SCG EXECUTIVE SHUFFLE 4-22-14

NIKKI ROCCO Nikki Rocco Retiring In December After Nearly 50 Years at Universal Pictures Nikki Rocco, the first female president of a theatrical distribution division at a major studio, will retire in December from Universal Pictures, where she has worked … Read More ›

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Why U.S. Carriers Are Struggling In the Mobile Ads Business

Last Wednesday, Telefónica, the Spanish telecom, beat its competitors to the punch: it teamed with the private equity firm Blackstone to buy the technology behind MobClix, a defunct mobile ad exchange. On the surface, it’s a natural move. For mobile advertisers hungry for user data, the richest sources are the mobile carriers themselves. And, for the carriers, mobile ads are a convenient new well for revenues as smartphone ownership in the U.S. and Europe approaches a peak. Telefónica’s counterparts across the Atlantic have certainly thought so. At a conference two years ago, Bill Diggins, the head of Precision Market Insight, a division of Verizon Wireless, teased his venture’s potential with an aphorism familiar to the advertising world: “Data is the new oil.” As oilmen, though, the U.S. carriers have disappointed. The top three have each begun operations that tap their vast pools of user data for advertisers, but they have not advanced nearly as far as Telefónica. Each is held back by wary customers and regulators, as well as more technologically adept and agile competitors, like Google, Facebook and Pandora. Read More ›

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The Hot War Between Netflix and Comcast Is Escalating

Internet video powerhouse Netflix used the occasion of its quarterly earnings report on Monday to once again lash out at Comcast, the nation’s largest broadband company, for charging what it calls “arbitrary interconnection tolls” against online content companies. Comcast should not be permitted to buy smaller rival Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal now being scrutinized by U.S. regulators, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings argued in a letter to shareholders, because the cable giant is already too powerful. It’s the second time in a month that Hastings has attacked Comcast, following a controversial deal in which the streaming video company agreed to pay for a direct connection to the nation’s largest broadband provider. “Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,” Hastings wrote. “The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.” Read More ›

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The 2014 Upfront Preview

Analogies are often facile things, contrivances designed to hammer home a theme when a light tap of the mallet would suffice. But in light of the fact that it’s a) set in the advertising world and b) is the most self-reflexive show on television, the prospect of using Mad Men as a lens through which to observe the broadcast TV marketplace is too alluring to pass up. In a sense, each of the Big Four networks has a near-perfect analogue in one of the beautiful losers at Cooper Sterling Draper Dead Guy Harry Hamlin Whatever. CBS is clearly Roger Sterling. Les Moonves’ silver fox flagship is bold, cocksure and is so damned good at doing its job that it almost makes the business of broadcast look easy. A fine-tuned revenue machine—its unparalleled retransmission consent numbers and homegrown output leaves it less exposed to the vicissitudes of the ad market than its rivals—CBS is something of an impenetrable fortress. But a chest X-ray and a full cardio workup might suggest that the aging network is one highball-and-tobacco binge away from catastrophic collapse. Read More ›

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The death of the Sunday shows

The public affairs shows — “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation” and “This Week” — used to set the agenda for the nation’s capital with their news-making interviews and immensely influential audience. Now the buzz around the shows is more likely to center on gossipy criticism about the hosts, notably “Meet the Press’s” David Gregory, whose fate has become an incessant subject of conversation, most recently in a Washington Post story on Monday. Meanwhile, fans complain about the recurrence of familiar guests — Sen. John McCain again? — who simply relay party talking points that often go unchallenged. “For political junkies and those who just want to catch up, the Sunday shows still are relevant, but they’re not the signature events they once were,” Tom Brokaw, the NBC News veteran who briefly moderated “Meet the Press” in 2008, said in an interview. “I first appeared on ‘Meet the Press’ during Watergate, and it was a secular mass in Washington; the faithful never missed it.” Read More ›

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Hollywood Agencies Shift TV Toward Indie Film Model

When the rights to her series pitch Black Box reverted back to writer Amy Holden Jones in 2012, she took the project to her agency, WME. But instead of shopping the show around to the studios, the standard agency procedure, WME did something unusual: It went outside the studio system — indeed, outside the country — to package the show. After hooking Jones up with WME clients including X-Men director Bryan Singer and producer Ilene Chaiken (The L Word), who joined Black Box as executive producers, WME’s Chris Rice started pitching the project to buyers in London, Munich and Stockholm. When European giants Tele Munchen Group and Sweden’s MTG got on board, pre-buying the series about a brilliant neurologist (Kelly Reilly) who happens to be bipolar, WME came back to the U.S and sold Black Box to ABC, with WME client Bold Films producing and financing and Sierra Engine handling international distribution. Black Box premieres on ABC Apr. 24. Read More ›

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SCG EXECUTIVE SHUFFLE 4-21-14

DARLENE LIEBLICH TIPTON Fox Cable Networks Group Exec Fired Over Malaysia Airlines Fundraising Email Fox Cable Networks Group exec Darlene Lieblich Tipton was fired earlier this month after using her company email address to help raise money for relatives of … Read More ›

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A New Golden Age for Media?

For the first time in a long while, people with money are excited about the news business. Some are investing in it—most bounteously, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250 million, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has pledged the same amount to his new First Look Media; but also the executives at Disney-owned ESPN in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, those at Vox Media in Ezra Klein’s planned wonkipedia, a bunch of top-shelf Silicon Valley venture capitalists in the publishing platform Medium, and lots of others. People with money are talking about the news business, too. The venture capitalist and Web pioneer Marc Andreessen (who has investments in three digital news operations) unleashed a spirited discussion on Twitter early this year with his visions of a bright digital future for news. At one point Andreessen offered up the “most obvious 8 business models for news now & in the future.” After listing today’s staples, (1) advertising and (2) subscriptions, he continued with (3) premium content (that is, “a paid tier on top of a free, ad-supported one”); (4) conferences and events; (5) cross-media (meaning that your news operation also generates books, movies, and the like); (6) crowd-funding; (7) micropayments, using Bitcoin; and (8) philanthropy. Read More ›

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Comcast’s Real Repairman

One morning late last month, David L. Cohen took a seat in a conference room atop Comcast’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, the tallest building in the city, and was handed a binder of architectural drawings. The plans were for a second Comcast skyscraper, taller than the first, because the growing company needs more space. Mr. Cohen, 59, Comcast’s executive vice president, studied the drawings and directed a series of questions toward a video screen that connected him to a representative of the developer and a Comcast executive in New York. On what floor should the cafeteria go? How many cars could be parked in a small underground garage, and had anyone done a traffic study of the narrow city street where the garage would exit? Since the new building is intended for engineers and other high-tech workers, would the ratio of square footage per employee be similar to that of the Comcast facility in Silicon Valley? Mr. Cohen is well known in Philadelphia from his time as chief of staff to former Mayor Edward G. Rendell in the 1990s, a six-year tenure that established his reputation as a master of big-picture strategy, fine detail and just about everything in between. Read More ›

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The Supreme Court Is About To Make A Decision That Could Completely Change The TV Industry

It’s one of the most common complaints with TV today: Why are we paying so much per month for a bunch of stuff we never watch? The dream, of course, is to only pay for the shows you want to watch. But there’s too much control and bundling by networks and cable companies to make that happen right now. But that hasn’t stopped some from experimenting with workarounds. On Tuesday, live TV streaming startup Aereo heads to the Supreme Court to not only fight for its own existence, but potentially the future of TV, as well. Aereo is one of the most talked about companies in the media world these days, and it’s the latest demonstration of tech companies trying to find legal workarounds to revolutionize traditional industries. Here’s a quick breakdown of what Aereo is and what the case means for the future of streaming media. Read More ›

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