Tuesday, March 3, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

No summer vacation for network TV; it has big plans instead

By
From page B5 | June 11, 2014 |

By Scott Collins

LOS ANGELES — The summer blockbusters are coming. And to see them, you don’t even need to get off your sofa.

The TV networks are pouring unprecedented amounts of money – and some very creative deal-making – into getting A-list movie writer-producers and actors onto your living-room flat screen during the hot months.

On NBC, John Malkovich is starring as the pirate Blackbeard in “Crossbones.” CBS is launching a sci-fi drama, “Extant,” starring Oscar winner Halle Berry and produced by Steven Spielberg. And director Guillermo del Toro is bringing his vampire tale “The Strain” to FX with a $9-million price tag for the pilot alone.

Summer used to be network television’s dead zone, stocked with repeats and cheap reality shows, and it was a place to bury canceled series.

That left an opening for the cable networks, which saw a chance to gain viewers without having to go up against the networks’ best new shows in the fall, using summer to launch hit programs such as “Mad Men.”

CBS fired back last summer with the Stephen King miniseries “Under the Dome,” which did so much better than expected that the network is bringing it back this year with fresh episodes. That success, combined with increasing competition from Netflix, Amazon and other upstart content providers, has upended traditional notions of what constitutes a TV “season.”

“You can’t close down for the summer,” said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke. “There’s opportunity year-round.”

All the TV sizzle, however, carries significant risks. Networks are shelling out big money for these summer dramas, with Fox’s summertime reboot of “24” with Kiefer Sutherland topping $4 million per episode in total production costs, according to industry insiders. “Extant” costs nearly that much. That matches the tab for the most expensive shows during the regular season.

At the same time, the cable networks are ramping up their own offerings to stay competitive. In addition to FX’s marquee summer project, TNT is rolling out the apocalyptic epic “The Last Ship.” The show’s executive producer is Michael Bay, best known for directing big-budget summer films including the “Transformers” series.

“Our goal is to make watching TNT be like going to a great summer movie,” Michael Wright, the programming chief of TNT’s parent company, Turner Networks, told media buyers earlier this month in New York. “Grab a bucket of popcorn, kick back and let us take you on a thrilling ride.”

In an interview, Bay said he had wanted to get involved in TV for a long time but had been “slow and cautious” about making his move. “This particular idea was batted around quite a bit, and it was really cinematic,” he said of “The Last Ship.” “So I gave it my all.”

Cable networks have long realized, of course, that summer offers a perfect opportunity to chase new viewers. HBO, for example, moved its vampire drama “True Blood” from fall to summer starting with Season 2 back in 2009. Viewing more than doubled, according to Nielsen, and it became one of HBO’s top-performing shows. Its seventh and final season will air this summer.

Those kinds of opportunities existed for cable networks because for decades broadcasters mostly ignored the summer. With longer days and summer vacation competing for viewers’ attention, the networks scheduled mostly repeats between Memorial Day and late September, when the new season started. Over the last decade, they found success with relatively inexpensive reality fare, such as “America’s Got Talent,” “Big Brother” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Much of the credit for the about-face goes to a surprise hit from last year. “Under the Dome” was adapted from a Stephen King thriller about townsfolk trapped under a giant transparent bubble.

The show succeeded despite a number of traditional hindrances to attracting big audiences. In addition to the summer time slot, there were no high-profile stars, and it wasn’t a cop show or medical drama that viewers would instantly recognize.

The series logged an average weekly viewership of nearly 14 million – an impressive figure that prompted CBS to order a second season to a program initially conceived for a single season. “Dome’s” next season rolls out June 30.

But it was a clever financial deal that enabled CBS to greenlight the show in the first place. “Dome” was modeled after formulas that cable networks had exploited: limited runs (typically just 10 or 12 episodes per season), an intriguing concept and the type of marketing drumbeat usually reserved for grander events.

“Cable did teach us some lessons: that people are interested in the kind of bigger show that broadcast dramas can do well,” said Neal Baer, a former writer-producer for “ER” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” who’s now behind “Under the Dome.”

In an unusual arrangement brokered by talent agency WME, CBS hedged its risks by sharing costs with Amazon – exactly the sort of new-media company that usually gives network executives panic attacks because it threatens to encroach on their existing business.

Each episode costs about $3 million to produce, with CBS essentially splitting about half of the bill with Amazon. Foreign sales roughly pay for the other half. In exchange, Amazon won the right to deliver “Under the Dome” to viewers on its website within days of each episode’s broadcast, far earlier than the weeks- or months-long delay that would typically exist.

“It was a unique deal that others have copied,” NBC’s Salke said.

Los Angeles Times

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
Fairfield police seek help to ID injured bicyclist

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

 
New receiver for Parkway Gardens wins praise

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

College looks at Measure Q project changes

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Robots, raucous businessmen set to arrive on big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Bridge work to shut down Highway 12 east of Rio Vista

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Caltrans reschedules work on J-Mack Ferry

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Highway 12 Association to meet this month

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
State schedules work on Highway 12

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

.

US / World

GOP vote to endorse gay group is momentous but incremental

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
‘Naty’ Revuelta, who had daughter with Fidel Castro, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pakistan police arrest parents refusing kids’ polio vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UN warns against complacency as Ebola fight enters new phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Woman with slain Putin critic says she didn’t see his killer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Storms bring up nearly 3 feet of snow to Lake Tahoe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
4 people killed, 4 others injured in California car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

California court rules against sex offender law application

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Federal study: Foster kids struggle to get health screenings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Well-liked photo teacher found dead in California classroom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Georgia woman seeks to delay death for husband’s murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Police chief: Man killed on Skid Row reached for gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

Military judge orders overseer of Gitmo cases replaced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Snowy Boston starts removing parking-space savers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Minority outreach that works

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11

 
State GOP gathers, celebrates modest successes

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

.

Living

.

Entertainment

Sara Gilbert welcomes baby boy with wife Linda Perry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Judge: CeeLo Green in compliance with probation in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Clive Owen to make Broadway debut in Pinter’s ‘Old Times’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Television’s ‘Judge Judy’ staying in session

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pop channel bringing Daytime Emmys ceremony back to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Julianne and Derek Hough to hit the road again this summer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Ming-Na Wen: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ role makes me a cool mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
TVGrid March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

NASCAR falls flat in follow-up to Daytona 500

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet only once before fight week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Michael Schumacher’s son to drive in Formula 4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
UConn still No. 1 in women’s basketball poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kurt Busch to follow guidelines toward NASCAR reinstatement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Harrington wins the Honda Classic in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Catholic school apologizes for racial taunting of hoops foes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curt Schilling fires back after offensive Twitter posts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wild week leads to changes across AP Top 25 poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
New Browns QB McCown barely knows Manziel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jordan, other NBA owners join Forbes’ billionaire list

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL salary cap increases $10 million to top $143 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s switch-pitcher hopes to find spot with Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sharks trade Desjardins to Blackhawks for Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

.

Business

Buffett declines to clarify plan to eventually replace him

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, rose in Jan.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Ikea launches furniture with inbuilt wireless chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Google, Facebook update contrasting plans to connect world

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Minimum wage in 1 Oakland jumps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
PayPal to acquire mobile wallet provider Paydient

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Costco strikes credit card deal with Citi, Visa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 2 Comments

 
Bill Gates repeats at top of Forbes’ list of billionaires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

HP’s big deal: Tech giant buys Aruba Networks for $2.7B

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Next Google Maps adventure: Soaring through Amazon jungle

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Dot-com deja vu: Nasdaq tops 5,000, approaching record high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Wizard of Id March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Dilbert March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Crossword March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C. March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4