Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, September 18h, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by hot tea and strawberries.
It sounds as if some of you might not have received a newsletter yesterday. My apologies, I'm not sure what the problem was but I'm trying to track down the issue today. If you're interested, here's a link to the Thursday newsletter. And speaking of the newsletter, thanks to all of you for your support. I just passed the 24,000 subscriber number, which is really flattering. I'm glad to see that people are finding it useful.
NATGEO HAS FINALLY BROKEN ME
Even though I have more television to watch and review than any one human would have time to consume, there are times when I just want to turn my brain off and zone out with something a bit mindless. My go-to choices recently have been the long-running NatGeo reality shows Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks and Life Below Zero. We have Hulu LIve as our default live TV service (along with Philo) and a few weeks back I set both shows so that only new episodes would be recorded. That was a big mistake.
You might remember a recent newsletter in which I complained some networks were engaging in what I called "DVR creep." Labeling episodes of clip shows and other extra programming as "new," so they would be picked up and recorded by people's DVRs. I guess enough viewers watch the unexpectedly saved programs to make it worthwhile for the networks. But it's not just annoying to everyone else, but in an era where a lot of the virtual MVPD's have a limit on their DVR storage, having a bunch of unexpected programming showing up in your DVR can lead to shows you care about being deleted.
NatGeo has taken DVR creep to Defcon Ten by throwing a staggering number of extra episodes onto the DVR's of people stupid enough to try and watch several of their popular shows. I just checked this morning and there have been seven random "new" episodes of Wicked Tuna added to my DVR since the last new episode aired as scheduled last Sunday. And there have been *11* new episodes of Life Below Zero added in the past few days. There are clip shows, shows of what appear to be outtakes assembled Frankenstein-like into extra episodes and a particularly annoying 13-minute "first look" episode. That episode is the least useful idea to me, since it's just the first portion of the upcoming episode. And given that I'm recording the new episode anyway, why would I watch the sneak and then rewatch the beginning of the episode again in a few days?
I understand the need to suggest content and try to reach the viewers most interested in episodes. But cluttering up fan's DVRs with multiple clip shows and random footage just doesn't seem like an effective long-term plan to increase engagement. I ultimately decided just to stop recording the shows and will just catch up in episodes as I remember to search for them. Which is pretty much the opposite of engaging with a TV show.
COMCAST VS. ROKU, PART 112
Speaking of customer-unfriendly ideas, Variety is reporting that Comcast is threatening to pull its NBCU TV Everywhere apps from Roku if that company doesn't agree to begin carrying the app for Comcast's new-ish streaming service Peacock:
With respect to Peacock on Roku, the impasse in talks relates to access to advertising inventory on the ad-supported versions of the NBCU streamer.
According to Roku, Peacock has refused to grant any ad inventory to Roku, arguing that it is offering the app at no cost to Roku customers and is delivering 5 minutes or less of ads per hour of programming, which it sells to a hand-picked set of marketers. Roku’s standard distribution terms ask for 30% of advertising inventory, and the company has offered to take an even lower split from Peacock, but NBCU has declined to share any portion of the ad avails.
A source familiar with NBCU’s position said Roku has kept adding new provisions as stipulations for carrying Peacock and added the media conglomerate has been willing to make concessions on the ad-revenue front.
Given that anyone who has a cable or virtual cable package will still be able to access the various NBCU network video-on-demand offerings, this move will mostly impact viewers without a pay TV package. I haven't been able to find any numbers for how many people that would impact on Roku. But given that those people are presumably the least-engaged viewers of the networks, making it harder for them to see new programs doesn't appear to me to be a winning combination.
That being said, it's hard to know where the problem lies in the negotiations between Comcast and Roku. The details of these negotiations are always secret with only the vaguest and most self-serving details leaked by each side.
DC UNIVERSE EXITS SCRIPTED PROGRAMMING
To the surprise of pretty much no one, DC Universe is shifting all of its original scripted programming to HBO Max and will focus on being a home for comic books and related materials. The streamer had successfully produced several really solid scripted series based on DC characters, including Harley Quinn, Titans and Doom Patrol. But DC Universe was never able to grow its subscription base enough to make the efforts financially viable:
Harley Quinn will join Doom Patrol and the previously announced third season of Titans as an HBO Max originals. Previous seasons of all three shows will also now migrate to HBO Max. The trio of Greg Berlanti-produced dramas from Warner Bros. TV will join other originals Young Justice and Stargirl.
Harley Quinn, from showrunners Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, has picked up steam since its first two seasons arrived on HBO Max. Sources say the renewal, which came early Thursday, followed a round of negotiations that hinged on a new budget for the series. That process had been stalled by the major executive shake-up at the streamer that saw senior leaders Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly pushed out and oversight of the platform given to HBO's Casey Bloys. That all of the original scripted and library offerings on DC Universe would move to HBO Max comes as little surprise. The platform stopped buying months ago and originals had been slowly moved elsewhere. (Stargirl, for example, was renewed for a second season on The CW, while Doom Patrol's sophomore run was shared on both DCU and Max.
Here is a rundown of the new television programs premiering today:
1) American Barbecue Showdown Series Premiere (Netflix)
It's an eight episode food competition series that follows the country’s best backyard smokers and competitive barbecuers as they compete for the title of American Barbecue Champion. The series is hosted by Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis, with judging duties falling on barbecue legends Kevin Bludso and Melissa Cookston. Each episode, Kevin and Melissa will task the cookers with a challenge that will test their barbecue skills in ways they couldn’t possibly imagine. From unique meats to old school techniques, they will have to prove they have the skills to smoke another day.
2) Becoming Series Premiere (Disney+)
From Executive Producers LeBron James & Maverick Carter, Becoming chronicles the inspirational life stories of world-class entertainers, musicians and athletes. Each episode follows a different celebrity back to their hometown as they revisit memorable locations that were central to their upbringing. Family members, coaches, teachers, mentors, and close friends share significant, personal memories of the subjects before they hit it big. These rarely heard stories provide an intimate look into the central moments in each star’s journey towards becoming who they are today.
3) Great Performances: Now Hear This, Series 2 (PBS)
The critically-acclaimed documentary miniseries hosted by renowned violinist and conductor Scott Yoo returns for another season. Now Hear This will merge music, storytelling, travel and culture returns with four new episodes raising the curtain on signature works by composers Haydn, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven
4) Habla Now (HBO)
The one-hour documentary special features testimonials from U.S. Latinos sharing their personal experiences directly to the camera for a national audience, in both English and Spanish. The special features chef and humanitarian José Andrés, Olympian Laurie Hernandez, actress Diane Guerrero, and many more.
5) Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous Series Premiere (Netflix)
Six teens attending an adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar must band together to survive when dinosaurs wreak havoc on the island.
6) Masters Of Illusion Season Premiere (The CW)
Hosted by actor Dean Cain, the series features amazing magic performed by cutting-edge illusionists and escape artists, and performers in each episode displaying skills ranging from perplexing interactive mind magic to hilarious comedy routines. Live audience members and viewers at home will be baffled by the astounding skills of these modern illusionists. Some of the magicians featured this cycle specialize in categories including Comedy Magic, Sleight of Hand, Escape Artists, Fire Eating, Mentalists, Floating Objects, Quick Change Artists, and Grand Illusions.
7) Mighty Little Bheem Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
An innocent toddler's boundless curiosity-and extraordinary might-lead to mischief and adventure in his small Indian town.
8) PEN15 Season Two Premiere (Hulu)
From the producing minds of The Lonely Island, and the brain child of real life best friends and comics, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, PEN15 is middle school as it really happened. Maya and Anna star in this adult comedy, playing versions of themselves as thirteen-year-old outcasts in the year 2000, surrounded by actual thirteen-year-olds, where the best day of your life can turn into your worst with the stroke of a gel pen.
10) Ratched Series Premiere (Netflix)
This dramatic prequel to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" follows the character Nurse Ratched.
11) The Au Pair Nightmare (LMN)
Trying to leave behind the memories of her fiancé, Taylor becomes an au pair for an out-of-state couple and their 8-year old daughter - but there's a dark secret behind every perfect family.
12) Whipped (Netflix)
Four buddies attend a class taught by a love guru who leads them to question their romantic attachments-until her hidden agenda comed to light.
13) World's Funniest Animals Series Premiere (The CW)
Hosted by Elizabeth Stanton ("Popstar This Week") who, along with her celebrity guest stars and panel, looks at animals doing the funniest things ever caught on video. The series includes viral internet clips of funny animal moments, hilarious animal clips from major motion pictures and your favorite TV series, animal outtakes that surprise the whole cast and crew, as well as videos of celebrities and their pets.
TOO MUCH TV REALLY IS A THING
This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.
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