Welcome to the first edition edition of Ad Age TV Brief, a new roundup of news from the world of broadcast, cable, streaming and beyond.
Sinclair under fire
“The Federal Communications Commission is investigating whether Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. misled the government agency during its unsuccessful attempt to buy Tribune Media Co. last year,” The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Flint and Lillian Rizzo report.
Why this is (potentially) a big deal: A determination against Sinclair could result in a formal FCC hearing, which could lead to “significant fines or even the possible loss of broadcast licenses, although such extreme actions are infrequent,” also per the WSJ.
“NBC News’ coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle may have been short on interpersonal drama,” Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi writes, “but the two-hour event certainly managed to draw a crowd. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the debate averaged 15.3 million viewers across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, coming up a bit shy of the 15.8 million potential voters who tuned in to CNN for the lead-off Dem debate on Oct. 13, 2015.”
Some context (also from Crupi): The first-night multicast “now ranks as the 28th most-watched TV program of 2019, tucking in between the final round of the Masters on CBS (the live broadcast and encore pulled 15.4 million viewers) and the June 3 episode of the syndicated game show ‘Jeopardy!’”
See also: “The single best Dem debate measurement” (Ad Age)
Stay tuned: We’ll update this post once second-night ratings come in.
CBS+Viacom is likely a go
“A deal that would re-combine CBS and Viacom is ‘probably inevitable,’ according to a report from Moody’s Investor Service analyst Neil Begley,” Broadcasting & Cable’s Jon Lafayette reports. “Merging the companies would fit in with industry trends in which media companies aim to get bigger in order to have leverage with distributors and scale to be able to launch streaming services that would have enough content to attract subscribers, the credit rating agency said.”
See also: “CBS, Viacom bring in bankers as merger talks on terms, management advance” (Fox Business)
The NRA kills its streaming network
“NRATV, the most provocative arm of the National Rifle Association, a group that is all too happy to provoke, is no more, the gun-rights organization announced,” the Dallas Observer’s Stephen Young writes in a post with the wry headline “Dallas-Based NRATV Is Off the Air. Couldn’t Have Happened to Nicer People.”
Plus: “The NRA’s decision means that the online TV network’s talent, which was represented by the Ackerman McQueen advertising firm, is out of a job,” Young notes.
A year-long activation called “The Seinfeld Experience” is coming to Manhattan this fall in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the show (which debuted as a sort of work-in-progress as “The Seinfeld Chronicles” on July 5, 1989). Age Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reports that,
The pop-up experience will run seven days a week through February 2020 (including Festivus) and was created by experiential agency Superfly, aiming to give fans a “behind-the-scenes” look at the classic show. The activation will include revivals of iconic show moments and characters with costumes, memorabilia, sets and props, in addition to never-before-seen content. It will also house a retail store onsite so visitors can buy branded Seinfeld merch as they exit through the gift shop.
Jerry Seinfeld himself is involved in the project, and tickets will go on sale “in the coming months.”
“ESPN is losing the services of its longest-tenured anchor, as Bob Ley announced his retirement Wednesday from the Disney-owned sports network,” Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi reports.
Will Turner reconsider?
“A panel of top network advertising executives said Turner’s decision to drop out of advanced ad consortium OpenAP was a ‘mistake,’ adding that with a new CEO and an industry vet helping out with new products, the group is poised to take the next step,” Multichannel’s Mike Farrell reports.
Previously: “TV consortium OpenAP introduces new automated ad marketplace” (Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi)
Rich Greenfield, a media futurist and analyst at institutional brokerage and fund services company BTIG, posed an interesting question about the media-past on Twitter this week: