Ford Motor Company was a pioneer in embracing the connected car concept—perhaps too much of a pioneer. The MyFord Touch system, first announced at the 2010 CES and put into the 2011 Ford Edge, was not ready for primetime and prompted lots of user complaints. But Ford kept working on the technology and has had much better user reception for Ford Sync 3 (Touch was sort of 2, while the original Sync was pretty limited to interfacing with phones and running some entertainment apps), introduced two years ago.
Effective with the Ford and Lincoln 2017 model year lineup of cars, SUVs, light trucks and electrified vehicles, Sync 3 will be available for every vehicle the company makes. “Ford is not taking the traditional approach of introducing Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto on a few piecemeal models or as an expensive option on luxury vehicles only. The guesswork for consumers is over—if you buy any 2017 Ford vehicle with SYNC 3, you drive off the lot with both of these innovative technologies ready to go.” said Jeffrey Hannah, Director of North America for global automotive technology research firm SBD.
Ford says Sync 3 features all-new hardware and software for faster and more intuitive performance and more conversational voice recognition to help people easily connect to their smartphone and access a variety of features, including hands-free phone calls and available navigation. Apps such as Spotify, Pandora, Ford PASS, AccuWeather and AAA member services have been added through SYNC AppLink.
The automaker is also encouraging app designers to create additional user experiences via Sync 3. Ford is offering free software that allows developers to create and test apps for compatibility with Sync 3—without having to use an actual vehicle. The Ford Developer Program already has more than 15,000 registered users and more than 90 AppLink compatible apps available globally. The announcement of the new software comes ahead of Ford’s third annual Sync AppLink Developer Conference during September’s CTIA Super Mobility 2016 event in Las Vegas.
By using the Sync 3 platform across the company’s entire lineup, Ford and Lincoln dealers don’t have to worry about whether a potential buyer prefers to use their iPhone with CarPlay or other smartphone with Android Auto. According to a favorable review by Slash-Gear, “If they have an iPhone and want to use Siri, they can. If they have Android smartphones and get it on with Google instead, they're free to do so as well.” It notes that both are equally supported by Sync 3. ADVERTISER NEWS
Automotive News reports that after six months of trying to find another manufacturer to outsource production of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200, Fiat Chrysler has so far been unable to find a partner. FCA wants to use its production capacity to build more pickups and SUVs and has scheduled an end of production of the Dart and 200 for later this year. Dart sales are down 41% through June and 200 sales are even worse at down 62%......Helped by the return of cars leased a few years back, sales of certified used vehicles are up 4% to over 1.324 million for the first six months of the year. Cox Automotive has projected 2.7-2.8 million such sales this year, up from 2.553 million last year……Here’s an unlikely partnership: Wells Fargo is teaming with Amazon allowing Amazon Prime student members to get a ½ percent discount on student loans financed by Wells Fargo Education Financial Services. A student membership in Amazon Prime is also discounted by 50% to $49 yearly……The July 4 holiday is a big promotional period in the appliance business, and This Week In Consumer Electronics reports Sears offered the biggest discounts in majaps this year, up as high as 50% off. Home Depot offered more promotions this year than last, but decreased the average percentage on each deal, while Lowe’s increased both the number of promotions and the average discount……Sherwin-Williams did well in its owned paint stores for its latest fiscal quarter with a same-store sales gain of 5.2%. At the corporate level however it lowered expectations based on costs associated with buying Valspar, a paint maker that mostly distributes through other chains such as Lowe’s and Ace Hardware……Nation’s Restaurant News says part of the problem the industry is having with customer traffic may be coming from lower prices at supermarkets, making it more attractive for people to eat at home. It notes prices for items such as steak, chicken, pork and coffee have been dropping at supers and the pricing gap between food-at-home and food-away-from-home has been widening since early in 2015……Many utilities use TV as a vehicle for institutional advertising and this year’s J.D. Power study of consumer satisfaction finds that while overall satisfaction for electrical providers is up, as a group they still lag most other industries. With average bills the lowest in 10 years and the frequency of power interruptions declining, satisfaction rose 12 points year-to-year to 680 on a 1000-point scale. Power notes however others industries do far better such as auto insurance (811), retail banking (793) and airlines (726).
Former Grey’s Anatomy star T.R. Knight is returning to series television with a recurring role on the second season of The Catch on ABC. The network hasn’t released any details about his character, but showrunner Allan Heinberg says the role was created especially for him……For the 26th consecutive year, CBS Sports will be on-hand with live 18-hole coverage of the 98th PGA Championship contested at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. CBS Sports broadcasts the third and final rounds on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31, scheduled to run from 2:00 to 7:00 pm (ET) each day. Jim Nantz will anchor, joined by lead analyst Sir Nick Faldo……Timothy Hutton will return to the anthology series American Crime in a new role for the upcoming third season on ABC. It’s described as a darker role as a wealthy man struggling to keep his family and fortune. Season three of American Crime will deal with labor issues, economic divides and individual rights.
Fun and games have been paying off for ABC this summer, as its game show lineup, led by CelebrityFamily Feud, again won Sunday primetime. According to the Nielsen Fast Nationals the Alphabet Net had an average 1.2 rating in Adults 18-49 and 3.7 in Households, with an average audience of 5.931 million viewers. CBS, with Big Brother, was at 0.9 18-49, 3.0 HH and 4.763 million; NBC, with 100% reruns, 0.6 18-49, 1.7 HH and 2.713 million; FOX, also with reruns, 0. 5 18-49, 0.8 HH and 1.353 million; Univision 0.5 18-49, 0.9 HH and 1.628 million; and Telemundo 0.2 18-29, 0.4 HH and 0.702 million.
BIG FOUR STILL DOMINATE REACH
Crunching numbers is his job, and that’s what Pivotal Research Groupanalyst Brian Wieser has been doing with Nielsen’s latest data on the national household reach of individual networks. “Although we are observing year-over-year declines in reach among households watching individual TV networks, the Big Four broadcast networks continue to dominate the industry with around 80% monthly reach each,” says Wieser. He adds that a handful of cable networks—specifically, TBS, TNT, FX, USA and AMC—stand apart from the pack of cable networks “given the broad-appeal of the programming that each runs.”
In his latest analysis, the analyst finds that the Big Four broadcast networks each have around 80% of households watching each network for at least one minute during a typical month over the past year, and between 77% and 83% during June 2016. “There has been some erosion in reach over the past year of around 160bps (1.6%), although CBS has lost less relative to ABC, NBC and FOX,” Wieser writes in a research note. Household reach in June was 83.3% for ABC, 81.9% for NBC, 80.8% for CBS and 77.4% for FOX. The CW was well back of the Big Four at 61.6%—but still well ahead of the top cable nets—and Univision was at 27.9%.
The top cable networks—TBS, TNT, FX, USA and AMC—tend to reach close to 50% of households during a typical month, and between 47% and 51% during June. “Interestingly, TBS, TNT, FX and USA all experienced losses of reach that were worse than industry averages; AMC held up somewhat better,” said Wieser. Specifically, TNT registered 50.5% of households in June and Turner sister TBS 48.5%. FX led the FOX group at 48.5%, with Fox News Channel at 35.1%. AMC’s top two were AMC 47.7% and BBC America 27.5%. A+E had History at 44.3% and A&E 41.1%. NBCU’s huge group was topped by USA at 46.7% and Syfy 39.8%. Discovery Communications was topped by Discovery at 44.7% and TLC 40.3%. Disney had ESPN at 42.9% and Disney Channel 38.8%. For Scripps it was HGTV 41.8% and Food Network 39.3%. Wieser says Viacom’s networks generally lost more household share than networks in other groups and is now topped by Spike at 42.4% and Comedy Central 40.3%.
STRONGER JULY AUTO SALES SEEN
WardsAuto is forecasting that U.S. sales of cars and light trucks will hit a 17.6 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for July—rebounding significantly from a 16.6 million SAAR in June. The forecast is for sales of just under 1.5 million units when automakers report July figures next week. The July SAAR is above the 17.1 million SAAR pace for the first half of 2016 and will help bring sales in line with WardsAuto’s forecast that 17.3 million units will be sold this year.
DIRECT RESPONSE ADVERTISERS FINED
Calling it “part of a wider investigation into deceptive advertising and sales practices allegedly used by the direct marketing industry,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced settlements with two companies who regularly pitch their wares on TV and online. Tristar Products—whose products include Genie Bra; blenders and juicers, as well as a variety of exercise equipment, such as the Ab Coaster and Cardio Twister—will pay $700,000 for restitution, penalties, costs and fees. Product Trend—whose products include Total Pillow, Wonderhanger and Furniture Fix—will pay $175,000. Both firms have agreed to make significant reforms to their advertising, ordering processes and customer service practices.
“These agreements insure that consumers will not be hit with charges they did not authorize and will not be frustrated with long hold times or unresponsive customer service when they seek assistance,” said Schneiderman.
According to the Attorney General’s investigation, both marketers ran misleading infomercials on television that often featured attractively priced “Buy One, Get One” offers, which required consumers to purchase a double order of the advertised product. However, the ads did not adequately disclose that consumers would be charged two separate processing and handling fees or the amount of those fees, which significantly increased the cost of the offer.
One Product Trend customer responded to a “Buy One, Get One” ad for Total Pillow, advertised for $19.99, plus shipping and handling, but was charged $91.73 after placing an order online. A Tristar customer who responded to a $19.99 “Buy 3, get 3” Genie Bra advertisement ended up being charged $101.83. Although she subsequently returned the bras, Tristar refused to refund the $27.00 charged for shipping and handling.
TWITTER CUTS TV DEALS FOR LIVESTREAM
Twitter appears to see live video streaming as a way to reinvigorate subscriber growth, which has leveled off around 310 million. To that end, Twitter announced yesterday that
it will live stream weekly out-of-market games from Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL). It’s also adding a nightly sports show, The Rally, from 120 Sports.
The social media site has been busy cutting deals with TV networks and sports leagues. A deal with CBS News has it livestreaming coverage of this week’s Democratic National Convention, as it did last week for the Republican confab. It’s also done deals with Bloomberg for financial talk shows and sports shows from the NBA and Pac-12 Conference. The big deal, of course, was the $10 billion deal announced in April to livestream 10 Thursday Night Football games.
Adweek says Budweiser, Sony and Bank of America have been signed as advertisers for the NFL games.
THIS AND THAT
Following Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ disclosure that it is being investigated by the SEC and Department of Justice for allegedly inflating monthly vehicle sales figures, Automotive News reports that an internal inquiry in mid-2015 found that FCA brands were reporting thousands of vehicle sales for which there were no actual buyers. The story says FCA U.S. sales boss Reid Bigland put a stop to the practice when it was discovered. But it also says FCA’s sales staff is under intense pressure to keep the company’s streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains—now at 75 months—continuing……Snack giant Mondelēz International has struck a major deal with FOX focused on its digital properties. Ad Age says the deal is aimed at reducing clutter and making streaming video and video-on-demand a more consumer-friendly commercial experience. As part of the deal, Mondelēz willexpand its use of the TrueX ad-tech platform which FOX bought two years ago.
Twentieth Television has promoted Ken Lawson from VP to SVP and general sales manager, broadcast syndication sales of Twentieth Television. He succeeds Paul Franklin, who left this month to become president of CBS Television Distribution.
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The chief creative officer for Chipotle is facing cocaine charges. His co-workers could tell he had a cocaine problem, because not even people at Chipotle need to go to the bathroom THAT much.
--Jimmy Fallon Wonder Woman is big. Her fans are excited about her new costume that features over-the-knees warrior boots. And by fans, I mean perverts.