Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by a bagel with cream cheese and Squirt Soda.
As a programming note, I am pushing the time back that I send this newsletter a few hours until the 10:00 pm-midnight CT time frame.
There are a couple of reasons for this. More of the news I am covering is breaking later in the day, making it difficult to get out the newsletter by my previously announced 6:00 pm CT deadline. Also, a majority of readers are opening the newsletter early the following morning. So pushing back the delivery time gives me more time to keep the content as fresh as possible while still having in your inbox overnight for you to read at your convenience.
VIACOMCBS ROLLS OUT PARAMOUNT+/SHOWTIME BUNDLE
To the surprise of just about no one, Viacom/CBS rolled out a bundle of its streaming services Paramount+ and Showtime that will be a big savings for subscribers.
You can now bundle Showtime and the ad-supported Paramount+ into a bundle that costs $9.99 per month. Which is a $6 per month savings over their normal subscription rates (Showtime is $11, Paramount+ with ads, $4.99).
You can also subscribe to a bundle of Showtime and ad-free Paramount+ for $12.99 a month.
There are a couple of things I think we can deduce from the way this bundle is priced. Current Showtime subscribers can add Paramount+ and not only get that streaming service for free, they'll save $1 a month compared to what they currently pay for Showtime. Which gives you a pretty good sense of how Viacom/CBS executives value Paramount+. In fact, a cynic might suspect this pricing is an effort to juice up subscriber numbers for Paramount+ ahead of renewed efforts to sell of ViacomCBS.
The other interesting thing about this pricing is that it sets up a situation in which Showtime and Paramount+ could be rolled into one service. By setting the price for the two services at $10, it makes it very easy to simply switch everyone over at some point. The reasons for making that move don't conclusively support the combination, but I am quite sure that the move is at least being considered by ViacomCBS executives.
And speaking of moves, why wasn't this move announced on Sunday, when it could have been promoted live during the Emmys broadcast?
A BIT MORE ABOUT CRACKLE
I received a lot of feedback about my piece on Crackle and its collection of obscure television. And since then, I've noticed a couple of other things I wanted to pass along.
As is the case with most apps, which platform you use will have a big impact on the UX you encounter and how enjoyable your experience. I've typically watched Crackle on a Roku device, but I find it a much better experience on Apple TV. Unlike the app for Roku, the Crackle app for Apple TV doesn't have video autoplaying as you scroll through the library. And another bonus is that the Apple TV app also includes a notice that certain content will be leaving the service soon (for instance, the Sanford & Son spinoff Grady is leaving on October 1st).
And like other smaller streamers, content from Crackle shows up on other AVOD services. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from deals with streaming platforms like Roku that exchange visibility for content, barter deals that provide a cut of the ad revenue from the streaming of that content on the rival server to all variations of cash/barter/visibility deals.
Plex (best known its very handy media server) is building out its own AVOD and it's uses quite a bit of Crackle-branded content. It's worth noting that while Plex streams a lot of TV shows that you can also currently watch on Crackle, it also streams some content from Crackle that is currently unavailable on that service. Right now, that includes the 1991 Norman Lear comedy The Powers That Be, the short-lived 1989 Jon Cryer series The Fabulous Teddy Z, the 1973 Sally Field/John Davidson comedy The Girl With Something Extra and the 1991 Matt LeBlanc/Leslie Jordan/Rita Moreno comedy Top Of The Heap. Several of those shows previously streamed on Crackle, but aren't currently available on that service.
WHY WE STAND WITH THE IATSE
With a strike authorization possibly on the way from Hollywood's below-the-lines crew, it's important to note that We Stand With The IATSE. And if you are wondering why that is the case, you can just read these comments and reflect on the size of the stones required by Apple TV+ to seriously argue that it should get a lower union rate because it has "fewer subscribers." If Apple TV+ only had a parent company with $100 billion or so sitting unused in various banks:
NETFLIX EYES BIG IP ACQUISITION
Netflix has made fewer than ten acquisitions in the past decade and Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw is reporting that Netflix is close to making its biggest acquisition so far. He reports the streamer is set to acquire the works of the late British novelist Roald Dahl, potentially snaring a catalog that has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory":
A deal could be announced in days, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public. Netflix already had a three-year-old agreement with the Roald Dahl Story Co. to make animated shows based on his material. Now it’s buying the whole business.
The works of Dahl -- especially his children’s books -- represent a rare opportunity to lock up the catalog of a big-name author who appeals to both kids and adults and would give Netflix reams of material to build into movies and TV shows. Many of his books have already made it to Hollywood, including “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
The author’s catalog is certain to fetch a high price. Netflix’s deal for his works three years ago was reported at the time to be among the biggest ever for kids and family programming, worth $500 million to $1 billion.
I AM PRETTY SURE 'DISNEY PLUS DAY' ISN'T A LEGAL HOLIDAY
Disney is marking the second anniversary of the launch of Disney+ in the United States on November 12th with a flurry of movies, specials and one-off show premieres:
- The streaming premiere of Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
- The Disney family-friendly adventure film Jungle Cruise, available to all subscribers
- The new Disney+ Original movie Home Sweet Home Alone, a reimagining of the popular holiday franchise
- An all-new original series of shorts from Walt Disney Animation Studios called Olaf Presents, which sees Frozen’s beloved snowman retelling several classic Disney tales
- The domestic Disney+ streaming debut of shorts from Walt Disney Animation Studios including Frozen Fever, Oscar-winning shorts Feast and Paperman, Oscar-nominated Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse! and more
- An animated short film Ciao Alberto from Pixar, featuring characters from this summer’s animated hit breakout film Luca
- A new short from The Simpsons that pays tribute to Disney+’s marquee brands
- The first five episodes from season 2 of The World According to Jeff Goldblum from National Geographic
- A special celebrating the origins and legacy of Star Wars’ legendary bounty hunter, Boba Fett
- A special celebrating the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+ with an exciting look towards the future
- Dopesick, an original series starring Michael Keaton, which will be released in international markets as part of the Star general entertainment content offering
Disney also announced that Disney+ will launch in South Korea and Taiwan on November 12th and Hong Kong on November 16th.
ODDS AND SODS
* Roku won its first Emmy for "original content," with J.B. Smoove winning an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for Mapleworth Murders, a show Roku acquired from Quibi.
* Pluto TV deal with Alliance/Distribution Solutions adds 450 hours of content to streaming service.
* Netflix’s foreign-language shows are booming. Meet the executive behind the streamer’s global push.
* Streaming will "play a larger role" in NASCAR's next TV contract, says senior VP Brian Herbst.
* Pluto TV has added another sports channel, MAVTV, described as "an unparalleled lineup of exclusive motorsports action, from NASCAR series to dirt racing specials."
* Willie Garson, best known for his roles in Sex and the City and White Collar, has died at age 57.
SEE YOU THURSDAY