Life in the Slow Lane

January 6, 2009

Time Warner raises rates – again

Filed under: Life,Television — pauljlane @ 1:10 pm

If the sky is blue and it’s cold in January, then that must mean that cable rates are going up again.

Time Warner Cable announced Monday that its rates will go up next month. Basic service will go up $3.45 to $61.14(!) with other packages and add-ons also climbing.

Holy crow. I use a satellite provider, and although I pay that much we have a package that’s beyond basic (we don’t pay for movie channels, but satellite does provide the NFL Network, which Time Warner does not, as well as satellite music stations and sports channels from NYC, Cleveland and Pennsylvania). I switched a few years ago and whole-heartedly recommend you do the same; lower-priced packages are available.

If you can no longer afford pay TV (Time Warner provides a package of local only for $10), you can get your coupon from the federal government to save on the converter box you’ll need next month – but wait, they ran out of coupons and have started a waiting lost. Oops.

If, like me, you have a hard time thinking about life without some form of pay television, Time Warner is just giving its 330,000 subscribers in WNY one more reason to switch. Sure, the companies that provide the channels have raised their rates, but $60 or more a month for just the basics may make the choice for many people as to whether to drop pay TV altogether.

Cable isn’t all bad (Canadian stations are available for “Hockey Night in Canada” fans, and on-demand services are provided for many stations to which you subscribe), but that isn’t enough for this viewer. There has to be a way to at least keep rates steady.

If you can afford a rate hike, digital recorder and all the bells and whistles, God bless you. As for the rest of the people (the MANY rest of the people), your reason to switch has arrived.

January 5, 2009

Color me disappointed …

Filed under: Life,News — pauljlane @ 12:58 pm

… that the New York Times – the pinnacle of American print journalism – has been forced to sell front-page advertisements.

Sure, papers such as mine that are small have done so for some time. But the Times selling space on the front – once considered ground more sacred than Mecca, where only the NEWS that was fit to print was printed – is a sure sign that this industry is nearing death.

The reaction here in the newsroom is the same for everyone – “WOW!” followed by a sigh of disappointment, then the gravity of the situation setting in. If the Times has to sell front-page ads to survive, how long will it be until the newspaper as a whole is dead?

This is a sad day for anyone who still reads or appreciates newspapers, which offer the only true journalism out there, unlike the TV newscasts that rehash the headlines they read in yesterday’s paper or the radio shows that then recycle the TV “news.” Biased? Yes, but an appreciation for actual news-gathering is why I gave up a broadcasting to go into a then-uncertain print career to begin with.

scan

•••

For its part, here’s what CBS had to say on the matter:

“This high impact placement represents an exciting new opportunity for our advertisers to reach our educated, affluent and influential readers across the country,” said Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer for The New York Times Media Group.  “With a weekday readership of 2.8 million and a Sunday readership of 4.2 million, The New York Times is the largest seven-day newspaper in the United States.”

“It’s exciting that CBS is kicking off The New York Times’s inaugural front page ad,” said George Schweitzer, President, CBS Marketing Group.  “America’s most watched network will clearly have one of the most read ads — and we value this new means of prominently showcasing our valuable media properties.”

Hockey ratings stay strong on NBC

Filed under: Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 12:49 pm
By The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

Ratings for last week’s second Winter Classic NBC were up 12 percent from a year ago, which might soon prompt the National Hockey League to officially announce that the outdoor game will become an annual event.

With a 2.9 rating and 6 share during the afternoon on a holiday – andwhen airing against major college bowl games – the NHL would be wise to keep this game going. Year one in Buffalo was great as far as the game and the atmostphere, and while year two in Chicago lost a bit in terms of ambiance (Wrigley didn’t seem very well suited for the game) the high scoring 6-4 affair still made for good viewing.

Seeing as the NHL is unlikely to put the Winter Classic in Canada (NBC can’t draw ratings from Canada, so a Canadian team probably won’t even be considered as the road opponent), that does cap the potential host sites. Aside from making the first two road teams hosts (Pittsburgh and Detroit), the new Yankee Stadium in new York might make for a good site, as would Gillette Stadium near Boston (Fenway park would be horrible for hockey), any number of sites in Philadelphia and even one of the outdoor stadiums in Denver.

The NHL could easily get an eight- or 10-city rotation going, ensuring that the game wouldn’t suffer from diluted interest in any market yet that every northern city that would care about the game could see it. No city with an NHL team would refuse to host the game, either. C’mon, Gary Bettman, this is an easy decision to make.

•••

Following is the release from NBC:

NHL Winter Classic 2009, broadcast New Year’s Day on NBC from historic Wrigley Field, earned a 2.9 overnight rating and a 6 share (1-4:15 p.m. ET), the best overnight NHL regular season rating in nearly 13 years (Feb. 3, 1996 on Fox, six-game regional, 3.0/7) and a 12 percent increase over last year’s inaugural event (2.6/5, 1-4:45 p.m. ET). The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the second U.S. outdoor game in NHL history.

“Year one was an extraordinary experience. Year two was the establishment of what promises to be a great tradition,” said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer.

Top 10 Metered Markets:
1. Chicago 11.8/21
2. Detroit 10.5/20
3. Buffalo 10.1/20
4. St. Louis 5.3/10
5. Pittsburgh 4.4/8
6. Denver 4.2/10
7. Providence 3.5/7
8. Indianapolis 3.4/6
9. West Palm Beach 3.3/6
10. Orlando 3.2/5

January 2, 2009

Big East holds its own in football bowls

Filed under: Sports — pauljlane @ 12:44 pm

OK, Bill, you want more posting? Here ya go.

While it’s sort of depressing that my Syracuse Orange can’t earn one of the six bowl bids available in the eight-team Big East, the hard-luck football conference is doing itself proud this bowl season.

Big East teams are 3-2 in the 2008 bowl season, with UConn wrapping up conference action in Saturday’s International Bowl against the University at Buffalo in Toronto.

South Florida’s 41-14 pasting of C-USA’s Memphis might not carry much weight, but two Big East squads have beaten two ACC teams — the conference that supposedly was to lead to the Big East’s demise when it stole Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech a few years ago; West Virginia bested North Carolina 31-30, while Rutgets topped NC State 29-23.

Granted, ACC champ Virginia Tech bested Big East winner Cincinnati 20-7, and Pittsburgh lost what might have been the worst bowl game played in its 3-0 defeat at the hands of Oregon State, but the Big Eas’s 3-2 record is fifth among the 12 conferences (including independents lumped together) that sent teams to bowls (UB’s Mid-American Conference is the worst with an 0-3 record, while the Pac-10 is 5-0).

The Big East might never again reach its pinnacle of a decade ago, when Donovan McNabb-led Orange squads fought tooth and nail with Miami and Va Tech for conference supremacy. But South Florida’s resurgence and Cincinnati’s sudden upswing help solidify the conference’s status amongst its BCS peers.

For the Big East to truly thrive, it needs the Orange – a traditional Big East power since the conference started playing football in the early 1990s – to thrive, as well as mainstays Pitt and West Virginia. I’ll tell you this much, though – I’d take the Big East’s chances against “powers” the Big Ten (1-5 this bowl season) and the ACC (4-6) any day.

And even if football disappoints, no one would dare step up to the Big East on the basketball court.

Conference Bowl Records
By The Associated Press
Through Jan. 1
Conference;W;L;Pct.
• Pac-10;5;0;1.000
• Big 12;3;1;.750
• Conference USA;3;1;.750
• Southeastern;3;1;.750
• Big East;3;2;.600
• Mountain West;2;2;.500
• Independents;1;1;.500
• Sun Belt;1;1;.500
• Atlantic Coast;4;6;.400
• Western Athletic;1;4;.200
• Big Ten;1;5;.167
• Mid-American;0;3;.000

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