News & Insights

The Deadline: February 16 2023

By Rebecca Epps

The Deadline - Media Intelligence Newsletter.

Industry News

Showtime Becomes the Latest Media Conglomerate to be Hit With Layoffs

Showtime, a premium cable network, recently announced a leadership restructuring and a round of layoffs due to the recent merger with Paramount+. As part of the streaming-focused restructuring, the company laid off 120 employees, accounting for roughly 25% of Showtime’s workforce. The refocus caused the departure of several top executives as the Pay TV channels were consolidated with MTV Entertainment Studios. Gary Levine and Jana Winograde, co-presidents of Showtime, are also departing their positions, with Levine changing to an advising role and Winograde leaving the company completely.

Super Bowl LVI Takes the Crown with Unprecedented Viewership

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, and this year’s showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles was no exception. Super Bowl LVI roped in 113.1M viewers, setting a record, although only a 1% increase from last year. This was a six-year high for the game, with Rihanna’s halftime show also peaking in viewership numbers, becoming the second-most-watched primetime show of 2022 and 2023. The increase in viewership is a testament to the enduring popularity of football, the level of competition on display, and efforts by the NFL and its partners in expanding the sport’s reach.

President Biden’s SOTU Sees Substantial Decline Viewership; FOX Garners Most Watched Coverage

President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address fell 29% in audience viewership compared to a year ago, with an average of 24.17 million viewers across the four main broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) and the three largest cable news channels (CNN, Fox Business, and MSNBC) according to Nielson. The 27.31 million statistic is the second lowest in the past 30 years for State of the Union addresses or Presidential addresses to Congress for new leaders, after Biden’s first address to Congress in 2021. Nielson says some 73% of viewers were 55 and older, with 19% aged 35-54 and 5% 18-34. According to updated data, Fox News topped coverage with an average of 4.69 million viewers, followed by ABC with 4.4 million, NBC with 3.8 million, and CBS with 3.64 million.

Disney Announces New and Rare Move to Get Kids into Hockey

Disney is passing the puck in a strategic move to try to gain the attention of a unique audience and a sport struggling to gain mainstream, popular attention. On March 14, the NHL game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers will be a live telecast on the Disney Channel and Disney XD cable outlets as well as the Disney+ streaming service and will be animated and feature a few characters from the popular cartoon series “Big City Greens.” The goal is to bring in a younger audience to the sport. Disney Channel and Disney XD fans are, on average, 30 years younger than the ESPN audience, says ESPN’s senior vice president of programming. The initiative will be tested on a game on March 14 and will be available to view on Disney Channel, Disney XD cables, and the Disney+ streaming platform.

Rapper Inks Deal with FOX

The rapper and producer known as 50 Cent has signed a non-exclusive, broadcast direct deal with Fox. The deal comes a few months after the rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, abandoned an overall deal with Starz, with which he had previously mentioned discontent with. The agreement between Jackson and Fox accounts for him to create live-action and animated scripted programming for the network. The broadcaster will own any greenlit series under the agreement, and the production will be divided between G-Unit Film & Television and its in-house Fox Entertainment Studios.

HBO Alums Launch New Nonfiction Company

Jennifer O’Connell and Rebecca Quinn, two former top executives for HBO, are launching Velvet Hammer Media (VHM), a production company specializing in premium original nonfiction content. O’Connell and Quinn left HBO due to the Warner Bros. Discovery merger. O’Connell, former HBO Max EVP of nonfiction and live-action family originals, and Quinn, former HBO Max SVP of original nonfiction programming, will serve as co-CEOs and executive producers at their new outfit.

Career Moves

Veteran Correspondent to Depart Popular PBS Show 

Yamiche Alcindor, a veteran Washington correspondent, will be stepping down from the “Washington Week” show on PBS after moderating it since the Spring of 2021. Alcindor will focus on her new position at NBC and her forthcoming book. PBS has not yet announced a replacement for her role at the show.

Karen Pensiero, Wall Steet Journal Managing Editor, to Depart Outlet

Wall Street Journal managing editor Karen Pensiero recently announced her departure from the outlet after 37 years of work. Pensiero joined WSJ in 1984 as a Dow Hines News Fund intern and moved her way up the ladder to become a Managing Editor for the last five years. She graduated from The University of Missouri School of Journalism.

“Mad Money” Writer Departs CNBC to Join CNN

Krystal Hur will be leaving CNBC to join CNN as a market writer. Hur began her career at CNBC where she currently writes for “Mad Money” by Jim Cramer and reports across the site’s other verticals. She interned for outlets such as NBC and Wall Street Journal covering reporting on business, tech, and media topics. Hur graduated from the University of Michigan, where she worked at the student paper, The Michigan Daily.


Dish’s Sling TV Launches New Service to Help Consumers Combat Pay-Tv

Dish’s Sling TV announced it is launching a new free advertising streaming television service (FAST), debuting with more than 210 channels and 41,000 on-demand titles to give consumers the option to easily flex in and out of premium Pay TV. The platform allows users to switch from FAST TV to paid in just one click, meeting customers’ evolving needs. News, sports, game shows, and crime dramas are among the genres available on its channels and in its on-demand library, providing popular channels such as ABC News, CBS News, Cheddar News, and ESPN. In addition to the well-liked content and flawless user interface, Sling Freestream will offer an advantageous advertising experience to both users and advertisers.

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