Broadcasters are touting Wednesday nights as their new must-see TV night, with a three month window to stake their claim (until Fox‘s American Idol and ABC‘s Lost return) this fall. ABC is slating Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice, NBC is running Bionic Woman, The CW has Gossip Girl and Fox has Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares while CBS is continuing Criminal Minds with new star Joe Mantegna. [Wall Street Journal]
Bravo‘s premiere of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style last Thursday attracted 982,000 viewers, including 571,000 adults 18-49.
CNN‘s half-hour lag in running Osama bin Laden’s pre-9/11 video on Friday, which ran "in a seemingly endless loop" on Fox News Channel and MSNBC, resulted from CNN’s decision to sever ties with Reuters, notes the New York Times. It finally got the video from Al Jazeera, which was broadcasting the Reuters-provided clip. CNN, meanwhile, has been shoring up its domestic newsgathering, launching "mini" bureaus in key early election states.
Comcast is facing protests from local producers in Gary, Indiana, who formed the United Producers for Public Access after Comcast announced it is closing its local public access studios. [Gary Post Tribune]
Comcast Media Center launched six HDTV channels — A&E HD, HGTV HD, Food Network HD, National Geographic Channel HD, Starz HD and Universal HD — to CMC’s HITS Quantum service using AMC-18, SES Americom’s latest HD-Prime satellite. Comcast’s HITS (Headend in the Sky) Quantum package delivers digital programming to 2,000 cable headends owned by smaller operators. More info is at HITS.com.
DirecTV will premiere season 2 of original series Project MyWorld on Oct. 1. The series, which runs on DirecTV’s original programming channel, The 101, will send its female cast to Australia and New Zealand in search of men (with a speed-dating contest) and music, checking out independent bands suggested on their MySpace page.
Disney Channel is trying to downplay a nude photo scandal involving High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens, which has made headlines overseas. A follow-up story in People claiming that Hudgens once emailed risque photos of herself to Nickelodeon star Drake Bell was refuted by both star’s reps.
ION Media Networks will televise the 2007 season of NFL Game of the Week starting Saturday. ION also will televise a new NFL Films’ production, Stories of the NFL.
KEYT-TV, an ABC affiliate owned by Smith Media which broadcasts from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo, CA, signed an HDTV agreement with Comcast and Cox, with only Charter Communications not on board for its local HD signals.
KHBS-TV, the Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with a repeater station, KHOG-TV, in Fayetteville, set an Oct. 1 deadline to sign a retransmission consent agreement with Cox Communications. 40/29, as the broadcast stations are branded, said it will pull its signal if Cox doesn’t agree to transmit its digital feed; Cox has said it will replace 40/29 with a Tulsa station if they can’t reach a deal. [NWANews]
Lifeskool, the Rainbow Media-owned VOD service formerly called Mag Rack, is adding Steve Schirrpa’s Hungry, a culinary series featuring the New York-based actor, in December. Schirripa, who played Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri on HBO’s The Sopranos, also hosts Spike TV‘s Casino Cinema and developing a TV movie for Nickelodeon based on his book, Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family.
MSNBC PR VP Jeremy Gaines told Wired the channel’s pending Fox Business bump in Manhattan will help boost ratings.
Nickelodeon and its sibling digital networks Nicktoons, Noggin and Nick GAS, will go dark on Sept. 29 from noon to 3pm to encourage children to get off the couch on the 4th annual Worldwide Day of Play. Nick’s on-air programming that day includes the finale of its Let’s Just Play Go Healthy Challenge, a get-fit competition between two 13-year-olds.
PBS Kids Sprout turns 2 on Sept. 26 with 34 million homes thanks to expanded VOD distribution on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ systems. It’s also launching a live morning show
The Ski Channel licensed programming from Canada’s Ride Guide TV, and will feature new programming from the Calgary-based producer of ski and mountain bike shows.
Spike TV will expand Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling to two-hours starting Oct. 4, following a new multi-year deal with the franchise.
TAG Networks partnered with itaas to boost its interactive TV features.
TBS wraps its second season of My Boys tonight while sister Turner net, TNT, concludes its two-part season-ender of The Closer.
Univision claimed it attracted 4.6 million viewers Sunday night for the first-ever presidential candidates’ TV debate conducted in Spanish. But as Variety points out, that figure is based on Nielsen’s estimate of viewers that tuned in for six minutes, so Nielsen’s average audience was closer to 2.1 million for the historic broadcast featuring Democratic candidates. Univision also laid claim to being the #1 broadcast network (beating ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW) for the week of 8/27 to 9/2 among adults 18-34, using Nielsen’s new single national ratings service after Nielsen bid adios to its separate Hispanic ratings service last month.
ABC is looking at syndicating its programming to other Websites, taking a page from CBS‘s Interactive Audience Network (which has digital distribution deals with AOL, MSN and CNET) and Fox and NBC‘s pending Hulu.com, whose Web affiliates include Comcast.net and will also offer others’ video content. The move comes after ABC pioneered streaming its own shows on ABC.com. Disney-ABC EVP of digital media Albert Cheng tells Mediaweek at least one major Web distribution partner will be announced this fall, and that any third-party online video affiliate must agree to use ABC’s core video player for a consistent experience with ABC.com.
ESPN.com is running Countdown Daily, a Web series pegged to its NFL programming, and is launching Fantasy Football Live for ESPN Mobile TV on Verizon’s V Cast.
NBCU disputes Apple‘s version of events leading to the companies’ break-up over iTunes pricing. “Apple is not telling the truth. We never asked to double the wholesale price of our shows," NBCU spokesman Cory Shields told the New York Times. “Our negotiations were centered on our request for flexibility in wholesale pricing, including the ability to package shows together in ways that could make our content even more attractive for consumers.”
Time Warner invested in ScanScout, a web video advertising start-up based in Boston.
Warner Bros. is producing 24 Web programs including minimovies, games and episodic TV shows, in a bid to step up its online entertainment presence. Its produce-first, monetize-later Web projects include The Jeannie Tate Show, a 10-episode series about a neurotic soccer mom. [New York Times]
YouTube features luxury retailer Neiman Marcus on its homepage today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the luxury retailer, which tells Bloomberg it does more business online than in-store these days and wants to reach out to the 44.2 million (in June) YouTubers with its brand.
• IN OTHER NEWS
Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons tells New York magazine why he treats his day job as just that, while his true passion is running his vineyard: “What I have to wrestle with all the time is digital technology. How is it changing my world? What does it mean to music? What does it mean to film and television? How is it going to change the advertising paradigm for the magazines?” Holding up a glass of wine, he added: “You can’t digitize this!”