Fast Track


NBC's Wright: Piracy Is Killing Us

NBC Universal CEO/Chairman Bob Wright told attendees at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce summit on counterfeiting last week that the economic damage from content theft is a crisis and lawmakers worldwide should step in with tougher laws and enforcement.

The media business, he said, is “one of the canaries in the coal mine” because the industry is a conspicuous victim of theft of DVDs and music nationwide and around the world. “This isn't just a problem of one or two sectors or a few big companies. We're talking about organized crime” that, Wright said, affects the pharmaceutical, auto, aerospace and software companies, too.

Wright cited a new Institute for Policy Innovation survey that said that, while the movie industry directly lost $6.1 billion through piracy in 2005, the “cascading” effect resulted in $5.5 billion in lost wages, 140,000 jobs not created, and a total lost output of $20.7 billion from industries that are part of the entertainment industry's food chain.

Wright's entire speech is on B&C's Website,

—P.J. Bednarski

ABC Shows Get New Websites

Disney-ABC will offer more than 100 new short-form videos on its shows' individual Websites. The video includes trailers, original clips and music videos.

The changes are aimed at dispersing ABC's video content to the shows' individual Websites, instead of forcing viewers to watch them all on the home page. The shows with new sites include Lost, Six Degrees, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, The Knights of Prosperity, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and The Bachelor.—Anne Becker

Showtime Debuts Originals on Yahoo!

Showtime will offer free episodes of some of its originals on Yahoo!, the first time a pay cable network has offered more than just one episode for free streaming on the Internet.

From Oct. 6 to 13, Yahoo! will let users stream selected episodes of Weeds, Dexter, Sleeper Cell and The L Word, as well as a behind-the-scenes clip from new drama The Tudors, currently in production.

Showtime, a distant second to HBO in the pay cable race, is offering the episodes—pilots or premieres of each series—online to get its programming in front of consumers who otherwise wouldn't see it. The network currently has about 14.5 million subscribers, about half of HBO's roll.—Anne Becker

Telemundo vs. TV Azteca

Two of the biggest names in Spanish-language television, NBC Universal's Telemundo and Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca, are at odds after Mexican authorities shut down production of a Telemundo reality show.

On Sept. 22, Telemundo says, Mexico City police and TV Azteca representatives stormed into a studio where reality show Quinceanera was being shot, closed production and tried to impound equipment.

The action stems from a legal dispute between TV Azteca and show producer Nostromos, a U.S.-based production company, and Quinceanera host Alan Tacher. TV Azteca contends that the raid was “carried out in a pacific and legal manner” as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

In August, TV Azteca sued Nostromos and Tacher, claiming breach of contract. TV Azteca says it has exclusive license to Tacher's “image and name” until 2010. In a letter sent to Telemundo in July, TV Azteca warned the network that it could not use his name and image.

TV Azteca also says it has an agreement with Nostromos that prohibits the company from creating for other networks shows that are similar to those it produces for TV Azteca.

“Telemundo was aware of the contractual obligations when they hired the team,” a TV Azteca spokesman said.

But Telemundo suggests that there may be more to the dispute. The NBC U-owned network is trying to increase its presence in Mexico and has stepped up production in the country. “TV Azteca's use of force and intimidation is outrageous and unacceptable,” says a Telemundo spokesperson.

For now, Quinceanera, a talent competition in which 14-year-old girls and their mothers can win a 15th birthday party, an important custom in Hispanic culture, remains shut down. The show has been airing on Saturday nights, and Telemundo needs three more episodes to finish the competition.

—Allison Romano

Verizon: TV Is Good

Verizon told investors last week that its fiber-based FiOS TV service is growing quickly and is poised to meet 2006 goals for both homes passed and penetration.

Verizon Telecom President Virginia Ruesterholz said FiOS TV, currently available in small parts of Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, has already signed up more than 100,000 subscribers. She added that Verizon is “well on our way” to reaching 175,000 FiOS TV subscribers by the end of the year.

The FiOS TV service currently passes more than 1 million homes, with a goal of 1.8 million homes by year's end.—Glen Dickson

Thursday-Night Ratings Melee

In what has become television's biggest hour of television, the battle between ABC and CBS at 9 p.m. Thursday is reaching a boiling point.

In the second Thursday-night showdown between ABC's sizzling drama Grey's Anatomy and CBS' veteran crime drama CSI, each network claimed a slice of the ratings crown last week. Grey's scored top ratings with the key 18-49 demo, while CSI nabbed a slightly larger audience.

Grey's put ABC back in the Thursday-night mix but hasn't crimped CSI's usual performance.

When a strong show like Grey's changes nights, “it brings out new viewers, and that's what we're seeing on Thursdays,” says Kelly Kahl, CBS senior executive VP of programming and operations. “It rarely comes out of the hide of another show.”

Here is a detailed look at the Thursday-night wars and more:


NBC is still basking in the glow of the Heroes debut, which won its 9 p.m. time slot with a 5.9 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 14.1 million viewers, exceeding even NBC's own projections. But, in its second outing, backstage drama Studio 60 slipped from its debut to a 4.2/11 and 10.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

NBC says it is encouraged by early marks for its new programs. “After getting shut out last year,” says scheduling chief Mitch Metcalf, “we're back in the ball game at least so far.”

CBS won the night with its comedy block and red-hot CSI: Miami, the night's most watched show with a 5.8/15 in the demo and 17.8 million viewers. Look for CBS to possibly restack its comedies to give newcomer The Class, currently at 8 p.m., the benefit of a lead-in.

The CW saw its rookie Runaway debut to a lackluster 0.7/2 in adults 18-49 and 2.2 million viewers.


ABC's crowd-pleasing Dancing With the Stars and Fox's medical drama House are continuing their strong ratings. Dancing tapped its way to a 5.2/14 in the demo and 17.9 million viewers, while House garnered a 6.1/17 and 14.5 million viewers.

But both networks had trouble retaining those audiences. ABC's premiere of Ted Danson sitcom Help Me Help You slipped to a 3.5/9 and 11.5 million viewers. Fox's Standoff lost about half of its House lead-in, dropping to a 3.4/9 and 7.9 million viewers.

NBC's Law & Order: SVU easily won the 10 p.m. hour.


Wednesday night belonged to CBS. Buoyed by dramas Jericho, Criminal Minds and CSI: New York, the network was No. 1 in both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

In its second week, freshman thriller Jericho averaged 11.5 million viewers and grew its demo rating 6% from its premiere to a 3.6/11. Even so, the drama was no match for ABC's Dancing results show, which nabbed a 4.1/12 and 15.8 million viewers.

“So many people wrote Jericho off, but it is the best week-one-to-week-two story out there,” says CBS' Kahl.

The CW's America's Next Top Model still looked good in week two, with ratings flat from week one in viewers and the core 18-34 demo.

NBC's Kidnapped is searching for an audience with a 2.2/6 and 6.3 million viewers, down from the premiere's 2.8/8 and 7.6 million. But—for now at least—NBC says Kidnapped will stay. “It is a perfect test of our patience to see if we can stick with it,” says Metcalf.


ABC's former Sunday-night sensation Grey's Anatomy, in its second Thursday outing, topped the 18-49 demo with a 9.5/23, while CSI nabbed 23.8 million viewers to Grey's 23.5 million.

Overall, CBS claimed the top spot on television's most lucrative night. This season's controversial installment of Survivorwon the 8 p.m. hour with a solid 5.9/16 and 16.8 million viewers. But ABC has to be encouraged by the premiere of lighthearted novella Ugly Betty, which scored a 5.0/14 and 16.3 million viewers and built through the hour.

NBC's comedy hour of The Office and My Name Is Earl was a distant third, averaging a 3.6/10 and 7.9 million viewers.

At 10 p.m., NBC's stalwart ER claimed top ratings in 18-49s, a 6.1/17. But CBS' freshman Shark was most-watched, with 14.6 million viewers to ER's 14.4 million. ABC's Six Degrees registered a third-place 4.1/11 and 10.1 million viewers

The CW also had a solid night with the premiere of Smallville averaging a 2.5/8 in the 18-34 demo and 5 million viewers. Its companion Supernatural logged a 1.9/5 and 3.9 million.—Additional reporting by Ben Grossman