Cynopsis Media Presents the Best of the Week: July 6-10, 2015

Skip a newsletter last week? “In Case You Missed It” rounds up the top stories in our daily editions, so you can be up on the latest news, Cynopsis-style, in the worlds of linear, digital, and sports television. Enjoy!


What prompted independent cable channel Reelz to grab the rights to the 2015 Miss USA Pageant, dropped by NBC and Univision’s UniMas following derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants made by Donald Trump? Aside from a fire sale price, “I think we did the right thing by stepping up to this,” CEO Stan E. Hubbard tells Cynopsis. “The city of Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana put up a lot of money to hold this pageant, and all the women who have been looking forward to competing shouldn’t have to pay a price for a political controversy.” As for advertisers, “Just having 11 days notice is tough anyway. As we’ve been reaching out to brands and agencies we hear they applaud what we’re doing, but are wary of taking a chance with their brands. We knew going in we might have no advertising. But it’s live, and it’s big and there aren’t too many iconic TV events that are available for an independent network like ours. We’re not kidding ourselves thinking we’ll have the viewership NBC would have had, but I think we’ll have good viewership.” Hubbard has distanced himself from Trump, calling the presidential candidate’s remarks “insensitive and wrong,” but notes, “controversy opens up opportunities. There may be more attention paid to this pageant than there has been for decades.” Pageant airs Sunday, July 12.

Regis Philbin has joined NBC’s Today as a contributor during the 10a hour, hosted by his former Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee partner for 15 years, Kathie Lee Gifford. “I wish we had him every day, but he’s busy,” said Gifford, who was joined by her Today co-host Hoda Kotb and Philbin for the announcement on Thursday. Philbin said he’ll appear once a month.

Microsoft is significantly scaling back on its Nokia unit, acquired just 14 months ago, with another major round of layoffs. The Seattle area based company will cut 7,800 jobs to write off $7.6 billion, nearly all the value of its Nokia phone business. “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” CEO Satya Nadella wrote in an email to employees. “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.” The new plan will focus on three different Microsoft Windows phone customers: business owners who want management apps and security; buyers in the market wanting less expensive phones; and Windows’ users. According to Bloomberg, previous Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Board of Directors (including Nadella) were not on the same page when the Nokia devices and services unit was first purchased. Last year, Nadella nixed a staggering 18,000 jobs, mostly from the smartphone sector of the biz. In June, Microsoft announced that it would sell its online display advertising business to AOL.

European media company ProSiebenSat.1 is working to build a new multi-channel network through the merger of Studio71 and Collective Digital Studio. The new MCN will be called Collective Studio71 (CS71), and ProSiebenSat.1 will invest $83 million into the project at a valuation of $240 million Christof  Wahl (Chair), Sebastian Weil and Ronald Horstman(ProSiebenSat.1), as well as CDS founders Michael Green and Reza Izad will jointly manage CS71. “Through our existing ProSiebenSat.1 partnership, we have been able to greatly increase monetization for our creators in Germany,” said Michael Green, Founder and Chairman of CDS. “The combination of our two MCNs will enable us…to establish the first truly global MCN. There will also be a strong focus on bringing in broadcast partners worldwide.” CDS is known for original web series Epic Meal TimeVideo Game High School and Rhett + Link’s Good Mythical Morning. Studio71 created digital series Let’s Play TogetherLast Man Standing and The Mansion.

History was made on multiple fronts as the US Women’s National Team captured the Women’s World Cup last Sunday. The team’s 5-2 victory over Japan propelled broadcasters to all-time highs as the match became the most-watched soccer contest (men’s or women’s) in US history. FOX’s coverage pulled a hefty 25.4 million average viewers to the channel, according to Nielsen, with a 12.9 rating, and peaked with 30.9 million viewers in the 8:30-8:45p quarterhour. That is good enough to best the previous high-mark for a single network set a year ago pitting USA/Portugal, and easily surpasses the previous high mark for a women’s soccer game, set in 1999. Meanwhile, FOX Sports GO set its own record with 232,000 unique streamers, to score the largest authenticated streaming audience in FOX Sports GO history.

Around the dial, Telemundo’s Spanish-language coverage of the game added another 1.27 million viewers to the mix, up 97% over the final’s coverage in 2011 and ranking as the most watched game of a FIFA Women’s World Cup in U.S. Spanish-language TV, according to Nielsen. Together the FOX and Telemundo coverage nabbed 26.7 million viewers in the States.

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