USA is killing NBC

by Paul William Tenny

I don't know what's worse in this deal, USA (the cable net) nearly trumping The CW in yearly ratings, or USA absolutely killing NBC in profit making for parent GE. Who cares about the peacock, writers need to concentrate all their fire on USA if they really want to hurt that conglom.

$100 million (NBC) profit in 2007, versus $600 million for USA, which can't even begin to compare in ratings, even though NBC is typically a distant fourth year-after-year.

"USA's profits are outlandish, considering that the network was kind of tattered and sluggish when NBC bought Universal" in 2003, says Hal Vogel, the veteran showbiz analyst and head of Vogel Capital Management. (At the time, Universal was the parent company of USA.)

Vogel heralds these profits as "the coming of age" of cable networks like USA, whose dual revenue streams (advertising and cable/satellite license fees) are finally paying off, big time. (The only major revenue source for a broadcast network like NBC is advertising.)

USA's bountiful ratings -- courtesy of original and off-network series, a high-rated weekly wrestling series and a strong slate of feature films -- translate not only into fatter media buys from advertisers but also to pumped-up dollars from cable operators and satellite distributors when their contracts come up for renewal.

It's too bad that Bonnie Hammer can't replicate that kind of success with Scifi. Battlestar is great, but they've screwed with its schedule and delayed it so long that most people feel like it got canceled in the 90's, they haven't seen it in so long.

I kind of agreed with canceling SG-1 from a ratings standpoint even though I loved that show, but there was much worse programming that could have been sacrificed first. Painkiller Jane, Flash Gordon, anyone?

Also, this story really pumps Hammer for her unified vision for USA and credits it for the cable nets success, yet Scifi is also under Hammer's control and couldn't possibly be more fragmented. It's the Science Fiction channel, and it airs very bad horror movies on the weekends, ghost specials and pro wrestling during the week, and other crap that need not apply.

Is she just lucky, or does she really hate sci-fi?
in Ratings, Television


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