Channel Surfing

Animal Planet, CMT Cancel Freshman Series

NEW YORK — Two highly-touted freshman series from Animal Planet and CMT
won’t graduate to sophomore status due to poor ratings.

Animal Planet last week decided to cage its much-publicized reality series
Taking on Tyson, after it failed to fly with viewers. Taking on Tyson, which chronicled
former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson’s entry into the sport of pigeon
racing, averaged just 368,000 viewers, well below the 600,000 subscribers
Animal Planet averaged in primetime during first-quarter 2011.

“We love Taking
on Tyson
and working
with Mike and
we are enormously
proud of the show,”
Animal Planet Media
president and
general manager
Marjorie Kaplan told
Multichannel News.
“Unfortunately, the
series did not find
as large an audience
as we hoped.”

Kaplan said the
network is talking to
Tyson about other
potential projects.

CMT last week
canceled its first
scripted sitcom, Working
, which ended its freshman season on April 1. The show, starring
Melissa Peterman and Ed Asner, averaged 515,000 viewers after drawing a
network premiere record 1.2 million viewers and a 0.5 rating among person
18 to 49 during its Jan. 28 debut.

Peterman will continue to appear in CMT’s The Singing Bee, whose new season
debuts April 15.
— R. Thomas Umstead

Fox Sports Scores 13-Year Football Pact With Big 12

LOS ANGELES — Fox Sports Media Group
has scored a 13-year pact with the
Big 12 Conference, giving the programmer exclusive cable rights to some 40
college football games per season, plus access to an array of Olympic sports
and conference championship contests.

Kicking off with the 2012 season, Fox Sports will essentially double its
current rights to a minimum of 40 football contests, many of which will be
distributed by Fox Sports Net owned or affiliated regional sports networks that
combine to reach some 85 million homes. Moreover, a number of games will
be earmarked for FX, fortifying the 99-million subscriber network’s re-entry
into the sports realm.

Fox has similar cable exclusivity for a minimum of 40 Big 12 Olympic sports
events, including conference championships and women’s basketball games. The
agreement also includes comprehensive multimedia rights to allow the programmer
to maximize online, mobile and wireless opportunities for its Big 12 content.

When the agreement takes effect in the 2012-13 academic year, every
Big 12 home football game will be broadcast on ABC, a Fox network or by
institutional platforms. Big 12 schools will have the option to retain rights to
one home football game per season for distribution via school-controlled platforms.
In all other sports, the colleges will retain the rights to all home contests
not selected for broadcast by ESPN/ABC Sports or Fox Sports.

ESPN/ABC Sports remains the Big 12’s broadcast partner for football and
also controls men’s basketball rights, including the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s
Basketball Championship. The league’s current pact with ESPN/ABC Sports
runs through 2015-16.

— Mike Reynolds

MTV Launches Online Digital Music Awards Event

NEW YORK — MTV will add to its branded awards show stable later this month
with the debut of the O Awards, which celebrate the migration and influence of
music in the digital arena.

Unlike its MTV counterparts, the Video Music Awards and the MTV Movie
, the O Awards will be webcast, with a mix of performances and award
winners that promise to make the eclectic VMAs seem like as traditional as
the Grammys, according Shannon Connolly, vice president of Digital Music
Strategy for MTV Music Group. (For more on the growth of awards shows, see
Cover Story.)

The show will not have a traditional host or venue, and MTV will reveal
several awards winners throughout the week leading up to the April 28
event. The network is not disclosing which stars will appear on the show,
but said that pop-music diva Lady
Gaga leads all performers with
three nominations.

The network has already received
500,000 online votes
since a soft launch of the website
two weeks ago. In addition, MTV
has secured advertiser sponsorship
automaker Ford, soft drink
Coca-Cola’s Fuse brand; athleticshoe
maker Adidas and cosmetics
company L’Oréal.

Comedy Central, MTV’s sister
network, drew nearly 1.5 million
viewers for its inaugural Comedy

The April 10 event — which was
simulcast on Comedy Central,
Spike TV, VH1, CMT, TV Land and
Logo and honored such comedians
as Eddie Murphy — averaged
1.4 million viewers on Comedy
Central, according to network officials. Comedy also posted an
80% increase among adults 18-49 and a 90% increase among adults 18-34
in the 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot, compared to the same period last year.

Overall, a total 16.8 million viewers watched the event across the six networks
during its premiere airing.

— R. Thomas Umstead

‘Borgias,’ ‘Camelot’ Cool Off After Hot Starts

NEW YORK — Two premium network period dramas — Showtime’s The Borgias
and Starz’s Camelot — cooled off a bit in their second week on the air, after sizzling
starts in the ratings.

The Borgias, which stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI, who headed the
notorious Borgias clan in the late 15th century, averaged 683,000 viewers in
its second week, down from the 1.06 million watchers from the April 3 two-hour
premiere, according to Nielsen.

After drawing a Starz network-record 1.1 million viewers for its April 1 debut,
drama series Camelot averaged 854,000 viewers in its April 8 second episode
and 1.85 million cumulative viewers over four airings, according to network officials. The 10-part Camelot series is a retelling of the King Arthur legend.

Meanwhile, ReelzChannel wrapped up its eight-part Kennedys miniseries with
a series-high 1.4 million viewers for the April 10 fi nale. Overall, the controversial
series about the family of political heavyweights drew 1 million viewers for its
week-long run, according to Nielsen.

Syfy’s ‘Being Human’ Finale Scares 1.6M Viewers

NEW YORK — Syfy drama series Being Human ended its freshman campaign
on a high note, drawing 1.6
million viewers in its April 11

The series, which follows
the lives of a werewolf, vampire
and ghost living together
under one roof, averaged
1.8 million total viewers
in its first season, as well
as 996,000 adults 18-49
viewers and 978,000 adult
viewers 25-54. It finished as
the best Syfy winter series
launch since Battlestar Galactica
in 2005, according
to network officials. Being
Human also ended its run as the most viewed Syfy series among women, with
an audience that was 53% female.

Syfy has already green-lit a second season of the series, which was
adapted from a British series of the same name.

— R. Thomas Umstead