Thursday, July 31, 2014

Net2TV Is Pretty Cool

Net2TV Portico is a brand new tool which turns short form videos from recognizable brands into a long form telecast. For example, "This Week In TIME" compiles all of the videos which TIME magazine's digital division has produced for throughout the week. The compilation of 3-5 minute videos is put together into a 30 minute telecast. The show also features a host who helps transition the short-form videos from one segment to the next.

Net2TV's telecasts are exclusively available on your smart TV or online at portico.TV although I have to warn you, the website is not really user friendly. The video on the site tends to pause and lag more often than it actually plays. Despite these issues with the website, the idea itself is pretty impressive. 

Their clients whom they acquire short form videos from include The Associated Press, Bonnier Corporation, Newsy and Time Inc. Net2TV could be the best thing to happen to media companies whose heyday is winding down such as Time Inc. and Bonnier Corp. because their content is now relevant for a younger generation that would rather watch television than read an article in a magazine.

Nowadays, it's pretty difficult to launch a cable network or a television show even if you have a reputable name behind the project. Net2TV is providing Time Inc. and Bonnier Corp., who both own recognizable brands, with the opportunity to earn money through television without the startup costs of building a network or the headaches of negotiations with cable executives. Net2TV also wins by associating it's own brand with media companies that the American public trusts. If all works out for them, they can produce their own programming with their own content 10-20 years from now.

I'd highly recommend you watch all the shows which Net2TV Portico offers if you get a chance. The shows are very well produced and are pretty high-quality. Net2TV Portico is one of those ideas that makes me curious as to how I didn't think of that. It's so simple and so easy to do (no offense, I mean this in a good way). Kudos to founder Thomas Morgan and the rest of his team for coming up with the idea and churning out really useful television.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stephen A. Smith To Fox, Rich Eisen to ESPN?

Stephen A. Smith will leave a big void at ESPN-98.7 FM when be bolts for SiriusXM gig.

Late last week, Bob Raismann of the New York Daily News reported that Stephen A. Smith is leaving ESPN Radio to join Sirius/XM's Mad Dog Radio station and will serve as a lead-in to Chris Russo.

Despite his big controversy after comments he made regarding domestic violence, most were under the impression that this story was not an indication that he was leaving ESPN television. Right now, he's on top of the world at the network due to the fact that he has his own show and is an NBA insider/analyst during their SportsCenter newscasts.

But now, according to Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead, Smith is in talks with Fox to join their sports and news networks. If Smith joins Fox News, it'll be one of the smartest things Roger Ailes has ever done because of the fact that Smith is a smart and sophisticated analyst who doesn't fit Fox's status quo. He would serve as a challenger to most of the host's points of views and would provide the news network with a very entertaining product.

Fox Sports would also be a major winner if they acquired his talents. They would acquire a personality with a built-in audience who is recognizable to the typical sports fan. Stephen A. could help boost Fox Sports's online product and/or host a television talk show which filled out Fox's schedule in the afternoon. Maybe they'll even simulcast his Sirius radio show if Mike Francesa's deal with Fox is cut short and/or moved to MSG or another New York-based net (maybe a multicast station of Fox's New York affiliate or the MyNet affiliate?).

In the same column, Bob Raismann also speculated that Rich Eisen could be making his way back to ESPN. Where does he fit? Maybe he's added to the rotation of "SportsCenter" Los Angeles anchors at 1 a.m. alongside some football duties? Maybe he's added onto College Gameday to replace Fowler if his workload gets to heavy next season? Maybe him and Trey Wingo essentially trade jobs? Maybe he pinch hits for Stuart Scott during Sunday night "SportsCenter" while Scott recuperates from his illness?

I personally believe he'll either re-sign with NFL Network or he'll join Dan Patrick's empire at DirecTV to replace Artie Lange as Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead has previously speculated. If he re-signs with NFL Network, you can be sure he'll take over for James Brown as the host of Showtime's "Inside The NFL" after Brown took over his job as the Thursday night football pre-game show host.

Speaking of "Inside The NFL," if Eisen doesn't get the job, I'll take my bet on Adam Schein. I'd also take my bet on the Epix television network competing for the right to air "Inside The NFL" after Showtime's contract runs out. 

Epix is releasing a new documentary alongside the NFL which covers the first four African-American players to play in the league. It'll be screened by four NFL teams who will also hold town hall sessions at their facilities. 

CBS News Should Utilize PBS To Expand It's Reach

Some of America's biggest television news operations have become reliable to their viewers because of their reach and easy access. NBC News has used MSNBC for years. CNN and Fox run for 24 hours a day, 7 seven days a week. ABC News recently launched a cable news network of their own alongside Univision and has also teamed up with Yahoo! and Conde Nast to spread their content online.

What has CBS News done lately to make themselves more accessible? Nothing much. They have a decent app, a decent website, an intensively updated YouTube page and up-to-the-minute social media pages but that's it. And guess what? NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox all have the same things as well.

Right now, the talk of the town is that CBS will buy CNN but in a perfect world even if Fox were to buy Time Warner and divest CNN tomorrow, that process could take up to a year.

So what should CBS News do to expand their reach and compete for brand recognition effectively alongside their rivals?

In my opinion, they need to utilize PBS. Yes, the Public Broadcasting System.

Whenever Charlie Rose gets a big interview, it airs first on CBS News' various broadcasts and then the full unedited version airs during Charlie Rose's nighttime television show. It's happened just today with Hamas' leader and it happened earlier this year with Syrian President Assad.

Why can't CBS' other big scoops and other great reporters get some extra time of their own to tell their stories more in-depth on a network which has almost as much reach as CBS?

How would this partnership work? CBS would produce a daily live half-hour newscast which was uninterrupted and gave reporters some more time to describe their story. It could either serve as a lead-in to PBS NewsHour or it could air right after PBS NewsHour. CBS would also produce a 2-hour block of week in review programming, a weekday edition of "60 Minutes" (or air their online behind the scenes telecast "60 Minutes Overtime") and monthly specials which utilize their archives. CBS News could even showcase the work of other PBS news productions and cross-promote during their telecasts. 

CBS News would also have the ability to preempt PBS's primetime schedule occasionally to cover breaking news which is of public interest but isn't big enough to break into CBS's schedule. A perfect example would be November's mid-term elections. NBC (via MSNBC), ABC (via Fusion and Yahoo), CNN and Fox will all air coverage of their own while CBS will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. A CBS News breaking news telecast on PBS would reach more viewers than any of the three cable nets and it would increase the likelihood that Americans depend more on CBS News. 

How does this benefit PBS? A lot of PBS's groundbreaking journalism is not recognized by mainstream America because PBS is not a network which your typical mainstream American watches. With this new parnership, stories done on "Frontline" could be featured and promoted during CBS's newscasts which could bring new viewership to "Frontline" and help the story go viral.

How does this affect BBC's relationship with PBS? Something's got to go if this was to work out and in this case, it would be the BBC. Their news network has already garnered their own deals with major cable and satellite operators so they wouldn't be at a loss at all. And if BBC really wanted to continue their relationship with PBS, their newscast could always be syndicated onto one of PBS's multicast nets.

What's the biggest problem with this venture? I can't think of a way CBS would make money by doing this. If anything, they would probably lose money. But their brand would get a big boost because it would be easier to reach on television at times other than 7am and 6:30pm (and 2am for some affiliates of the overnight newscast) on CBS. 

DirecTV "Fantasy Zone" Could Affect AT&T Merger Approval

DirecTV recently announced they would be launching a brand new network exclusively available for NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers. The network, known as "Fantasy Zone," is hosted by NBC's Kay Adams (who will continue her duties with NBCSN and Rotoworld) and Dhani Jones. 

As NFL games are broadcasted on CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons and highlights of those games are being shown on NFL RedZone, Fantasy Zone will keep viewers constantly updated on the stats of players who are making an impact on the field. They will also feature live studio visits from various football fanatic celebrities inside of their New York City loft. The hosts will even cook gameday food alongside chefs and sit alongside a doctor who will break down injuries and how they'll affect your fantasy team(s).

The network is meant to serve as football's version of MLB Fan Cave. It'll be fully produced and owned by DirecTV but the fantasy stats used will be powered by There's no word on whether Fantasy Zone will have access to highlights from Sunday's games but even if they don't, it's definitely a win for the consumer who is looking for an outlet to give them all the fantasy information they need without having to watch games which they have no rooting interest.

A big winner or a big loser in this new proposition could be Anthem Media Group's Fantasy Sports Network or any other fantasy sports network which is launching soon. If I were FNTSY Sports Net, I would leverage this new venture as a way of getting onto the negotiating table with DirecTV. DirecTV will need many allies from the independent television sector in order to ease their AT&T merger process with government regulators. 

If FNTSY Sports Net doesn't get their way and DirecTV doesn't sign a carriage deal with them, they could testify against them during approval hearings. They could allege that DirecTV didn't want to provide viewers with a choice of where to get their fantasy football fix and wanted viewers to solely rely on a network owned by themselves. The government's biggest fear when it comes to these big media mergers is that the new media entity that forms will become too powerful to allow competition. 

In their testimony, they could also prove that their content is TV-ready quality by using their Cablevision carriage deal as evidence.

It's the reason why DirecTV probably signed Back9Network to a deal in June. The independent golf lifestyle network recently testified against Comcast in their hearings regarding the cable operator's acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Fox Sports/Sporting News Partner Together

Fox Sports and Sporting News have announced an online partnership which will merge their digital efforts together. The three main websites which will be enhanced under this deal include, and
  • Fox will now use Sporting News' ePlayer video service, which is widely syndicated across other various sports sites.
  • The combined entity will be able to reach 65 million readers, which will definitely help enhance the premiums Fox is able to garner from advertisers.
  • Editorial content from Fox can now appear on Sporting News' website and vice versa
  • The partnership is exclusively digital which means that it's very unlikely you'll hear shoutouts to Sporting News during Fox Sports telecasts.
  • With that being said, clips from Fox Sports telecasts will now be featured on Sporting News' website after they've been broadcast.
  • Fox Sports and Sporting News will also work on joint web videos featuring personalities from both entities.
How does this help Fox Sports? Fox is able to enhance it's website with highlights which it didn't have the rights to before. There's no other video player online other than ESPN that has more rights to sports highlights than Sporting News' ePlayer (which has the ability to show highlights of up to 28 different sports leagues including the NBA, NHL and the NFL). Fox's original video content will also be distributed through the ePlayer which means that other sports sites which use the ePlayer will also have access to Fox's videos. It'll broaden Fox's reach even further.

How does this help Sporting News? Sporting News is able to add content to it's video player from the #2 cable sports network in town. They also have a partner that can drive traffic to their site through television. 

What does the future hold for this partnership? There's a lot of potential. It'll be intriguing to see how the partnership attempts to bring online readers to their site during big sporting events. From Adweek:
Fox Sports Digital svp Marla Newman said the new partnership will be particularly useful during major sporting events like the NCAA's March Madness, where both parties aren't the official rights holder. She hopes their larger combined audience will give marketers an alternative option to place their campaigns.
Although this partnership will not involve anything on the TV side of things, Sporting News and their new venture could be a useful tool which helps enhance Fox Sports 1's coverage of high school football and basketball.

Sporting News has ended it's partnership with AOL but according to Sports Business Daily, Fox's relationship with MSN will continue on a non-exclusive level, still links to Fox's website while AOL has moved on to ESPN for sports video content and the Associated Press and the Huffington Post for text:
Fox and MSN will continue to work together on some online traffic referral but on a much smaller and nonexclusive level.
Biggest winner? Sporting News' could reap major benefits when Fox Sports airs the World Cup in a couple of years. They were already investing heavily in content during the World Cup which just passed and if Sporting News and Fox expand their relationship to include television promotion, maybe gets a big boost during WC coverage and becomes the unofficial home for World Cup content just as was during the 2014 competition.

There are already remnants of the partnership on All of the external links which Sporting News is providing at the bottom of their news stories are linked to

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who Buys CNN?

The rumor mill continues to churn about who could possibly acquire CNN in case Fox's acquisition of Time Warner goes through. Here are the list of contenders from most likely to least likely.

CBS has made a major turn towards hard news as noted by The Pew Research Center in 2013. There's nothing that would help the news division in it's continuing commitment to hard news more than acquiring the profits and manpower that CNN brings to the table. CBS would also be able to broaden it's cable offerings and could potentially boost up TVGN and Smithsonian Channel's subscriber base by tagging it along with CNN. The news network's website would also boost CBS's internet offerings without a doubt and could even help vault into a top 5 sports website through traffic driven by

CBS News also has a vast array of archival footage from various significant historical events it has covered in the past so I would imagine that a CBS-owned CNN would continue Jeff Zucker's strategy of an unscripted primetime lineup. Maybe CBS uses it's library to create programs similar to "The Sixties" and turns CNN into a mini-History Channel since the actual History Channel doesn't cover history anymore. It's also worth mentioning that Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, two of CNN's biggest faces, already work for CBS through "60 Minutes".

ABC News has always had a cast of thousands on their news team, but they never have enough time to showcase them all. The news operation has already tried to expand their reach through partnerships with Yahoo! News, Conde Nast, MTVU, YouTube and Univision (just to name a few) but the number of viewers watching their programming through any of those outlets is questionable. An acquisition of CNN would give ABC an extra opportunity to expand their programming abilities. 

What would happen under an ABC-owned CNN? Maybe Fusion is merged into CNN? Maybe ABC expands "Good Morning America" after 9am onto CNN? Will some of the online shows launched by ABC correspondents expand into 30-minute telecasts on CNN?

Bloomberg has proven over and over again that they're dedicated to becoming one of the biggest names in the news business. They recently invested in two star political journalists (Halperin and Heilmann), they've acquired BusinessWeek and they attempted to start a political opinion site. Michael Bloomberg wants to hold some influence in the daily conversations Americans have whether it's about culture or politics. Owning CNN combined with his other media properties could make him more influential than he ever would becoming President of the United States. Ask Roger Ailes about his life if you don't believe it's possible to become influential through television screens.

Bloomberg is also one of the few outlets which is actually expanding their workforce. Not to mention, Bloomberg churns out the most digital video compared with their other business news competitors. If they used the same strategy with CNN, the cable news outlet will be more ready than ever for the next television revolution.

Yahoo! faces a similar situation with Bloomberg in terms of having a desire to expand it's stature in the media industry. By acquiring CNN, Yahoo! would have an outlet to showcase some of it's original programming and it would also have content to fill their new web video enterprise which is aiming to compete against YouTube. Katie Couric would also be back on television at a permanent home.

Is there a better way to get back at an employer who forced you out after you served them for 20+ years than to team up with the second richest man in the world to acquire them? The only thing stopping this bid from happening is the fact that Univision is also for sale and may be better suited for Slim's other media assets in Mexico. There's also a rule which states, according to the New York Post, that "foreign nationals are limited to holding 25 percent of US media companies."

Shane Smith hates everything that CNN stands for. So instead of complaining about it, why doesn't Smith gather some investors together and buy the whole network himself? It would help Vice fulfill it's desires of housing their own television network which has carriage on all the major cable operators.

The Huffington Post already has their own online television network. So why not expand to real television? The HuffPo might also provide the type of built-in audience CNN has had trouble building on it's own. It should be noted that HuffPoLive's Marc Lamont Hill is already a major contributor to the network and HuffPoLive has already produced two cable talk hosts in Alicia Menendez (Fusion) and Jacob Soboroff (Pivot, YouTube Nation).

Al Jazeera America is the television network which journalism professors, media critics and news buffs have been waiting for. The problem is that no one watches it. The network has decent distribution but it's nowhere near the amount of homes which CNN is available in. If AJA were to acquire CNN, then Al Jazeera's belief that Americans want to watch REAL fair and balanced news can be put to the test in the best way possible since it would be available in most homes possible. The question is if the emir of Qatar will be willing to spend another $10 billion on a venture which has already proved unsuccessful.

I would also put a billionaire philanthropist, a foreign media company, an internet company or a cable operator on the list of potential buyers. Maybe Ted Turner buys back CNN and brings it back to prominence as his final act?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is Discovery Channel The Right Choice To Promote Obama's My Brother's Keeper?

Discovery Communications has joined forces with President Obama to produce programming related to The White House's initiative known as "My Brother's Keeper". The initiative seeks to combat stereotypes about men of color and improve their life outcomes through public-private partnerships. Discovery will be investing $1 million to produce programming which promotes the initiative and CEO David Zaslav will be named to the National Convening Council which will help facilitate those public-private partnerships.

This new endeavor will culminate with a one-hour TV special which will broadcast on Father's Day 2015 and will be simulcast on OWN, Discovery Channel as well as Discovery's online websites. Discovery Education, which provides educational television shows to schools nationwide, will also produce townhalls about various issues affecting minority men.

MY TAKE: It's honorable that Discovery is taking a stand in helping minority men succeed and I have no doubts that the programming they produce will successfully portray a positive message which will make a difference. I just wonder why Discovery was chosen as the media partner for this initiative when none of their networks have a target audience of minority males.

Why not a network like ESPN or TNT, both of whom have many different personalities under their stable who can relate to viewers when discussing issues affecting minority men? Both networks have also had forums dealing with these issues in the past and they're partners with the NBA, who'll be playing a role in advancing this initative as well.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rickey Smiley to Hot 97?

 photo uptowntick2.jpg
Courtesy: Uptown Magazine
The New York Post sprinkled in a tidbit about the future of Hot 97 in an article which discussed why Angie Martinez made the move to Power 105 (SPOILER: her salary doubled).
Last week at a dinner for stand-up comedian Rickey Smiley thrown by Uptown magazine, guests were buzzing that Hot 97 may pick up Smiley’s radio show, which is syndicated in 70 markets. Smiley is considered a protégé of Steve Harvey.
Smiley and his morning show crew are already seen on "Dish Nation" on the local New York City Fox affiliate but having a daily spot puts his show on a different platform. Here a couple of observations:

  • Smiley's show has a very Southern humor feel to it when it comes to the scenarios which are discussed on the show to even the host's accents. Will New Yorkers be able to relate to the show's hosts personally?
  • Even if they're able to relate to New Yorkers, does Hot 97 really expect anyone they put on air to beat "The Breakfast Club"? The show has already solidified it's place as an authentic, vital destination for hip hop heads. Despite the RSMS cast's chemistry, I'm not sure their humor will be enough to stay competitive.
  • I wonder if Hot 97 ceding their morning show slot to syndication would spark a website to start a local NYC hip hop morning show alternative to both Hot 97 and The Breakfast Club since TBC has lost a lot of its local flavor after going national.
  • What happens to Ebro, Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds? Could they continue to work for Hot 97 exclusively online through their "Juan Epstein" podcast and fill-in on the radio whenever a staff member takes off? Could they be in line to replace and compete against Angie Martinez? If they happen to be let go, they could become very useful for TV networks seeking voices to define them like Revolt, Music Choice and Fuse.
  • The two biggest winners in this potential move are Rickey Smiley and Radio One. 
    • Smiley's family-friendly humor is proving to be triumphant and his success is being validated with the addition of a new affiliate in New York. Coming soon, he could make a full crossover to mainstream America in the same way Steve Harvey did (as the NYP mentions). 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ahmad Rashad Gets His Own Television Show

Earlier this year, Ahmad Rashad's old television show "NBA Inside Stuff" returned to television. Now, the former Oregon running back is making a return of his own.

Rashad didn't leave television permanently after ABC cancelled his "NBA Inside Stuff" successor ("NBA Access") and Ernie Johnson replaced him on NBA TV Fan Night. He hosted a couple of interview specials over the years for NBA TV during All-Star Weekend as well as after the Finals were over.

But for the first time since 2009, Rashad will once again become a weekly fixture available on television sets all over America especially if you have DirecTV.

Rashad will be hosting and executive producing his own primetime interview show for a new golf lifestyle TV network launching in September on DirecTV known as Back9Network. The self-titled "Ahmad Rashad Show" will take a behind the scenes look at the world of golf with interviews featuring golfers, newsmakers and everything in between.

The 64-year-old Emmy Award-winning sportscaster, who is expected to continue his duties with NBA TV, had been working diligently before this announcement despite the lack of his own television platform. 

As late as January, he was hosting a "Where Are They Now?" sports podcast and also recently hosted a question and answer session featuring Kevin Durant live from the Newseum in Washington, DC on Nike's YouTube channel. He also did voice overs for "Sprint's The Crossover" segments which aired during ABC's coverage of the NBA Finals.

Rashad has established relationships with Tiger Woods, President Obama and many other celebrities and athletes. Don't be surprised if you see them as guests on the program which will look to be the golf version of "Oprah's Next Chapter."

Weinstein Company Buys Graham Norton Show, Selling It's TV Division

Not too long ago, Harvey Weinstein was shouting praise towards the ever-changing television industry and decided he wanted his company to become more intrinsically involved with the growing medium. Seven months later, according to the New York Times, he's changed his mind.

TWC is exploring spinning off it's television division into a public company or selling the company to a strategic partner who would own the company but keep Weinstein involved.
People who were briefed on the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was still being developed, said Mr. Weinstein was seeking cash to finance a major expansion that could include one or more new television channels.
What an interesting development. I wonder how TWC would have the ability to start a new television network featuring their content when they just signed a new pay TV window agreement with Netflix which begins in 2016. Maybe Netflix isn't considered real television under the terms of their deal? There's also this little tidbit from Variety about the current television rightsholder of TWC movies:
Showtime said it will continue to carry The Weinstein Co.’s films “well into 2018.” Premium cabler has exclusive output deal with TWC for movies released in theaters through 2015, which means studio’s films will premiere in their premium window on Showtime and The Movie Channel (as well as multiplex channels) through 2017 and will air in their first windows on the networks into 2018.
Back to the NYT article:
At the same time, they said, Mr. Weinstein is considering selling the television unit to a digitally minded corporate giant like Yahoo, Amazon or Google, any of which might use its reach to bolster his company’s presence on the web and elsewhere. 
He is also said to believe that a digital buyer like Google or Amazon might become a partner in supporting his films. “Teaming with one of the giants could become a promotional tool for the movie side,” one person briefed on the proposition said. 
Amazon, Yahoo and Netflix are definitely top contenders for this type of partnership. Netflix already works with TWC as mentioned above while Yahoo has shown recently that it isn't bullish when it comes to spending money for television content. I'm not sure Google would be a viable player in this kind of partnership because they seem more focused on building and molding their own characters instead of relying on the establishment.

Amazon might be the favorite because they have an extensive business besides video which they could use to promote TWC's empire. They also have the most to gain since Prime is still considered second-class compared to Netflix by many observers. TWC's content together with the recent HBO deal they signed could be what it takes to get them over the hump.

Another intriguing portion of the story involved a BBC series:
Weinstein also is betting on dozens of development projects and a handful of foreign series. Recently, for instance, the company acquired North American rights to “The Graham Norton Show,” a BBC talk show, according to the people briefed on its plans.
The show currently airs on BBC America and is scheduled to air over the next two weeks on July 6th and July 12th. Because of BBC America's reach, Norton's show has had wider distribution across the United States than it's ITV rival, "The Jonathan Ross Show," which airs Saturday nights at 11pm on Cinemoi, a French movie channel which is only available on Verizon FiOS.

Norton could lose his reach depending on when and how TWC implements the rights they've acquired. If TWC sells it's television division and is able to begin it's own television network with the money it earns, the show could land there. The problem with that prospect is that it could become extremely difficult for the new network to gain carriage across major cable operators like Comcast (it might be smart for TWC to start a network with a cable operator as a minority owner to guarantee some sort of carriage).

It could also land on Ovation TV, which TWC owns 25% stake in, but that might be a problem for Norton's telecast as well because Ovation has had altercations with cable operators who are dissatisfied with their ratings and have threatened to drop the network. The other option? TWC may also keep the show running on BBC America.

Norton's American counterpart on NBC, Jimmy Fallon, hasn't faced the same ordeal because NBC keeps the show in it's empire through airings on CNBC Europe. There are no plans for NBC to sell the show to another company and there's no word as to why the BBC sold one of it's shows to another company.

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