4:08 pm, May 4th | by Peter Lauria
When Jeff Zucker was at the helm of NBC, he was fond of saying that the broadcast television model was broken. Throughout the takeover process for the Peacock network, however, Comcast’s Steve Burke was adamant about his commitment to it. The ratings success of “The Voice,” shows what a difference a little faith and some financial resources make. In essence, it is a rebuke of Zucker’s mentality.
While NBC has scored critical — if not ratings — success with shows like “The Office” and “30 Rock,” “The Voice” represents its first legitimate ratings smash since the first season of “Heroes.” A total of 12.4 million people watched last night’s episode of the singing competition, up 5 percent from its premiere week. More importantly, “The Voice” beat all of its competition, including ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” in the all-important 18-49 year old demographic that advertisers love — no easy feat.
5:50 pm, May 3rd | by Peter Lauria
Charlie Sheen aside, CBS honcho Les Moonves is having a real good spring.
Moonves hits for the mogul cycle today include announcing strong first quarter earnings, a new 52-week high for CBS’ stock price, the landing of the first post-Osama Bin Laden killing interview with President Obama on “60 Minutes” this Sunday and the official naming of Scott Pelley to replace Katie Couric as the new anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” That’s almost enough to justify the $57 million in pay he received last year. Almost.
The nation’s number one television network benefited from an advertising market rebound in the first quarter, recording earnings of $202 million on revenue of $3.5 billion. By comparison, the same period last year CBS lost $26 million. CBS’ stock shot up nearly 4.5 percent, or $1.12, in after-hours trading on the strong first quarter results to reach a new 52-week high of $26.36 per share. The stock is up more than 50 percent over the last year.
5:26 pm, May 3rd | by Peter Lauria
HBO is more vital to Time Warner than ever. So then why is one Wall Street analyst calling for CEO Jeff Bewkes to spin off the pay-television leader?
BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, known on Wall Street and in the media for his controversial, confrontational, but frequently very accurate analysis, issued a report today with the contrarian thesis that Time Warner would be better off without HBO. The prevailing wisdom, particularly after the company slimmed down to a pure-play content provider by getting rid of AOL and spinning off Time Warner Cable, has always been that HBO is one of the key drivers of Time Warner’s financial and brand success. The television home of “Boardwalk Empire” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is expected by itself to generate more than $4 billion in revenue and $1.5 billion in operating income this year based on past growth rates.
Greenfield, however, is troubled by HBO’s subscriber losses last year — one of the first time’s that has happened in its history — and the increasing competition in pricing and original programming from Netflix, which is expected to have more U.S. subscribers by year’s end than HBO.