head of fuboTV’s live, free-toconsumer TV network, launched a year ago, Pamela Duckworth is responsible for all creative direction, including original programming. In addition to partner programming from Stadium and Players Tribune, original programming includes No Chill with Gilbert Arenas; Call It a Night and Drinks With Binks, both hosted by Julie StewartBinks, and The Cooligans. She also still runs Duckworth Entertainment, a full-service creative marketing production company based in New York and Los Angeles. VARSITY STATUS: After five years as a producer at QVC and later spending two years at Al
Managing Director, Evolution Media Capital KEY STATS: Caroline Rebello’s deals — $4 billion in a single year — are reshaping the U.S. sports media landscape. Recently, she has helped close deals such as the launch of Marquee Sports Network by the Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group; the St. Louis Blues’ local media deal with Fox Sports Midwest; and the Detroit Pistons’ local media deal with Fox Sports Detroit. She also advised two individuals on their acquisition of an NBA and an NHL franchise and secured favorable outcomes for two pro sports teams in confidential media valuation disputes. VARSITY STATUS: Past deals at Evolution Media Capital, which is CAA’s merchant bank, have included the Vegas Golden Knights’ local broadcast deal with AT&T SportsNet; the Charlotte Hornets’ local broadcast deal with Fox Sports South in 2012; and the Brooklyn Nets’ local broadcast deal with YES
Senior VP, Operations and Engineering, MLB Network
KEY STATS: Susan Stone oversees all production and studio operations, such as the Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight and NHL Tonight, MLB Network Showcase game telecasts, and on-site studio programs from All-Star Week, the Stanley Cup Finals and the World Series. She oversees the operations and engineering for NHL Network as part of the NHL-MLB digital media rights partnership announced in 2015. VARSITY STATUS: Before joining MLB Network in 2008 to help oversee its launch the following year, Stone held crucial jobs throughout the sports media industry.
Roker Productions, Duckworth was head of advertising production and events at DirecTV for 10 years, through 2016. She then founded Duckworth Entertainment. Over the course of her career, she has been honored with twelve Cannes Lions, three Clios and two Effies, among other awards. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I played volleyball and soccer growing up and through my dad, who had four girls, came to live for college football. We were in Ohio and my grandma was friendly with [legendary coach] Woody Hayes. There’s something about sports, the passion of it, the adrenaline, that fits my personality. “When AT&T bought DirecTV we all scattered, but at one point Joel Armijo, who had been there with me but who had become CFO of fubo, brought me in to do some consulting. Then last year, CEO David
Gandler said, ‘We should start our own network. Can you do it in two months?’ I’m never one to back down from a challenge, I just said, ‘Give me three months.’ “It was a whirlwind. I brought on producers and talent, and by September 2019 we had three original shows as well as partner programming. We provided a fresh point of view, a more comedic one in a time where sports can get so serious. My goal is to get into the athletes’ minds and to bring on more personalities. “It’s a crowded field with so much great content and the big dogs launching independent streaming, too. Our goal is to stay in the game and stay relevant. When the pandemic hit we never went dark, we pivoted to doing the shows from home. I’m really proud of our whole team. People know our name now and are coming to us with pitches every day, which is cool. “I was fortunate to have great mentors, who were men, bringing me up through the ranks. I worked in car racing in the late ’80s and I was the only woman there. Today, I make sure my team is diverse. I like internal promotion. I can bring a woman in as a production assistant and then move her up.” ●
Network. Since joining EMC in 2010, she has helped grow the group from a client roster of one team to more than five dozen. Prior to Evolution Media, Rebello served as an investor at TowerBrook and a media and sports strategic development executive at SCP Worldwide. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I was a pole vaulter in high school and college and I wanted to work in sports, but I didn’t know if it was possible. At Wharton, I really liked economics and business, which led to investment banking at a private-equity firm. We made an investment in a hockey team and the opportunity to work in sports came up so I decided to try it out. Then I was able to jump over into the sports business and learn the media business, so at Evolution I was happy to combine it all.
“I was conscious that this was a rare opportunity. It was not about being a woman, but about coming in as an outsider. I came from banking, which is predominantly male, so like it or not you get used to it. Now at Evolution and CAA overall, there are more and more women every year. “I’ve been involved in WISE Within (Women in Sports and Events), but I also always have an open-door policy for any woman who emails, calls or texts me. I make a point to try and get them where they’re going. I’m also involved in Forward, the CAA women’s group, and I sit on the multicultural committee as well. I mentor women on the track team at my alma mater, too, for those who might want to enter finance or media or sports. It’s really important to give back.” ●
Previously, Stone had taken time off in 2001 after the birth of her son (and subsequently her daughter) but then did consulting and part-time work for NFL Network before returning full-time as remote operations executive for more than two years. Prior to having children, she had worked as director of production services at CBS Sports, and director of production management and venue operations, NBC Olympics. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I was always a sports fan — props to my dad, who had two daughters and always took us to Mets, Giants, Rangers and Knicks games — but a sports career was never on my agenda. After college, I did some production work in theater, but I wanted more stability. I thought that I loved production and
operations, so maybe it would be fun to do it for sports on television. A friend told me about a temporary secretary job in production at NBC Sports. It led to a full-time job and I found my niche. But it never occurred to me then that a woman could have the job I do. “We shut down on March 16, but by March 25 we were on the air for MLB Opening Day at Home, which is one of the things I’m proudest of in my career. It took effort and creativity. I always engage in any great idea. I just say, bring them all to the table, like when our technical director volunteers at a local high school where he was working on a cloud-based production system and said we might be able to do something with it. There are some things that may hold future uses, too. Our engineers found tools to allow our editors to work remotely, which is good because we’re usually bursting at the seams here and because we’re not in the city, so snow can create major stress in the winter and this can help people work remotely in the off-season.” ●
SPECIAL REPORT: WOMEN IN THE GAME
College Sports Host, Analyst and Reporter/NBA Countdown Host, ESPN KEY STATS: Maria Taylor has been a reporter for College GameDay and ABC Saturday Night Football since 2017 and she is also a host for NBA Countdown. In addition, Taylor serves as an analyst on other SEC and ESPN telecasts, including volleyball and women’s basketball and contributes to ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage. VARSITY STATUS: At the University of Georgia, where Taylor majored in broadcast news, she played varsity volleyball and basketball and was named to the all-SEC volleyball team three times. She later earned an MBA at Georgia. After getting her master’s degree, she
Producer, NBC Sports & Olympics KEY STATS: At NBC since 2011, Kaitlin Urka’s work has earned her four Sports Emmys as she has tackled the world’s biggest events: the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup Finals and the Tour de France. On March 8, she created the very first all-women’s NHL broadcast (on-air and behind the scenes) to celebrate International Women’s Day. VARSITY STATUS: Urka studied journalism at the University of Michigan, where she was named one of the 100 most promising student journalists in the nation and received an award for excellence in communications studies. She also served as general manager of WOLV-TV, the student-run station on campus. As part of Gannett’s Talent Development program, she got her start in television as a morning show associate producer and on-air talent. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I thought communications studies was a springboard for law school. I didn’t see
Senior Director and Head of Next-Gen Telecast, NBA KEY STATS: Sara Zuckert played a particularly crucial role in overseeing the NBA’s bubble, the isolation zone set up at Walt Disney World to protect players from COVID-19. Zuckert oversaw the virtual fan initiative for the NBA Season Restart in Orlando, Florida, which included video boards surrounding the court filled with digital "fans" who could interact with each other in real time. Overall, Zuckert is focused on evolving game telecasts across all channels, featuring customizable experiences, alternate camera angles, companion content and interactive engagement.
became a college football analyst and sideline reporter for ESPN and later added to her résumé with roles as an analyst and host for the network’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and Women’s Volleyball National Championship and as a sideline reporter for men’s college basketball. IN HER OWN WORDS: “I was going to be a doctor and major in biology but it wasn’t going great, so then I switched to business until I took a journalism class with a friend. I was freelancing after college and went back to get the MBA because I wasn’t sure if TV would work out so I thought I could work in athletic administration. I worked initially at Comcast Sports South, doing volleyball, which was in my comfort zone, but then also high-school football and SEC football, too.
“The roles have certainly changed for women in recent years. It used to be the only roles were the sideline reporters, which were more marginalized. But now women have the expectation of hosting and Doris Burke is in the booth for the NBA and Jessica Mendoza for baseball. The doors keep getting broken down. There’s still a lot of ground to cover, but there’s slow but sure progress as women have really invaded this male-dominated space. “I would not want to do play-by-play, but I would love to be an analyst. The NCAA women’s tournament is the most fun I’ve ever had at work. This year, being in the bubble for my first NBA season was a big challenge but it was exciting, hosting all the coverage of the games and all the other issues about the coronavirus and social justice issues. “I co-founded in 2014 the Winning Edge Leadership Academy, which runs programs for women and minorities in sports and entertainment and business, so I might be helping someone looking to get into broadcasting but also someone who wants to become an athletic director.” ●
women working in television, so I thought I could go into sports law. When I went to the school’s TV station there was not a single woman on any sports program, so I worked on all of them, then I recruited other women. I had a passion for sports and TV and I was good at it. Still, even when I was at Gannett I thought about law school because I had people there tell me they’d never hire a woman to work in sports and that I didn’t belong there. “I was a Punt, Pass and Kick champion when I was 9. But people don’t see that and make assumptions, while no one asks men to see their credentials. I was turned away by an old man at the locker room door during an NCAA tournament when I was the Michigan beat reporter. I like to think most of those guys are gone now, but there are still biases that exist
and I still have to work twice as hard to prove my worth. “The all-woman broadcast came about when analyst A.J. Mleczko took her teenage daughter inside a production truck and her daughter said, ‘Mom, where are all the women?’ We are all so spread out — there are really talented women working here in all areas but we very rarely all get to be together. And that can get lonely. “The idea is that ‘if you see it, you can be it,’ but I didn’t want to just show girls, I wanted to show little boys so the idea of women working in these jobs becomes the norm and we don’t have to make a big deal of it. I was so nervous before the game, since social media can be such a negative space, but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. We’re still chipping away at stereotypes and assumptions just to give women equal footing.” ●
VARSITY STATUS: Zuckert landed an NBA internship in 2013, while getting an MBA from Yale, then joined the league full-time in 2014. She started in the Domestic Programming & Content Strategy group, focused on content strategy, game flow and telecast innovation. Prior to the NBA, Zuckert worked in media planning and programming for TV Land. She is also a member of the board of WBRU, a nonprofit digital media workshop for college students affiliated with Brown University, her alma mater. IN HER OWN WORDS: “Working for the NBA was a dream of mine. I’m not just a fan of the teams but of the league’s presence in the media space. My internships, at Madison Square Garden and then at the NBA, were fantastic learning experiences, as was my
experience on the business side of the radio station at college. The NBA has provided great opportunities for me. My job is in programming but it crosses over into media, business and content strategy, so there are great chances to learn about all aspects of the business. “At Next Gen, we had already been working on the game flow in telecasts, working with players and officials to change things like the number of timeouts to make it better for the fans at home. With the absence of fans, we tried things we had used in summer league and other games, like different camera angles and the ‘rail cam.’ [This lets the streaming audience see the action through a lens on a mobile table that moves up and down the court with the action.] We also experimented with everything from the audio soundscape coming from the courts to ways to give virtual fans a chance to participate. “We know that 99% of NBA fans are not at games in person, so even after the pandemic is over we will continue to find ways to create the best atmosphere for fans at home, maybe using some of these ideas.” ●
Standalone Station Is Chief in Kansas City Nexstar, Hearst TV, Meredith and Scripps have skin in K.C. game By Michael Malone firstname.lastname@example.org @BCMikeMalone
D WDAF; KCPS
uopolies abound in Kansas City, but the one Big Four affiliate without a sibling station is, in fact, the market leader. Fox affiliate WDAF thrives on a relentless local strategy, airing 62 hours a week of local news, and talent that connects with K.C. viewers. “Our anchors are real people,” Tracy Brogden-Miller, VP and general manager, said. “The community connects with them because people can relate to them.” Also drawing viewers to Fox4 is syndication standouts such as Live with Kelly and Ryan, Rachael Ray, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Nexstar Media Group owns WDAF. Meredith has CBS affiliate KCTV and MyNetworkTV station KSMO. Hearst Television has ABC outlet KMBC and The CW affiliate KCWE. Scripps owns NBC affiliate KSHB and independent KMCI, known as 38 the Spot. KUKC is a Univision affiliate and KGKC a Telemundo one. Spectrum is the primary pay TV operator.
Adjusting To New Normality
Staffers are getting used to the work-fromhome era. WDAF has two buildings. KSHB has three floors and lots of room. “We’re able to
have separate bubbles and keep people apart,” said Kathleen Choal, VP and general manager, KSHB-KMCI. The energy in the stations may not be what it was. “People in the business love it because it’s loud, it has a pulse to it,” said Sarah Smith, KMBC-KCWE president/general manager. “It’s more quiet now.” Choal marked one year in Kansas City in October. Charlie Henrich, VP and general manager of KCTV-KSMO, arrived in March.
The WDAF morning crew at the historic Firestone Building (from l.): traffic reporter Kerri Stowell, anchor Mark Alford, anchor Abby Eden, anchor Kim Byrnes, meteorologist Karli Ritter and anchor Nick Vasos.
Earlier in his career, he worked in Kansas City for Newport Television. “The city to me is very familiar,” he said. “The market can pride itself on its consistency.” The news race is tight. WDAF won households and the 25-54 demo at 6 a.m. in September. KMBC won the household race at 5 p.m. and WDAF a tight battle in 25-54. At 6 p.m., KMBC won households and WDAF the demo. At 10 p.m., KCTV got a 3.9 in households and WDAF a 3.8, KMBC a 3.5 and KSHB a 1.9. In the 10 p.m. demo, WDAF had a 2.0, KMBC a 1.2, KCTV a 1.1 and KSHB a 0.6. WDAF goes live at 4 a.m. KMBC has a lively investigative approach. “Do we do the day-to-day things? Yes,” said Smith. “But we try to dig a little deeper.” KCWE started a 60-minute noon news Sept. 21. KCTV launched a 9 a.m. news in June, in place of a lifestyle program. “That couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” said Henrich. KSHB offers news segments called “The Rebound.” “We want to give people hope,” said Choal. “That’s a hard thing to find.” Both KGKC and KUKC do news inserts, but not full local newscasts … yet. “My goal is to produce local content, including news,” said Steve Downing, general manager at KGKC, shooting for a morning newscast next year. Both Spanish-language stations hustled to keep viewers up to date on Census and election information. “Even though we’re not a full news station, we do a lot of outreach in the community,” said Velia Chavez, general manager at KUKC. The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs, and look strong again in 2020. In these divisive times, it’s something everyone in DMA No. 32 can agree on. “Everyone is proud that [quarterback] Patrick Mahomes calls this city home,” said Smith. Kansas City offers a favorable mix of both cosmopolitan and folksy vibes. “There are lots of big-city amenities,” said Brogden-Miller, “but not a lot of big-city problems.” ●
KMCI OFFERS DAILY SCHOOL LESSONS SCRIPPS INDEPENDENT STATION KMCI is partnering with the Kansas City Public Schoools on KCPS Homeroom, a school lessons program that airs from 8-9 a.m. weekdays. As the pandemic took hold and students were not permitted in schools, Kathleen Choal, VP and general manager of KSHB-KMCI, reached out to the public school system and asked if the stations could help. The school system said yes. Kansas City schools are a mix of hybrid and remote learning these
days. Kansas City Public Schools pays a modest fee for air time (“It’s not designed to be a money-maker for us,” Choal said) and has school staff deliver the lessons, which target kindergarten to 12th grade students. The hour is commercial-free and the school system handles production. “What we’re trying to do is bridge the divide between the kids that have internet access and the kids who don’t,” Choal said. The partnership began in August
KMCI is helping the Kansas City Public Schools keep teaching during COVID-19.
with graduation videos and rolled into lessons when school began. It will continue throughout the school year. “We think it’s a good service to our community,” Choal said. — MM
With Comcast Suit Settled, TiVo Sets Sights on Canada Xperi’s IP chief has foreign X1 licensees in the crosshairs By Daniel Frankel email@example.com @dannyfrankel
ore than four years after the court battle over IP began, but just months after the plaintiff was purchased by a larger intellectual property company, TiVo has finally settled its patent battle with Comcast. “I don’t think we necessarily did anything different,” said Samir Armaly, president of IP licensing for Xperi, the company that purchased TiVo for $3 billion earlier this year. In June, though, Xperi replaced the TiVo IP litigation team, led by Arvin Patel, with a group of lawyers led by Armaly, who has been with Xperi on and off since 1995. (See Five Spot, page 34.) Comcast had resisted paying TiVo tribute for technologies used in its X1 video platform for several years, arguing that it had developed most X1 tech with its own engineering resources. TiVo, which started trolling the IP licensing business in 2016 following its $1.1 billion merger with Rovi, sought a kind of war of attrition with Comcast, suing it over as many patents as it could
Armaly wouldn’t speak to what changed Comcast’s position. And Comcast deferred to the joint statement on the deal — in which both sides said they were pleased with the outcome — as its only comment. But Armaly did speculate that the merger with Xperi, which created a larger IP licensing company, might have improved TiVo’s leverage. The merger, he added, also clarified TiVo’s market position, which had been previously in flux with the pre-merger management looking to split the IP licensing and products operations. Armaly conceded that the fight wasn’t cheap. Before the merger, TiVo routinely broke out its Comcast litigation costs during its earnings reports. “Certainly, this was something that took a lot of mindshare and effort,” he said. “Freeing that up is going to have a lot of benefits, not only on the expense side. And not only that, it was a very public dispute.”
Comcast Deal Was Crucial
in as many venues it was able to. The hope was that Comcast would have to ditch so many X1 features in order to avoid paying TiVo license fees that it would eventually settle. In the end, Xperi Holdings, a company with a market capitalization of just over $1.8 billion, had waited out Comcast, with a market cap exceeding $218 billion. So what finally brought Comcast to the table?
Xperi’s Samir Armaly: “U.S. pay TV is largely resolved.”
Armaly reiterated the existential nature of Comcast not paying royalties. Xperi couldn’t keep demanding licensing fees from other pay TV operators if the biggest fish the pond wasn’t capitulating, he said. With Comcast in hand, “U.S. pay TV is largely resolved,” Armaly added. The focus now will be going after international pay TV companies who Xperi says are also using TiVo technologies in their set-top boxes. Specifically, he cited Canada as the top target. Notably, Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and Vidéotron all license X1 technology from Comcast. “Canada is certainly an opportunity that we’re excited to have,” Aramaly said. ●
LAST YEAR, IN order to help developers build and test apps for Android TV, Google introduced the ADT-3, a 4K/ HDR-capable OTT device based on Android 10, with a quad-core processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory and a single HDMI port. Google made the device available to developers through an OEM partner. The technology giant now appears to have made the ADT-3 available to consumers under the brand name Dynalink, too. And Walmart is selling it for $29.99, which is $20 off the $49.99 list price) The Dynalink device touts support for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and YouTube on its box.
The remote has shortcut buttons to Netflix and YouTube, as well as Google Play, the app store staple of Android TV/Google TV. Notably, the device includes microUSB, which lets it draw power from the USB port on a TV instead of a wall outlet. For Google, this would appear to undermine its recently released Chromecast with Google TV, a $49.99 HDMI dongle that runs a newer version of Android TV rechristened as “Google TV.” However, Google’s strategy in regard to Android TV/Google TV seems to be more focused on proliferation of the OS rather than the establishment of its own thriving hardware business. — DF
Matthew Roharik: TiVo; Dynalink
GOOGLE’S ADT-3 DEVICE SURFACES AT WALMART
Google’s 4K-capable ADT-3 retails under the Dynalink brand.
While Some See Scarcity, Sony Sees Opportunity Independent studio has three shows in pipeline By Paige Albiniak firstname.lastname@example.org @PaigeA
Sony Pictures Television
ust as the pandemic has accelerated so many trends, so has it also accelerated trends in syndication. With some big studios such as WarnerMedia and Disney reducing their syndication sales forces and several syndicated shows potentially nearing the ends of their runs, the remaining syndie suppliers are looking at the changes as opportunities. While syndicated shows continue to be difficult to launch and don’t tend to draw huge ratings in the fragmented TV landscape, TV stations aren’t going anywhere and still need shows to fill key time periods, especially those leading into news. Done right, there is still money to be made in broadcast syndication, although the economic model needs to be much leaner today than it once was. “We’re leaning in when a lot of companies are leaning out,” SPT president, first-run television John Weiser said. “From the stations’ point of view, they want shows that build viewership, attract top advertisers and have an affordable business model that’s renewable. When the ratings don’t line up with a show’s cost, that’s not sustainable.” For Sony, what that means is taking advantage of existing infrastructure when producing shows; using existing series to develop, spin off and promote new ones; giving new shows plenty of time to incubate in the marketplace before launch; and monetizing the shows
across as many platforms as possible. “The strategy we’ve evolved is to leverage existing brands and infrastructures to develop new shows and then to test them with viewers and advertisers before we roll them out nationally,” Weiser said. Sony has three new shows in the mix for the next couple of years: The Good Dish, a Dr. Oz spinoff starring Daphne Oz, Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa; Common Knowledge, an off-Game Show Network show that the company tested on Fox-owned stations last summer; and People (the TV Show!), an entertainment magazine strip that was developed by Meredith and is currently airing on Meredith-owned stations in 12 markets. All three shows check Sony’s strategy boxes: they leverage existing brands and infrastructure and they are pre-tested with viewers and advertisers.
Early Taste of ‘Dish’
The Good Dish — which went out into the marketplace last fall but ran into clearance roadblocks when NBCUniversal’s The Kelly Clarkson Show and Disney-ABC’s Tamron Hall were renewed and CBS decided to launch Drew Barrymore — has continued to air as a Wednesday segment on Dr. Oz, the host of which is Daphne Oz’s father, Dr. Mehmet Oz. The segments drive the show’s ratings up 15% on Wednesdays, according to Weiser, who also said Google searches around Daphne Oz increase by 87% every Wednesday. “When COVID hit, the interest in cooking at home went through the roof,” Weiser said, and that’s a dynamic that remains in
The Good Dish, starring (from l.) Daphne Oz, Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa, is one of three new shows Sony is distributing.
play as the pandemic wears on. Sony’s research indicates that there is an audience for cooking shows in daytime and with ABC’s The Chew, on which Daphne Oz starred, going off the air in 2018, there is currently only one food-oriented show on daytime broadcast TV: CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray, which just entered season 15. As a result, Sony sees room in the marketplace for another food-focused program. Sony also has tested segments with guest hosts, such as Tia Mowry, Jamie Oliver and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin. “We think it broadens the reach of the show and keeps it interesting with fun surprises,” Weiser said. Last summer, Sony conducted its first test: airing game show Common Knowledge, hosted by Joey Fatone, over four weeks on Fox-owned stations in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; Tampa, Florida; Minneapolis; Orlando, Florida; and Austin, Texas. On those stations, it averaged a 0.3 rating/1 share across eight markets, holding steady compared to its lead-ins and its year-ago time period average. The show is Sony-owned Game Show Network’s top-performing show to ever air at 5:30 p.m., and there will be 260 episodes available on an all-barter basis at launch. According to Weiser, Common Knowledge performed 56% better when paired with another game show, such as Fox’s own 25 Words or Less, starring Meredith Vieira, or Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, starring Steve Harvey, both of which air on Fox stations in many markets. This fall, Fox is launching a reboot of This Is Your Life, starring Jay Leno, that could provide another opportunity for stations to create a game block. “We have seen from our own experience that when games are paired with games they create an environment that viewers like,” Weiser said.
Finally, People (the TV Show!) was developed and produced by Meredith, which gained the rights to People after it acquired owner Time Inc. for $2.8 billion in January 2018. The entertainment magazine show, executive produced by former Access Hollywood executive producer Rob Silverstein, debuted this fall. Sony is selling the show into national syndication and doesn’t expect it to launch with a full national clearance until fall 2022. Sony is eyeing access time slots for People, which for the past two weeks has averaged a 1.1 rating/3 share weighted metered market average for all telecasts across 12 markets, down 31% from its lead-in of 1.6/4 and down 27% from its year-ago time period of 1.5/4. “With People, we are sticking with the same strategy we believe in,” Weiser said. “People is leveraging a brand with more than 100 million views per month. It’s a huge multiplatform ecosystem.” Other shows coming to market for fall 2021 are Debmar-Mercury’s Nick Cannon, the debut of which was shelved earlier this year; potentially a new talker from CTD starring Niecy Nash and a syndicated strip of NBCU’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson, Tamron Hall and Drew Barrymore are all expected to return. ●
Burgess Ponders What He’ll Do After Selling Ion Media Exec sees untapped value for Scripps continuing his model
Private Eye: Brooke Palmer
By Jon Lafayette email@example.com @jlafayette
t’s mission accomplished for Brandon Burgess, the CEO of Ion Media. Starting in 2006, Burgess took Paxson Communications, changed the company’s name to Ion Media, built up viewership and last month agreed to sell it to E.W. Scripps Co. for $2.65 billion. Burgess , 52, won’t be sticking around to help run Scripps’s newly enlarged national media unit and collect an earn-out. “My role in the company in the deal, if it happens, is very, very clear, at least in my mind,” Burgess said in an interview. “I’m not going to be a part of it. I’m very supportive of everything, but I’ve been doing this a long time. This is a good outcome for everyone and I’m going to work my butt off to make it all happen. And then, I need to go off and find some new things.” It’s not unlike 15 years ago, Burgess said, when he was with NBC as it completed its acquisition of Universal and its cable channels. “I was on the 52nd floor saying, ‘Well, what do I want to do with my life?’ I said what I really want is to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and have a lot more skin in the game.”
Betting on Broadcasting
Scanning the landscape at the time, before retransmission grew and cord-cutting emerged, he noticed that television was
Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess built the broadcaster’s success with Canadian import Private Eyes (above) and offnetwork shows like Chicago P.D. (top r.) and NCIS: New Orleans (bottom r.).
getting too expensive and decided to invest in free over-the-air broadcasting and turn it into a respectable value delivery platform. “I remember saying to [then-NBC chairman and CEO] Bob Wright that this thing’s going to surprise us one day,” Burgess said. NBC bought a 32% stake in Paxson and, amid a series of lawsuits, got an option on owner Bud Paxson’s shares. Paxson left and Burgess became CEO. Ion’s balance sheet needed to be restructured, which was accomplished in a private-equity deal with Citadel LLC in 2007. Its costs had to be right-sized and new programming deals had to be struck. Eventually, Ion grew into the fifth-mostwatched TV network in terms of primetime audience, per Nielsen. Come 2020, Burgess’s investors had been in
This is a good outcome for everyone and I’m going to work my butt off to make it all happen. And then, I need to go off and find some new things. — Brandon Burgess, CEO, Ion Media
Ion for a long time and were ready to get out, rather than put more money in. When the pandemic hit, it looked like they’d have to wait a bit longer before cashing out. “There were not a not a lot of people that had the stomach and the appetite to do this right in the middle of a lockdown,” he said. Burgess said he’d had a conversation with Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson at the 2019 NAB Show and the two companies’ strategies lined up perfectly. “The strength and quality of the Ion network is a testament to Brandon’s creativity and innovative approach to television,” Symson said. “While the rest of the broadcast industry looked only at the local marketplace, Brandon built a business of significant value by understanding early the importance of scale and going national.” When Scripps said it was ready to do a deal, COVID or no COVID, Scripps secured the financing and brought in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which invested $600 million in Scripps preferred shares. “We on our own had an appetite to get bigger, by buying or by selling ourselves into something bigger, whichever came first,” Burgess said. “This company was built for this type of transaction. It was built as an enabling platform for when people see the value of broadcast.” Streaming may be the bright, shiny object at this moment. But, Burgess noted, while having 1 million live viewers watching Blue Bloods may not be sexy, most streaming services are losing money while Ion enjoys a 60% profit margin.
Collective purchasing across multiple networks is the name of the game these days. … The fact that Scripps is stepping into that is a no-brainer. — Brandon Burgess
name of the game these days. That’s also one of the reasons why we, as a standalone company, wanted to operate more networks,” Burgess said. “The fact that Scripps is stepping into that is a no-brainer from my perspective.” Once the Scripps deal closes, Burgess is planning to take a break. “I’ve been so deep into operations for so long. Now I kind of need to take a breather and look around and reassess a bit again,” he said. “I don’t have a business plan in my pocket.” But he notes that this TV market is being completely reshuffled by COVID, by technology and by the capital markets. “I think values are going to be all over the place. We’re going to take a breath and see where the interesting bets are, on not just operational disruption but financial disruption. People have been riding a successful wave for a long time using conventional corporate finance metrics on debt and leverage. I think a lot of
E.W. Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson will use the Ion stations to gain more clearance for its Katz Networks diginets.
Taking a Break, for Now
So unless there’s a project he falls in love with, Burgess said he wants to take a beat. “I want to take a moment and figure out what I am really good at and what I really like to do. Those things are not always the same thing, by the way. And I need to sort that out: What am I good at and do what I’m good at.” But he already sounds a bit itchy to make any hiatus a brief one. “I am not going to deny that I’m intrigued with being a little bit more of an investor mindset as opposed to the day-to-day grinding it out on the operating side, to be honest with you,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it depends a bit on what’s the situation you’re looking at and What does it need? Those are exactly the right questions.” ●
Chicago PD: Paul Drinkwater/NBC; NCIS New Orleans: Sam Lothridge/CBS
And that’s without the retransmissionconsent revenue that sustains most broadcast companies. Ion chooses to get cable carriage via must-carry — which earns no fee. Burgess said that in order to get retrans, Ion would have had to acquire sports programming and big network-affiliated stations in order to have leverage in negotiations. Ion’s investors didn’t want to write that big a check. For now, Scripps said it will also follow that strategy. Scripps plans to use the Ion stations’ signals to carry its digital networks, which will mean a big reduction in distribution costs. Scripps-owned Katz Networks pays stations to broadcast Bounce, Laff, Grit and Court TV on secondary digital channels. “That’s a layup,” Burgess said, adding that Scripps is getting even more than it bargained for. “I hope Scripps will appreciate all this synergy I’m leaving on the table. They’re getting this thing perfectly set up.” For one thing, Ion doesn’t have original content, but it does have full ad-supported streaming rights to the content it licenses from ViacomCBS and others. And rolling up Scripps networks with Ion will create a package even more attractive to advertisers, Burgess believes. “We’ve positioned ourselves as a broadcast entity, but we’re offering ourselves to cable advertisers and they like that, because they’re getting broadcast eyeballs, which are much more expensive, and at cable prices,” he said. “That’s how we’ve grown our share every year and Scripps is going to find they can do the same thing supersized with multiple networks.” He compared Scripps’s collection of channels to a mini-Viacom. There will also be programming synergies as Ion and Jonathan Katz of Scripps’s Katz Networks go to market together, he said. “Collective purchasing across multiple networks is the
people are going to get re-shuffled and revalued.” Instead of riding a wave, Burgess is looking forward to hitting the slopes. He started skiing as a child growing up. He likes extreme skiing, off helicopters and in back countries. Surprisingly, he doesn’t own a ski house. “You’re actually better off not owning a house in one place,” he said. His go-to location is Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, but after going there for a long time, it turned out that every other year, there was no snow. “So you just have to follow the snow around at this point,” he said. “I have a long list of hobbies that I’ve under-invested in for a long time,” he added. “I have young kids and I have some real estate projects that I have to finish.” And while he says he wants some time away from the grind of business, you never know when something will drag you back in. “When I talk to friends of mine who get a divorce — and we all know divorce rates are 50/50, so every second one of your friends is getting a divorce, just mathematically — and when you say to them, what are you going to do? They say ‘Oh nothing. I'm just going to enjoy life.’ And then sure enough three months later, they have a girlfriend,” he said. “I never fully understood that. That’s not where my head is at the moment. But it’s possible, right? You might go on a date and say, ‘Wow, you know, I really like this dating thing.’ But I only mean metaphorically speaking, obviously.”
Broadcasters Fight for NextGen Flexibility
to continue to invest in their facilities to improve their ability to offer service to the public, not stifle innovation.”
DTS a Major Concern
Say relaxing DTS rules is key to being competitive
By John Eggerton firstname.lastname@example.org @eggerton
ith a likely Democratic FCC unlikely to start freeing broadcasters from local ownership restrictions, it is even more important for broadcasters to have the flexibility to flex their online, interactive muscles. If the Federal Communications Commission turns blue, as expected, the front-runners for chair are senior Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and former acting chair Mignon Clyburn, and Rosenworcel will certainly be named acting chair in the interim. Both voted against the FCC’s November 2017 broadcast deregulation order, saying it was simply a gift to “empire-building” broadcasters and a thumb of the nose to the public interest and diversity. By contrast, the FCC Democrats have voted to support a broadcaster rollout of ATSC 3.0, the NextGen TV-branded advanced transmission standard that allows broadcast TV to be an interactive, targeted-advertising digital player, as well as provid wireless data backhaul and premium networks. The FCC voted unanimously in June on a proposal to help promote broadcasting as a new ancillary/competitive broadband service by making it clear that legacy broadcast regulations do not apply to broadcast-delivered internet services like over-the-top video and data made possible by the ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard.
But broadcasters have faced pushback from MVPDs that have called on the FCC to mandate that broadcasters deliver a highdefinition version of their primary channel before using spectrum for ancillary services — like those new programming networks — and want the FCC to boost the fee broadcasters already pay for using extra digital spectrum for those services. Broadcasters understandably have been pushing back. The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC last month that the agency needs to employ a light touch to those new services. “While broadcasters seeking to transition to ATSC 3.0 are taking a ‘broadcastfirst’ approach to the transition,” said NAB deputy general counsel Patrick McFadden, according to FCC documents, “the commission’s policies should encourage broadcasters
With anti-ownership deregulation Democrats like Jessica Rosenworcel poised to take control of the FCC, ATSC 3.0 is even more important to broadcasters’ bottom lines.
NEXTGEN TV BY THE NUMBERS Here are some of the latest ATSC 3.0 figures from Pearl TV, the NextGen TV consortium that includes nine broadcast groups comprising 750 network-affiliated TV stations, as well as Nielsen, manufacturers, and technology vendors including Sony, Samsung,and LG:
40 61 78
Number of top 40 DMAs expected to transition to ATSC 3.0 by year-end 2021 SOURCE: B+C research
Number of markets to date that have committed to an ATSC 3.0 transition
million-plus households Number of homes in those 61 markets.
Another big issue is whether the FCC will allow broadcasters to expand their use of distributed transmission systems (DTS), which it is considering in a notice of proposed rulemaking but has yet to vote on. Broadcasters are pressing the commission to do so ASAP. NAB executives have pressed FCC staffers on providing certainty in terms of additional flexibility to expand their ATSC 3.0 footprints, saying that would help them finalize plans for more ATSC 3.0 deployments, like that of Tegna. The broadcast group owner just signaled it plans to roll out ATSC 3.0 on KONG Seattle next month if the FCC gives the go-ahead. Tegna is one of those broadcasters looking to expand via its own True Crime Network, a digital multicast net that is also available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Broadcasters have been squaring off at the FCC with powerful computer companies over the issue of DTS, arrays of smaller antennas that broadcasters want to deploy to expand their coverage. Computer companies led by Microsoft are opposed because that could reduce the amount of broadcast “white spaces” spectrum they use to deliver wireless broadband to rural areas. Taking a page from cellular buildouts, broadcasters want to be able to densify their broadcast networks with smaller transmitters distributed throughout their service areas. Tech firms argue that would be a “giveaway” that will take away from their ability to use broadcast “white spaces,” the unused spectrum between channels, for wireless broadband. Broadcasters also want protections for DTS signals that spill over their maximum coverage areas. They argue that viewers will benefit from better coverage at the edges of their service areas and that the spillover beyond a station’s current service area is the unavoidable result of that public-interest benefit. Tech firms, led by Microsoft, are pushing back. In meetings earlier this year with FCC staffers, Microsoft executives argued against DTS rule changes, saying that broadcasters could try to get individual waivers to extend DTS, but allowing broad expansion would create a more seamless broadcast Internet coverage footprint into an adjacent community “without commission assignment of spectrum for that purpose, as is required.” It argues that continuing to limit a DTS signal to “only a minimal amount beyond the station’s noise limited protected contour” could be combined with a waiver process to allow stations to reach communities just beyond their current contours. Microsoft executives have reiterated those arguments to Alexander Sanjenis, media adviser to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, though both broadcasters and computer companies will want to start focusing on the Democrats who will be taking control. ●
FATES & FORTUNES
People Notable executives on the move BRIEFLY NOTED Other industry execs making moves
Galen Gordon has joined ABC News as senior VP for talent and strategy development. A former ESPN and WABC New York executive, he had been VP of the National Football League Media Group.
Hilary Silverboard has joined Crown Media Family Networks as senior VP, brand strategy. She comes from Public Broadcasting Atlanta, where she was chief marketing and development officer.
Discovery has elevated Karen Bronzo to group senior VP, marketing, adding responsibility for Food Network to her duties. She had been senior VP, marketing, for HGTV.
Station group Quincy Media has tapped Anna Engelhart as VP and general manager of WKOW Madison, Wisconsin. She had been WKOW’s station manager and business manager.
John Huff was elevated to VP and general manager at Quincy Media’s KWWL in Cedar Rapids-Waterloo, Iowa. The 20-year vet has been local sales manager, general sales manager and station manager.
Quincy Media-owned WREX Rockford, Illinois, named Josh Morgan as VP and general manager. As the station’s news director, he led WREX to 13 regional and two national Edward R. Murrow Awards.
Meredith has elevated Ken Frierson to VP and general manager of CBS affiliate WNEM Saginaw-Flint, Michigan. Frierson, who joined WNEM in 2010, had been general sales manager since 2018.
John Siegler has joined Sinclair Broadcast Group as chief marketing officer, with an initial focus on the company’s network affiliates and regional sports networks. He had been VP of YES Creative Group.
Jessica Hagan was named president and general manager of KTVB Boise, Idaho, and KTVT, Twin Falls, Idaho. She was director of sales at Tegna’s KING 5 Media Group, comprised of KING and KONG Seattle.
Mark Dankberg has been named executive chairman of satellite communications firm Viasat, a new post. He had been the company’s chairman and CEO.
Viasat has promoted Rick Baldridge to president and CEO of the satellite services firm. He had been the company’s president and chief operating officer.
CBS Television Stations-owned WBZ Boston has named Jessi Miller Bradley news director. The 23-year station veteran most recently was executive producer of CBSN Boston, which launched last year.
CBS Studios and the NAACP named Sheila Ducksworth as president of the new CBS/NAACP production partnership. She comes from Will Packer Media, where she was head of scripted television and production. … The NAB Leadership Foundation elected new board members: Artie Altman, Katz Media Group; Jan Goldstein, Gray Television; Brian Lawlor, The E.W. Scripps Company; DeDe Lea, Viacom CBS; Wendy McMahon, ABC Television; Ralph Oakley, Quincy Media and Gayle Troberman, iHeartMedia. … The New York State Broadcasters Association has named new officers for 2021: chairperson, Karen Carey of Townsquare Media; vice chair, Amy Collins of WSTM/WSTQ/ WTVH, Syracuse; vice chair, radio, Roberto Yanez, Univision New York Local Media; secretary, Chris Musial, WBBZ Buffalo; and treasurer, Alan Bishop, Finger Lakes Radio Group/Chadwick Bay Broadcasting. … Ad agency Ogilvy New York has named Charlotte (Charlie) Tansill as chief transformation officer. She had been executive director of the social media practice.
Data provided by
Ad Meter Who’s spending what where
PROMO MOJO Our exclusive weekly ranking of the programming that networks are promoting most heavily (Nov. 2-8)
MOST-SEEN TV ADS
Brands ranked by the greatest increase in TV spend (Nov. 2-8)
Brands ranked by TV ad impressions (Nov. 2-8)
1 Best Buy Spend Increase:
GEICO ▲ 622%
Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry: 100% FOX
Total TV ad impressions within all U.S. households, including national linear (live and time-shifted), VOD plus OTT and local
Est. Media Value: $1,168,504
Estimated media value of in-network promos On the strength of 813.5 million TV ad impressions, a CNN political podcast promo is No. 1. In second place, Fox News also plugs a digital companion product, the Fox News app. Broadcasters offer some distraction from the news cycle, as ABC promotes new drama Big Sky in third place, and Fox hypes The Masked Singer in fourth. And finally, Discovery Christopher Polk/E! Entertainment
and its siblings — including Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network — get a general promo for their wide range of lifestyle programming (“Whatever you’re into, it’s on the Discovery family of networks”) in fifth. Notably, the CNN spot has the highest iSpot Attention Index (116) in our ranking, meaning viewers were on average highly likely to watch it all the way through (vs. interrupting it by changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fastforwarding or turning off the TV).
Est. TV Spend: Completion Rate:
Top Show: Fox News: Election Coverage
TV Ad Impressions: 813,531,897
TV Ad Impressions:
TOP 5 PROMOTIONS
Spend Within Industry:
Est. TV Spend:
Political Podcasts, CNN
Est. TV Spend: Top Show:
Hulu Spend Increase:
TV Ad Impressions:
Walmart ▲ 143%
TV Ad Impressions:
Est. TV Spend:
Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
1.25B $21.3M 90.68
1. Political Podcasts, CNN TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
2. ‘America Is Watching,’ Fox News Channel
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
3. Big Sky, ABC
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
359,700,175 $498,730 237,025,688 $3,725,177
4. The Masked Singer, Fox TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
5. Discovery Family of Networks, Discovery Inc.
TV Ad Impressions Est. Media Value
The Home Depot Spend Increase: Est. TV Spend:
TV Ad Impressions:
5 Loan Depot Spend Increase: Est. TV Spend: Spend Within Industry:
Est. TV Spend:
Spend Within Industry:
Target ▲ 135%
Top Network: Comedy Central
TV Ad Impressions: Est. TV Spend: Completion Rate: Top Show:
989M $14.1M 84.53
U.S. SVOD REVENUE SPIKED 39% IN 3RD QUARTER TO $5.5 BILLION
B+C’S MOST VIEWED Top stories on multichannel.com, Oct. 26-Nov. 12 1. Syndication Ratings: ‘Kelly Clarkson’ Is Only Talker to Rise 2. Discovery is in Dispute With T-Mobile Over TVision 3. Nielsen Readies Big Data Metrics for TV Advertising 4. Top Distribution Executives Leaving at WarnerMedia 5. Byron Allen Buys This TV, Light TV Nets From MGM To read these stories, go to multichannel.com.
REVENUE FROM SUBSCRIPTION VOD streaming services was up 38.7% year over year to more than $5.5 billion in the third quarter, according to the Digital Entertainment Group. But the home entertainment trade organization, which gets data directly from media companies, found that the selling and renting of movies and TV shows has actually been way off during the pandemic. Electronic sell-through (that is, purchasing titles via transactional platforms like Vudu, Fandango and Amazon) fell nearly 14% in Q3 to around $601 million. Notably, the disc business got a lot closer to the abyss, with sales declining 34.3% in Q3 to just $434.3 million. DVD and Blu-ray rentals fell 34.4% to around $225 million.
As DEG noted, domestic box office was off a staggering 92.4% in Q3 and nearly 40% for the year. With studios choosing to hold back theatrical titles rather than put them into a release pipeline that effectively lacks a theatrical window, there’s not much new for consumers to buy or rent. The aggregate business of providing U.S. consumers with movies and TV shows at home is still up significantly during the pandemic — up 17.47% to nearly $7.3 billion in the third quarter, and up 23.29% to $22.2 billion for the first three quarters of 2020. — Daniel Frankel For more stories like this, go to nexttv.com.
U.S. CONSUMER SPENDING $ IN MILLIONS
Q3 YTD 2019
Q3 YTD 2020
Electronic Sell-Thru (EST) Video on Demand (VOD) Subscription Streaming (SVOD) Total Digital
$697.91 $447.61 $3,976.37 $5,121.88
$600.82 $459.07 $5,515.71 $6575.60
-13.91% -2.56% -38.71% -28.38%
$1,913.11 $1,478.15 $11,237.36 $14,628.62
$2,214.70 $1,830.71 $15,590.05 $19,635.46
15.76% 23.85% 38.73% 34.23%
Total U.S. Home Entertainment Spending
SELL-THRU Sell-Thru Packaged Goods All Sell-Thru Including Electronic Sell-Thru
RENTAL Total Rental (Excluding VOD) Total Rental (Including VOD)
Box Office in Billions
STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 cable programs ranked by viewer engagement Ratings Rank
Telecast (Week Ending Nov. 1)
One Royal Holiday
90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way
On the 12th Date of Christmas
Holly & Ivy
Fear the Walking Dead
The Real Housewives of Potomac
Monday Night Football
Married at First Sight
Tucker Carlson Tonight
Fox News Channel
Cranberry Christmas: Hallmark Movies; Kelly Clarkson: NBCUniversal
The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)
Data provided by
STICKIEST SHOWS Top 10 broadcast programs ranked by viewer engagement
Telecast (Week of Nov. 1)
Todo Por Mi Hija
Médicos, Línea de Vida
Imperio de Mentiras
Sunday Night Football
World Series Game 6
This Is Us
The Stickiness Index looks at viewer engagement based on several factors. A higher number indicates more of the audience is tuned in for the duration of the telecast. * TV Engagement ratings powered by Comscore’s TV Essentials. (Sorted by social media activity.)
THE WEEK OF NOV. 2 TV Time users track the shows they're watching on TV via the TV Time app. That data is then used to determine the most-binged shows of the week in the U.S.
Share of binges: 2.94%
The Queen's Gambit
Share of binges: 1.65%
Share of binges: 1.54%
Share of binges: 1.20%
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Share of binges: 1.10%
NEXT TV’S MOST VIEWED
Share of binges: 1.05%
Top five stories on nexttv.com, Oct. 26-Nov. 12
Share of binges: 0.96%
1. AT&T Tries to Package U-verse TV, AT&T TV Now in DirecTV Sale
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: 3
LAST WEEK: 7
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: 2
LAST WEEK: 8
LAST WEEK: 6
Share of binges: 0.84%
2. T-Mobile’s TVision: It’s the Video Multitool that Wireless Rivals AT&T and Verizon Lack (Review)
The Big Bang Theory
Share of binges: 0.77%
3. The Chromecast with Google TV Reviews Are In: Roku and Amazon Have a Problem
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Share of binges: 0.76%
LAST WEEK: 10
This Is Us: NBC; TVision: T-Mobile
LAST WEEK: —
LAST WEEK: —
Networks reflected don't include every viewing platform available nor total viewing in share of binge
To receive "The Binge Report" and otherTV Time reports, visit https://www.whipmedia.com/subscribe/
4. Apple TV Plus Finally Hits Its Stride 5. Google’s Developer-focused ADT-3 Android TV Device Surfaces at Walmart To read these stories, go to nexttv.com.
STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (REQUESTER PUBLICATIONS ONLY) 1. Publication Title: B&C Broadcasting & Cable 2. Publication Number: 66000 3. Filing Date: 10/1/2020 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 6. Annual Subscription Price: $199.00 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: Future US Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 100368002; Contact Person: Cindy Cardinal, 847-438-4577 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: Future US Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher: William Gannon, 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002; Editor: William Gannon, 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002; Managing Editor: Michael Demenchuk, 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002
15. Extent and Nature of Circulation
a. Total Number of Copies
(1) Outside-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541
(2) In-County Paid/Requested Mail Subscriptions Stated on PSâ€ˆForm 3541
(3) Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and
Other Paid or Requested Distribution Outside USPS
c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation
d. NonRequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail)
(1) Outside County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541
(2) In-County Nonrequested Copies Stated on PS Form 3541
(3) Nonrequested copies Distributed Through the USPS by Other Classes of Mail
(4) Nonrequested copies Distributed Outside the Mail
e. Total Nonrequested Distribution
f. Total Distribution
g. Copies Not Distributed h. Total i. Percentage Paid and/or Requested Circulation
a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies
11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages and Other Security Holders: None
b. Total Requested and Paid Print Copies + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies
14. Issue Date for Circulation Data: September 21, 2020
(4) Requested Copies Distributed by Other Mail Classes Through the USPS
16. Electronic Copy Circulation
13. Publication Title: B&C Broadcasting & Cable
No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date
b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail)
10. Owner: Future US Inc. (Future PLC), 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-80002
12. Tax Status: The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes: Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months
Average # Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months
c. Total Requested Copy Distribution + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies
d. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies)
17. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requester Publication is required and will be printed in the November 2020 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: William R Gannon, Group Publisher, September 28, 2020. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).
By Maria Mryasova, IPONWEB @IPONWEB
Will the Future of Ad Buying Be Automated? Pandemic speeds up industry trends
here is little that the COVID-19 pandemic has left unaffected, and television advertising is no exception. Trends toward automation and addressability, which were already being felt under the surface, are only accelerating, and there is a renewed focus on updating how TV advertising is bought and sold to limit the impact of the ongoing pandemic on broadcaster revenues. The onset of the coronavirus at the beginning of the year saw two key changes to viewing and content production. TV consumption increased, combined with a greater demand for streaming services (and therefore OTT ad targeting). A host of data points showed TV consumption continuing to evolve towards OTT/on-demand channels, reflected by broadcast VOD viewing in the United Kingdom being up 45% year-on-year. But as the world went into lockdown (where it is once again headed), and watched more TV, the production teams, actors and sports teams that generate the content were also placed on pause. This has had secondary effects on the release dates on many anticipated TV shows and movies with additional restrictions on how they will be produced. Many sports have been unable to move forward with their normal cadence (the Olympics in particular), which has further impacted inventory availability.
Aleksandar Nakic/Getty Images
Adapting to an Altered Reality
The new reality forced broadcasters to adapt production, programming and advertising schedules fast. Live sporting events and new programming were put on hold in favor of older, higher-performing inventory. This meant that the advertisers who were relying on and investing in the canceled events now had to redirect their advertising budgets elsewhere, while also changing their creative messaging to be more culturally and socially appropriate for the times. This opportunity cost sits with the broadcaster.
Moreover, these delays continued down the production supply chain (as well as pushing back this year's upfronts), meaning many of next year’s anticipated programs will not be ready, putting further future advertising at risk. Both sides acknowledge the impact that the pandemic has had: the traditionally TV-heavy advertisers are asking for more flexibility on performance and spend while utilizing new tools and tactics to reach their audiences, while broadcasters need to replace the postponed ad campaigns on the fly and at lower price points. These reactions to the current climate have created a need to be flexible and act fast which has boosted the scattered buys. The scattered buys that were considered lower quality by many are now an attractive market for advertisers who wouldn’t generally spend on TV. Both linear and addressable remnant inventory has historically had problems delivering reach
at scale. However, without upfront reservations constraining supply, a lack of inventory is no longer an issue. Scattered buys present an opportunity for broadcasters to quickly fill airtime while maintaining the incoming revenue, albeit at lower rates. Because the time-to-campaign-launch is critical, broadcasters also need to find a way to speed up the process of negotiating, contracting, planning and scheduling that usually take a significant number of weeks. This is where innovations in platform automation and coordination become essential. Ad sales, ad operations, programmers and media planners on the broadcaster side now have to synchronize activities to ensure fast-to-air campaign launches, while also managing costs and ensuring the inventory isn’t undersold. One solution to this rather complex problem is to use a unified supply and demand management platform. By monitoring the inventory that is available for selling versus inventory that is already booked, broadcasters can analyze and control the prices based on the delivery and demand for a specific program in real time, driving greater yield. Automation of the campaign booking process on the demand side could also solve allocation issues with remnant and guaranteed delivery by providing an overview of the best available rates for the interested programming and audience. Sitting on top of existing systems, easing the ad sales and ad ops workload, automation technology can create a more holistic view of the overall available inventory and open up a new demand channel for the first-time TV buyers that are looking to increase their reach in digital and are used to a simplified buying process.
An Automated Future
Maria Mryasova is director of advanced TV solutions at IPONWEB, leading a team focused on enterprise advertising technology solutions for cross-channel audience buying and selling in connected TV, linear and digital.
Post-pandemic, the TV advertising ecosystem will come back with new content. It will also return with new automated systems, such as predictive inventory pricing that enables weighted campaign allocation across channels, content packages analysis and ad placement optimization that optimize both yield and ad spend, as well as competitive and search intelligence integrations to help drive monetization efficiencies. While it does not look like the upfront and the scatter buying models are going to disappear, how they are used by both major advertisers as well as brands that are new to TV will need to be reassessed. ●
THE FIVE SPOT
TiVo’s merger partner finds synergies in high-tech entertainment
little over a year ago, TiVo, one of the bigger technology brands in the video business, announced plans to separate its products business from its more litigious intellectual property operation. But very suddenly, former CEO Dan Shull pivoted, leading the company into a $3 billion merger with Xperi, a technology better known for things like car audio. B+C senior content producer, technology Daniel Frankel recently caught up with Jon Kirchner, the executive leading the combined company, and asked him to explain the synergies and the plan behind the corporate marriage. (This interview was conducted before Xperi and Comcast on Nov. 9 said they resolved their patent litigation. For more, see Tech, page 19.) How did the deal with TiVo come together? When Xperi and TiVo met to discuss possible partnerships in mid-2019, it quickly became clear that the best partnership would be a merger. The more we talked, the more we found that the companies complemented each other in terms of current strengths and future vision. By adding TiVo to our family of consumer brands, Xperi improves our position in entertainment and will be able to further accelerate the evolution of home entertainment toward an easier to access, more immersive experience. What kinds of technology products does Xperi make? Xperi delivers technologies that
make entertainment more entertaining and smart devices smarter. Our solutions are delivered via our brands: DTS, HD Radio, IMAX Enhanced and TiVo. We categorize our product business into three categories: Consumer Experience, Connected Car and Pay TV. Consumer Experience includes: TiVo Stream 4K and Discovery solutions, DTS audio and imaging solutions, and TiVo’s data and advertising businesses. Connected Car includes: HD Radio (digital AM-FM radio), DTS Automotive Connected Media, and DTS AutoSense, an occupant monitoring system that enables innovative safety and entertainment experiences in the car. Pay TV includes: classic TiVo guides, TiVo DVR and IPTV solutions. What is the synergy between Xperi and TiVo? There are multiple areas of synergy across Xperi brands. The most obvious, and perhaps most immediately actionable, is combining Xperi’s immersive entertainment tech (DTS and IMAX Enhanced) with TiVo’s world-class innovations that help consumers find, watch and enjoy the entertainment they love. Another compelling opportunity is in the vehicle where Xperi can combine our DTS and HD Radio technologies with TiVo’s world-class metadata offering to deliver a fantastic connected media solution. The team is focused on making these combinations happen. I cannot wait to show the world what we have in development. What is the opportunity for Xperi in the video streaming market now that it owns TiVo? The streaming market is huge and
Jon Kirchner gives TiVo’s Stream 4K device high marks.
BONUS FIVE What shows are you binge-watching right now? I am not really a bingewatcher. When I do make the time to sit back and enjoy, I’m probably watching a movie or live sports. What streaming services do you subscribe to? I subscribe to all the leading streaming services. I also have connected with and occasionally use free AVOD services like Pluto TV, Tubi and IMDb TV. What do you use to stream video? We have multiple setups at home but since the May product launch, I’ve been spending a lot of time with TiVo Stream 4K. Which technology that you use every day do you like the best? Probably Zoom. How many times have you left the house this week? I try and get outside for a while every day. We’re fortunate to have great weather in Southern California which makes it easy.
growing quickly. We can see in TiVo’s data that viewing hours are up significantly over the last six months. Streaming has been gaining share for years. The pandemic accelerated this trend towards streaming entertainment at home. The more time consumers spend with streaming devices, the more demanding they become for easy access and high quality. TiVo is well-positioned. I believe TiVo has created the best streaming product in the market with TiVo Stream 4K. The TiVo Stream 4K content-first interface incorporates TiVo’s best thinking gained from decades of experience helping consumers find, watch and enjoy content they love, plus the best of Android TV. There are opportunities for DTS and IMAX Enhanced in streaming as well. Consumers are looking for high-quality experiences. DTS and IMAX Enhanced are both premium entertainment brands that consumers trust and desire. Can you discuss your patent dispute with Comcast? Xperi will not comment on ongoing litigation. When customers use our innovations or create their own solutions based on our innovations without a commercial relationship in place with Xperi, we work to negotiate a fair agreement. When we cannot come to an agreement regarding the value of our innovations in others’ products, we ask the courts to judge what’s fair and appropriate. ●
Broadcasting and Cable - November 16, 2020