Morning Media Newsfeed: Raven to Retire From A&E | NBC Undecided on Virgin Galactic Series

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A&E Networks Chairman Abbe Raven to Retire (THR)
Cable pioneer Abbe Raven is set to retire. Her last day as chairman of A&E Networks will be Feb. 2. The news comes nearly a year after Raven’s protégé, Nancy Dubuc, was elevated to CEO and Raven to chairman. Deadline Hollywood Dubuc took oversight of the day-to-day operations of the company, while Raven remained in charge of A&E Networks’ long-term business and revenue opportunities, including distribution, as well as public policy initiatives and corporate outreach. A year ago, Dubuc also took over distribution. She will remain president and CEO. Variety Raven’s role as chairman will not be filled. Raven is without question one of key architects of A&E Networks’ growth, particularly in the past 15 years. The company, a joint venture of Hearst Corp. and Disney, is home to some of cable’s most prosperous channels, but as a private concern it is shielded from quarterly earnings scrutiny. Under Raven and Dubuc, A&E has rapidly expanded its domestic and international portfolio, which generates an estimated $3.8 billion in annual revenue. TheWrap Prior to her position as president and CEO, Raven held high level executive roles at the company’s properties A&E Network, The Biography Channel and The History Channel. WSJ The handoff also comes at a challenging time. After setting cable-television ratings records last year with hits like Duck Dynasty on A&E and The Bible on History, the company’s two biggest channels have endured sharp declines this year. A&E’s ratings are down 32 percent so far this year in total viewers and 25 percent in its target demographic of 25- to 54-year olds, while History’s ratings are down 15 percent in both total viewers and those 25 to 54.

NBC Undecided on Space Race Series After Fatal Virgin Galactic Crash (TheWrap)
NBC is reassessing the future of its planned series with Richard Branson‘s Virgin Galactic after Friday’s fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo, an individual with knowledge of the situation said. A decision has yet to be made on the series announced in October 2013 under the title Space Race. Variety The pilot was killed and another person was seriously injured Friday when the craft crashed in California’s Mojave Desert near the Mojave Air and Space Port facility where Virgin has been testing its ambitious venture. The NBC series was ordered this time last year and was meant to be a competition show putting contestants through their paces to win a flight on the Virgin Galactic. Deadline Hollywood Space Race marked a reunion of NBC and producer Mark Burnett in the space travel reality TV genre. Thirteen years ago, NBC outbid several other networks for Burnett’s Destination: Mir, which was later scrapped when the Russian space station that was to be the series’ destination was brought down. Burnett later tried again with Destination: Space, which also didn’t get off the ground — also a partnership with the Russian space program, and using Soyuz rockets. CNNMoney The Space Race series would also have “unprecedented access” to Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America facilities in New Mexico, where contestants would train for their winning flight, according to a press release issued last year. Virgin Galactic’s plan for the $500 million spaceship is to transport passengers 62 miles above Earth, where the planet meets the onset of space.

Analyst Blames SVOD for Falling TV Ratings (B&C)
In a new report, analyst Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein says the big third quarter drop in C3 ratings for ad-supported TV is largely the fault of subscription video on demand players like Netflix and Amazon. And that the erosion is likely to increase. Checking data from both Nielsen and Rentrak, Juenger believes the decline is real and not just a measurement error. Deadline Hollywood He figures that the 4 percent decline in total day TV viewing vs. the same period last year equals about 13 minutes per day. And he concludes it’s not a blip: They’ve gone to subscription video-on-demand services led by Netflix and its shrewd CEO Reed Hastings. Its viewing has increased about 12 minutes a day, to 95 minutes, as its audience has grown and each subscriber spends more time with it. So — contrary to the party line in media — Netflix viewing is a substitute for traditional TV, not a supplement. Re/code What makes it even worse for the TV guys is that they’ve helped create the problem, by selling off their old shows to Netflix and the other services. For the past three or four years, the networks have been happy to offload their old stuff to the streaming services, in part because they needed to replace declining revenues for syndication and DVD sales, and in part because it was such easy, high-margin money.

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Final Colbert Report Is Dec. 18 (TVNewser)
You’ll only have about seven more weeks of Colbert Report on Comedy Central, which is probably just fine with Sean Hannity. Mediaite Thursday night, Stephen Colbert announced that the final date of his show would be Dec. 18 — a sad piece of news, but another incentive to buy a copy of his book, America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t. “Stephen Colbert, the guy you’ve seen here every night for nine years will be gone. All you’ll have left of me is this book,” Colbert said, holding up the paperback. NYT Colbert has said he will retire the character before he succeeds David Letterman on CBS in 2015. Comedy Central will replace The Colbert Report with a new late-night program, The Minority Report, starring Larry Wilmore. It is expected to start sometime in January.

NYT Ends Texas Tribune Partnership (FishbowlNY)
The New York Times has decided to end its four-year long partnership with The Texas Tribune. The deal between the papers will officially end in December. Capital New York The partnership lasted longer than the other two similar deals struck by the Times. Its partnership with the San Francisco Bay Citizen and the Chicago News Cooperative both ended in 2012. Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith, in a blog post Friday, made it sound like it was the Times’ decision to ultimately terminate the arrangement, due to budgetary constraints. Poynter / MediaWire “We hate to see the whole thing come to an end, but it’s like that line from The Godfather: It’s business, not personal,” Smith writes. As a result, the Tribune will no longer produce a two-page section for the Times’ Texas edition.

Chicago Sun-Times’ Parent Company Sells Suburban Newspapers to Tribune (Chicago Sun-Times)
Sun-Times Media’s parent company, Wrapports LLC, has sold its 32 suburban weeklies and six daily newspapers to Tribune Publishing Company. The deal was announced Friday and became effective Saturday. Poynter / MediaWire Employees at the suburban papers will become Tribune Publishing employees at some point and will leave the Sun-Times’ newsroom. The Sun-Times said in 2012 it would close its suburban offices and move most employees into Chicago digs. Terms of the deal aren’t public yet, according to a Wrapports press release. Bob Fleck will be publisher and GM of the papers. HuffPost / AP Wrapports said the deal will allow it to focus on its new Sun-Times Network, which launched Friday and centers on a mobile news app tailored to local audiences in 70 U.S. cities.

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Matt Taibbi Returning to Rolling Stone After Split From First Look Media (The Guardian)
Matt Taibbi is gathering no moss. The former Rolling Stone journalist is returning to the magazine, days after splitting from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media in tumultuous circumstances. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Taibbi left First Look Media last week after “months of contentious disputes with Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching and president John Temple over the structure” of the magazine, as well as a dispute with an employee over Taibbi’s behavior as a manager, according to a lengthy report by The Intercept.

Chris Rock, Prince SNL Scores Top Household Rating Since February (TheWrap)
Chris Rock and Prince were a winning combination for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Saturday’s episode averaged a 4.9 rating/12 share in household results in Nielsen’s 56 metered markets and a 2.4/10 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic in the 25 markets with local people meters according to Nielsen’s preliminary numbers. Deadline Hollywood This was SNL’s top household result since Feb. 1 (5.4); in adults 18-49, it was the best rating since March 1 (2.4).

AMC Networks Warns It May Go Dark on DirecTV (Deadline Hollywood)
AMC Networks adroitly alerted its viewers about the possible service interruption for DirecTV’s 20.2 million subs during its hit The Walking Dead. Its carriage agreement with DirecTV expires mid-way through the season. Variety AMC began warning viewers about the potential for the channel to go dark on DirecTV in on-air spots and graphic snipes on screen during the show, which opened its fifth season on Oct. 12 with 17.2 million viewers. In a statement, AMC accused DirecTV of failing to negotiate and even violating its existing deal.

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Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren Launches Greta Talk Podcast, Gets @Greta on Twitter (TVNewser)
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren wants to talk to you while you work out. Van Susteren’s launched Greta Talk, a podcast where she hopes to dig deeper into some of the big stories of the day. And another new development from Greta world, after years of trying, Van Susteren secured the @greta handle on Twitter Friday, bringing along her 480,000 followers. Van Susteren had used the account @GretaWire since 2008.

Michelle Aielli Moves to Hachette Books (GalleyCat)
Michelle Aielli has been named executive director of publicity at Hachette Books. She will report to publisher Mauro DiPreta. In the new role, Aielli will oversee the publicity for both the division’s brand and the titles on its list. The start date for her new position has been set for Nov. 17.

FNC Is No. 1 News Organization on Facebook (TVNewser)
According to data provided by Social Bakers, Fox News Channel is the No. 1 news organization on Facebook based on domestic fans and engagement. FNC has been delivering more domestic Facebook fans than any other news organization on the social network for 29 consecutive months (as of Oct 26, 2014).

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Cable Nets Make More Bets on Film (TVNewser)
Fusion is joining CNN in the documentary film acquisition business. Friday, Fusion announced it has acquired the U.S. TV rights to True Son, which premiered recently at the Tribeca Film Festival. True Son will debut on Fusion Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. ET, following its limited theatrical release.

Technology Website Making The Jump From Screen to Page (NYT)
A leading technology website, CNET, is expanding into a platform that its users praise as portable, accessible and affordable. The platform is print periodicals, as CNET brings out on Monday a magazine, also named CNET, that carries a cover price of $5.99 and is being sold on newsstands and at stores like Costco, Target and Walmart.

Fox International Sets New Industry Box Office Record With $3.25 Billion in 2014 (Deadline Hollywood)
A few days after Fox broke a domestic box office record for its highest-grossing year ever, Fox International has now set a new industry benchmark for box office earned in a calendar year. With a total so far of $3.254 billion, the studio division says it has bested previous record-holder Paramount and its 2011 $3.21 billion haul.

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