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Monday, January 23, 2012

Why is all TV geared for onlly 18 to 49 year olds?


John Erickson is betting on RLTV

Photo: John Erickson, the founder of  RLTV.  Credit: Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun

When Joan Lunden was first approached about doing a show for RLTV, the cable channel that caters to the over-50 crowd, she was a little reluctant.

“Oh man, do I want to be on Retirement Living TV?” the former host of ABC's "Good Morning America" recalled thinking to herself. The network, which has since dropped the phrase "Retirement Living" in favor of "Redefine Life," was interested in Lunden because of her experience caring for her elderly mother.

For Lunden, hosting a show on RLTV meant not only coming to terms with the idea of working for a channel aimed at Americans over 50, it also meant accepting the fact that at 61, she was right in their demographic sweet spot.

“I can't even wrap my brain around the fact that I'm 60-plus,” Lunden said with a laugh.
But after making “Taking Care With Joan Lunden” for RLTV in 2010, she's overcome any fears she had about being affiliated with the channel and has two new projects in the works. “The 50-plus audience is a force to be reckoned with,” she said.

Lunden's realization is what John Erickson, the founder of RLTV, is banking on. Erickson, who made his fortune building large-scale retirement communities, launched RLTV with a goal of programming to an older audience long ignored by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

"We [as a culture] don't have a very positive attitude about aging, said the 68-year-old Erickson during an interview from RLTV's Baltimore's headquarters. “We don't celebrate these 25 or 30 years of life in any meaningful way that give people a sense of honor or dignity and involvement.”

For decades, the television industry has built its business around reaching the 18-49 demographic. Advertisers have always paid more to reach younger viewers, believing they are easier to persuade to try new products.

Older viewers, on the other hand, have always been taken for granted. As people age, they watch more TV, so programmers and advertisers figure they don't need to make any special effort to reach out to them or create shows tailored to them. Furthermore, there is a perception that as people age, they become stuck in their ways with regards to spending habits and adapting to new technologies.

Now, though, some of those executives who preached the gospel of 18-49 are singing a different tune as they find themselves inching closer to Social Security.

“We have seen in the last couple of years how a lot of advertisers are waking up to the fact that the 50-plus population is an audience they have to pay attention to,” said Kevin Donnellan, an executive vice president with AARP, the chief lobbying arm for older Americans and a producer of two magazine shows for RLTV. “We're no longer living in that era where people are thinking about their father's Oldsmobile.” 
Currently available in 15 million homes (in Southern California it is offered on Verizon FiOS), RLTV hopes to double its reach by the end of 2012.

That growth will be key if RLTV is going to land major advertisers. Right now, its reach is too small to attract much national advertising beyond cheesy direct promotional spots. And it does not bother having its small audience tracked by Nielsen.

“There's no doubt about it, it's a hard sell,” said Paul FitzPatrick, RLTV's president and chief executive officer.

In anticipation of reaching a bigger audience, RLTV has been reaching out more to advertisers to build awareness for the network. Last fall, RLTV executives went on the road to New York and Los Angeles to pitch the network to top advertising agencies.

“I've looked at them a little more closely,” said Francois Lee, a vice president at MediaVest, whose clients include Wal-Mart, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft.

As RLTV becomes available in more homes, it will start to open up its wallet to spend more on programming. Erickson said he hopes to invest another $40 million to $50 million on programming and promotion over the next few years and expects the channel, which he says is breaking even now, to become profitable at that time.

RLTV's current lineup is primarily made up of lifestyle and talk shows. “Brady Bunch” mom Florence Henderson hosts a talk show and co-hosts a cooking program. ABC News veterans Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts provide political coverage, and former “Today” co-host Deborah Norville has a show called “Making Medicare Work for You.” Reruns of NBC's popular Sunday morning political magazine “Meet the Press” also air on RLTV on Monday nights.

The network has dabbled in reality programming as well, with the dating show “Another Chance for Romance” and with “Sunset Daze,” best described as its version of MTV's “Jersey Shore” about adventurous senior citizens in Surprise, Ariz. In one episode a character talks about perhaps needing Viagra to keep pace with a woman who is particularly adept at grinding her hips.


RLTV targets aging boomers

-- Joe Flint

"Hey, aren't you an actor!"

Working Actor on Acting, Observing, Research and Joy

John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Fox Searchlight John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene.
John Hawkes' conversation with Melissa Block on today's All Things Considered begins as many of his conversations might: with her noting that when she told people she was coming to talk to him and rattled off his credits, she got a response that he undoubtedly gets a lot: "Ohhh, he's that guy."

Hawkes has been in the HBO show Deadwood, last year's Oscar nominee Winter's Bone, and this year's Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which he played a cult leader. He's done regular television — Lost and Psych and Monk and The X-Files and CSI. But still, to many people, he's "ohhh, that guy."

Melissa Block asks him whether he thinks it's a drawback to be a character actor rather than a huge star. "I think to kind of be thought of as 'that guy,' or 'I think I know you from somewhere' kind of guy, is an asset for me," Hawkes explains. "I have a difficult time sometimes believing movie stars playing characters." He says even if he had the face to be a household name, he wouldn't care to be one: "I'd rather be invisible. I'd rather be a mystery."

While he generally gravitates to smaller films, Hawkes does have a role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming Lincoln. Whatever he's doing, he explains that big movies don't always satisfy his desire for storytelling. "I feel like the art that changes the world, which is what I want to be part of," he says, "is never the storyteller guessing what the audience would like, but rather the storyteller telling the story they would want to tell it. Audience be damned, in a way."

Ultimately, Hawkes says, given the mix of projects in which he tends to become involved, encountering the public isn't always easy for a guy who's somewhere between recognizable and not.

"If someone comes up and says, 'I saw you in Winter's Bone, I'm usually thrilled. If someone comes up and says, 'My friend said you were in a movie, what movies were you in?' and things like that? It becomes more difficult to begin listing things — 'Well, I haven't seen that' 'Well, I haven't seen that.' Sometimes, it's easier just to keep your hat pulled down and move about and live a normal life."

From NPR's All Things Considered (click here)

Occupy Wall Street 1967 in words and pictures


The traders in stocks and bones shriek for New Frontiers—but the coffins return to the Bronx and Harlem. Bull markets of murder deal in a stock exchange of death. Profits rise to the ticker tape of your dead sons. Poison gas RAINS on Vietnam. You cannot plead “WE DID NOT KNOW.” Television brings the flaming villages into the safety of your home. You commit genocide in the name of freedom.

If unemployment rises, you are given work, murderous work. If education is inferior, you are taught to kill. If the blacks get restless, they are sent to die. This is Wall Street’s formula for the great society!

The truth about who to blame for our defificit (Hint: We are blaming the wrong party)

Two Foreign Companies form Mundo Fox to compete with Univision and Telemundo. Music sale sup 8% thanks to world market. Modern Family tops in Product Plaement. Superbowl is regional Northeast contest.

MundoFox will launch in 2012

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest industry news.

Caliente! Columbia TV Network and England based Newscorp aid to launch #1 rated Spanish Laguage Network in America. News Corp. announced early Monday that it is teaming up with Colombian broadcaster RCN to launch Mundo Fox, a Spanish broadcast network in the U.S. that will compete against Univision and Telemundo. The announcement, made at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference in Miami, said the channel should debut this fall.

Details on the new channel from the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal, which broke the story. Corp.'s Fox International Channels and RCN Television Group, a Colombian broadcaster, are teaming up to launch a Latino broadcast network in the United States.

News Corp. announced early Monday that it is teaming up with Colombian broadcaster RCN to launch Mundo Fox, a Spanish broadcast network in the U.S. that will compete against Univision and Telemundo. The announcement, made at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference in Miami, said the channel should debut this fall.

The new channel, dubbed MundoFox, will launch in the fall of this year. The Spanish-language channel will look to compete against Univision and the Telemundo network, both of which have big head starts. News Corp. and RCN made the announcement Monday at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference in Miami.

For News Corp., the push represents the growing importance of the Latino demographic in the United States. The media giant already owns Fox Deportes, a cable sports channel that caters to Spanish-speaking viewers.

“There is an increasing demand for quality Spanish-language content in the U.S. from both viewers and advertisers. Fox saw similar dynamics in play 25 years ago when it launched the Fox network, and it would be a missed opportunity not to provide an alternative for the 50+ million Latino viewers who currently have limited options in Spanish-language broadcast television," said Hernan Lopez, president and chief executive of Fox International Channels.

RCN, which already provides programming to other Latino channels in the United States, will be heavily involved in creating original content for MundoFox.

Man behind the moustache. With the last name Murdoch a little bit tarnished, News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, known for his handlebar moustache and his no-nonsense approach to deals, has risen even higher in stature at the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media empire. The New York Times looks at Carey. The Los Angeles Times last year profiled Carey and his "everyone pays" revenue strategy.

Bruno Mars and the Smeezingtons
From left, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Bruno Mars -- a songwriting and production team known as the Smeezingtons --  at their recording studio in Hollywood. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

Digital "music" surges 8% world wide.Sales of music on CDs may be in free fall, but digital music revenue has been climbing steadily, jumping 8% last year, with help from strong performances by artists such as Bruno Mars, according to a report released Monday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Digital music sales totaled $5.2 billion in 2011, up from $4.8 billion in 2010, according to the IFPI, a trade group that represents 1,400 music companies worldwide.
IFPI Digital Music Reveue
Although 32% of the music industry's global revenue came from digital sources, such as downloads and subscriptions to music services, some markets derived a far greater share from digital sales. In the U.S., digital music sales in 2011 surpassed sales of music in physical formats such as CDs, vinyl records and cassettes tapes, making up 52% of the industry's revenue. In South Korea, 53% of music revenue was from digital.

Bruno Mars, whose "Just The Way You Are" won him the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at last year's Grammy Awards, snagged three of the top 10 best-selling digital singles last year.

IFPI Top 10 digital singles 2011 Bruno Mars LMFAO
As the volume of purchased downloaded music continued to sizzle, growing 17% to 3.6 billion singles and albums last year, the subscription music business took off.

The number of paying subscribers to music services rocketed 65% to 13.4 million in 2011 from 8.2 million in 2010, the IFPI said. In Sweden, where the music streaming service Spotify is based, subscription revenue accounted for 84% of digital music revenue in the first 10 months of 2011.

The Giants and Patriots could mean big ratings for next month's 2012 Super Bowl

The Giants and Patriots battling in the 2008 Super Bowl. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press
The Daily Dose: With the New York Giants set to battle the New England Patriots in almost two weeks, NBC couldn't have asked for an easier Super Bowl to promote. Not only did the contenders play in a nail-biter during the regular season, they squared off in perhaps the most memorable Super Bowl ever four years ago when the Giants topped the then undefeated Patriots in a stunning upset. Last year's Super Bowl drew a record 111 million viewers: Don't be surprised if this year's tops that mark.
Senior moment. RLTV, a cable channel founded by John Erickson, who made his fortune building retirement communities, hopes to convince Hollywood and Madison Avenue that the over-50 audience is worth reaching. The network, currently in 15 million homes, hopes to double its reach in the next 12 months and has attracted some familiar faces to go in front of the camera including Joan Lunden, Deborah Norville and Florence Henderson. But persuading big cable operators and advertisers to support the channel is no easy sell. A look at RLTV from the Los Angeles Times.

Unbeatable. Sony's "Underworld: Awakening," the fourth installment of a franchise I was unaware of until three days ago, finished at the top of the box office with $25.4 million. "Red Tails," a historical film about the Tuskeegee Airmen, delivered a stronger-than-expected $19.1 million. "Haywire," which I thought would do better, took in only $9 million. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

A fine line between clever and silly. ABC's "Modern Family" is on the top of every advertiser's list when it comes to product placement. But the show's producers are very selective about the companies they do business with and how products are incorporated into the show. The fear is being seen as a shill, a perception currently plaguing CBS's "Hawaii Five-O," which took heat last week for an over-the-top placement for the Subway sandwich chain. Advertising Age examines what it takes to make the cut and get your product in the hands of the cast of "Modern Family."

Report card. Steve Burke is wrapping up his first year as chief executive of Comcast's NBCUniversal. The New York Post gives him a report card that pretty much reads incomplete and questions whether Universal Studios stays in the portfolio. My question: Where would it go?
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at the unappreciated work of Hollywood makeup artists.

-- Joe Flint

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