Chuck “Who own’s that?”

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Key Concepts, Media

By Jamie Hall

Chuck is an American Comedy-Drama show which focuses around a character named Charles Bartowski. Or Chuck to his friends. The premise of the show is of an “average computer-whiz-next-door” who is sent a series of encoded pictures that represent the greatest secrets of his government.With these secrets downloaded into his brain Chuck discovers that that the secrets in his mind are the only ones left and so both the CIA and NSA send agents to protect Chuck. Major John Casey from the NSA is the typical James Bond style spy, highly trained, emotionless and ruthless in his aim to protect Chuck and his country. The CIA on the other hand sends Sarah Walker, while she is still highly trained and ruthless she has feelings for Chuck which develop over the course of the series from friends to lovers.

The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television which is the television production and distribution arm of Warner Bros.

Entertainment making it a major production company with a large amount of production power. While Warner Bros. Television is itself owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment they are both owned by Time Warner which is the world’s second largest entertainment conglomerate, in terms of revenue. Only Disney has a higher revenue income than Time Warner.

Time Warner is one of the largest media companies in the world and owns numerous subsidiaries including:

  • New Line Cinema – An American film studio that was an independent studio before being bought by Time Warner and being merged with the larger Warner Bros.
  • Time Inc. – Publishes 130 Magazines including its namesake Time, People and Life.
  • HBO – An American Premium rate cable channel that broadcasts in 150 countries.
  • Turner Broadcasting System – Is a cable channel managing company whose current assets include CNN and Boomerang.
  • The CW Television Network – Is a television network aimed at people between 18 and 34 years of age.
  • – Formally a television network WB was re-launched in 2008 as an online network.
  • Warner Bros. – One of the major film studios producing both films and television.
  • Cartoon Network – Created by the Turner Broadcasting System Cartoon Network mainly airs animated shows.
  • Boomerang – is an American television channel owned by Turner Broadcasting System that airs Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. programs.
  • Adult Swim – Sharing channel space with Cartoon Network Adult Swim is known as an adult orientated network channel.
  • CNN – A cable news channel that was the first all news channel in the US.
  • DC Comics – One of the largest and most successful Comic book companies operating in the US. Notable DC comic characters include Batman and Superman.
  • Castle Rock Entertainment – Is a film and television production company.

The total revenue for Time Warner in the year 2009 was $25.9 billion. Warner Bros. entertainment revenue was $11.7 billion in the year 2007.

In reference to Chuck revenue can be created for Warner Bros. Television in the following ways:

  • Selling to US networks (In this case NBC)
  • Selling to Worldwide networks (In the UK this is Virgin media)
  • Sponsorship deals (Subway is a major sponsor of the show)

Because the majority of Warner Bros. Televisions income is generated by selling and sponsorships of their shows the main focus point of the board of directors is the number of views and the ranking of the shows they air and produce.

Chuck for example has struggled with its ratings in America and has faced a number of potential axing’s by Warner Bros. After its second season had finished it had only received an average US audience of 7.36 million and averaged a rank of 71. Because of its modest number of viewers the show was close to being dropped by NBC. If this had occurred a new network may have stepped in to buy the rights to air it from Warner Bros. or it could have faced the axe altogether. However, in 2009 after a “two-month campaign mounted by fans” the show was renewed for a third series.

Concerns over the cost of Chuck were expressed and drastic cuts had to be made with a number of supporting or recurring characters being removed to save money. A major step in covering costs for the show however, came when the fast food franchise Subways made a deal with NBC to become a major sponsor. This can be seen in a number of episodes with the characters eating Subway sandwiches and even holding a tournament in one episode to see who can finish eating their half of an enormous Sub.

All of this means that Warner Bros. is much more likely to cancel shows like Chuck that only perform moderately to fund shows like the big bang theory that perform much better. The big bang theory for instance reached 14 million viewers and rank 12 for its third season in 2009 to 2010.

Relying on the performance of shows for income also means that production companies like Warner Bros. Television spend large amounts of money on the shows themselves and also the advertisement for such shows. Because of such a large cost to make, market and distribute the shows, they have to perform profitably all the time as there is the potential of cancellation.

The main people involved in Warner Bros. Television are:

  • Barry Meyer – An American television producer currently sitting as Chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers. Meyer joined the company in 1971 and eventually rose to its highest position in 1999. Under Meyer’s leadership Warner Brothers has continuously ranked as one of the most successful and profitable film studios in the world.
  • Alan F. Horn – Is President and Chief Operating Officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Along with working at Warner Bros. Entertainment Horn has held positions at both 20th Century Fox and is one of the co-founders of Castle Rock Entertainment, a company now owned by Time Warner. Horn currently oversees the running of Castle Rock Entertainment in his position of COO at Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The main people at Time Warner are:

  • Jeffrey Bewkes- Is a media executive currently working as CEO of Time Warner. This is a role he has held since 2008. In addition to his role as CEO, Bewkes is also President and chairman of the Board. In these roles Bewkes oversees the subsidiaries of Time Warner including HBO, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.
  • Jim Barksdale – Former CEO of computer services company Netscape from 1995 to 1999 before its merger into AOL. Now sits on the board of directors of Time Warner.

While these people have a decent amount of control over the workings of their companies, i.e. how much money is spent producing the shows and what shows are given the green light along with any that are abandoned while still on the drawing board. Once a show is purchased by a network however, much of the control is taken from the hands of these executives. For example Chuck was purchased by NBC and can be scrapped and cancelled by said network without any control by the aforementioned CEO’s and Presidents. This means that all the executives, directors, Presidents and CEO’s can do is ensure their companies make the best possible shows for the most appropriate cost and market their shows to the best of their ability.

Below is a promotion video for Chuck.

Chuck is owned by NBC and produced by Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.

Jamie Hall


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