Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There are bets then there are bets -- developments in the rabbit ears war

Fox launched its terrestrial superstation, Movies!, on Memorial Day with the following line-up.

8:00AM / Take a Hard Ride

10:10AM / House of Bamboo

12:20PM / Backlash

2:25PM / Michael Shayne: Private Detective

4:10PM / The Man Who Wouldn't Die

5:45PM / Jumpin' Jack Flash

8:00PM / High Anxiety

10:05PM / Silent Movie

The channel is a collaboration with Weigel Broadcasting and there's definitely a Neal Sabin touch with lots of dog whistles for movie lovers (Goldsmith, Fuller, Sturges, Brooks), widescreen format and an emphasis on the pretty-good but hard-to-catch (Emperor of the North is playing muted as I write this). The channel also introduces the welcome practice of not editing for length.

Looking through the schedule for the next few days, I see a number of interesting titles, more than I'll have time to watch. I also see indications that a great deal thought went into scheduling, making NBC's COZI secure in its position as worst run terrestrial superstation.

When I rescanned my channels to pick up Movies!, four other new channels also showed up, including what appears to be a new subchannel from the CBS affiliate. At present, it simply rebroadcasts the same programming as the main channel, but if they really have gone from broadcasting one channel to broadcasting  two, it would seem to indicate that CBS is at least considering jumping into the terrestrial market (which would mean that all four of the big four networks would have terrestrial-only channels).

In the past week I also noticed an LA company that sells and installs outdoor antennas has launched a fairly sizable ad campaign. Along similar lines, I recently started seeing store windows in East and Central LA carrying a wide selection of motorized and/or amplified indoor antennas.

As we've mentioned before, there are two wildly divergent pictures of the state of over-the-air television: healthy and growing according to the 2012 Ownership Survey and Trend Report; or small and shrinking according to Nielsen. It appears that pretty much everybody with first hand knowledge and skin in the game (networks, broadcasters, regional media players, retailers, manufacturers) are putting their money on the first scenario, while the only prominent backers of Nielsen appear to be reporters for the New York Times and Reuters.

Noah Smith recently observed that trivial bets do not necessarily reveal beliefs. That's true, however the multimillion dollar ones do indicate a certain level of sincerity.

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