Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, June 25 »
Apple‘s iPhone (which Comcast head Brian Roberts told analysts he’s eager to see) finally goes on sale Friday with a panting media following the furor (Google News finds more than 9,000 iPhone stories in the last 24 hours). One notable comment this morning: "Everyone I talk to says, ‘There are all these things that are wrong with the iPhone,’" Bill Sanders, VP of mobile networks programming at Sony Pictures Television International, tells the New York Times in an article about Hollywood and mobile content. "But consumers can’t wait to get their hands on it. That’s because Apple makes it easy." (Click here for a guided tour on Apple’s website.) Apple’s iTunes, required for iPhone, was the third biggest music retailer in the U.S. in the first quarter, ahead of Amazon.com and Target but behind Wal-mart (#1) and Best Buy (#2), according to NPD estimates that don’t include revenue or mobile sales. [AP]
With broadcast networks’ upfront deals concluded last week, cable networks hoping for double-digital gains in CPM (cost per thousand viewers) prices will likely get up to 8% increases. Cable upfront projections (and concerns over which Nielsen ratings currency to use) are noted in Mediapost, TV Week, Mediaweek and Adweek. Meanwhile, Nielsen will integrate and report Hispanic households and individuals as part of a single, general market view of the U.S. television marketplace. The big question, notes Mediapost: "how Nielsen ‘weights’ its TV ratings sample to adjust for the under-representation of certain types of viewers, including English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanic households." Nielsen and NetRatings also completed their merger last week.
Rupert Murdoch dispatched News Corp. execs to meet with Dow Jones reps over the weekend, after NBCU/Pearson declined to bid and following two weeks of stalled talks. "To respond to Dow Jones’s editorial-independence proposal, News Corp. sent back a significantly altered draft [Sunday] morning," reports the Wall Street Journal. "News Corp.’s proposal cut out portions of the board’s initial proposal and reduced the Bancroft family’s involvement in the structure designed to safeguard the editorial independence of Dow Jones." The New York Times features an in-depth (word count: 3,868) look at Murdoch’s relationship to his newspaper empire this morning, while Ken Auletta in the New Yorker also details (in a whopping 7,409 words) Murdoch’s seeming inability to not meddle with his media properties. Not enough? Try Auletta’s 1995 New Yorker essay, "The Pirate," on Murdoch’s then-focus on expanding his worldwide TV empire.
CNN‘s Larry King nabs the first post-jail TV interview on Wednesday with Paris Hilton, who said on the weekend she’s thrilled to appear on Larry King Live (an unpaid gig) after NBC agreed, and then declined, to pay $1 million for an exclusive Today Show interview with Hilton and ABC also passed. [New York Times | New York Post | Variety | Hollywood Reporter]
Intel signed a deal with CableLabs to support the OpenCable platform, while its devices will support CableCARDs; Comcast CTO Tony Werner said his company will deploy "Intel Inside" digital interactive set-top boxes within two years.
Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and son Timothy are expected to be resentenced tomorrow.
Cable veteran Leo Hindery (now chairman of InterMedia Partners) is senior economic advisor to John Edwards’ presidential campaign, reports Fortune.
RCN bought Neon Communications Group for up to $260 million. Neon provides "pure play network transport services to carrier and enterprise customers in the 12-state New England and Mid-Atlantic regions."
EchoStar‘s Dish Network signed a multi-year agreement with Guest-Tek‘s Free-to-Guest package for the hotel market that bundles linear, premium, HD and HD on demand programming.
Mixed martial arts is heating up on TV: HDNet will debut a weekly MMA series in August [Dallas Morning News]; Mark Burnett is developing a primetime reality series with ProElite — an MMA outfit part-owned by Showtime, which carries its live EliteXC matches [Hollywood Reporter]; and the Art of War 3 pay-per-view hits cable and satellite on Sept. 1. HBO, bucking the trend (despite wanting to skew younger), is trying to nix former chairman Chris Albrecht’s deal to add UFC to its sports programming lineup, notes Variety.
Cartoon Network is producing a new Transformers series with Hasbro; Transformers Animated will premiere in 2008.
CNN‘s negotiations to sign NBC’s Campbell Brown have hit a bump — her first pregnancy — reports the New York Post.
ESPN features a Live Free or Die Hard-sponsored edition of SportsCenter tomorrow.
FX re-signed Joely Richardson to another round of Nip/Tuck, which moves to Los Angeles for season 5. [Hollywood Reporter]
HSN at 30 profiled by NY Daily News.
NDTV, a news network in India, will launch on DirecTV next month.
ReelzChannel premieres What I Learned About (Blank) From the Movies on July 8; new shortform programming this summer includes Miscasting and Movie Takes. [Variety]
TV Guide Network repeats The Surreal Life starting July 2.
USA Network signed DirecTV to sponsor the commercial-free premiere of new spy series, Burn Notice, on June 28 — a first for the ad-supported cable network. [Mediaweek]
Versus kicks off its live coverage of the 2007 Tour de France on July 7, and network president Gavin Harvey hopes cycling’s doping controversy doesn’t damage ratings. "I’d like to believe we’re in the final death spasms of the doping era," Harvey told the New York Times. "Fans don’t know on the field of any sport, at any given time, who is competing cleanly and who is enhanced, yet sport goes on." Versus has rights to the race through next year.
WE tv launches WEGoBridal.com as extension of Sunday night wedding block; details here.
Blinkx is partnering with RealNetworks, Lycos, and InfoSpace in addition to launching AdHoc, the first video advertising platform to integrate voice recognition to target and match online video ads. Mediapost and Business 2.0 have more.
eBay resumed advertising with Google‘s AdWords program (while stepping up Web advertising on Yahoo, Ask.com and MSN.com) after the companies’ spat earlier this month. [Wall Street Journal]
Google is "taking a novel approach to the problem [of censorship] by asking U.S. trade officials to treat Internet restrictions as international trade barriers, similar to other hurdles to global commerce, such as tariffs," reports AP.
ManiaTV.com is phasing out user-generated content to focus on original programming. [Mediaweek]
MTV Networks‘ AddictingGames launched on Facebook.
Photobucket‘s Media Plug-In 2.0 enables other websites to embed its instant digital media search functions.
Comcast led a $15 million funding round for Ortiva Wireless.
Google is rumored to kicking the tires on GrandCentral, an acquisition that would give it a foothold in the cellphone business, reports Wired. GrandCentral, a free service, offers one phone number and voicemail box plus visual voicemail (also touted on Apple’s iPhone).
Wireless HD start-up Tzero Technologies finds skeptics at Gartner Research.
• IN OTHER NEWS
VOD may not be a huge profit center (yet) but it’s valuable for customer retention, reports TV Week.
HDTV fans are lining up for sets with L.E.D.’s, reports the New York Times.
Conexant hired Daniel Artusi as president and CEO to replace Dwight Decker, who announced his retirement in March.
Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of HRTV: Horse Racing TV, announced the resignation of CEO Michael Neuman.
Murdered pregnant mom Jessie Davis worked for Time Warner Cable in 2004. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH]