After the coffee. Before figuring out who forgot to send me a valentine.
The Skinny: I’m in D.C., where a tiny bit of snow and rain has frozen the roads and created distress. In my youth that meant snow day! Now it’s just a pain in the you-know-what. Thursday’s headlines include Time Warner looking to unload many of its magazines and a review of the new “Die Hard” movie.
Daily Dose: Actor J.K. Simmons is doubling down on his TV options. Set to star in an ABC mid-season comedy called “Family Tools,” he has now also been cast in a new NBC sitcom in development for next season. That sure would seem to indicate that Simmons and his camp don’t have high hopes for the ABC show. However, should “Family Tools” work, Simmons’ deal with NBC would let him bail on the project. I’ve seen “Family Tools” and will say only that Simmons’ move may turn out to be a smart one.
Following the “The Following.” When Fox’s dark serial killer drama “The Following” premiered last month, about 10 million people tuned in, which by today’s lowered standards is not a bad number. However, when viewing from DVRs, on-demand, the web and other platforms are factored in, the number doubled to 20 million -- a hit by any standard. The challenge though is turning those additional 10 million viewers into real revenue. Otherwise, sustaining an expensive show that doesn’t have huge viewership on its primary platform (broadcast television) becomes a challenge. A look at secondary viewing and how it is changing the business from the Los Angeles Times.
Turn the page. For years there have been rumblings that Time Warner would like to unload its magazine division which includes such titles as Time, InStyle, People and Entertainment Weekly. Well, the rumors may finally be true as the company is in talks with magazine publisher Meredith Corp. to unload several of its magazines, including People. However, Time Warner would likely hold onto Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. That would, if nothing else, save the company the hassle of a name change. More on the talks from Fortune and the New York Times.
Zigging instead of zagging. Comcast’s decision to buy the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal it didn’t own from General Electric is a sign that the cable giant thinks it can make a marriage work were others have failed. The past decade has seen Viacom and CBS split as well as Time Warner and Time Warner Cable divorce. But Comcast still believes in one big happy family for its diverse content and distribution assets. The Wall Street Journal on why Comcast thinks it can make this relationship work.
Brush-back pitch. A legal battle between big satellite broadcaster Dish Network and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN is getting underway in federal court in New York. At issue is a contract Dish signed to carry several ESPN channels that it says the programmer violated by offering different and better terms to other distributors. The trial could potentially reveal juicy information about ESPN’s fees to pay-TV distributors and the clout it has in the marketplace. A preview from Reuters.
Second life for “The Walking Dead?” AMC Networks, parent of cable channels AMC (“Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead”), WE and IFC, is considering putting repeats of “The Walking Dead” on IFC. The move would potentially boost ratings for that channel. Why is that important? Because distributors such as Time Warner Cable are threatening to drop low-rated networks. However, if I were negotiating for Time Warner Cable I’d tell AMC no dice. Trying to use “The Walking Dead” to juice the ratings a little on a secondary channel is not exactly a bold and innovative programming strategy. More from the New York Post.
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