Morning Media Newsfeed: Olympics Ratings Down | So Long, Facebook Email | Tamron Hall Joins Today

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NBC Averages 21.4 Million Viewers for Sochi Olympics, Down From Vancouver (Variety)
While NBC and Nielsen are expected to release more detailed ratings information Tuesday, preliminary estimates show the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics averaging a strong 21.4 million viewers in primetime. While down 12 percent from the 24.4 million who watched on average during the more time zone-friendly Vancouver Games of 2010, it’s up 6 percent from the 20.2 million average for the last European Winter Games in Torino in 2006. The Associated Press The games are increasingly shutting off competition: 15 rivals’ programs, including Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol and Dancing With The Stars, had higher ratings while competing against the Olympics in 2006, Nielsen said. Four years ago, three programs (all American Idol) beat the games. This year there were none. NYT The Olympics also enriched NBC’s cable sports network, NBCSN, more than doubling the audience that watched the London Games to a daily average of 1.6 million, and boosting by nearly 1,800 percent the viewership that the network reaped in the four weeks leading to the Sochi Olympics. More important, live streaming of all Sochi’s events on desktops, smartphones and tablets became further ingrained among sports fans. Altogether, there were 61.8 million unique users streaming Sochi video from nbcolympics.com and by using apps like Live Extra, a figure that was up 29 percent from Vancouver. Deadline Hollywood The Closing Ceremony is now long over, the final numbers are in and NBC has hit a record — and not one they want. Sunday night’s 8:33 p.m. – 10:36 p.m. broadcast received an 8.7/13 household rating with 15.1 million viewers. That is the lowest household rating for a Winter Olympic Games Closing Ceremony ever — dipping just below previous record holder of Torino in 2006.

Facebook to Close Unpopular Email Service (Inside Facebook)
Facebook is doing away with its email service, the company announced Monday. Previously, the company had controversially listed an “@facebook.com” email address as a Facebook user’s default email address. Emails sent to that address would go to the user’s message box. Mashable Facebook cited low user numbers as the cause for the cut. Any Facebook.com email will now be rerouted to the email address the user gave to Facebook when signing up. AllFacebook To alleviate unwanted correspondence, users will have the option to turn forwarding off, according to a Facebook spokesperson. Re/code Facebook launched its email address idea in 2010, back when it was Mark Zuckerberg’s conception of the “modern messaging system.” As it was first conceived, Facebook Messages subsumed email, text messages and chat on Facebook — all of those communications would be threaded into one single communication strand, dubbed Facebook Messenger. But as it turns out, people seemed to be sidestepping the idea of email via Facebook entirely, and as a result, the company will emphasize mobile messages in the future.

Tamron Hall Joins Today Show as Co-Host (New York Daily News)
NBC News’ Tamron Hall has joined Today as an official co-host for the morning show. Hall’s new gig was announced on the telecast Monday morning. She will join Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist for morning show’s 9 a.m. hour. Today / All Day Hall, 43, has filled in regularly on the show, reading the news, covering special events like the Golden Globes and spotlighting buzzy social media trends in Today’s digital studio, the Orange Room. TVNewser Hall’s new deal gives her an expanded role on Today while she continues to anchor her MSNBC show, NewsNation With Tamron Hall, which moved to 11 a.m. ET Monday. The Washington Post / AP Hall joined MSNBC in 2007. She is also the host of Investigation Discovery’s Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and TLC’s Sister Wives.

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Inside Amtrak’s Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers (The Wire)
Amtrak has begun offering “writers’ residencies” — long round-trip rides aboard Amtrak trains dedicated solely for the purpose of writing. After New York City-based writer Jessica Gross took the first “test-run” residency, traveling from NYC to Chicago and back, Amtrak confirmed that it is indeed planning to turn the writers’ residencies into an established, long-term program, sending writers on trains throughout its network of routes. GalleyCat The idea came from Twitter. Inspired by an interview that discussed writing on trains, writers Zach Seward and Gross tweeted their desires for a writers in residency program on Amtrak. Amtrak responded to the tweet and offered Gross the chance to test drive the idea. PRNewser Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s social media director, explained that while the details are still being worked out, the “idea dreamed up by Amtrak fans and customers” has experienced high demand and a positive response. While there’s really no way to apply yet, writers and Amtrak are currently reaching out to each other on Twitter and going from there.

Aereo Announces Austin Launch Date (TVSpy)
Less than a week after a federal judge granted broadcasters a preliminary injunction against Aereo ruling that the service violated broadcasters’ copyrights, the company has announced plans to expand to the Austin DMA. CNET The online TV startup that streams over-the-air broadcasts via tiny, individual antennas, said Monday it will launch in Austin on March 3. This follows its rollout in San Antonio last week and an expansion to Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston last year. USA Today The company has spent two years fending off lawsuits from television broadcasters in a legal feud that looks to have wide implications. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in April, and the National Football League, Time Warner Inc. and the AFL-CIO have all filed amicus briefs on behalf of the broadcasters, while Internet advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filled out the other side of the courtroom.

Samsung Unveils Latest Galaxy Phone (WSJ)
Samsung Electronics Co., eager to maintain its lead in global mobile-phone sales, on Monday unveiled an updated flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, that reflects a deliberate attempt to eschew flashy, but little-used, new features — and to keep the price competitive. Mashable At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the company launched three wearable devices — Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit — as well as the Galaxy S5. Reuters The phone, which will be available in April, has a slightly bigger screen than its predecessor, at 5.1 inches compared with 5 inches, improved camera technology and better protection against water and dust, Samsung said. CBS News Like its competitor the iPhone 5s, the Galaxy S5 has a built-in sensor that will allow users to unlock their phones with a fingerprint scan. The device is water-resistant, and the screen itself adapts to changing external conditions and gives users an option to dim it to avoid disturbing others nearby.

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Fox Eyes DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider for Top Creative Job (THR)
DreamWorks co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider has emerged as the frontrunner for a top creative job at the Fox film studio, according to informed sources. Snider is said to have met recently with both studio chief Jim Gianopulos and 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch. Sources say Gianopulos would have final say on the hire, but he has been known to be looking for a high-level executive since former co-chairman Tom Rothman was dismissed in September 2012.

Verizon CEO: We Expect A Deal With Netflix (CNBC)
Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam said Monday that he expects to reach an agreement with Netflix that would require the online video service to pay for bandwidth loads from streaming content. McAdam’s comments come a day after a rival in the cable industry, Comcast, announced an agreement with Netflix that would allow for faster video streaming speeds. Reuters AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said in a statement on Monday that the company was also “in discussions with Netflix” to “establish a more direct connection between our networks.” Asked about discussions with Verizon or other providers, Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said, “we talk to all major ISPs all the time to make sure Netflix users get the best possible experience.”