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Friday, August 31, 2012

Robin Williams TV plans.Nielsen 'people meter' changed TV. Al Jazeera to use Soccer to increase its reach. 'The Possession' to possess box office. The good, the bad and the ugly at Repubulican Convention.

Robin Williams
Robin Williams may return to TV. (Warner Bros. / August 31, 2012)
After the coffee. Before figuring out what to do with a long weekend.
The Skinny: One thing I'll be doing this weekend is taking my cat in for his semi-annal crew cut. His haircut costs more than mine but it also looks better. Friday's headlines include the box-office preview for the holiday weekend and Robin Williams may return to television.

Daily Dose: For everyone who wants to get HBO without having to pay for cable, now you have a chance. There's only one problem. You'll have to move to Norway to do it. The pay-TV channel is launching HBO Nordic and will offer consumers the option to buy the channel as a streaming service. In the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, if you want HBO you have to have a pay-TV subscription from a cable or satellite provider.

Scary weekend. The horror film "The Possession" is projected to scare up enough viewers to take in $15 million in box office over the Labor Day weekend. However, overall attendance at the movies this weekend is what will likely really be scary. Also opening is "Lawless" starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, which will do battle with the documentary "2016: Obama's America" for second place. The bomb of the weekend will be "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure." Box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Nielsen People Meter
The Nielsen "people meter," circa 2004, changed the television industry; for one thing, it made it more difficult for network executives to be patient with shows. (Nielsen Media Research)
Instead of relying solely on the diaries that members of "Nielsen families" filled out by hand, listing the shows that they watched, the device provided a more efficient and accurate way to measure who was watching what shows and when. Diary results were always suspect because procrastinators often waited until the end of the month-long "sweeps" periods, typically November, February and May, to fill out the diaries.
But with the introduction of people meters into 2,000 homes in 1987, the networks suddenly got overnight ratings results.
The updated measurement technique made the TV business more competitive. It became more difficult for network executives to be patient with shows, allowing promising ones time to gain traction. 
The devices also accelerated the trend of advertisers zeroing in on key demographics, such as viewers 18 to 49. Shows that appealed to younger audiences became more valuable than shows that had older-skewing audiences.
Today, the Nielsen "people meter" panel has expanded to 20,000 homes, which measure the viewing habits of a sample audience of approximately 45,000 people.  Nielsen reports that more than 289.4 million Americans live in homes with TVs, and the average TV viewer consumes on average more than five hours of television per day.
While Nielsen has been slowly trying to phase out the handwritten diaries, they are still used in smaller markets, according to a Nielsen spokeswoman. "We collect more than two million paper diaries from across the country each year during sweeps," she said. 

Call my lawyer. Former News of the World lawyer Tom Crone is the latest major arrest in the British government's investigation of phone hacking and other wrongdoing at the now-shuttered tabloid paper. Crone, who spent more than a quarter of a century at the paper, is also known for contradicting James Murdoch's statements regarding how extensive hacking was at the paper. Coverage of Crone's arrest from the Wall Street Journal.

Goal! beIn Sport, a small cable network owned by Al Jazeera, has been gobbling up rights to soccer in an effort to boost its profile and beef up its reach in the United States where the sport's popularity continues to grow. But another reason beIn Sport may be spending heavily is that if the channel gets stronger, Al Jazeera could be in a position to try to use it to leverage distribution of its news channels. A look at beIN Sport from the New York Times.

Change-up. Fresh from a big new deal with ESPN, Major League Baseball is now trying to wrap up new contracts with its other distributors. However, the deals being talked about could lead to some dramatic changes in the television landscape. A look at what's being discussed from the Los Angeles Times.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara on Clint Eastwood's improv routine at the Republican convention Thursday night.

Follow me on Twitter. I promise not to tweet to an empty chair. @JBFlint

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