On The Radar
WHAT TO WATCH IN THE WEEKS AHEAD
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Networks Gear Up for Ad Battle Over DVRs
TV's "upfronts," when the networks court advertisers for fall lineups, begin May 15. Thanks to the success of digital recorders, the process will be anything but simple. No one can agree on how to measure or charge for viewers. Are people who watch shows later worth as much as live viewers? The networks think so: Fresh off the announcement by Disney chief Bob Iger and ABC boss Anne Sweeney that ABC would stream shows on its website, the network said it would sell ads only to those that count DVR viewers the same as live ones. Advertisers are not onboard. "There is a lot of saber rattling," says Brad Adgate, research director at Horizon Media. "But if you ignore DVR viewers completely, you could bankrupt the networks." -- Barney Gimbel
A Season of Katrinas?
Hurricane season is almost here again, and Gulf of Mexico oil and gas producers have yet to recover from the last one. A fifth of daily production, normally 1.5 million barrels, is still shut in. Another rough storm season, as expected, will only make things worse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration won't release its 2006 forecast until May 22 but already says the numbers look "way off the curve." Historically there have been about 11 storms a season, two of them violent. Colorado State University researchers expect 17 this year--five severe. And the probability of another brutal hit in the Gulf? CSU says just shy of fifty-fifty. -- Abrahm Lustgarten
Sony vs. Microsoft is the gaming battle of the day, but watch for Nintendo to come out swinging soon. Its new system, code-named Revolution, debuts at the industry's E3 expo May 9. Nintendo's not-so-secret weapon is a breakthrough wireless controller that senses movement and depth, an innovation that has fans and game developers drooling. "Motions you usually have to translate through your thumbs you can now act out," says one developer. "That's powerful." The other revolution at hand: Nintendo's drive to expand the pool of gamers through offer- ings like Brain Age, a puzzler for its DS handheld that's being marketed to boomers. -- Eugenia Levenson
The Futures Market
April 23 An SEC committee presents its final report on the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on smaller businesses. Some expect the agency to exempt small and micro-cap companies.
April 27 The monstrous Airbus A380 took to the skies one year ago, but you can't hop onboard just yet. Singapore Airlines planned flights for this summer, but factory delays have pushed the takeoff back until at least November.
April 28 Toshiba reports its fiscal 2005 results as it continues to battle Sony over whose HD-DVD format will become the industry standard.
April 30 The putative deadline for nations to agree on agricultural and industrial issues at the WTO's Doha round of negotiations.
May 6 Polish up your julep cup: The Kentucky Derby lights up Louisville's Churchill Downs.
Abrahm Lustgarten and Eugenia Levenson contributed to this article.