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Thursday, Jan 30, 2014
When it comes to its programming, what put the cable channel on the map may soon also lead to its downfall.

There’s certainly no need to cry any tears for Bravo… yet. Right now the cable channel is riding high. The channel can currently count among its line-up at least one prestige program, Inside the Actor’s Studio, one classy Emmy-winning reality series, Top Chef, and a true pop culture phenomenon, thanks to its gaggle of catty Real Housewives.


How quickly things have changed. Not so long ago, Bravo was barely known and even then viewed only as a lower-rent A&E. Then, in the early 2000s, with the breakout success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (premiered 2003) and the now departed-for-Lifetime Project Runway (premiered 2004), the channel began to emerge. But it hit its greatest stride of course with the evolution and development of what can only be called the “reality soap opera”, a somewhat newly emerged genre best epitomized by the likes of the Real Housewives franchise.


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Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014
Recent trends in black and white viewership are changing TV's big picture, making it not so black and white.

A few months ago, I took on the topic of daytime TV convinced that, in 2013, after decades of population expansion and demographic shifts, there was no way that the daytime audience was still primarily stay-at-home moms….  But, in the process of researching and writing the article, I learned that despite a few evolving trends, the primary audience for daytime TV was, yes, stay-at-home moms. 


Recently, when I decided to look at the concept of what I call primetime TV’s “self-segregation”—that what whites are watching and what blacks are watching are two distinctly separate lists—I assumed that I would, once again, find a deep and troubling divide. I had more than just a hunch to go on for this assumption. Back in 1996 I had read a stunning list, the top 10 shows among African-American viewers for a random week as determined by the A.C. Nielsen Company. It contained such shows as Living Single, Martin, New York Undercover, and Family Matters.


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Thursday, Jul 18, 2013
Even while it mostly stands pat, Emmy’s surprise acknowledgment of Netflix original programming heralds mainstream success for a new broadcasting model.

It still remains to be seen whether 2013 will prove to be a true watershed in television history, like 1999/2000 (the debuts of The Sopranos and Survivor), but if this year’s Emmy nominations are any indication, then the future of TV is well upon us, and Netflix is leading the way.


Amidst the expected roll call of usual suspects in the drama categories you will find House of Cards, the political thriller shepherded by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright (both of whom received acting nominations). The significance, of course, is not that a prestige production is getting recognition, but who is producing it, and where (or, rather, how) it’s being broadcast. Netflix entrée into the TV game is now, as of this moment, a big deal—and the real deal. It’s not really a question of number of nominations (though the tally is respectable, nine for House of Cards, and a few more for the revival of Arrested Development) – it’s just the fact of being nominated at all. And neither is it a question of the other big TV numbers, ratings, since the Netflix model throws the outdated modes and metrics out the window (mostly by ignoring them, or at least being very cagey).


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Monday, Mar 11, 2013
The "magic" behind those "numbers" that determine what stays and what goes on TV.

A few years ago I had the chance to be a Nielsen “family” (though I live alone) and catalog, for all posterity, a detailed record of my TV viewing habits. Eventually—I assumed— this raw data would be processed and reported to the masses, with my viewing choices powerfully impacting the national viewing audience. Tough work, but someone’s got to do it.


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Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011
With the WWE's biggest event of the year on the horizon, fans and sponsors might want to take a closer look at its blatant homophobia and reconsider the wisdom of handing over their money to a bigoted and retrograde institution.

Head of the WWE Vince McMahon doesn’t like to be thought of as a hick. He really doesn’t like it.


Unfortunately for him – and for those fans who desperately want to see wrestling present something worth watching – his every attempt to show that he’s not a classless rube, simply re-enforces just what a classless rube he is.


The WWE is heading into its biggest money-season, with their flagship event Wrestlemania on the horizon (Sunday 3 April). What better way to lead into it than with a string of homophobic slurs, drawing on a long history of homophobia in the WWE’s top headline stars – strong good-guy supermen who are the heroes to countless children?


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