Morning Media Newsfeed: Netflix to Up Prices | NBC Evaluates Gregory | Slate Plus Launches

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Netflix Plans Price Raise as Streaming Subscribers Grow (Reuters)
Video streaming service Netflix Inc. said it intends to raise its subscription price for new customers by $1 or $2 a month to help the company buy more movies and TV shows and improve service for its 48 million global subscribers. WSJ Netflix said the price increase for the $7.99 a month service, the first since 2011, would help pay for its continued investment in original programs, including series such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Netflix has committed to spend billions of dollars in programming in the past few years as it has grown to become the biggest stand-alone subscription programming service in the U.S., passing some long-standing traditional TV outlets like HBO in terms of subscribers. Mashable Current subscribers would stay at the $7.99 price for a “generous time period,” the company wrote in a statement to investors. “Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only,” the company wrote. The news came as Netflix announced that it added 4 million new members in the first quarter of 2014, as the company beat revenue and profit expectations. Variety In after-hours trading Monday, Netflix’s stock climbed as much as 7 percent to $372.05 per share, after closing up 0.8 percent for the day at $348.49. Netflix also said that in the second quarter of 2014, it will launch the first pay-TV integration of its service in the U.S. That’s after lining up deals with European providers including the U.K.’s Virgin Media to provide access to the unlimited streaming-video service through operator-supplied boxes. Deadline New York The company generated $53.1 million in net income in the first quarter of 2014, up from $2.7 million in the same period in 2013, on revenues of $1.27 billion, up 24 percent.

As Meet The Press Struggles in Ratings, Plenty of Questions for Host David Gregory (The Washington Post)
Meet the Press, the great-granddaddy of Sunday-morning Beltway talk shows, is currently No. 3 and in the midst of a three-year slide. During the first three months of this year, the NBC program finished behind perennial rivals Face The Nation on CBS and This Week With George Stephanopoulos on ABC, despite being helped by two weeks of Winter Olympics coverage. In the final quarter of last year, viewing among people ages 25 to 54, the preferred group for TV news advertisers, fell to its lowest level ever. Mediaite Amid this ratings meltdown, the Post reported on Monday that NBC is seriously evaluating Gregory’s performance. “Gregory’s job does not appear to be in any immediate jeopardy, but there are plenty of signs of concern,” the Post’s Paul Farhi reported. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media According to the report, NBC News last year hired a “psychological consultant” to interview Gregory’s friends and family, part of an effort to get greater insight into the host’s personality. The point of hiring the consultant, NBC spokeswoman Meghan Pianta said, was to “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” Despite the failing ratings, Gregory renewed his contract in 2013 and network executives said as recently as March that they are committed to improving the show with him as host. Capital New York Monday morning, Pianta released a statement disputing that element of the report: “Last year Meet The Press brought in a brand consultant — not, as reported, a psychological one — to better understand how its anchor connects. This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.” While perhaps the most surprising, NBC’s decision to hire a psychological consultant is not the first strategy the network has tried or considered to get Meet The Press back to the head of the pack. NBC has discussed using a live audience for some shows. And last month, NBC announced plans for a mid-week digital program, “Meet The Press Express.” TVNewser In Farhi’s profile in the Post, Gregory says a new format with a faster pace, more taped pieces and shorter interviews “delivers on the core of what Meet The Press is,” while widening the scope. “I’m dedicated to building something that says we’re not just thinking about politics. We’re thinking about who the real influencers are in this country,” Gregory tells Farhi.

Slate Launches Paid Membership Plan (FishbowlNY)
Slate Plus, the paid membership from Slate, is officially live. The first thing you should know about Slate Plus is that it’s not a paywall. The site will remain completely free. You won’t be asked to pay up once you read a certain number of articles. Slate Plus is — like the name suggests — Slate, but with more. FishbowlDC But the new Slate Plus will offer some perks to readers who pay $5 a month or $50 a year — ranging from members-only live chats to ad-free podcasts. It’s all part of a strategy to become less reliant on ad revenue, says Slate editor David Plotz. Poynter / MediaWire It’s a “freemium” pay model, or a “reverse paywall,” that adds features for subscribers rather than subtracting them for non-subscribers. GigaOM Among the Slate Plus enhancements: Members will be able to read long stories and columns as a single page, while non-paying readers will have to click through multiple pages — and paying customers will also get a comment interface that is more streamlined, instead of the popup window readers currently get (comments by members will also be highlighted).

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Matt Bean Staffs Up at Entertainment Weekly (Adweek)
Entertainment Weekly’s new editor Matt Bean is continuing to staff up at the Time Inc. title. Last week, he tapped Kyle Ryan of The Onion A.V. Club as editor of; Monday, he announced a new round of hires and promotions in a memo to staffers. Capital New York Kristen Baldwin has been promoted to deputy editor, filling the open spot left by Henry Goldblatt’s departure last month. Baldwin had served as EW’s executive editor for integrated content. FishbowlNY Meeta Agrawal has been promoted to executive editor, television. Agrawal has been with EW since 2007, most recently serving as assistant managing editor. Another assistant managing editor — Sean Smith — has been promoted to executive editor, film.

Legendary TV Launches Distribution Unit With Michael Grindon (THR)
Legendary Television has taken one big step toward its efforts to launch its own television studio. The banner has tapped former Sony Pictures Television International president Michael Grindon to oversee its new global television distribution division. Deadline Hollywood Grindon will report to Bruce Rosenblum, president of Legendary Television and Digital Media, who since being hired last spring has overseen the expansion of Legendary’s TV unit that now has the capacity to develop, finance and self-distribute its fare worldwide. Variety The hiring of Grindon, who spent more than 15 years as president of Sony Pictures TV Intl., indicates Legendary is serious about self-distribution around the globe. Legendary jump-started its TV production activity last year with the acquisition of Asylum Entertainment, which produces a number of unscripted cable shows and long-form projects.

Sharyl Attkisson: ‘Unstoppable’ Forces Halted CBS Reporting, Network Responds (TVNewser)
In her most recent TV interview, former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson claimed politics kept her stories from airing. “The tendency on the part of some of these managers who have key influences has been they never mind the stories that seem to … go against the grain of the Republican Party,” Attkisson told Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter Sunday on CNN. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Attkisson also suggested Media Matters may have been paid to target her reporting on the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal and the Obama administration’s failed green energy efforts. Mediaite CBS responded Monday in a statement: “CBS News maintains the highest journalistic standards in what it chooses to put on the air,” CBS News spokesperson Sonya McNair said. “Those standards are applied without fear or favor.” Media Matters also responded to Attkisson Monday, saying she has nothing to blame for them targeting her but her “shoddy reporting.”

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Discovery Sells HowStuffWorks at 82 Percent Loss After Seven Years (Bloomberg)
Discovery Communications Inc. sold HowStuffWorks, a website that explains the science behind everything from magnets to Silly String, for $45 million, taking an 82 percent loss seven years after acquiring the asset. Blucora Inc., owner of the InfoSpace search business, acquired HowStuffWorks in an all-cash deal, according to a filing Monday. WSJ Discovery acquired the site for $250 million in 2007 as part of an effort to expose more of its television content to the Web. Much has changed since then, as Google Inc.’s YouTube emerged as major destination for instructional videos of all kinds, not to mention television content. HowStuffWorks drew 7.1 million unique visitors in the U.S. on desktop devices last month, a 15 percent decline from three years ago, according to data from comScore.

Leaked Memo Reveals Nokia Will Rebrand as Microsoft Mobile (Mashable)
A recently leaked memo indicates that as part of its acquisition of Nokia, Microsoft plans to rename Nokia to Microsoft Mobile. The memo appears to be sent by Nokia and addresses its existing devices and services business suppliers. In the letter, Nokia also assures its partners that all existing agreements will remain in place. Reuters Nokia said on Monday it expects the sale of its handset business to Microsoft to be finalized on April 25, as it had received all the required regulatory approvals. The closure of the €5.4 billion ($7.5 billion) deal, which was agreed to in September, had been delayed due to pending approvals, but earlier this month the companies won a crucial nod from Chinese regulators.

NYC Mayor: May 16 to Be Barbara Walters Day (The Associated Press)
Mayor Bill de Blasio is proclaiming May 16 as “Barbara Walters Day” in New York City. Walters is retiring that day after a storied television reporting career that has spanned five decades. De Blasio made the announcement Monday when he appeared on The View, the daytime talk show that Walters co-hosts. He gave her an official city proclamation. Mediaite Walters will be getting a big send-off on her final week, with all the current and ex-View co-hosts united in the same studio, and ABC News’ headquarters in New York will be named the Barbara Walters Building.

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Here Comes The Upshot, The New Explanatory Journalism Effort From The New York Times (GigaOM)
Ever since Nate Silver left his perch at The New York Times and took his FiveThirtyEight blog to ESPN, where he subsequently launched an ambitious experiment aimed at data-driven journalism, the NYT has been working on a new venture aimed in part at filling the hole he left, and also at competing with the “explanatory journalism” of Ezra Klein’s recently launched Vox project. The new effort from the Times — known as The Upshot — debuts on Tuesday. In a sense, The Upshot is an attempt to act as a kind of internal aggregator and explainer for the NYT’s own content — something the paper has typically allowed external players to do, apart from ventures like its topic pages.

Hillary Clinton Biographer Says ‘She’s Already Running’ (HuffPost)
Hillary Clinton biographer Jonathan Allen shared his insights about the chances of Hillary Clinton running in 2016 on Monday. “I will say this: she’s already running,” he continued. Allen pointed out that there are already super PACs backing Clinton and that the former Secretary of State will tour the country for her new book, Hard Choices. “She’s campaigning for president right now, she’s just not an official candidate,” he added.

Food Network Delves Into Quantified Eating by Buying Food on The Table (GigaOM)
Food Network has slowly been evolving its digital strategy over the years, moving away from using the Web and mobile to just tease its cable programming toward creating original content and apps. It looks like that strategy may take an interesting turn by using data analytics to help consumers plan their meals and shop for food. FN and its parent Scripps Networks Interactive have bought an Austin startup called Food on The Table that aims to use big data and partnerships with local grocery stores to help consumers plan and shop for their weekly meals.

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Univision Launches ‘Flama,’ an Over-The-Top Network in English for Youth (LostRemote)
Univision is continuing to invest in digital content, this time with a brand new network, Flama. The network, which can be accessed at, is the “first fully dedicated over-the-top network providing premium English-language video programming for 15-to-30-year-olds who are inspired and entertained by the Latin culture that is influencing today’s younger generation.” Programming for the network will include, “comedy, music, lifestyle and sports programming” and new series.

FAA to Start Testing Drones in North Dakota (TVSpy)
The Federal Aviation Administration says the first of six sites planned to test what it’s calling “unmanned aircraft systems” is up and running. The FAA says it granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce a Certificate of Authorization to start using a small drone at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. Flight operations are expected to begin the week of May 5.

Disney to Publish Four New Star Wars Books (GalleyCat)
Disney Publishing Worldwide has four new books coming out based on the original Star Wars film trilogy to support the upcoming movie release of Star Wars: Episode VII in December 2015. The new series will kick off with The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight written by Tony DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Ralph McQuarrie, slated for publication in October. The book will be followed up with Star Wars: A New Hope by R.J. Palacio, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by Adam Gidwitz and Star Wars: Return of The Jedi by Tom Angleberger, all of which Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig will illustrate.

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Publish date: April 22, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT