Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony Launches Vue TV | Nightly News Gets Ratings Boost

Sony launches Vue TV service. NBC Nightly News sees ratings boost from rebroadcasts. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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Sony’s PlayStation Vue Online TV Service Launches at $50 A Month (Re/code / Reuters)
Sony on Wednesday launched its PlayStation Vue Web video service in three cities, targeting customers looking for cheaper alternatives to cable with packages starting at $50. Deadline Prices for Vue begin at $49.99 a month for a package of about 50 channels that include broadcast (in local markets for network-owned stations) and cable services from CBS, Time Warner, Viacom, Discovery, Fox, NBC Universal and Scripps Networks — AMC joins the lineup next month. Conspicuously absent: Disney and Univision. WSJ The $69.99 package tacks on a smattering of smaller channels like Palladia, Chiller and Cloo. Vue customers will also be able to watch Sony’s original series programmed for PlayStation users, the first of which is the supernatural drama Powers. Sony also doesn’t have HBO, Showtime and other premium channels typically offered as add-ons to cable packages. Variety On Wednesday, Sony began marketing PlayStation Vue to consumers in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, aimed at owners of PS3 and PS4 videogame consoles. Unlike Dish Network’s Sling TV, the satcaster’s stripped-down, $20-per-month service targeted at cost-sensitive consumers, PlayStation Vue is designed to be a full replacement for traditional cable and satellite TV — but, supposedly, with a more personalized view into what to watch. NYT Eventually, it is expected to be available on the iPad and in other U.S. cities. Adweek At this point, it looks a lot like a la carte is coming, whether the industry likes it or not, and it would be foolish not to see these moves by huge tech and telecommunication players as an attempt to supplant traditional cable plans. Smaller Web-based packages appear attractive to the consumer, largely because they look like cheaper cable subscriptions. But that’s not what they are.

NBC’s Nightly News Gets Boost From Rebroadcasts (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
For more than a month now, NBC News has been trumpeting the ratings successes of Nightly News in the aftermath of the Brian Williams scandal. Lester Holt, Williams’ replacement, has kept the show at No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings, beating out ABC’s World News by tens of thousands of viewers in the all-important 25-to-54 year-old demo most weeks. TVNewser NBC News has quietly begun airing rebroadcasts of NBC Nightly News in select markets, including, “Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and at least half a dozen other major urban areas” in the overnight hours between 2 and 4 a.m. WSJ / CMO Today While the potential audience in that hour is tiny, so is the gap between NBC and ABC in the evening news ratings race, and every eyeball counts. Last week, only 11,000 viewers separated first place NBC from No. 2 ABC, according to Nielsen. While it isn’t known whether the night owls provided the margin of victory, it certainly didn’t hurt. Variety The tactic lends support to Nightly News as its performance is being watched to see if it weakens in Williams’ absence. The anchor was suspended for six months after he acknowledged falsifying an account of a reporting trip to Iraq in 2003. Since that disclosure, NBC News has been engaged in an investigation of that incident, as well as others involving the anchor.

Donald Trump Forms Presidential Exploratory Committee (FishbowlNY)
Bad news for Republicans — Donald Trump has formed a presidential exploratory committee. Mediaite Trump has bandied about a presidential run in the past, most notably in 2012, to the point that many have concluded it’s a self-promotional scam. However this is the first time Trump has formed an exploratory committee, a major funding step toward running for real. THR “I am the only one who can make America truly great again,” the Republican businessman and reality television star declared in a statement announcing the move. Trump said he’s already hired political aides in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which host the first three contests on the presidential nominating calendar. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media NBC Entertainment is planning to go ahead with production of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, Season 15, despite the fact that the real estate mogul is reportedly dropping the show in order to form a presidential exploratory committee. “The show has been picked up for another season, production dates TBD,” an NBC Entertainment source said.

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USA Today Offers Buyouts to Veteran Staffers (USA Today)
USA Today announced Wednesday that it will offer buyout packages to veteran employees to trim staffing, its latest effort to cut costs and invest more in digital products amid a plan by parent company Gannett to spin off the publishing business as a separate company. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Any employee 55 and older who has worked for Gannett for at least 15 years is eligible to receive one-and-a-half to two weeks of pay for each year worked, capped at 52 weeks, along with health care benefits. Poynter / MediaWire As the paper has focused on expanding podcasts, video and stories for mobile apps and the USA Today website, it has increasingly moved to diminish its workforce, buying out employees in 2013 and laying off roughly 60 employees in September. Gannett, whose fourth-quarter publishing advertising revenue fell 7.8 percent from the previous year, announced in August that it would split its broadcast and publishing functions into separate companies.

Glenn Beck Declares He Is No Longer A Republican: ‘I’m Done With Them’ (HuffPost)
Republicans shouldn’t expect any support from Glenn Beck in 2016. The radio host announced on his show Wednesday that he is “done” with the Republican Party. Mediaite “I’ve made my decision — I’m out. I’m out of the Republican Party,” Beck declared. “I am not a Republican; I will not give a dime to the Republican Party. I’m out.” And he had some advice for his listeners: “Run from the Republican Party. They are not good.” Beck went on to accuse the GOP of abandoning their principles by failing to effectively stand against Obamacare and immigration reform. “They set us up,” he said. “Enough is enough.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Beck, who achieved national fame and notoriety as a Fox News host, wields a significant amount of influence among conservatives and libertarians. He launched his own news site, TheBlaze, which includes television, radio and digital platforms, in 2011.

ABC News D.C. Bureau Announces Layoffs (TVNewser)
The ABC News Washington, D.C. Bureau has laid off a dozen employees. The plan is to replace the employees shortly, while adjusting to the current landscape and putting a focus on content-based reporting. The new positions could be posted as early as Monday. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The cuts, which will affect operations, editorial and engineering staff, come as ABC News plans to shift from a platform-based structure — in which reporters were assigned to specific shows — to a content-based structure, in which reporters are assigned to specific beats and report across platforms.

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PoliticsNation EP Matt Saal Leaving MSNBC for Bloomberg (TVNewser)
Matt Saal, the creator and executive producer of PoliticsNation With Al Sharpton, is leaving MSNBC for a new role at Bloomberg TV. Saal will serve as an EP at Bloomberg after 12 years with MSNBC. Mediaite Before launching Sharpton’s show in 2011, Saal served as a co-executive producer for The Rachel Maddow Show and his first job with the NBC family was as co-creator and senior producer for weekly roundtable show The Chris Matthews Show.

CNN Falls for Hoax in Tweeting Death of Singapore’s Founder (TVNewser)
CNN’s hugely popular @cnnbrk breaking news Twitter account tweeted to its 25 million followers the death of Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and then admitted the report may have been false, sending a second tweet reading “reports emerge that statement attributed to Singapore government… may not be official.” Mediaite The hoax was started by a website with the Prime Minister Office’s logo; the website has no connection to the PMO, which is investigating. Lee is severely ill, but further reporting determined him to be alive at press time.

CNN Nabs Nia-Malika Henderson (FishbowlDC)
As it continues to gear up for 2016 presidential campaign coverage, CNN has nabbed the Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson as its newest senior political reporter. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Henderson, already a CNN contributor, will now cover the 2016 campaign for CNN’s digital and television platforms. She will also cover identity politics for the network, focusing on demographics, race and religion.

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NYT Adding 20 Online Opinion Writers (Capital New York)
The New York Times is bringing on 20 new online-focused writers as contributors for its op-ed and Sunday Review sections, editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal and op-ed/Sunday Review editor Trish Hall announced in a Wednesday afternoon memo.

Guardian Spearheads Programmatic Partnership (Capital New York)
Five major international news organizations have banded together on a new programmatic advertising initiative. The Pangaea Alliance will allow brands to advertise against a 110 million-user combined global audience of The Guardian, CNN International, The Financial Times, Reuters and The Economist.

LA Times Names S. Mitra Kalita to Key Role (WWD / Memo Pad)
The Los Angeles Times is shaking up its newsroom structure and adding new faces. The newspaper hired away S. Mitra Kalita from Atlantic Media’s business site Quartz, where she served as its executive editor.

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Heidi Fleiss And The Man Behind The Art of The Pimp (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
One of the things I enjoy most about doing this column is meeting famous and sometimes infamous folks over lunch that might not otherwise enter my orbit.

Mother Jones Reporter Arrested for Trespassing at Prison (Mediaite)
A reporter for Mother Jones was arrested near a rural Louisiana prison earlier last week after he was found taking photos of the facility using a drone.

A+E Networks Appoints Top Programming Execs at A&E, History (Variety)
A+E Networks has promoted two senior programming execs as the cable group reshuffles following the departure of A&E head David McKillop.

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