• 10 Sep 2007 at 11:30 AM
  • Media

If A Former “Star” Falls In A Forest…

Not since Belushi doing Joe Cocker has there been a better parody of a musical performer than Britney Spears doing a parody of Britney Spears during last night’s VMAs.
The VMAs have become so irrelevant that we need to remind you that they stand for MTV’s annual Video Music Awards. Once heavily promoted and occasionally watched, the VMAs represent one of the saddest whimpers of a dying network (in its current incarnation, before they redefine the “M,” ditch most of the current platform, and try to emerge as something that people will watch).
If MTV would have only been more explicit about when the huge celebutard train wrecks were occurring, people might have tuned in. Although Kid Rock punching Tommy Lee – did we even care five years ago? MTV could air Viacom lawsuits and have a more interesting (and probably higher rated) televised feud.
As the Times points out, more people will watch Britney’s shame spiral on YouTube than on TV, which must be a bitter pill to swallow for Viacom. Shares of Viacom are down over a half percent despite the boost in network web traffic.
Britney vs. Belushi, after the jump…
‘Post’ Wins in Brit Bash Battle [Daily Intelligencer]

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  • 07 Sep 2007 at 12:16 PM
  • Media

UFC 76: Lulu vs. Hulu

There can be only one “ulu!” We gave the brain trust at NBC and NewsCorp some well-deserved flack over the decision to name their $1 billion video content portal “Hulu” after an inexplicable multi-month nomenclatural funk and near-extinction of Fantasia (or Fantastica) from the all-consuming Nothing. It seems Lulu is equally perplexed by the decision, and the one letter difference between the new name and its own. Lulu is suing Hulu (if litigatory karma exists, NBC and NewsCorp are right under Viacom in the pecking order of companies that need to be sued). Here’s more, from the Post:, NBC Universal and News Corp.’s soon-to-launch video Web site, has been slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit by Lulu Enterprises for picking a name too similar to its own. Lulu, which controls the Web sites and and specializes in digital self-publishing services for budding filmmakers, musicians and authors, claims in a suit filed in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., that NBC and News Corp.’s decision to name their service Hulu represents an intentional attempt to create confusion in the marketplace and an encroachment on its business.

Do the Zulus have enough lawyers on hand to enter the fray? We hear creator god Nkulunkulu is especially pissed, but is not really an interventionist when it comes to human affairs.

  • 30 Aug 2007 at 4:09 PM
  • Media

Even the Verb “Tivo” Is Losing Valuable Predicate Share

tivo_unplug%5B4%5D.jpg You know a product is failing when it loses its all important “verb replacement” status. For example, in the fledgling days of inclusive DVR cable packages, we would still say we were Tivo-ing something. Tivo’s emergence as a verb was a combination of a good product name, good marketing (for the opposite of this, see Hulu) and a rooting interest in the ingenuity of a small-ish company stealing thunder from the cable giants.
Since its methodical destruction by the cable giants (wait, you mean I don’t have to connect this awkwardly to a land line, I don’t need another box, and I don’t have to pay a large upfront fee for the box?) the fickle TV-viewing public acquiesced, and begrudgingly de-verbed Tivo. Now that the cable giants got us all hooked in on the cheap paying an extra monthly sub fee, they’re starting to raise rates accordingly, and we “DVR” our favorite shows.
Tivo is taking a hit today, down almost 10%, based on the following, from Seeking Alpha:

There are several factors at work in today’s slide. For one thing, revenue came up short of expectations – and so did guidance for the fiscal third quarter. For another, the company took an unexpected $11.2 million inventory writedown for standard definition DVRs, a casualty of its shift to a focus on high-definition DVRs. The company also suffered a net loss of 19,00 “TiVo owned” subscribers, disappointing investors who had expected to see at least a modest increase in subs.

There is some potential sunshine amidst the Tivo gloom – with the comapny’s new focus on HD-DVR and a Comcast New England deal expected to start rolling out in September. For now, the bears are feeding.
It’s almost always a smart play to bet on verbs. You knew Google reached ubiquity when people started using Google as a verb, and this happened well before the IPO. Yahoo never became a verb, and is trying desperately to reposition itself in the tech space. Facebook has been annointed verb status, while leaving behind MySpace in the predicate race. Clearly the long bet is on facebook. Also – does anyone say they “Xeroxed” something still? It seems the world has quietly gone back to saying they “copy” things again.
TiVo Slides on Weak Revenue, Subscriber Losses [Seeking Alpha]

EverybodyLove416x272_01.jpg Summer ratings are out, defined by Nielsen in this instance as the period between 5/24 and 8/22. The ratings are as mystifying as ever, showing a large contingent of people who voluntarily watch CBS programming. CBS has 5 out of the top ten most watched summer series, while FOX has 3, NBC has 2 and ABC laid a summer ratings goose-egg (people were apparently out trying to find their own McDreamy rather than watching him bed an entire hospital staff).
The real story is CBS actually having viewers. They’re out there, among us. They look just like you and me. “He seemed like a normal guy,” the neighbor’s testimonial always says, “I couldn’t tell he watched the King of Queens.”
Who watches CBS? Is it an AARP thing? Is it a Blue/Red state thing? Do CBS viewers have the super-power that they able to tell which cable boxes are Nielsen boxes? We’re desperately trying to understand, as no one we’ve ever met watches programming on CBS, or will admit to doing so. In fact, no one we’ve ever met has ever met anyone who watches CBS programming. In fact, knowing someone who watches CBS has become more novel or hip than having a gay, disabled, terminally ill or concert zitherist friend. It’s a defining characteristic, “Oh yeah, you remember Jim, the one who watches CBS…”
Aside from the four simultaneous versions of CSI that CBS runs (we weren’t aware the CSI franchise was this out of control – it’s only a matter of time before they come out with CSI:CBS or CSI:CSI (chronicling crimes that happen only on the set of CSIs)), another permanent fixture in the top ten is Two and a Half Men. A funny drinking game to play when watching Two and a Half Men (the same went doubly for Everybody Loves Violently Bleeding From The Ears Raymond) is to do a shot every time the “This Laughter Is Bringing Me To Orgasm” laugh track plays after a non-event (DB does not endorse or sponsor this activity, as you will die). It’s amazing – they’ve almost effectively replaced actual jokes and punch-lines with cuing the laugh track (unless there’s something about Charlie Sheen raising an eyebrow that I’m missing).
One promising trend in the summer ratings was the demise of reality shows, as viewers are finally starting to realize that “professional” reality show auditioners/contestants are way more annoying than real actors, although the only difference is the networks’ own forced semantic finagling. Unfortunately reality shows have been displaced with American Idol style programming, which cannot die fast enough (although we always marvel over how airtight the contracts and release forms people sign to get on these shows must be, since no one ever comes out and talks about how ridiculously scripted they are).
Television: Stat Snapshot [Wall Street Journal]
PS – We occasionally watch How I Met Your Mother

  • 29 Aug 2007 at 3:16 PM
  • Media

Rupert Stops The Nothing

empress_final.jpg DealBreaker’s probing coverage into the search for a name of News Corp and NBC Universal’s online video JV is over. The two companies finally put that billion dollar brain-trust to work and came up with a name that is bound to draw viewers and admirers alike.
The winner – Hulu. Hulu. We’re serious. Hulu – the result of a five month search. Hulu – when you get punched while trying to say the word “Hula.” Hulu – the lieutenant commander of the Enterprise when everyone has a cold. Hulu – how George Bush mispronounces the first two syllables of the folksy word “hullabaloo.”
It took the ad wizards five months to “capture” the spontaneity and child-friendly assonance of hip techie names like Lala, Tinkie-Winkie, Joost, Wii, WiiWii, Yahoo, Belo, PooPoo, Lyondell Chemical Company and Fuchs Petrolub AG*.
Conclusion – Either the marketing team is borderline retarded or it took Rupert this long to shout “Hulu” out his window during a storm in which he thought the Nothing was consuming the remnants of Fantastica and the Ivory Tower in which the childlike empress resides (which has been our theory all along).
The new site is going to begin invitation-only beta testing in just two short months. It is expected to launch in 2130.
News Corp and NBC Universal name video site Hulu [Yahoo Finance]
*There is a company that makes lubricants called Fuchs (we had to reprint it to believe it)

  • 24 Aug 2007 at 2:50 PM
  • Media

NBC Readddy? Gladiators Readddy? Revamp!!!

gladiator.jpg GE (NYSE: GE) is up 0.36% on the news that NBC is going to start airing a revamped version of American Gladiators. The new show will be produced by MGM TV (which produced the original) and Reveille. NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman began working on the project while still at Reveille.
The new version of the show will feature “21st Century Twists” including BackStories ™, which weren’t invented until the late 90s). From Variety:

This time, in a new wrinkle, the players will be given the opportunity to train for their match — and viewers will be given a glimpse of their personalities prior to the actual competish (Competish…Variety is just so presh!).

The original show was on for seven seasons from 1989-1996 (almost no one (outside of the Castro) remembers Malibu (pictured) who debuted in season one and never came back for season two, or Sunny (yes, there was a Gladiator named Sunny) who got injured during the semis and never returned).
The new show will have four male and four female gladiators. Here they are, revamped for the 21st century:
1. Freedom
2. Bling
3. Subprime
4. Biodiesel
1. Katrina
2. Slut
3. Zirconium
4. XXY
After the jump one of the most amazing things you will watch in the next 10 minutes:
NBC pumps up for ‘Gladiators’ redo [Variety]

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  • 17 Aug 2007 at 1:28 PM
  • Media

MTV Continues To Be Neato, Swell, Tubular

mtv.jpg Just as MTV officially debates what its “M” really stands for (front-runner: Meaningless, although a close second is Mutilation, if you have ever suffered through Scarred), as people (15 years ago) were just starting to catch on to the fact that MTV doesn’t play music anymore, not that the sound of a 16-year old’s shrieks over getting a Lexus instead of a Mercedes aren’t melodic. It was a good ploy while it lasted MTV, but you’re still totally (15 years ago) hip to the vernac of the nation’s youth, thanks to new strategic initiatives.
MTV is figuring that it’s time to take its brand into the next…7 minute commercial break, but take it there strong. That’s why MTV is using $500 million dollars of daddy Viacom’s allowance to develop video games, because that’s what those crazy kids are playing now (15 years ago). Viacom also gave younger sibling Nickelodeon $100 million to buy a Super NES and get back to them on this new craze.
The cruel irony is that there are hugely popular games on the market now (Guitar Hero, even DDR and other rhythm games) that with any ingenuity or foresight MTV should have come up with or developed cross-promotional ties with years ago, instead of just catching on last year. MTV tried to cover its late jump last year by scooping up Harmonix, makers of DDR, Guitar Hero and one of our old favorites PaRappa the Rapper. Always finding ways to keep a franchise fresh, with MTV’s help the next Guitar Hero is going to let you shred to Ryan Cabrera. Now we’re stuck with reality show fatigue, a dying channel/brand, and a forthcoming PS3 title “Attention Seeker 4: Call of Duty” where you can make your own virtual Real World audition tapes.
MTV commits $500 million to games [ValleyWag]

Slacker Cats…Hooo

slacker-cats.jpgIs credit card theft so easy a cat—and a slacker cat at that—could do it? That’s what the Walt Disney Company, whose stock plummeted 1 percent this morning to $33.95, is hoping. The company, best known for being the sick sadists who humanized mice and for its kid friendly G-rated films featuring highly aroused priests, is debuting its new animated series, “Slacker Cats,” on August 13, and running up thousands of dollars in charges at a the Pussycat Lounge on your AMEX is just one of the many ways Walt plans to stick its sword in the world of “outrage and grown-ups.”
Others include storylines featuring the cats at left taking bong hits, enjoying “kitty” porn, and manipulating the natural gas markets. Never to be outdone, Fox (+0.07 (0.33%)) announced plans to up the ante with its own new animal-centric show, “Fucking Pandas.” Episode 1: “Reverse Langone.”
“Slacker Cats” shake up Disney image [Reuters]