NBCUniversal Decreases Commercial Time In Favor of Advertisers

Programming of NBCUniversal

The giant media company announced on April 6th that they will reduce the amount of commercials and have room for more interrupted content.

Even though there is a surge in TV viewership, advertisers are pushing back on commercials because of the pandemic. Some industries struggle to maintain relevancy and it might even be more damaging to their brand to promote themselves, because they could come off as offensive. As these marketers struggle to shape their messaging in a relevant and respectful way, NBCUniversal is helping them by limiting the commercial time and offering their creative services teams as a resource for a waived fee.

Some of the channels that will hold more uninterrupted content are MSNBC, NBC News, CNBC, and Telemundo. During primetime, they will substitute some commercial time with clips from their comedy late-night shows. NBCUniversal also plans to hold (almost) commercial-free movie nights for families.

Source: https://deadline.com/2020/04/nbcuniversal-reducing-commercials-as-advertisers-scale-back-shift-message-family-movie-night-limited-ads-1202901703/?fbclid=IwAR3mW8v8DnYIjf2toBURmjiyRUxnDAnCCGEhlBAP55wgyHng5ucUbtZYIyI


‘Big Brother’ Germany Cast, Last to Know of Global Pandemic


COVID-19 has caused the shut down of schools, massive layoffs, and insanely large stock market plunges. At this point it has effected everyone in the world and it is impossible to not have heard about it by now… Unless you’re one of the 14 contestants on the show Big Brother Germany and have been living in a total media isolation and are just hearing about it for the first time while being filmed for live tv.

Big Brother is a reality show where “…14 contestants [are] confined to two adjacent houses for 100 days. They are filmed around the clock and gradually eliminated by viewer voting, with the winner taking home 100,000 euros (around $110,000) (Rogers, 2020). ” When the cast had first been locked into the houses, the coronavirus had only been effecting China  and at the time was not yet a pandemic. In this time the 14 contestants were blissfully unaware of how widespread the virus had actually become. Yesterday on live television the host, Jochen Schropp,  broke the news behind protective glass of the virus that had spread across the world and throughout Europe. As the contestants were shown clips of the deserted streets of Germanys, the worry for their loved ones began to set in. After hearing the news the contestants were shown supportive messages from their friends and family. The show even has a psychologist to help the contestants get through this crazy time.

Many other Big Brother shows such as Italy and Australia had to inform their contestants about the pandemic, and the Canadian show informing their own contestants after they noticed the absence of a studio audience during an elimination round. When looking at these types of reality shows, you begin to wonder where the line for human morality is drawn. Was it really the right thing to do to break this type of news on live TV for viewer ratings just to use the panic of the contestants for entertainment? You could say that this time, Big Brother definitely wasn’t watching.

NBA Season Cancellation Spells Trouble for Networks

In his article for ‘CNN Business’, Frank Pallotta covers the recent announcement that the NBA will be suspending games this season due to the coronavirus outbreak.  The news comes after an unnamed player tested positive for the virus ultimately resulting in the leagues temporary hiatus.  Pallotta in his analysis makes evident the huge blow this will result in regarding television partners and networks who heavily rely on sports ratings for advertising revenue.  NBA viewership is especially crucial for many networks as the league still manages to bring in solid ratings across the board.  With audiences jumping ship from cable to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, this news will be an especially hard pill to swallow for television networks.  Another factor in this debacle is what will happen to advertising revenue that has already been booked? Will the networks be required to give the money back?  Some analysts have placed the estimates of lost advertising revenue for individual networks to be in the ballpark of 75 to 100 million dollars.  The NBA is not the only league who has suspended their season; with the NHL and Major League Soccer also cancelling games as a result of the pandemic. 

This article for me put into perspective how far reaching and impactful the coronavirus has been globally.  No avenue of business or entertainment will remain unaffected by the virus quarantine currently underway; the likes of which have not been seen in modern times.  In regard to this article and the implications of the NBA season being cancelled; it will be interesting if the playoff games in April will commence and potentially help alleviate some of the lost revenue woes networks are currently dealing with. 


Redbox Enters the Streaming Market

Redbox recently kicked off their brand new online streaming service this past month, joining an ever growing list of competing services in the market.  The article by Eli Blumenthal on Cnet dives into the rental chains latest endeavor called ‘Free Live TV’ which offers consumers as the name suggests, complimentary access to television shows and certain movies.  The article compared the new service to Amazon’s ‘IMDb TV’ which similarly offers free advertisement based content in favor of a traditional subscriptions model. The service comes after years of decline in the popularity of the companies traditional disk based rental service that are common among grocery stores and shopping malls.  The article makes a point of mentioning the serious lack of content currently offered on the platform which may explain why the service does not require users to make an account to access shows and movies.  

At the time of this article, the service is only accessible to limited test markets and the company has stated that the platform will be going live nationally soon.  The service has publicized its partnerships with channels such as ‘USA Today’ and ‘TMZ’. I find it odd that Redbox has launched their new service early in select markets despite the serious lack of content currently found on the platform; resulting in what appears to be rather lukewarm reception by users.  With the market already flooded with streaming services and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s interesting that Redbox has decided to throw their hat in the ring with almost nothing to differentiate their product from the rest. Perhaps there will be a market for a service like this as it is completely free at the moment which may entice people searching for streaming option that doesn’t require a subscription like Netflix and Disney Plus.  


NFL Ratings Surge Blessing for TV Networks

CNBC’s recent article covering the NFL ratings surge experienced by the league this past year is an insightful look at the important role sports broadcasting plays in the world of television.  According to the news site, the NFL’s ratings grew by five percent this past season after years of decline. This will be monumental for the league as renegotiations with television networks are set to begin in 2021.  Not only is this good news for the NFL, but also for TV networks in general who rely heavily on strong sports ratings for advertising revenue. CNBC’s report stated that sixty-three percent of the Fox networks gross ratings last year came from the NFL alone.  In recent years, TV networks have seen their NFL ratings take a sharp decline as consumers continue to transition away from cable TV in favor of cheaper streaming services. Interestingly, this past year overall the league saw their ratings among the eighteen to twenty-four demographic shrink by slightly less than five percent while ratings among older viewers grew.   

I found this article to be of particular interest to me because it perfectly encapsulated the pivotal role sports broadcasting, particularly the NFL, plays in the overall success of traditional TV networks.  The statistic that more than half of the Fox networks gross ratings come from football alone completely took me by surprise by how critically important the NFL is to cable television. This news of a ratings leap will definitely give the league a significant amount of leverage in the coming months when negotiations resume between the NFL and television networks.  It remains to be seen however, how long this surge in ratings will last; as streaming continues its inevitable growth.   


Cancel Culture–Harmful or Effective in Holding Our Fellow Celebrities Accountable?


For those who aren’t as familiar with what cancel culture is, canceling and cancel culture have to do with the removal of support for public figures in response to their objectionable behavior or opinions (which can include boycotts or refusal to promote their work.)

In late 2018, comedian Kevin Hart publicly stated he would be hosting the 2019 Oscars; an announcement that triggered intense public scrutiny regarding homophobic jokes and tweets he had previously put forth. While the backlash against Hart came from many different directions, a majority derived from the social media platform, Twitter. Although ‘cancel culture’ is not a new phenomenon, it is evident that it was brought to the forefront of American pop culture after Hart’s “canceling,” and has continued since.

With this idea of “canceling” in mind, the question many have is whether or not canceling is harmful or effective in holding these celebrities and public figures accountable.

Last night during the Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix gave a discursive speech in which he both criticized “cancel” culture and advocated for social justice while accepting the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “The Joker.” In his speech he said,

“I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” Phoenix said. “I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.”

Like Joaquin, many believe that cancel culture is merely harmful to society and those individuals being “canceled,” but, according to the article on Daily Toreador, many also feel that it’s unfair that celebrities can seemingly “get away” with hurting other people or making damaging and harmful statements, even after being canceled for a little while. At the same time, however, it is both concerning and detrimental that as a society, we perpetuate a culture of simply canceling someone instead of encouraging them to be better and holding them accountable in a constructive way (similar to what Joaquin said.)

I think we can all agree that public outrage against celebrities is expected and sometimes even justified in some cases, but is it possible that sometimes cancel culture can go too far? What do you think?





They’ve Gotta Have Us

A new documentary series on Netflix has just been released yesterday. It takes a deep dive into understanding how African-Americans were portrayed in media entertainment. Ever since the #Oscarssowhite movement that took place around five years ago, anti-discriminatory notions have taken over social media. With African-Americans feeling they have not been properly acknowledged for their part in the movie entertainment industry, They’ve Gotta Have Us looks into how the perception of having people of color in films has changed.

This documentary series discusses the effects having African-American cast members had earlier in the movie industry. The idea that having people of color in movies would result in less sales and less popularity across seas is changing. Notable African-American films are having major success such as Moonlight’s and Get Out. These films have changed the script for African American producers dreaming to make it big in the film industry. (“The color the really care the most about is green.”, Don Cheadle) The film industry will really change for what the people want.

Another highlighted point of this documentary is that having African Americans in front of the camera is not enough. More recognition has to be made for the African Americans who are also excellent producers and writers. Essentially, the directors and producers are the ones who call the shots. They make the big decisions and in order for African American people to be shown true appreciation, the people behind the cameras need their recognition.

With the growing number of streaming services, more creators of any color will have the opportunity to put their work out there.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/05/entertainment/theyve-gotta-have-us-black-movie-history/index.html

Super Bowl: Scores, Fumbles, and A Whole Lot of Misses

Retrieved from: sportingnews.com

The article “Super Bowl commercials: Who scored and who fumbled on the ad industry’s biggest stage” by CNN’s Brian Lowry reviewed the best, worst, and most lackluster commercials of the 2020 Super Bowl. With an estimated $5.6 Billion in advertising dollars spent, the bar, and viewer expectations were set very high. A majority of the ads were playful, comedic, and even satirical.

Among the winners were John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s Genesis commercial, Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” parody for Jeep, and Jason Momoa’s Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loan. All of these commercials played on the usage of high profile and widely-loved celebrities as well this year’s comedic trend.

Among those commercials who left short were the Planter’s commercial, which featured the death of the beloved mascot as well as Michelob Ultra’s commercial starring Jimmy Fallon and John Cena. Critics overwhelmingly found these to be cheesy, ill-executed, or in the case of Planters, confusing.

There was also a list of “Notable and Not Bad, But…” which seemed to rival the winners and losers in length. In summary, it seems that despite the 5.6 Billion dollars invested into these highly coveted advertisement slots, many companies failed to make their mark in the way that others have in previous years. In the context of media consumption, the Super Bowl provides an unusually large audience as well as high level competition. Regardless if the content or quality of these ads, it is safe to say most everyone will be tuning in again next year.

Motives Behind the NFL ‘Inspire Change’ Ad is Full of Hypocrisy

The first time I saw this ad for the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program was when it premiered earlier this month during the AFC and NFC Championship games. The 60-second ad, set to air again during the Super Bowl, is about Corey Jones, cousin of retired NFL star Anquan Boldin, who was tragically shot and killed by an officer in plain-clothes who came upon Corey unwarranted and never identified himself as law enforcement.

The heartbreaking story is told by Anquan Boldin of how his cousin Corey Jones was murdered by a police officer and goes on to show a reenactment of the unprompted shooting: Corey’s car had broken down and he was waiting for a tow-truck on an I-95 exit ramp when (at the time) Palm Beach Gardens Police Dept. officer Nouman Raja entered the exit ramp from the wrong direction in an unmarked vehicle; as he approached Corey’s car in plain-clothes, Raja, who failed to say that he was police, began yelling and cursing, and proceeded to fire multiple shots into the car, killing Corey. Next, the ad shows news clips and Jones’ family reacting to the loss of Corey. 

When I first saw this ad, I found it to be powerful and profound for bringing attention to the issue of blatant, unjust stopping, harassment, brutality and killings of minorities, specifically black men by law enforcement across the United States. This systematic and recurring issue is one that needs to be dealt with; and to air it on such large stages as the NFL conference Championships and the Super Bowl is what I thought to be a step in the right direction. However, an article by AdAge.com suggests that the NFL’s motive behind the “Inspire Change” program is actually to save-face, in terms of PR perspective, by funding initiatives run by players or ex-players to distract the public from the fact that the NFL essentially banned Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality, and this specific ad, involving the cousin of ex-49er Boldin, brings up some pretty clear controversy and hypocrisy. Does the NFL support protesting or bringing attention to social issues, such as police brutality, or not? Is raising awareness okay as long as it’s off the field? Then why air this during the most watched NFL games of the year?


How NBC’s Strategy For Their New Streaming Service, ‘Peacock’ Sets Them Apart From Other Streaming Services


NBC Universal has some exciting things coming this year, with the most notable being the official launch of their new streaming service ‘Peacock.’

For those who haven’t heard of ‘Peacock,’ it’s NBC’s new streaming service that is set to launch of July 15th, 2020. ‘Peacock’ was named after the logo of NBC and is an American over-the-top subscription video on demand streaming service.

The majority of us utilize streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu to stream originals on each platform or catch up on missed shows, but did you know that ‘Peacock’ offers something that those rival companies haven’t made available yet?

NBC Universal will offer 3 different tiers for ‘Peacock,’ with the first tier being free (it will make the majority of its money from advertisements,) the second tier offering more content and only some advertising for 4.99 a month, and the final tier that will be 9.99 a month with no advertising. Although this tier system differs from that of other streaming platforms, what really sets ‘Peacock’ apart from other platforms is the fact that they don’t want consumers cancelling cable–instead, they want Peacock to be a supplement product.

In saying this, NBC Universal plans to offer ‘Peacock’ Premium for no additional charge to cable subscribers because of the fact that they don’t want you canceling cable or replacing cable. It’s evident that streaming products do have the ability to replace the cable bundle, but NBC Universal’s strategy hedges this outcome by building something that could one day operate as the company’s primary source of content distribution while also marketing it as an add-on service that’s free to many people. If this happens, the question is whether NBC Universal can turn ‘Peacock’ into a vehicle that generates more revenue-per-user than the cable bundle for the same amount of subscribers — today (while keeping costs the same or lower).