Morning Media Newsfeed: ESPN Suspends Olbermann | Rothman Replaces Pascal

ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann. Tom Rothman to replace Amy Pascal at Sony. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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ESPN Suspends Keith Olbermann After Penn State Tweets (TVNewser)
ESPN has suspended Keith Olbermann for the remainder of the week after a series of tweets criticizing Penn State University fans and students. HuffPost Olbermann got himself into a social media battle Monday night when he called Penn State students “pitiful” in response to an article about the campus raising more than $13 million to fight pediatric cancer during its annual THON fundraiser. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Olbermann has called Penn State one of the “World’s Worst in Sports” on his show before. And on Tuesday, when a woman tweeted at him about the school raising money for charity with Penn State slogan “We are,” he responded “pitiful.” He then went on to tweet at other Penn State supporters, calling them “stupid” and “morons.” Variety Olbermann, never known to shy away from engaging detractors with debate, has faced suspension in the past. In 2010, MSNBC suspended him for making donations to political candidates without getting approval from superiors, a violation of company policy at the time. NYT ESPN said in a statement that Olbermann’s actions were “completely inappropriate and [do] not reflect the views of ESPN.” “We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong,” the statement said. Adweek Olbermann’s more vocal critics are just chalking it up to him being a jerk. But more specifically and perhaps generously, there are three intersecting issues that likely led to his poor decision to lash out at Penn State’s entire student body as they celebrated saving children’s lives.

Tom Rothman Named Head of Sony Motion Picture Group (Variety)
Sony Pictures named Tom Rothman chairman of its motion picture group Tuesday in a surprise move that follows the ouster of Amy Pascal as co-chair of the studio. In Rothman, Sony has tapped an industry veteran with ties to A-list talent to lead it as it struggles to recover from a cyber-attack that exposed its emails, budgets, salaries and institutional information to public scrutiny. That hack led to Pascal’s ouster and cost the studio tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and lost ticket sales. THR Rothman, an 18-year veteran of 20th Century Fox who ran that studio with Jim Gianopulos before being ousted in 2012, beat out several suitors for the Sony job, most notably Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, was also seen as a viable candidate thanks to his thriving division that has produced such hits as Breaking Bad and The Blacklist. WSJ The selection of Rothman, who has been running Sony’s TriStar Productions, serves as much as a signal by Sony to investors and business partners about a more cost-conscious approach to moviemaking as an actual change in strategy, according to people inside the studio and who do business with it. Re/code Michael Lynton, the Sony executive who oversees its entertainment business, including its embattled Hollywood studio, will stay with the company. Via a press release, Sony says it has extended Lynton’s contract, but didn’t provide other details.

DreamWorks Animation Takes $57 Million Write-Down on Penguins of Madagascar (THR)
DreamWorks Animation took a $57.1 million write-down primarily on the lackluster performance of Penguins of Madagascar as well as Mr. Peabody And Sherman, the beleaguered film studio announced Tuesday while posting less-than-expected quarterly financial results. Deadline In addition, DWA wrote off $54.6 million for layoffs, and $155.5 million from unreleased projects including B.O.O. and Monkeys of Mumbai. DWA says that it did not record any revenue from Penguins, released on Nov. 26, because distributor Fox had not yet recouped its costs. Same with home videos of Peabody And Sherman, released Oct. 14. Revenues for Television Series and Specials increased 7.7 percent to $50.7 million, but ended up with a loss of $2.6 million from a $7.3 million profit at the end of 2013 due to write-downs. WSJ DWA announced a fourth-quarter net loss of $263.2 million, or $3.08 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of $3.01 a share. The loss compared with a year-earlier profit of $17.2 million, or 20 cents a share. Quarterly revenue was up nearly 15 percent from last year but also missed expectations — $234.2 million when analysts expected $246 million. Driving a significant portion of the loss is a $210.1 million pretax charge associated with the company’s recently announced restructuring, which will eliminate some 500 jobs, remove some titles from its release schedule and scale back the number of features released per year from three to two. Variety Wall Street didn’t react well to the results. Shares in DWA lost nearly 10 percent shortly after the results were released, or more than $2 in after-hours trading, after closing up nearly 2.5 percent to close at $21.13 on Tuesday.

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Jason Jones Announces Departure From The Daily Show Following Jon Stewart (Variety)
Weeks after Jon Stewart announced his resignation from The Daily Show, longtime correspondent Jason Jones broke the news that he’ll be following in his footsteps. Jones tweeted Tuesday that he will exit the show, in which he worked with his wife Samantha Bee, who’s been a correspondent since 2003, after nearly a decade. Deadline TBS has picked up a half-hour pilot from Jones and Bee to series with a 10-episode order. THR / The Live Feed The project is inspired by Jones and Bee’s experiences on family getaways and described as an honest and darkly comedic look at family.

NBCU CEO Says Cable ‘Tougher Business to Grow’ (TVNewser)
On Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said NBCU’s cable networks division earnings dropped 5.6 percent. Variety Revenue at NBCUniversal rose 2.3 percent to $6.6 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $6.5 billion in the year-earlier period, Comcast said, citing performance at its theme parks and broadcast TV operations. Revenue fell at the company’s filmed-entertainment operations as home entertainment revenue declined. Revenue from cable TV networks was flat, owing to declines in advertising and an increase in program investment. THR As management had predicted, film-unit operating cash flow set a company record in 2014. In 2013, it had hit $438 million, which was a company record at the time. Comcast said it added 6,000 pay TV subscribers in the fourth quarter to end 2014 with a total of 22.383 million video customers. In the year-ago period, it had grown pay TV subscribers for the first time in 26 quarters, adding 46,000. Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings of $1.93 billion rose 0.6 percent from the year-ago period.

February 2015 Ratings: Fox News No. 1 Cable Network in Primetime (TVNewser)
Fox News was the No. 1 basic cable channel in Primetime (8-11 p.m. ET) total viewers in February, outranking USA, AMC and TNT. The channel improved from Feb. 2014 in total day viewing, in both total viewers (1 percent) and the demo (3 percent), but was down 4 percent in primetime, among total viewers, which tells us that cable viewing overall in February was lackluster. TVNewser CNN saw the biggest increase among cable news networks compared to Feb. 2014. The network finished the month up 53 percent in total day viewers, and up 49 percent in the adult 25-54 demo for total day. CNN also had the biggest increase in primetime, up 28 percent in total viewers and up 27 percent in the demo. TVNewser As MSNBC prepares for a programming revamp next week, the month of February brought another chill to the NBCU channel. The network lost 48 percent of its primetime demo viewership and 43 percent of the total day demo vs. Feb. 2014. Still, MSNBC finished second (behind Fox News) in primetime total viewers, with a 4 percent viewer advantage over CNN. TVNewser HLN showed strong growth in February, up 18 percent in total day viewers and up 30 percent among the key adult 25-54 demo, compared to the same month last year.

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Evening News Ratings: Week of Feb. 16 (TVNewser)
ABC’s World News Tonight With David Muir overtook NBC Nightly News in the younger demo for the week of Feb. 16, with a 17,000 viewer lead. NBC Nightly News, with Lester Holt in the anchor chair, won in total viewers with a 416,000 viewer lead. Deadline Season to date, World News Tonight has nabbed the top spot in the key demo for the 10th time this season — its most number of wins at this point of a season in 18 years — since the 1996-97 season. Variety The ABC surge came even as NBC added viewers week over week. During the earlier five day period, Nightly News attracted 2.29 million viewers between 25 and 54 and 9.4 million viewers overall. That means Nightly News attracted approximately 11.4 percent more viewers in the demo and 7.4 percent more viewers in total.

Facebook Tops 2 Million Active Advertisers, Debuts Ads Manager iOS App (SocialTimes)
Facebook announced Tuesday that it now has more than 2 million active advertisers, and the social network launched its Ads Manager application for iOS. Mashable For Facebook, the number is a moving target. Six months ago, the social network boasted 1.5 million active advertisers, meaning they had advertised within the last month. Eighteen months ago, Facebook had 1 million active advertisers. Adweek Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the milestone in a video post on the social network. Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg thanked small-and-medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs for jumping on board with the platform, helping it attract 500,000 new advertisers in the last year.

It’s Official: NBC Re-Ups Entertainment President Jennifer Salke (THR)
NBC has confirmed the renewal of Jennifer Salke’s contract as president of the network, according to sources. Salke joined NBC in 2011 as entertainment president under chairman Robert Greenblatt and has been part of a team that has seen NBC reverse its fortunes and rise to a No. 1 ranking. Variety In addition to spearheading scripted programming and development for NBC, Salke oversees the Universal Television studio arm, which has expanded its operations during the past two years in a push to produce shows for non-NBCU outlets.

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Machinima Strikes Deal to Bring Exclusive Content to Vimeo (THR)
Vimeo is looking to bring more exclusive content to its video-on-demand platform through a deal with Machinima. Under the pact, Machinima’s network of more than 30,000 creators will be given access to the streamer’s Vimeo On Demand self-distribution platform. Variety The deal is similar in structure to Vimeo’s pact with Disney’s Maker Studios, under which Maker affiliates are eligible to work with the VOD provider to maximize their video creations. Vimeo has pledged to invest an unspecified amount of money in Maker talent.

GQ Promotes Sarah Ball, Plans Site Expansion And Revamp (FishbowlNY)
Sarah Ball has been promoted to executive digital editor, and GQ.com is undergoing an expansion and redesign over the next few months. Ball joined GQ as a senior editor last year. She previously served as VanityFair.com’s deputy editor.

New NBC Show Sounds A Lot Like A New ABC Show (TVNewser)
Josh Elliott is back reporting for NBC News. The former Good Morning America co-host, who now works primarily for NBC Sports, is hosting a three-part Dateline series called “Escape,” which NBC says will feature “powerful first-hand stories of survival and recovery from ordinary people who faced extraordinary circumstances.”

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Condé Nast Traveler Adds Deputy Editor (FishbowlNY)
Candice Rainey has joined Condé Nast Traveler as a deputy editor. Rainey most recently served in the same role for Details. Rainey previously worked for Elle for six years and GQ for four years.

Final Oscar Ratings: Demo Stays Lowest Since 2008, Viewership Worst Since 2009 (Deadline)
While it is still the lowest performance among adults 18-49 since 2008 and the lowest viewership since 2009, the spread has tightened a touch. In final ratings, the Oscars went up a bit to get an 11.0/26 rating in the key demo with 37.3 million total viewers. That equals a 16 percent drop from the 2014 Academy Awards in the demo. It also is a 14 percent downturn from the 2014 ceremony.

Netflix Eyes Move Into Russia as Global Ambitions Slot Into Place (Variety)
While some global entertainment giants are pulling out of Russia, Netflix is considering a move into the troubled territory. Last month, NBCUniversal became the latest showbiz conglomerate to say that it would withdraw from the channels market in Russia.

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