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Giving Thanks at Fox & The CW

Bloggers, present company included, can be so negative. In the spirit of Thanksgiving–just days away–I have been dedicating the November editions of Remote Control to being, uh, positive. It’s so easy to bemoan the secular implosion of the media industry and its disintermediation by advances in technology and businesses on the internet. It’s easy to forget to be grateful and to show appreciation for quality and success within the struggling silos of the traditional media–especially Broadcasting.

The networks are easy targets. Through no great fault of their own, the five broadcast networks have been hammered by viewers with their 100+ channels and DVR remotes. Through regulation and affiliate agreements–and yes, a little bit of arrogance–the networks find themselves in a precarious position, with even their bosses pointing out their single-revenue-stream vulnerability to cable and other digital competition.

Already, I have seen the glass half full at CBS and ABC. I’m going to save NBC until next Tuesday, in hopes we’ll know more by then about a possible tie-up with Comcast, so this week we’ll look at the two “upstarts”–Fox and The CW–and mostly, Fox:

1) ‘American Idol’ on Fox – need I say more? It’s the most-watched program in prime time year-in and year-out with appeal across all demographics. Add Ellen Degeneres in 2010, stir slowly, and Mike Darnell’s baby should hold on to its #1 ranking for yet another season.

2) NFL & MLB on Fox – Rupert and company were smart to sign up the NFC back in their early days and baseball gave the network a way to blunt the competition and start the season each year despite (at the time) weaker programming. In the spirit of staying positive, I won’t comment on whether these money losers are still good for Fox. Rather, it is worth noting that Fox Sports has revolutionized broadcast sports coverage with graphics, audio stingers, brash music and new camera angles. What was daring and controversial a decade ago is now par for the course.

3) Edgy Dramas on Fox – Always a risk-taking network, Fox has brought us “24,” “House,” “Bones” and “Fringe.” This season, Fox introduced another new, inventive show that captured plenty of buzz in “Glee.” The innovation continues.

4) The CW – Most credit can be given for identifying an audience target and staying with it. While the network has had its challenges, kudos for inventing (and re-inventing) shows like “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill,” “Vampire Diaries,” “Melrose Place” and “America’s Next Top Model” – especially: “Gossip Girl.”

Next week, I’ll take a look at NBC and try to continue the positive outlook.

Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. He oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company, including ShopTalk & TVSPY. If you would like to comment on Remote Control, or want to reach Erik, email remotecontrol@tvspy.

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