Stephen Battaglio

TV Goes Gray Networks' audience skews much older than they'd have advertisers believe

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Laila Ali, Dancing with the Stars

When the networks talk ratings, they focus on the audience aged 18 to 49, because that's who advertisers will pay the most for. But every year, more of the network viewers are moving out of that prized demographic.

An analysis of Nielsen ratings from the ad-buying firm MAGNA Global USA shows that during the 2006-07 TV season, half of the prime-time viewers of the five major broadcast networks were over the age of 48, up from 45 in the 2002-03 season. During those five years, the median age of the U.S. population in TV households remained steady at 37.

The Fox audience aged the most the past season, with a median age of 42, up from 39 the previous season; that's the price of having broad-appeal shows such as House and American Idol. (Two Idol appearances by octogenarian crooner Tony Bennett probably helped keep Grandma glued to the s read more

Paris Hilton Is Good for Society According to Greta Van Susteren

Paris Hilton

If you've been wallowing in news about Paris Hilton's legal problems, you can stop feeling guilty about it. Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren, the thinking person's tabloid news anchor, says our obsession is part of a great American tradition. Van Susteren, who blogs daily on in addition to hosting On the Record every night at 10 pm/ET, recently told the Biz about how she mines civic lessons out of today's tawdry topics. You are one of the pioneers of this whole genre of celebrity-justice coverage, going back to O.J. Simpson.  
Greta Van Susteren:
It was an accident. [The 1990 trial of former Washington, D.C., mayor] Marion Barry really started it. I was on local TV. I'm sort of the accidental anchor. I read more

Jericho's Surprise Resurrection
Skeet Ulrich on the show's return and the changes ahead

Skeet Ulrich, Jericho

What’s it like to have your show brought back from the dead? Skeet Ulrich, star of the CBS drama Jericho, will tell TV Guide just that in next week’s issue. But since we know you nutty Jericho fans can’t get enough, here’s some of what the actor, who plays bad boy turned local hero Jake Green, had to say about the resurrection. (For those who want to discover or catch up on the show about a small Kansas town struggling to survive after the nation has suffered a nuclear attack, CBS will air the pilot and the second half of the first season starting July 6.) After the show was canceled, when did you first get word of this groundswell from the fans?
Skeet Ulrich:
I had heard pretty early on from my mom that there was a petition going around and there were like 40,000 signatures on it. They were just starting to send nuts (to CBS). Which was inspired by the line in the season fin read more

Meet the Dad Tim Russert on being a good son - and a good presidential candidate

Tim Russert, Meet the Press

Father's Day is coming up, which means it's almost time for another book royalty check for NBC's Meet the Press anchor, Tim Russert. Russert's memoir about his father, Big Russ and Me: Father and Son — Lessons of Life was not just a best-seller in 2004; it generated 60,000 pieces of mail from readers wanting to share stories about their dads (or father figures). Last year, Russert compiled the most compelling stories in a second book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons, which is now out in paperback. Meanwhile, Meet the Press has begun its "Meet the Candidates" series, which is must-see viewing for political junkies. The Biz recently caught up with Russert to talk pops and pols. After you wrote a book about your dad and a follow-up, is the bar now too high for you read more

NBC Recasts Its Office
New entertainment bosses plan to climb out of fourth place

Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson, The Office

After bringing The Office, Ugly Betty and The Biggest Loser to prime time as a hot producer, Ben Silverman is heading to the network corporate suite. He's been named cochairman of NBC's entertainment division and studio, replacing fired entertainment president Kevin Reilly. He'll have network veteran Marc Graboff (the other cochairman) guiding him on the business side. What's their plan to steer NBC out of another fourth-place finish in the ratings? The Biz asked them. You had a successful production company. Why was this the right time for you to make this move?
Ben Silverman:
It's always been something I've wanted to do. We can inherit the opportunity of the exploding media. Between read more

Reporter's Recovery
CBS News' Kimberly Dozier on surviving a bomb attack in Iraq

Kimberly Dozier, CBS News

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier remembers watching TV from her hospital bed last June when an obituary of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi she had taped made it on the air.

"It cheered me up," she told the Biz. "The car bomb that hit us was built by an offshoot of an Al Qaeda-related group, so I know al-Zarqawi's people had a hand in it."

The horrific attack and her arduous road to recovery is documented in Flashpoint, a CBS News special airing May 29 at 10 pm/ET. It recounts how exactly one year earlier, cameraman Paul Douglas, soundman James Brolan and Dozier (who has worked primarily in Baghdad since 2003) were traveling with the U.S. Army's Fourth Infantry Division when an IED packed into a yellow taxi was detonated. Douglas and Brolan were killed. The impact of the blast left Dozier's upper legs shredded and both femurs were smashed. A piece of shrapnel pierced her head, and an eardrum was blown out. Her blood loss was so severe that her heart sto read more

Upfront Analysis Day 4: Fox and the CW

Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Blake Lively, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick and Taylor Momsen, Gossip Girl

Fox Keeps Things Stable, and Welcomes Kelsey
Past experience has shown that it's wise to write down the new Fox schedule in pencil. There's always a change or two (or three) by the time the fall rolls around. But stability was the message for the 2007-08 season: Prison Break, 24, House, Bones, American Idol, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and the Sunday animation block will all return in their same time periods next season. Sure, Fox always falters when the season begins, but the network is about to finish No. 1 in viewers aged 18-49 for the third season in a row.

As far as new shows, Fox is trying to regain the edge it seemed to abandon in this past season's development (which was dismal). The most promising attempt is on Monday at 9 pm with K-Ville, starring Anthony Anderson and read more

Upfront Analysis Day 3: CBS
The Eye has ratings, but it wants buzz, too!

Lloyd Owen, Viva Laughlin

It isn't enough for CBS to be the most-watched network. At the presentation of its new fall schedule, network execs announced they want their shows to be talked about, too.

It's a new version of an old tune. For years, CBS has had the largest number of viewers, but many of them were old and not as desirable to advertisers. Recently, the network has gotten much more competitive for the 18-to-49-year-old crowd that Madison Avenue pays most for. Yet shows such as ABC's Ugly Betty get a lot more ink and watercooler chatter than the higher-rated Two and a Half Men or Survivor (CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler drove the point home to the audience at Carnegie Hall by citing how Betty's ratings have dropped 40 percent since its premiere).

With a solid foundation read more

Upfront Analysis Day 2: ABC The net gets aggressive, with familiar faces and Cavemen

Dash Mihok, Cavemen

Even with all the success ABC has had on Sunday and Thursday (thanks to the bold move of Grey's Anatomy to that night), there are plenty of other time periods throughout the week where the network simply wasn't competitive this past season.

But while the struggling NBC cautiously put together a schedule that seemed designed to retain its diminished share of advertiser dollars, ABC is being much more aggressive. In the new lineup presented to advertisers Wednesday at Alice Tully Hall, entertainment president Stephen McPherson threw a lot of stuff against the scheduling board in the hope that something will stick.

Determined to get back into the comedy game, ABC gave Sam I Am with Christina Applegate the benefit of a Dancing with the Stars read more

Upfront Analysis Day 1: NBC Journeyman and Bionic Woman Could Be the Next Heroes

Michelle Ryan, Bionic Woman

The message from NBC's new 2007-08 schedule is pretty clear: The network wants another Heroes. Badly.

Entertainment president Kevin Reilly picked up three fantasy/sci-fi-type shows that all could have been compatible with Heroes and thrived in the 10 pm on Monday time slot, now the most attractive piece of real estate for a new NBC series.

Journeyman got the nod, thanks to being the network's highest-testing drama pilot in five years. Chuck — about a geeky guy who has government secrets planted in his head — will do battle on Tuesday at 9 pm because it didn't seem to boast the same broad appeal.

Oddly enough, it was read more

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