With Scripps Nets Interactive set to officially begin trading next week and the year’s initial half nearly over, it’s an opportune time to look at programming stocks from various perspectives. Interestingly, as TV viewers continue to increase their eyeball investments in cable programming, the Street this year hasn’t been as kind to programmers (has it been friendly to anyone lately?). Outdoor Channel Holdings (+20%) and WWE (+9%) are up this year, but the list of notable YTD decliners is lengthy: Crown Media (-30%), CBS (-23%), Discovery Holdings (-8%), Viacom (-29%), Playboy (-42%), and Time Warner (-10%). Most perplexing to me is Viacom, which is fluttering near its 52-week floor despite growth in cable ad sales and arguably trailblazing digital initiatives for brands such as MTV and Nickelodeon. Analysts’ mean recommendation for Viacom at Yahoo! is ‘buy.’ More strongly recommended is Discovery, which benefits from a light debt load and Discovery Comm pres/CEO David Zaslav‘s renewed focus on core businesses and network branding. Mean recommendations are also leaning toward ‘buy’ for WWE and Time Warner. The former likely won’t offer wild price upswings, but the wrestling empire has no debt, solid ROE (15%), estimable consistency and, perhaps most pleasing, a stout quarterly dividend (36 cents/share). Time Warner, meanwhile, will receive a monumental cash infusion plus debt easement when it splits from Time Warner Cable later this year, and enjoys a cable stalwart in Turner. And greater transparency and flexibility of its portfolio going forward can only help. As for Playboy, it may be attractive to some based on its enduring brand and depressed price, now at its lowest level since the early 90’s, but the company is having major trouble transitioning to online profitability. CBS offers a nice dividend (27 cents), but can Showtime and CBS College Sports Net carry the floundering broadcast net? CH

Highlights
"Transamerica’s Playing Lessons from the Pros," Mon 11pm ET, Golf. A highlight for golfer’s only, but Golf has beautifully mixed education and entertainment as actor Don Cheadle and pro Rich Beem play Trump National on a gorgeous day. Between banter, Beem gives Cheadle golf tips. To his credit, Cheadle absorbs them easily, improving his already good-looking game. The show’s simplicity underscores Beem’s urging that amateurs keep things simple. — "Origins," Sat, 9pm, GAC. Singer-songwriter Jewel was impressively articulate Sun on A&E‘s "Private Sessions." She’s no less so here, singing and discussing her peripatetic life and her man, Ty Murray. SA

Worth a Look
"The 10th Circle," Sat, 9pm, Lifetime. Lifetime’s promos promise light, fun viewing this summer. So what in the name of Dante’s inferno is it presenting this original based on Jodi Picoult‘s novel about an alleged teen rape? Yet it’s a good story, featuring a dad ( Ron Eldard) who’s gone from being a tempestuous youth to a house frau and his professor wife ( Kelly Preston), who satisfies her urges on a student’s body. Lifetime maintains the suspense, never showing us enough to do more than speculate about what happened. — "Factory" Sun, 10pm, Spike. No belly laughs from Spike’s first original sitcom, but a steady stream of grins, beer and girls. SA

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