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CBS rolls out "Project L.E.N.O." for affiliates


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#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 04:58 PM

I don't know whether they really do smell blood, but from Broadcasting & Cable:

"Project L.E.N.O. (Late Prime Enhanced News Opportunity)" is a "tool kit" of materials CBS is offering stations, including "sponsorable broadcast spots and behind-the-scenes vignettes, sponsorable web banners and tagable radio spots." CBS says the package also includes an "affiliate swap spot" to promote 10 p.m.

"As the face of network television changes this fall, 'Project L.E.N.O.' will help our stations capitalize on this opportunity in the 10:00 PM hour," said CBS Marketing Group President George Schweitzer. "Our marketing group loves acronyms...and ‘Project L.E.N.O.' says it all."

From Variety:

It's no secret both CBS and ABC are licking their lips at a chance to boost their 10 p.m. performance now that NBC has opted to strip "The Jay Leno Show" five nights a week in the slot.

...According to CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer, the net will use all its fall co-op money -- the marketing partnership with stations, in which affils pay half and the network pays half -- in order to promote...10 p.m. shows "CSI: Miami," "The Good Wife," "CSI: NY," "The Mentalist" and "Numbers." Eye has said the "Mentalist" move to the key Thursday 10 p.m. slot is one of the net's top priorities next season.


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#2 OFFLINE   Drew2k

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 06:43 PM

That's great! :P

#3 OFFLINE   MIKE0616

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 07:17 PM

Now if only CBS had some good shows on at 10 PM. :D

#4 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 10:40 PM

But what happened to the "P" in Prime? If they're going to create an acronym they ought to at least make it a proper one. You're only allowed to skip minor words like "of" or "the".

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#5 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 11:17 PM

No problem about that missing "P" for in television "prime" is a minor word. From Dictionary.com:

Posted Image

Consider most offerings in "Prime Time."

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#6 ONLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 11:21 PM

^^^ Case in point:

10 p.m. shows "CSI: Miami," "The Good Wife," "CSI: NY," "The Mentalist" and "Numbers."


I only recognize two of those shows and their forensics are so incredibly fake the shows are unwatchable to me.
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#7 OFFLINE   SamC

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 06:15 AM

The potential damage that Leno can do to NBC is huge. In smaller markets, affiliates still matter. In big cities, all of the stations are co-located towers, equal in signal strength, and there is enough market for local news that every station does a reasonable job and make money at it. NBC can be just as happy on channel 5 as it can on channel 12. In mid and small markets, that is not always the case.

In my market, NBC is the local news leader. Always has been. Its going to sit around and let NBC package its 11:00 cash cow between two unwatchable shows, and see its ratings slide.

No. You are going to see moves off NBC for ABC and CBS of better stations. NBC is going to the cheep network, and its going to be on the worst station in the market in every market where that matters.

#8 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 06:30 AM

I think people who are looking at this as a "someone will win and someone will lose" situation are missing the other alternative: That both sides will win (and a third side, actually, will "lose"). There is no question, nor any pretense conflicting with the assertion, that NBC is explicitly ceding the viewer who wants to watch a scripted drama at 10PM to CBS and ABC. That's a fact, incontrovertible. Project L.E.N.O. is a savvy attempt by CBS to capitalize on the opportunity that NBC's programming decision has opened up, just as NBC has capitalized on the fact that no other national network has seen fit to try what it has decided to try for the fall. If, between the three of them, they can pull even a net 1% of viewers back from switching to cable at 10PM, then it is possible that both sides will win something. As it is, given the cost structures involved, is would be exceedingly difficult for NBC network to lose. (NBC affiliates, on the other hand, definitely have a lot to lose, but typically no place to run to to get a better deal; NBC network is clearly, and cynically, counting on that fact.)

Allow for the possibility that everyone is doing the "right thing" (or at least the best thing than can, given the circumstances) in this case. There will still be winners and losers; there always are. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to "win" (and that may indeed be the fact of the matter for NBC affiliates), and so you just have to do the best you can.

#9 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 06:35 AM

I only recognize two of those shows and their forensics are so incredibly fake the shows are unwatchable to me.

Yet, the shows you don't like happen to be among the favorites of other people. And our own personal individual preferences don't have much impact within the context we're discussing.

Having said that, my own personal preferences agree with yours, with only one exception (The Mentalist is an incredibly great show). Therefore, it is perhaps interesting that NBC chose this particular year to cede 10PM to Jay Leno. I think in other years there were stronger competitors at 10PM. NBC might have decided to make this move at the precisely perfect point in time.

#10 OFFLINE   SamC

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:04 AM

...just as NBC has capitalized on the fact that no other national network has seen fit to try what it has decided to try for the fall.


That presuposes that NBC actually thinks that Leno is a legitimate program and a legitimate effort at attracting views. It isn't.

The decision by NBC is far more cynical, IMHO. The decision algorythem is something like this. A scripted show at 10 costs $X and with get ratings Y. But Leno will cost far less. And while the ratings will be tiny, NBC will make more money. (This, BTW, is exactly the same $$ over content decision that led to NBC picking Leno over Letterman decades ago, and every decision by NBC since).

That is great. If you are NBC, which is to say General Electric.

But if you are the NBC affiliate in some market between 40 and 140, it leaves you with your local news being led into by a virtual test patern, and leaves you trying to sell local avails during Leno that are not valuable.

By late winter, IMHO, you will see stations in all types of revolt. Many will spool up a 10 PM local news. Some will just trot out reruns in the slot. Some will even do a one up on NBC's financial decision and realize that they can sell the time to infomercials and make more than their avails. And, those that have superior positions in terms of signal and legacy loyality in local news, will sign with CBS or ABC. NBC will be, in five or six years, clearly the #4 network, on a permanent basis. With no serious ambition to be anything else.

#11 ONLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 07:49 AM

I don't think Leno will cost 'less'. Maybe in production costs, but they'll be paying him royally (not that I think he's worth it).
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#12 OFFLINE   lflorack

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 08:09 AM

That presuposes that NBC actually thinks that Leno is a legitimate program and a legitimate effort at attracting views. It isn't.

The decision by NBC is far more cynical, IMHO. The decision algorythem is something like this. A scripted show at 10 costs $X and with get ratings Y. But Leno will cost far less. And while the ratings will be tiny, NBC will make more money. (This, BTW, is exactly the same $$ over content decision that led to NBC picking Leno over Letterman decades ago, and every decision by NBC since).



Personal preferences aside, I'm not sure how you can say that choosing Leno over Letterman back then was a mistake since I believe that Leno consistently held better ratings.

As to whether it's now a money thing to basically give up 20% of your week-night prime-time lineup to put in a cheaper show, I'd happen to agree. That's exactly what it is. Whether you are right about Leno not having any viewership and the locals revolting, I guess you could be right about that too. It doesn't seem to me that NBC has been very prolific producing prime-time excellence anyway.

I presonally think that broadcast TV is and will be undergoing drastic changes -- and probably decline along with it -- over the next few years. There are way too many other options.
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#13 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:32 AM

That presuposes that NBC actually thinks that Leno is a legitimate program and a legitimate effort at attracting views.

I don't think you have any real reason to doubt that they think that.

It isn't.

That's your opinion. I think you're wrong about that.

The decision by NBC is far more cynical, IMHO. The decision algorythem is something like this.<snip>

Cynical; yes perhaps. However, that just fosters the notion that they are putting this forward as a "legitimate program". Cynicism doesn't preclude that, and the decision algorithm you outlined shows a reasonable and intelligent conclusion was reached, even if it is one we disagree with or don't like for some other reason.

And while the ratings will be tiny,

If you're going to condemn them, then stick your neck out a bit: You say "tiny" -- give us a number and we'll revisit you regarding that in October. :D

NBC will make more money. (This, BTW, is exactly the same $$ over content decision that led to NBC picking Leno over Letterman decades ago, and every decision by NBC since). That is great. If you are NBC, which is to say General Electric.

Precisely. They're doing what they're supposed to, even though it sucks for us. (And to be clear, I will not watch a single episode of Jay Leno. Not one. I have no interest. I mourn the passing of five more hours within which we could be offered scripted dramas.

By late winter, IMHO, you will see stations in all types of revolt.

We already had our revolt. Sunbeam Television took their shot, saying that they were going to run their local news at 10PM, and and then backed-down when they realized that NBC could and would pull their affiliation.

Many will spool up a 10 PM local news.

Not if there are any unaffiliated channels in the DMA. Remember what happened with Sunbeam (see above).

#14 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 10:37 AM

I don't think Leno will cost 'less'. Maybe in production costs, but they'll be paying him royally (not that I think he's worth it).

The numbers are widely available. A typical scripted drama costs $3 million per episode. The Jay Leno Show will cost $400,000 per episode. If the typical scripted drama is considered a big hit with 4 million prime-demo viewers, The Jay Leno Show will be considered a blockbuster with a small fraction of that.

#15 OFFLINE   SamC

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 11:24 AM

Not if there are any unaffiliated channels in the DMA. Remember what happened with Sunbeam (see above).


Assuming all TV stations in a market are created equal. In the top 40 or so markets, that is, more or less, the case. Out here in flyover country, it is not, for all sorts of reasons. As contracts expire, you will see NBC on whatever station has the most "issues", the weakest signal, in a rimshot town, no serious local news effort, legacy pre-DTV UHF signal, short tower, protection signal, etc.

#16 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 11:32 AM

The most crowded bit of spectrum is here in the Northeast.

Beyond that, even in WV there are unaffiliated channels. NBC is still going to be able to command what is essentially, in this context, best for them. You'll see.

#17 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 12:23 PM

The one thing missing in the article discussion is the NBCU big picture.

Next year, when there isn't some NFL game or Olympics, the broadcast network NBC will show one to two hours of scripted TV mixed with reality and game shows.

On USA, NBCU likely will be showing something scripted i.e. "In Plain Sight", " Law & Order: CI", "Burn Notice", "Royal Pains", "Monk", "Psych". On Bravo, NBCU will be running something in the reality category. With the newly branded Syfy, Oxygen, Chiller and Sleuth plus CNBC and MSNBC, NBCU believes it has its bases covered.

As I noted on another thread NBCU owned New York NBC station WNBC is replacing it's 5 pm local newscast a one-hour "daily information, lifestyle and entertainment show" known as LX New York to try to get viewers back from cable channels, including NBCU cable channels.

NBCU has an obvious agenda. It's big picture NBCU oriented, not a "were all in this together" affiliate-oriented approach. Podunk NBC affiliates have to see the handwriting on the wall. They can't afford such local shows as LX New York.

CBS is taking a different approach for its own reasons.

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#18 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 12:33 PM

This is awesomely insightful. It is very clear that USA, especially (but also FX and TNT) have been eying the 10PM audience for edgier scripted drama programming.

#19 ONLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 12:41 PM

Next year, when there isn't some NFL game or Olympics, the broadcast network NBC will show one to two hours of scripted TV mixed with reality and game shows.


Per week. Another reason to avoid NBC.

Now, why was it again I spent a bunch of money to get OTA DTV working?
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#20 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 01:33 PM

Regarding the Leno-Letterman choice many years ago... It's really hard to weigh their results accurately, because I have no doubt Leno gets an automatic "bump" from being on the flagship "Tonight Show".

In other words... if two men are equal as hosts, I expect the Tonight Show host to get the better ratings over time because of tradition.

Consider, for example, how many seem to agree Saturday Night Live is not what it used to be... but FOX's Mad TV really never stands a chance of taking over that timeslot as long as NBC wants to run SNL.

So... if we had switched Letterman & Leno, I suspect the Tonight Show would still have garnered the higher ratings all this time. Note that this is not a slam on Leno as much as it is commentary on the Tonight Show tradition.

Now the question is... Do enough people like Leno that they will follow him to 10pm for a different kind of show? Also, even if he has a big following... is his following so great that people will skip the other offerings in his timeslot? Think about the guests Leno had... many of these guests will now be in competition with his new 10pm show.

Also to consider... since Leno was showing signs he didn't want to retire as his agreed-to-Conan-swap approached... NBC also had to consider fallout from another host debacle. IF they didn't give Leno a 10pm show, might he have gone to another network and had a program opposite Tonight Show and ate into their audience?

It's like the sports team who trades a player to a different conference so he can't play against them and beat them... Keeping Leno on NBC at a different timeslot is also a "win" for NBC in that it keeps one seasoned competitor away from their 11:30pm timeslot.

IF he also has an audience at 10pm as good or better than whatever they might have put in its place... then that's a double-win for NBC. They don't have to win the 10pm timeslot to get that.

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