Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Post by: Rick Ellis 19 November, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, November 19th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by leftover hot and sour soup.

Simultaneously releasing Wonder Woman 1984 to theaters and HBO Max is a big deal and I think it's important to acknowledge that. While also acknowledging that we will likely not be about to determine how much of a financial impact the move will have on HBO Max.

Now this isn't just me saying this. If you read this piece in The Hollywood Reporter that focuses on comments from stock analysts, the general consensus is "hey, who knows?":

The financial math, however, is "complicated," acknowledged Mitchelson. “The first Wonder Woman grossed $413 million in theaters the U.S. and $409 million overseas for an $822 million global take. Warners likely collected a net $200 million or so in the U.S. and would have expected at least that level pre-COVID, with tens of millions more from PPV and home video. At the same time, marketing costs might be less than normal for this release, there will still be some level of theatrical revenue for WW84 (perhaps with some offset of direct payments to theaters for day-and-date rights), and it is unclear when these pre-COVID box office levels would again be achievable."

Now you are going to hear some numbers after the fact that will be essentially useless. HBO Max executives will likely tout some figure like the number of people who watched it. Which doesn't tell you anything about the financial impact. And they'll likely throw around some number of new subscribers in Q4 that they added. But that is of marginal use as well unless you add a LOT of context. For instance, what was the number of new subscribers that were estimated to join before the decision to include "Wonder Woman" was made?

The biggest problem with attempting to ascertain the financial impact of a move like this is that we don't have access to any of the numbers we'd need to make even a rough accurate estimate. Traditionally, the value of a subscriber is determined by tracking a few sets of figures: the acquisition costs of adding a new subscriber times the average revenue per user times the life of their subscription. In other words, what is the average cost to get someone to begin a new subscription? How much will you make off of the average subscriber per month? And how long will they stay subscribed?

Frankly, there's no way to determine any of these numbers. And fair warning, this is just a very general breakdown of the challenge.

First, the customer acquisition costs. The only streaming service we have even a bit of information about when it comes this is Netflix. Because they are a public company and their streaming business isn't rolled into a much larger media company, subscriber acquisition costs can at least be estimated. Netflix is a mature company with a relatively stable subscriber base. So it's likely that HBO Max's acquisition costs are higher than Netflix's. But by how much? After asking a few people in the industry, a $50-$100 cost per subscriber seems fair. 

But even that figure is complicated. Some of HBO Max's subscriber growth is coming from people who are current subscriber to HBO's digital offering and can switch over to HBO Max for free. So how do you properly value that acquisition cost? 

Monthly revenue per subscriber is also a tough challenge. HBO Max has sold a large number of discounted subscriptions, which obviously means less revenue per subscriber. And then there's the challenge of determining the monthly revenue for users who subscribed to HBO through Amazon Channels, but can now access HBO Max through its app. And then are bundle deals and all sorts of other variables.

As for how long the average customer might subscribe, there's just no way to know. HBO Max is a very new service and such a short time frame doesn't provide enough time to make an accurate estimate. Although if you knew the churn rate for HBO subscriptions, you might be able to make a reasonable estimate.

All of this is the long way of saying that you are going to read a lot of takes in the next few months about this idea and most - if not nearly all - of them will be wrong. 

Given all we don't know about the financial impacts of this idea, what would I do if I was an executive at HBO Max? I'd try and maximize the customer growth, even if it meant lessening the revenue per subscriber. Put the current 7-day free trial on hold to prevent people for starting the trial just to see the movie. Instead, offer a heavily-discounted annual subscription rate to down those new subscribers. Even if it means lowering the revenue.

Movies And Specials: 'Noemi Gold'
Here is a rundown of the new television programs premiering today:

1) A Million Little Things Season Premiere (ABC)
After Eddie's devastating accident, the group gathers to support each other as they wait to find out if he'll pull through.

2) Beyond The Spotlight Series Premiere (CuriosityStream)
From the highest grossing actor of all time, Samuel L. Jackson, alongside his Tony Award-nominated wife LaTanya Richarsdon Jackson to the beloved and relatable Kristen Bell... andfrom sports icons Shaquille O’Neal and Joe Namath to the wildly popular influencer MrBeast -- these are the intriguing people who capture our attention, fill our social feeds, and shape pop culture. Each of the six hour-long episodes takes an intimate tone, featuring the deeply profound conversations that happen out of the spotlight when people share, in their own words, what truly inspires them.

3) Breaking Beauty Series Premiere (Crackle)
Josh Varozza became an icon after photos of his 'Dudeoir' calendar shoot went viral, sparking a social phenomenon and quickly becoming the face of a body positivity movement. In each episode of Breaking Beauty, the irrepressible 350 pound model travels across America to discover uniquely beautiful people doing unconventional things. Varozza explores the world of burlesque, fitness trainers, circus performers, filmmakers and more, bringing viewers on a journey of discovery, laughs, a few tears and ultimate self-acceptance. The series breaks down boundaries of conventional beauty and celebrates individuals who love the skin they're in.

4) Cleopatra In Space Season Premiere (Peacock)
A teenage Cleopatra is transported 30,000 years into the future and discovers she is the prophesied savior of the future world.

5) Cold Call Series Premiere (Sundance Now)
A dark thriller set in Manchester, Cold Call follows the story of a single mother caught up in a fraudulent cold call scam that threatens to unravel her life. Following the death of her elderly mother and fueled by a bubbling rage, June attempts to hunt down those responsible to seek her revenge. Each episode explores just how far a normal woman can be stretched when a very real threat to her - and her family's - lives presents itself.

6) I Hate Suzie Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Suzie Pickles, a star on the wane, has her whole life upended when her phone is hacked and a photo of her in an extremely compromising position is released for the whole world to see. This excruciatingly honest show follows the various stages of Suzie’s trauma episode by episode, through Shock, Denial, Fear, Shame, Bargaining, Guilt, Anger and Acceptance as Suzie and her best friend and manager Naomi try to hold her life, career, and marriage together in the face of being exposed for who she truly is. But who the hell even is that?

7) Noemi Gold (Topic)
After experiencing what she believes to be an allergic reaction to Misoprostol (commonly known as the abortion pill), Noemí seeks out the help of a gynecologist, who promptly reports her to the police. To Noemí’s relief, she is not charged with any crime— attempted abortion is not a prosecutable offense in Argentina—and to her dismay, she’s still pregnant. This news coincides with the arrival of Noemí’s estranged cousin from Los Angeles, a social media influencer with millions of followers and dubious talent. With little support from her scatter-brained roommate and self-involved circle of friends, Noemí has only herself to rely on while navigating her present straits.

8) Supernatural Series Finale (The CW)
The Winchesters remember Cas and Jack's sacrifice at...Pie Fest?!

9) The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (Netflix)
When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it’s up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans.

10) Veneno (HBO Max)
The series follows Valeria, a young journalism student who discovers she has more in common with La Veneno than she thought. The two women were born in very different times, but their stories become intertwined when Valeria writes a book about La Veneno. Through learning more about her, Valeria discovers her chosen family, how to love herself, and the impact of mass media in the life of an enigmatic entertainer.

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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I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Thursday, 19 November 2020 13:51