Quick Hits: Programming

Publish date:

Analyst: Nick Ratings Cost Viacom $23M in Profits

NEW YORK — What’s really behind Viacom’s problems with Nickelodeon? And
how much will they cost the company?

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has warned Wall
Street that an “inexplicable” drop in Nickelodeon’s
ratings will have an impact on the company’s advertising
revenues this quarter. Dauman pointed a
finger at Nielsen, which has said it found nothing
wrong with its methodology.

Nickelodeon represents a big share of Viacom’s
ad revenues and profits, especially in the fourth
calendar quarter, so Credit Suisse analyst Spencer
Wang took a deep dive into what’s behind the

Set-top box data shows that Nick’s viewership
is falling in the fourth quarter, but not by as much
as Nielsen data shows, Wang said in his report.
Nielsen has Nick down by double digits; set-top
data pegs the decline in the high single digits.

Wang said some have blamed Nick’s decline on Viacom’s decision to sell
more of its shows to Netflix, but Wang says the timing doesn’t line up. The
programming became available online in February, but the ratings declines began
in September and became pronounced in October, Wang noted.

Instead, he said it appears that the size of the children 2-11 demo has
shrunk in October and November by 4% and 4.8%, respectively, contributing to
Nick’s lower ratings. At the same time, Nick appears to be losing share to the
Disney Channel. “Disney Channel ratings have improved throughout 2011,”
Wang said. “Further, Disney Channel’s ratings trends show acceleration in calendar
year 4Q, increasing about 10% in both October and November. This may
suggest that some shift in viewer share within the children’s demo is another
cause of Nick’s ratings weakness.”

Whatever the cause, the ratings decline will have a financial impact on Viacom.
Viacom has acknowledged that it is providing make-good commercials to
advertisers because of the Nielsen ratings shortfall in the fourth quarter.

— Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting & Cable

Discovery to Help Families Affected by ‘Mythbusters’ Cannonball

SILVER SPRING, MD. — Discovery Channel said it will assess the needs of families
affected by an accident last week during the taping of its popular reality
series MythBusters in Alameda County, Calif., and make amends.

Last Tuesday (Dec. 6), series cast members were filming an episode of
the show at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department bomb range when a
30-pound cannonball missed its intended target and careened into a Dublin,
Calif., neighborhood, smashing through a home and damaging a minivan.
Shockingly, no one
was injured in the
mishap, according
to Discovery officials.

Discovery released
a statement
saying that
it was “incredibly
thankful that no
one was injured
and [was] very
sorry for the disruption
that this
has caused for
both the families
affected, and the
entire community
of Dublin.”
Discovery also
said it has offered
“immediate housing
and transportation
assistance” and “will continue to assess their needs and it cooperates
fully with investigators regarding the incident.”

“[We] are currently assessing yesterday’s incident to ensure an incident like
this does not happen again,” the network said.

It is unclear whether Discovery filmed any of the accident, or whether the
incident will be mentioned on any future episodes of MythBusters.

— R. Thomas Umstead

Zaslav: Give Oprah Some Time

Despite disappointing ratings and increased costs,
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav told an audience at an investor
conference Wednesday that he still has faith in the Oprah Winfrey Network,
asking viewers to give the
channel time to establish its

“My job, Oprah’s job, is to
create a meaningful audience
for OWN over the next two
years,” Zaslav said at the UBS
Media & Communications
conference in New York last
Wednesday (Dec. 7). “That’s
what you should watch for, and
I think we’re on our way.”

Discovery launched OWN
on Jan. 1 amid much fanfare,
but despite a big ratings gain
in its first week — it averaged
505,000 viewers in primetime between Jan. 1-9 — OWN has been a ratings
disappointment. In November, according to Nielsen Media Research, primetime
total viewers were down 16% from 240,000 to 202,000 viewers and
women 25-54 declined 3% from 78,000 to 76,000. Total-day viewers were
down 22% from 144,000 to 113,000 and women 25-54 were off 8% from
48,000 to 44,000, according to Nielsen.

The network has also been costly. Discovery committed $189 million in
funding for the network at its launch, but as of Sept. 30, its investment in the
network had ballooned to $254 million, according to financial statements.

OWN has launched several new shows in the past several months that
have shown some ratings gains, including The Rosie Show, hosted by comedian
Rosie O’Donnell. The network also has been a hit in the African-
American community, with Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, which follows former
Ike and Tina Turner backup singer Robbie Montgomery as she runs a successful
family-owned St. Louis soul food restaurant, and Our America With
Lisa Ling

Zaslav insisted advertisers remain supportive of OWN.

“Advertisers have been very, very supportive. We’re just getting going.
They’re excited about the mission,” he said.

— Mike Farrell

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Revs Up 4.2 Million Viewers for Season Finale

Season four of FX biker
drama Sons of Anarchy roared to a strong
finish Tuesday night, delivering 4.2 million
viewers for its season finale at 10 p.m,
according to Nielsen data.

The finale episode of the expanded
14-episode season also drew 2.1 million
viewers in the 18-to-49 demo. That’s
down from the 4.9 million total viewers
and 3.2 million persons 18 to 49 that
tuned in to Sons’ 90-minute season premiere
on Sept. 6.

The series has averaged 5.5 million total viewers per episode on a live-plus-
7-day basis this season and 3.7 million in the demo, achieving its highestrated
season yet.

FX has already renewed the series from creator Kurt Sutter for a fifth season.

— Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

CNN’s T.J. Holmes Joins BET

NEW YORK — BET has reached a multiplatform deal with award-winning journalist
and TV personality T.J. Holmes.

The former CNN anchor and personality will host a new show on BET as well
as develop content for BET.com, company officials said. Holmes was formerly
a news anchor for various CNN programs and has anchored numerous major
breaking news stories and human interest pieces ranging from the devastating
tornadoes across the Midwest and Southeast this year to the Gulf oil spill
in 2010 to Saddam Hussein’s execution in 2006.

Prior to CNN, Holmes worked for NBC’s San Francisco Bay-area owned station,
KNTV in San Jose, Calif.

“He’s been an outstanding news anchor, and we look forward to working
with him in a variety of new ways on BET,” Stephen G. Hill, president of music
programming and specials at BET Networks, said in a statement.