Sorry Team Conan, Jay Leno’s Re-Premiere Ratings Are Enormous

Jay Leno’s Tonight Show re-premiere last night, as expected, gave NBC a huge victory over CBS.

How big? Here’s a breakdown:

Here’s TVByTheNumbers:

In the local people meter markets Leno was twice as popular with adults 18-49, scoring a 2.0 rating vs a 1.0 rating for Letterman.

In the metered market houshold ratings between 11:30p-12:30a Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show dominated Leterman and Late Show. Leno had a 5.4/14 (household rating/share) to Letterman’s 3.0/8.

This is significantly higher than Conan’s fourth quarter averages, however less than Conan’s premiere back in June. But this isn’t exactly the same as a “premiere” since even Leno billed the 10pm show as something of a bad dream last night.

Instead, Leno was back in his comfort zone and the audience responded. It was night #1, which is sure to inflate the ratings. But all indications point to Leno building back the total viewing audience lead Conan lost to Letterman on a regular basis.

Tonight, with Sarah Palin and her ‘late night premiere’ (or not), the tune in could be even greater.

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Is Sunlight Foundation’s Health Care Summit Coverage a Gamechanger?

While many people were yawning their way through the news networks’ coverage of the White House’s Health Care Summit, a government transparency advocacy group turned the event on its head and used social media and streaming technology to possibly become the next C-SPAN, PolitiFact or Nate Silver’s

Relying on “data jamming” (a kissing cousin of “culture jamming”), the D.C.-based  Sunlight Foundation gave readers and viewers an endless supply of information–from donor data for members of Congress  to information on health care expenditures–by using live-streaming video, live-blogging, Twitter-feeds, and seven hours of endless data and information to thousands of people who participated on the live event.

“One of my favorite comments was that our approach was a ’smackdown to CNN,’ ” Sunlight’s Jake Brewer told Mediaite. Brewer, who has blogged about the experiment including a a great “how we did it,” said the goal of the effort was to “let the data do the talking” and provide an alternative to the talking heads on the cable news shows or even the talking politicians on C-SPAN.

Susannah Fox, of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project was tweeting about the project days after the summit, speculating on what impact the Sunlight Foundation would have on coverage of medical conferences.

“Sunlight’s coverage was one of those moments where it all came together,” Fox told Mediaite. She is an associate director at Pew Internet, focusing on the intersection of  health care and technology. “Pew had just released a report on millennials, and there was a perfect example of the remix culture in action with raw data and social media.”

Like more and more people, Fox says she follows events and news stories through Twitter and other social media.  Sunlight’s ability to harness that approach with live-video and data is what made the coverage significant.

During the seven hour summit, people who went to Sunlight Live could watch the summit via a live-video feed embedded into Sunlight’s site.  When a Congressman would speak, a list of that member’s top political contributors, previously sponsored legislation, or even fundraising events attended would be displayed on the screen. When a piece of research was mentioned, Sunlight would immediately provide a link or some sort of data illustration.

The coverage became an instant Twitter and blog sensation. According to the foundation, 1,364 tweets were sent out linking to the coverage, reaching an estimated 2.5 million people  based on the number of followers those tweeters have. Jason Linkins at Huffington Post said “anyone following the summit on their website was treated to a rather innovative ‘Contextual Content and Data Stream’ that presented a side-by-side take on the extent to which the various players in the summit have been bought and paid for.”

During the summit, the coverage got linked by Andrew Sullivan, ABC’s Jake Tapper, Time magazine, the New York Times, The Nation ProPublica, and Twitter all-stars like Tim O’Reilly.

Brewer, who heads Sunlight’s engagement efforts and has a background in organizing and as a “social entrepeneur,” said that while the efforts got a lot of social media and press attention, there were a lot of “real people” outside the wonkosphere paying attention.  His favorite stat from the analytics showed that some 9,800 people participated in the live blog and that half of the people who spent time on the coverage were actively engaged–blogging, commenting, or scrolling–while they were on the site.

“The White House making the video embeddable was what really made this possible,” Brewer told Mediaite. “This is an idea that transparency advocates pushed for in the Open Government directive and something that is a real step forward in terms of transparency.”

If the White House and other parts of government make live video embeddable–as opposed to requiring viewers to go to another website–Brewer predicted Sunlight would do other efforts given the success of the summit.  He said he’d like to see contributors participate in the research and data collection, “taking crowdsourcing to a whole new level,” and also find more ways to engage viewers in finding out more about how government works and operates.

Pew’s Fox suggested that Sunlight was on to something important, providing a way of consuming the news that also gets people involved in the news.

“There is a renewed interest in raw material, especially if it can be remixed into a compelling and interesting portrait of an event or ongoing conversation,” Fox said.

What makes Sunlight’s project important–even gamechanging–is the combination of social media, interactive data, and a live event.  The approach allows almost instantaneous background information for the reader to begin evaluating the claims being made by, in this case, elected officials.  There’s no reason to wait for Paul Begala or Liz Cheney to explain it to you, the information is right there while the official is talking.

John King Begins Twitter Scavenger Hunt Ahead Of Much-Anticipated CNN Show

John King’s new CNN show at 7pmET will launch sometime…soon, and he and CNN have found a creative way to make the announcement of when that will be and what it will be called – Twitter clues.

That’s right, stay tuned to Twitter for the details about the delayed launch of one of the most important CNN products in the last couple years.

King announced the Da Vince Code-like scavenger hunt last night:

Gearing up for the new 7p show! want the name and launch date? will tweet clues rest of the week _ at 7 am/pm (eastern). Check back!

And here’s your first, mysterious clue:

Good morning. First clue: new show name tied to something special we share. More re name and launch @7a & 7pE thru final clue fri! #cnn.

Hmm, this doesn’t bode well for my choice, State Of The Magic Wall.

Look, it seems like a silly idea, but it certainly is creative – especially for the most traditional of cable news outlets. And I have to admit I’ll be checking out King’s tweets more often and more specifically now. But the launch has already been the subject of some questions. It was originally slated for ‘early 2010′, and the CNN release about Candy Crowley taking over State of the Union said it would launch in February.

And for the CNN haters who think the headline is an exaggeration, keep in mind the 7pmET slot is almost prime time, and by replacing CNN mainstay Lou Dobbs, King’s show will garner extra attention. And with the state of CNN’s prime time ratings (reaching historic lows), they need a hit. Because of the added pressure, King’s show will either be a huge success by improving the 7pmET ratings from when Dobbs was the host as well as helping lead into Campbell Brown’s 8pmET show or it won’t boost ratings and be viewed as, well, a failure.

It’s pressure that’s frankly unfair to King, but CNN needs a winner when the moon comes out, and right now their hopes lie with King. So check out Twitter to find out when we’ll get to see the plan in action.

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Vancouver 2010: By The Numbers

Hockey on

The data is starting to roll in for the full Vancouver Olympics. NBC hasn’t been to provide some of the stats we’ve asked for—the number of video streams served the night the first USA-CAN hockey match aired on MSNBC against ice dancing, among them. But the numbers we do have tell any number of stories, as you can see in the accompanying chart. For instance, NBC’s press release compares Vancouver’s mobile stats to those from Beijing in 2008 and the online stats to those from the last Winter Olympics, Torino 2006. Granted, the Torino mobile comps would be close to meaningless given the tremendous shifts in the landscape while the Beijing comparison shows a significant sequential change.

If you compare the online stats, however, the trajectory turns down. The number of video hours served for Vancouver is just about a third of the 9.9 million hours delivered for Beijing—and the number of streams is off by 30 million. Compare it to Torino and Vancouver shows massive gains: 45 million video streams served compared to 8.4 million, 46 million uniques over 13.3 million. It’s not a sleight of hand; the Summer Games traditionally draw a bigger crowd across media and online is no exception.

Plus, NBC only streamed two sports live from Vancouver (curling and hockey) for roughly 400 hours, compared with 2,200 hours of live events from Beijing. Even adding in the 1,100 additional hours of highlights and full-event replay/VOD doesn’t match the amount of video available two years ago. As was the case for 2008, access to live coverage and VOD was limited to pay TV subscribers whose providers made a deal with NBC Sports; this time, NBC said its potential reach covered 95 percent of pay TV households.

NBC could have throttled the numbers up any time it chose by lowering the wall. When access was opened for the USA-SUI match last Wednesday, delivered more than a half-million streams.


Updated: Disney, Cablevision Fight Over Cost Of ‘Free’ TV; Subs May Lose WABC

Lost could be missing on Cablevision

During last month’s earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger couldn’t have been clearer about his willingness to shut off access to distributors unwilling to pay retrans fees. “We’re pretty resolute,” Iger told analysts—and by extension, cable and satellite operators. Just three weeks later, Disney (NYSE: DIS) is trying to show that resolution, launching an intense campaign today to warn Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) subscribers that they could lose access to local station WABC-TV, Ch. 7, at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

In an open letter to subs, Rebecca Campbell, president and GM of WABC, claims the station has been trying to negotiate with the Long Island cable operator for two years: “Despite our best efforts, it has now become clear that Cablevision has no intention of coming to a fair agreement. We can no longer sit back and allow Cablevision to use our shows for free while they continue to charge their customers for them.”

Cablevision quickly fired back, with a sharp statement from top spokesman Charles Schueler:

“It is shocking that in these difficult economic times, ABC Disney is threatening to remove WABC unless Cablevision and its customers pay $40 million in new fees for programming that it offers today for free, both over-the-air and online.  It is not fair for ABC Disney to hold Cablevision customers hostage by forcing them to pay what amounts to a new TV tax. We urge ABC Disney not to pull the plug and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement.”

Cablevision already has shown a willingness to let a provider drop off the system during a fee dispute. Its subscribers started the year without Food Network and HGTV after Scripps Interactive (NYSE: SNI) pulled the signals when it couldn’t agree on a fee increase. Cablevision tried the same bad economy-greedy media logic during that dispute; the two finally reached an agreement after Scripps put some of the shows on local TV. At the same time, Scripps left Food and Great American Country up on Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) after that deal expired because the two were in serious negotiations. News Corp (NYSE: NWS) and TWC averted a showdown over Fox by working past the midnight Dec. 31 deadline to make a deal for the Fox television stations, Fox, Fox Cable Networks and Fox’s Regional Sports Networks. (TWC also was negotiating for Bright House Networks.)

When Iger was asked about retrans last month, he said Disney would prefer to avoid a takedown and “we’ll do whatever we possibly can through negotiations to avoid that.  But we also believe that we have an obligation to derive value from the great investment that we make in these programs, whether they’re local in nature or whether they’re national in nature.  We have every intention of doing just that.”

‘Free’ TV” Unlike Scripps, which wanted an increase for cable networks that had grown in popularity since the last agreement, WABC is asking for a payment to let Cablevision continue to offer its signal as part of the operator’s package. Cablevision’s Schueler and WABC’s Campbell agree that the channel is available free over the air; they disagree over what that means to consumers. One advantage of pay video for some subscribers is the ability to get local channels—and, in many cases, their HD signals, without antennas. Cablevision gets paid for that basic service (and extra for the HD offering when it applies) but WABC, which claims to be the most-watched TV station in New York, doesn’t get paid by the operator.

Cablevision argues that viewers can get the same content online for free. Sort of. ABC’s soaps primetime shows are on and Hulu but not in real time—ie a 24-hour delay for the next installment of Lost. The network’s award shows aren’t streamed live. That includes the Oscars, set for next Sunday about 18 hours after that deadline.

WABC is offering instructions on using an antenna. That won’t work in all cases. Switching providers is another option but there’s no guarantee that operator is secure across the board on the retrans front.

Update: Some more from Cablevision ... another company rep told me after seeing this post that Cablevision pays Disney more than $200 million a year for its various cable nets (ESPN, Disney, etc.); $40 million a year for WABC would work out to about $1 a month per basic video sub.

The company also dismisses the idea that it isn’t negotiating, citing a trip last month by top execs to California to meet with Disney and day-long meetings last week in New York and Cablevision’s Bethpage offices.


Glenn Beck’s Publicist: “I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead Representing Van Jones”

“I value my friendship with Ken, and I wouldn’t be caught dead representing Van Jones…I’m not going to change who I am or who I work with based on what other people say. Glenn’s somebody I’ve known for a long time, and I’m very comfortable with my clients.”

Publicist Matthew Hiltzik in a light-hearted response to his friend and fellow power publicist Ken Sunshine.

Matthew Hiltzik, who represents Glenn Beck, Katie Couric and Don Imus, among others, talked to PRNewser’s Joe Ciarallo for’s series Media Beat. And responding to his pal Ken Sunshine, who told the Washington Post in a Hiltzik profile he “wouldn’t be caught dead representing Glenn Beck,” Hiltzik joked back using Beck frenemy Van Jones.

Hiltzik pressed how long he’s known Beck, and that the FNC host is someone he feels “very comfortable representing” – as opposed to other potential clients he doesn’t take “because I don’t feel comfortable potentially even exploring relationships with people.” It’s an endorsement of Beck, who certainly must keep Hiltzik busy (along with his other high profile clients). As for his most challenging client, he changed the wording but seemed to imply Harvey Weinstein.

As for how the Obama administration is doing so far, Hiltzik (a “a Democratic power player” according to USA Today Weekend) differs from one of his top clients: “There were so many things that needed to be addressed in the country it’s almost like, where do you start, how do you actually do this?”

Here’s part 1 of Media Beat – Part II comes out today and III tomorrow on PRNewser:

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Disney and Cablevision Leave the Web Out of Their Fee Fight

Why does this week’s Disney-Cablevision fight feel familiar? Because it is: “Cable Fee Fight” is TV’s most annoying show, but it never goes off the air.

The characters change, but the script is always the same. A programmer wants more money from a cable provider and threatens to pull its shows. See: Viacom (VIA) versus Time Warner Cable (TWC), News Corp. (NWS) versus Time Warner Cable, Cablevision versus Scripps Networks (SNI), Etc. Etc.

Spoiler Alert! The conclusion is always the same too: Both sides compromise, and cable subscribers get to watch their shows–in exchange for paying ever-increasing fees.

My interest here is whether either side wants to use the Web as a weapon in the fight given that the Internet is an increasingly plausible alternative for TV watchers who don’t want to pay for cable. Last year, for instance, Time Warner Cable showed its customers how to get Fox shows–and everything else–onto their TVs via the Internet (you can still see those instructions here).

The problem, of course, is that by highlighting the Web option, both sides run the risk of undermining their market power in the long run. If couch potatoes really do get used to the idea of consuming their shows using their PCs, it makes it easier for them to tell both programmers and the cable guys to pound sand.

For now, though, both sides are leaving the Web alone while they rattle their swords.

Disney (DIS) reminds Cablevision’s three million New York-area viewers that they’ll still be able to get ABC shows via an old-fashioned TV antenna. But the network doesn’t mention or Hulu, its joint venture with Fox and GE’s (GE) NBC. And Cablevision (CVC), at least so far, hasn’t brought up the Web either.

Both sides are clearly betting this gets resolved before Sunday night when ABC is set to broadcast the Oscars–not coincidentally, one of the only programs you really have to watch live.

Here’s Disney’s opening salvo:

[Image credit: Alexindigo]