Monday, July 27, 2009

News Round-up: George, TCA, Sony Visits Y&R, 65+

GREY'S ANATOMY: The George story you'll never see
"I wanted to see his last day [alive] really badly," says GREY's boss Shonda Rhimes. "What I thought was interesting was the idea of, we now know it's the last day of someone's life, [so we’re] looking at it differently than [we] would any other time."

Viewers would have also seen firsthand how George's split-second decision to save that girl's life cost him his own. "I wanted to see the moment he leapt in front of the bus," Rhimes confirms. "I wanted to bookend the episode [so that] the first time you see him leap in front of the bus, it's really scary. But the second time you see it, he's a hero.

"I thought it would have been a beautiful episode," she continues, adding that, had we seen those missing hours, "We might have learned something new about George."

TV critics flocking to LA on annual sojourn
The nation's TV critics are gathering for their annual summer meeting in Los Angeles, to get information about the new fall shows. Some things have changed as the first full normal TV season after the 2008 writers' strike unfolds. The tour itself, organized by the Television Critics Association, is a slimmed-down affair, and it's taking place several weeks later than usual. But one thing remains the same: Fall premieres are still the highlight of the TV season.

Shaved to less than two weeks (from an all-time high in the '90s of 23 days), the press tour still attracts every major broadcast network and most of the cable ones. And while it also has attracted the same number of critics as last year, the makeup of the press corps has changed. The ranks of print journalists in the critics association have shrunk 12 percent in the last year, while the number of reporters working exclusively online has jumped 10 percent. The total registered remains the same as last year, 148.

Sony Television President convenes a Y&R ‘Town Meeting’
Sara Bibel reports: "Last Friday Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko visited THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS' studio for a Town Meeting with the show’s cast, crew, and production office staff. Mosko runs Sony’s entire television division including primetime, cable and syndication. Sources say he wanted to speak frankly with employees about the show’s recent two year renewal by CBS. The new contract cuts the license fee, which means even more budget cuts. Some production office staff and crew have already had their salaries slashed. Mosko discussed the current state of the show and praised the leadership of Maria and Billy Bell before opening up the floor to questions. The meeting was described by an attendee as a pep talk to let the staff know that their hard work was appreciated. Of course, Mosko may hope that future contract negotiations will go more smoothly than Melody Thomas Scott’s now that the cast knows that the show has no money to spare. CBS daytime president Barbara Bloom did not attend the meeting. Nor did Eric Braeden, even though he was reportedly on set Friday."

Marketing to Today's 65-plus Consumers
Stick around for seven or more decades and you're apt to become the focal point of some stereotypes before you're done. In the case of today's 65-and-older consumers, though, the problem is that the stereotypes of frail-and-lonely ancients are more creaky than the people to whom they're applied. And it doesn't help matters that baby boomers talk loudly about being poised to transform the nature of old age, as if it has heretofore been unchanged dating back to the Stone Age. Looking at some survey data on 65-plusers, and hearing from people professionally engaged in understanding and marketing to this cohort, we get a clearer picture of how older Americans see themselves and the advertising that's aimed (or, often, misaimed) at them.

AS THE WORLD TURNS's Star Turns: A Look At Oakdale's Standout Soap Hoppers
ATWT has a long history of finding talented newcomers. However, the show has snatched talented soap vets, too. Here are 10 recent standouts from Soap Opera Digest.


  1. It makes me nervous that they are talking so frank with Y&R about their two year renewell if they are basically telling them "you will be cut just like GL was if your show doesn't stay on top or save money" what does that say for the other soaps on the air? Since Y&R is after all the highest rated soap.

  2. Me too, Katie. I think this just shows that none of our daytime soaps are safe. Unless there is a creatieve renaissance across the board and ratings go up (I don't think they can afford to even stay where they are are and not decline) I think we are only looking at a few years remaining.

    DAYS has gained viewers since last year so it's possible, but is it enough?

    I also think some creative and inventive folks will come along and produce some web soaps that will reinvent the whole genre which is one reason why I support "Indie Soaps" so strongly. You never know when one of them is going to figure out a workable model that others will copy.

  3. Indie soaps are nice, but do they make money to even pay their actors? Aren't most web productions done on the cheap?

    "Sanctuary" is the only web program that I understand has successfully jumped to a TV network (SyFy Channel) into series production.

    "Imaginary Bitches" may have been popular but did anyone make enough money to pay her/his mortgage?

    On the other hand, has anyone taken a look at the rating for the CW network? The CW's biggest hit is "Gossip Girl." GG's ratings for last year equaled at or near 2.8 million viewers in primetime. That far less than Y&R.

    I wonder if the networks tried an experiment and ran some of the soaps on their new digital sub channels what the viewership might be like?

    Finally, how do Spanish language telenovelas do so well to thrive?

  4. Roger, you say:

    Unless there is a creative renaissance across the board and ratings go up...I think we are only looking at a few years remaining.

    This implies a conditional association: quality goes up, and ratings follow.

    But I think a soap could be Marland + Lemay + Bell + Nixon + Phillips, acted better than anything else, and in the modern era NOTHING will impact the ratings.

    Goutman is partly right...we live in a world where an appetite for a daily show is going to be minimal. It takes too much commitment. Couple that with all the other factors that have been much written about (women out of home, more viewing choices, yada yada) and I believe there will be NO association between quality and ratings. The genre-wide downward trend is about demographics and market, not quality.

    I know you know this, but I think it bears repeating. I also don't think the future is really the web. I think HBO and other cable nets...with their 5-season 13-episode/season serials is the future. Viewer supported, but still deliciously soapy. True Blood, Six Feet Under, Sopranos, etc...all true serials. This never-ending daytime chestnuts have, much as we all love them, had their day.

  5. Mark, no shows, including primetime, are getting the same ratings as in years past, so probably the ratings would drop no matter what. But daytime IS a different animal. What's frustrating is that we are always going to be left to wonder - what would have happened if a daytime soap was consisently good for several years (is that even possible in today's environment?).

    I think there is a model for a successful web soap that airs multiple times per week. I have some ideas in this area for storylines, production and advertising. It may not feature the sprawling casts that daytime soaps have today, BUT most of these shows didn't start the way they are now. GL started as a 15 minute radio soap that became a 15 minute TV soap, then 30, then 60. If the genre is to be reinvented, the shorter form may be what keeps it successful.

  6. Mark H,

    I think people really love their soaps. With DVR's being so much easier to use that VCR's, timeshifting programs can make watching soaps easier.

    As it is, I try to watch soaps on the Web when I miss them (no DVR here).

    I find Y&R addictive.

    Goutman, of course, has nearly massacred ATWT. His 3-2 scheme has failed. By speeding up stories to quick resolutions, he's lost the ability to tell complex interesting stories. This has resulted in plunging ratings.

    I wonder if iTunes distribution might work? Would someone pay a $1/episode. With current ratings equal to 4.7 mil viewers, that would be about $4.7 mil/day. Is that profitable enough for a show like Y&R?

    Let's say 200 episodes/year * $4.7 million = $940 million.

    Frankly, I would have like to have seen GL try a 6 months run as a subscription service. What did the show have to lose? Even if GL got just 1 million viewers to switch that would be $5 million/week * 50 weeks of new shows is $250 million.

    Does anyone think that GL makes that much now as a licensing fee from CBS?

  7. Roger,

    Most hour long soaps are only 37 to 38 minutes! Think of all that advertising time!