My open letter to nbc

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  • 1. Oct 8th 2007Address removed for uploadTO: Jeff Zucker, President NBC/Universal IncTO: Jeff Gaspin, President NBC/U Cable and Digital Content30 Rockefeller PlazaNew York, NY, 10112SUBJECT: The sad state of the Sci-Fi ChannelDear Gentlemen,I am writing to offer my opinion of the sad state of the Sci-Fi Channel and the leadership of BonnieHammer and her team because their entrenched lack of knowledge on how to manage the content for thechannel is in question. For too long the channel has continued a sad downward spiral to mediocrity andbelow. Alienation of core demographics and ratings decline to the point where the channel’s worth andreputation are at stake. Now you are probably wondering who I am and why would I write to you. Sure Icould take the easy path of posting anonymously online in a forum or a blog or send a email that will nodoubt get lost in a server somewhere, but I fell that by taking the time to write you a letter it shows myintentions are earnest and thoughtful. My background is not in television but in space shuttle operations.While they might not seem like relatable fields we both deal with billion dollar assets, mine is a nationalasset and there are lives at stake, you answer to stockholders and the bottom line.I am a long time fan of the science fiction genre, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’tfor the inspiration of science fiction, which is why the current state of the Channel is tragic. It is surprisingthat NBC seems to be embracing quality sci-fi content with last season’s breakout hit Heroes and thisseasons crop (Chuck, Journeyman and Bionic Woman) while the namesake channel seems to beabandoning quality products (Flash Gordon, Sci-fi original pictures). The NBC/Universal family has a vastwealth of quality content that can be used to help revive the network as well as pushing the frontiers oftechnology and audience interactivity.What I am proposing is not going to be a quick turnaround for the network, but just as the decline to thispoint has been slow the recovery effort will take some time but certain aspects would need to be startednow to payoff in the long run. I can offer advice and consult on a part time basis only at this point as mycommitment to the space program will take a majority of my time until the shuttle retires in 2010. Afterthat we can talk about a more permanent position to help continue the channel’s rise in prominence andprestige. I look forward to discussing these proposals with you further and appreciate your time andconsideration.Respectfully submitted,Michael A. Interbartolo IIIIncluded attachments:Proposed concepts and milestones for the channel’s recoveryProposed Programming ScheduleCC: Bonnie Hammer, President Sci-Fi Channel
  • 2. Proposed concepts and milestones for channel recoveryImmediate Actions to begin the Channel’s turnaround: (now - 3 months) • Refocus on Sci-fi content and reengage the core fan base that has been eroding due to questionable programming choices for some time. o Several other networks have eroded audience share by invading Sci-fi market by providing content that should have been on Sci-fi channel if programming department was in touch with fan base. • Improve connection with genre fans and better understand the core programming o Look at ways to gather better and more comprehensive ratings information via Tivo, or other methods independent of Nielsen data such as website registry for immediate feedback on viewing habits  It is far overdue for a network to step into the modern age and throw off the shackles of the archaic Nielsen system.  Could strengthen the new partnership with Amazon Unbox to deliver content directly to coincide with airing with minor embedded ads as well as bundle digital season subscription and DVD pre-order at a discounted price. o Fanboy President - similar to Star Wars.com and Red Sox Nation president to open the lines of direct communication with core fan base. • Terminate ECW airings - whatever money this may be bringing in it serves to only alienate the core audience of the channel. The show can move back to sister network (USA) • Terminate Sci Fi Pictures and reallocate budget - the subpar “D” movies that have been put out in past several years have cheapened the channel franchise worth o Budget for these multiple low budget schlock fests should be pooled to help leverage superior content for the channel. • Terminate Flash Gordon - put the show on hiatus for major retooling. This version of Flash Gordon has alienated core and while there is interest in an updated version of Flash, support for this incarnation is not there. o Leverage Universal serials, cartoon and movies to maintain interest in the topic while show is significantly retooled. • Leverage Universal library of content: o Saturday morning serials and cartoons o Friday Night Universal Monster Movie Madness o Sunday Night Universal Action Movie Night • Leverage Heroes, Journeyman, Bionic Woman and other past NBC scifi properties o Not just reruns of current shows, but older NBC properties could be used o Original Heroes content to maintain show interest during mid season break as well as prior to season 3.Mid term Actions: (3 - 6 months)
  • 3. • Renegotiate with BBC to close the Doctor Who gap - given the state of internet technology by the time show airs on Sci-fi significant viewer ship is probably lost due to other avenues of acquiring the data. o If Show airs only several days after BBC US viewers would be less inclined to download if show is not significantly edited with commercials as it is now o Negotiate for Doctor Who Confidential broadcast rights also to add additional programming content • Negotiate with Warner Bros Home Media for broadcast rights to Babylon Five Lost Tales - prior to DVD release Sci-fi channel could air movie to increase interest for DVD sales since DVD would add additional content that broadcast airing would not provide. • New Sci Fi News show - half hour show on upcoming sci-fi movies, tv and other entertainment venues (Why should G4 be the network to cover Comic Con and Star Wars Celebration IV)Long Term Actions (beyond 6 months) • Immediate negotiations with LucasFilm for broadcast rights to both live action and Clone Wars animated series should be started now to ensure programming content for channel in 08-10 timeframe o Why should Cartoon network be the place for Star Wars - Clone Wars? (another example of another network invading domain that Sci-Fi channel should be dominating) • Negotiate with Atom Films, Ifilms or Youtube for Fan Made content o Plenty of scifi shorts available that could provide content for a half hour or hour long variety show o Cosponsor contest for best fan made content - why did Spike TV air the AtomFilms/Lucasfilm Star Wars Contest this year? (another example of another network invading domain that Sci-Fi channel should be dominating) • Sister network (Bravo) had a widely popular Brilliant but cancelled series - look for a sci-fi specific version with new cast and crew interviews of the cancelled shows.Sci-fi channel should look to the past for content (Universal/NBC as well as otherproperties) to reconnect with core audience as well as look towards the future and whatcan be done to reinvigorate and widen the fan base as well as bring in main streamviewers.
  • 4. Proposed SCI-FI Programming Schedule Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday7:00 Brilliant Heroes Eureka7:30 But Behind (Replay) cancelled the scenes (replay) State of Scifi (replay)8:00 Serial State of Eureka Alternate Heroes Monster Action8:30 Sunday Sci-fi Reality Hour (NBC Movie Movie Sci-fi replay) Madness Night Shorts9:00 Star Wars Doctor Who Star Wars Stargate Live The Clone Atlantis Action Wars9:30 Sci-fi on Scifi on DVD DVD (replay)10:00 The Clone Heroes Doctor Who Journeyman Bionic Wars Behind Confidential (NBC replay) Woman (replay) the (NBC scenes replay)10:30 Ani- Sci-fi on Scifi Monday DVD Shorts (replay) (replay)Action Movie Night - leverage the NBC/Universal Library of movies old and not so old( use Sci-fi channel for network broadcast debuts of newer movies) could have bumperswith behind the scenes footage at commercial breaksAlternate Reality Hour - Who Wants to be a Superhero?, Ghost Hunters, DestinationTruth and Mind Control air during the hour throughout the year.Ani-Monday - hour block for Anime/Science fiction cartoonsBionic Woman - NBC’s Wednesday episode replays on ThursdayBrilliant But Cancelled - similar to Bravo network but focused on cancelled sci-fi showsDoctor Who - negotiate to close the gap to air episodes the Tuesday after it airs in UKDoctor Who Confidential - negotiate to get rights to air behind the scenes show after itairs in UKHeroes - NBC’s Monday episode replays on ThursdayHeroes Behind the Scenes - half hour behind the scene show building on the episodethat just aired on NBC (promote at the end of Heroes for more content switch over toSCIFI channel - like BBC does with Doctor Who Confidential)Journeyman - NBC’s Monday episode replays on Wednesday
  • 5. Monster Movie Madness - Leverage the Universal Monster Library of Movies (sci-fihas been doing horror with their sci-fi original movies probably best to use good horror)could have bumpers with behind the scenes footage at commercial breaks.Sci-fi on DVD - half hour show looking at the upcoming DVD releases. Includestrailers, behind the scene promos and other DVD extra content to hype DVD releases.(similar to Reelz Channel- Big Tease and E!Channel - Coming Attractions)Scifi Shorts - variety show of fan made content from YouTube, or other sources. Wouldlimit entrants to 12 minutes to fit between commercial breaks.Serial Sunday - Leverage NBC/Universal library for retro serials (The Boomerang andTVLand networks have shown viability of old shows being rerun)State of Scifi - half hour news show on what is going on in scifi movie, tv, online,comics etc. (specials would include covering Star Wars Celebrations, Comic Con andother large conventions - could send the Fan president to certain events to help promoteupcoming Sci-Fi content)Star Wars Live Action - negotiate for broadcast rights to Lucasfilm’s upcoming liveaction series set in Star Wars universe.Star Wars The Clone Wars - negotiate broadcast rights to Lucasfilm’s upcominganimated series set in Star Wars universe.Returning Show:Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica also return.Dresden Files, Firefly, Farscape and other properties can be used to fill slots until contentis ready.