360AM — Morning news briefing for Tuesday, Mar. 13

• TOP STORY

Viacom sued YouTube and its parent company, Google, for $1 billion in damages today. The federal copyright infringement suit contends that 160,000 unauthorized clips from Viacom-owned shows have been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube. [Release] More details are here.



• UPFRONTS

Turner‘s entertainment nets (TBS, TNT and Court TV) held an upfront preview this morning at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, including announcing that Court TV will relaunch on Jan. 1 with a new name and logo. More details on the event are here.

Strong scatter market pricing bodes well for this year’s upfront. ABC and CBS are seeing double-digit increases over last year’s upfront prices in scatter, while NBC has seen high single-digit increases in primetime pricing, reports today’s Wall Street Journal with the headline: "It’s a Sellers’ Market." The biggest question mark heading into the upfront—commercial ratings, which Nielsen starts releasing in tandem with program ratings on May 31 in the thick of upfront negotiations.

Today’s New York Times tackles the commercial ratings issue, noting concerns that "Nielsen’s sample size makes it difficult to rate commercials at such a fine level." Comments Ira Sussman, VP of research and insight for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau: "Is it a real number or is it bounce? Is this really people coming in and out of a program or is it a measurement issue?" Best quote: "You’d have to go to an advertiser and say, ‘Your baby is ugly, we’re pulling it off the air,’" said Alan Wurtzel, president for research at NBC Universal. "Well, who are we to say that?"

Ad spending in 2006 grew 4.1% according to TNS, with the biggest growth (17.3%, to $9.76 billion) to Internet display ads. Spot TV was up 10.4% thanks to political ads; Spanish-language TV increased 13.9%; cable TV ad spending grew only 3.4% and network TV was also soft, up only 2.5% over 2005. [Release | MarketWatch | WSJ]

Mobile advertising is heating up, with Fox News, ESPN, Weather Channel and other brands ramping up wireless Web ad sales. [CNET]



• IN OTHER NEWS

Mediacom hopes to reverse losses from its retransmission consent showdown with Sinclair Broadcasting by offering subscribers who quit during the related blackout a "welcome back" deal: up to six months of free service and a $300 rebate. Customers who didn’t quit are being offered three months free on a service they don’t have, covering premium movies, high-speed online, telephone or digital cable. [Des Moines Register]

The Cable Show will feature games again this year. [Release]

DirecTV was ranked #1 by home theater installers. [Release]

AT&T opened its first branded retail location in a 5,000-square foot former Cingular store in Houston. At this first of 11 "AT&T Experience" stores, visitors can check out HD and VOD programming from its U-verse lineup; a music area with XM Satellite Radio and Apple’s new iPhone, for which AT&T is the exclusive carrier; and mobility and wireless demos. [Release | CNET]

Motorola made an undisclosed equity investment in Amimon, which specializes in semiconductor technology for wireless transmission of high-definition video. [Release]

SeaChange reported Q4 and year-end ’06 results. [Release]

CNN distanced itself from anti-Pakistan spot TV ad sold by local cable system. [AsiaMedia]

Steve Case launches GratisCard, a Web-based credit card. [BusinessWeek]

• DIGITAL

AT&T launched a wireless NCAA March Madness portal. [Release]

Bravo acquired snarky fan-reviewed TV website, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, as a companion to its TRIO suite of websites. TWoP (which retains its URL and edit team) will double Bravo’s online traffic to 2 million uniques and 70 million views per month. Bravo last month hired Charlie Suisman, founder of Manhattan Users’ Guide, to create travel and related multiplatform content for its getTRIO.com portal, tapping Suisman to manage the site, a daily newsletter and related products. Bravo’s other TRIO-related sites are gay-oriented OUTzoneTV.com and TV-centric BrilliantButCancelled.com. Network president Lauren Zalaznick said the channel’s newly expanded suite of online brands will form the centerpiece of its "digital pure play upfront strategy." [Release | TWoP]

Disney this week launches Disney Family, a website targeting moms with a non-Disney URL: Family.com. [Release | AP]

ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen launched CampusFans.com featuring CF Sports Talk Studio, calling it "a logical extension of what we unleashed in 1979." [Release]

NBC series (including Scrubs and My Name is Earl) will be available online in an NBC channel on VMIX.com. [Release]

NHL Center Ice, the National Hockey League’s out-of-market subscription package, is now on NHL.com.  NHL Center Ice Online offers up to 40 games/week through the regular-season finale on April 8, plus select games from the Stanley Cup Quarterfinal and Semifinal Rounds. NHL Center Ice TV subscribers can sign up for half price. [Release]

• PROGRAMMING

A&E signed Ice Cube to produce Good in the Hood, a pilot for a reality series. [Variety]

CBS announced a new compensation package for executive chairman Sumner Redstone, tied to shareholder returns and similar to his recently revised package with Viacom. [Release]

Columbus Sports Network, a regional sports network from broadcaster WCSN, will launch Mar. 24 in Central Ohio. [Columbus Business First]

Cox Communications and LIN TV affiliate in RI provide additional NCAA coverage [Release]. Cox and LIN completed a carriage deal Mar 1. [Release]

Disney is launching HD versions of ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPNews and Toon Disney on DirecTV by early ’08. DirecTV also launches ESPN Deportes this month.

ExerciseTV will debut a series this summer featuring Brandy Cruthird, a gym teacher who won a 1 year contract following a national competition. [Release | Boston Herald]

SCI FI premieres original series Painkiller Jane on April 13 at 10pm following new episodes of Stargate SG-1 at 8pm and Stargate Atlantis at 9pm.

TV Guide Channel premieres Idol Night tomorrow, a weekly live look at American Idol. [Release]

VH1 Classic to launch first-ever pro-social campaign: Rock Autism. [Release] – Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Monday, Mar. 12 >>

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