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Fast Track

Study Touts “Lifestyle Media”

Results will be topic of key NATPE panel

Media companies and advertisers will have to cater to consumers' media-cluttered schedules if they want to profit on the digital future.

That's one of the conclusions in a new Price­waterhouseCoopers (PWC) study, The Rise of Lifestyle Media: Achieving Success in the Digital Convergence Era, which will be unveiled at NATPE this week. The fast-moving changes in media-delivery modes is the subject of a panel on Jan. 24.

The PWC study notes how fast this future is coming: Advertisers spent $3.1 billion on online advertising in third quarter 2005, fully 33% more than they did just a year ago in the same period. (That would indicate that the Internet grabbed almost as much ad revenue in one quarter as syndicated television did in a full year.)

According to the report, which B&C received in advance, AccuStream iMedia Research tells PWC that $321 million was spent on online video advertising in 2005, a number that's unremarkable except for the fact it's 175% higher than the year before.

The research and consulting firm pushes the term “lifestyle media” to describe a world in which consumers create their own entertainment and information menu by mixing “professional” content with their own—all within a limited time frame. Content providers will need to put consumers in control but also know instantly what they are doing, watching or creating. “What were previously the ends (content, channels or devices) of media and advertising business models are now the means for empowering consumers to organize their productive, leisure and social time around converged media experiences,” the report says. The media consumer now is capable of “creating, finding, selecting and exchanging content and services.” For advertisers to capitalize on that new lifestyle-media user, it will take better and more measurement and tracking devices, PWC says.

NBC U's Profit, Revenues Down

The slide in NBC's prime time ratings overwhelmed the strength of its cable-network siblings, trimming revenues and profits at the NBC Universal division. Parent company General Electric said Friday that NBC Universal's fourth-quarter revenues fell 3% to $4.2 billion, while operating profit dropped 7% to $801 million.

NBC's broadcast problems were a tremendous drag all year and should be again in 2006. Profits from the NBC prime time, O&O stations and program production plunged 60% during the fourth quarter and 26% for the full year. Broadcast profits are expected to fall another 20%-25% during 2006.

But NBC U's cable networks (including No. 1 rated USA Network) film studio Universal and theme parks boosted profit by 23% for the quarter and 73% for the year. Growth in 2006, however, is expected to be more modest, just 10%-15%.—John M. Higgins

Moran To Head MTV Ad Sales

MTV President Christina Norman will put Sean Moran in charge of advertising sales for MTV, MTV2, MTVU and MTV broadband, according to people familiar with the change.

Moran was most recently senior VP of ad sales for VH1, working for Norman when she was president of the channel. Insiders characterized the move as Norman's bringing “her guy” with her. Moran replaces Ron Furman, who was named senior VP of MTV ad sales around the time Norman took over the network group last spring. But Furman and Norman clashed, say people inside the company, and Furman left at year-end. Moran, who will be responsible for nearly $1 billion in ad sales, was still negotiating his deal at press time.—J.M.H.

Station Groups Name New Heads

Clear Channel Television has appointed Donald Perry president/CEO to succeed Bill Moll, who had been in the post since 2002 and remains chairman.

Perry, who has been executive VP/COO since May, reporters to Mark Mays, president/CEO of Clear Channel Communications, which also owns more than 1,200 radio stations.

Clear Channel Television owns and operates 41 TV stations.

Also last week, at Belo Corp., Dunia Shive was tapped to be president of media operations, overseeing the company's TV stations, cable news, interactive, and some of the newspaper assets. Former chief Jack Sander is retiring at the end of the year. Until then, he will be vice chairman, reporting to Chairman Robert Decherd.

Under Shive, Skip Cass and David Lougee will be executive VP of media operations, charged with all Belo assets except the Dallas Morning News and WFAA Dallas-Fort Worth. CFO Dennis Williamson is adding an executive VP stripe.

Belo owns and operates 20 TV stations and seven cable news channels.

—Johnv Eggerton/Allison Romano

Equity Firms Bid For Nielsen Parent

A group of American and European private-equity firms have submitted an $8.8 billion offer for VNU NV, the Dutch company that owns Nielsen Media Research.

The firms offered to pay $34 per share for VNU, which has been in some turmoil since November, when shareholders revolted against a planned $7 billion takeover of pharmaceutical-research company IMS Health. Those shareholders wanted the company to pass on expansion and, instead, use capital to buy back its own shares. The fight forced the resignation of Chief Executive Rob van den Bergh.

VNU said Monday that the offer came from a group including several U.S. firms: Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

VNU's primary business is publishing, including media trade magazines The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek and Mediaweek.—J.M.H.

Fox's Kantor Gallops To Warner Bros.

Susan Kantor, who has been senior VP, marketing and creative, for Fox/Twentieth TV, has joined Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Telepictures Productions as senior VP, marketing.

In the newly created post, she will oversee the syndicated launch of CBS hit Two and a Half Men, as well as off-net series Friends and Sex and the City, first-run talkers Ellen DeGeneres and Tyra Banks, and magazine Extra.—J.E.

Figure Skating Gets Hot As Olympics Near

Figure skating is starting to score high with viewers.

In addition to NBC's coverage of the Olympics next month, for the first time, USA Network will air a daily show called Olympic Ice, providing an “all-access pass inside the Olympic Winter Games' most popular sport,” the network says.

WE: Women's Entertainment has inked a deal with Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi to host its original series Skating's Next Star. The show, which debuts March 20 at 10 p.m. ET, features two groups of professional skaters competing both on and off the ice. Six hour-long episodes will follow 12 contestants' weekly auditions.

Meanwhile, Fox's Skating With Celebrities' Jan. 18 premiere at 9 p.m. attracted 18.75 million total viewers and a 7.2 rating/17 share in the 18-49 demo, retaining a healthy chunk of American Idol's audience of 31.65 million viewers.

TLC continued Ice Diaries, its six-part skating documentary about Olympic figure-skating hopefuls.

—Anne Becker


KPNX Phoenix's Arizona Nightly News airs at 6:30 p.m. The time was incorrectly identified in Market Eye (1/9, p. 19).

Sam Matheny is general manager of News Over Wireless but not owner of CBC New Media, as reported in “In Vegas, All Things Great and Small” (1/2, p. 18). CBC New Media is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co.

EchoStar Gets Oxygen

EchoStar Communications' fight with Lifetime Television has given a big leg up to rival women's network Oxygen, which has scored its first affiliation deal with the DBS operator.

EchoStar's Dish Network will add Oxygen to a package received by 10 million of its customers, boosting the network's subscriber base to 65 million. Oxygen has negotiated on and off with the satellite company for years with no success. But EchoStar has a new need for a women's channel, having dropped Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network in a dispute over rates. Lifetime is working to rally women's groups to its cause, sponsoring rallies and paying for advertising.

“I don't feel used,” Oxygen CEO Geraldine Laybourne says. “I feel like they appreciate the fact that we have been consistent.” She believes the channel would have secured an EchoStar deal soon even without the Lifetime fight. “We've been talking to them since this summer, since Carl came on board,” she says, referring to Carl Vogel, former Charter Communications CEO. Vogel, who once served as EchoStar CFO, rejoined as vice chairman.

Carl and Laybourne have a good relationship in part because Charter's controlling shareholder, Paul Allen, is also a major investor in Oxygen.

Says a Lifetime spokesman: “Clearly, Oxygen is not a substitute for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, which are the No. 1 and No. 2 rated women's networks.”