Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, January 14th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by almonds and a strawberry soda.
I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE FUTURE OF STREAMING NEWS IS...BUT I AM PRETTY SURE WHAT IT'S NOT
All of us in the entertainment/media industrial complex whine about there not being more transparency in the streaming world. I'm fine not having specific numbers for some random individual streaming show. But I really wish streaming companies and their execs were more willing to discuss programming philosophies and expectations. I don't need to know how many people did or didn't watch your show last night. I'd much rather know who you think the audience might be and why you believe people are going to watch.
I bring this up now because I decided to revisit the daily news original programming Peacock has been streaming in its news tab. I initially checked out the new shows by Mehdi Hasan and Zerlina Maxwell when they premiered late last year. But I didn't review them at the time because it takes news panel shows awhile to find their feet. But at this point, these shows are likely where Peacock wants them to be.
And to blunt, they are both pretty lifeless efforts. Both Maxwell and Hasan are solid anchors, but their respective shows do neither of them any favors. These are both essentially low-budget MSNBC primetime shows, done in a front of virtual backgrounds so cheesy most people wouldn't want to use them on a family Zoom call. There are some small tweaks to the standard format, but nothing substantial enough to entice new viewers. The shows feel like time-killers. Peacock needed some original programming for the news vertical, so they commissioned these two new shows as well as a semi-simulcast of The Majority Report With Sam Seder. Tuning in, you can hear the pitch that spawned the shows: "it's like MSNBC, expect with younger, hipper anchors!"
I would love to know what Peacock's expectations are for the show. Maybe they are both wildly successful and are bringing in scores of new viewers to the news verticals. Honestly, I think that's extremely unlikely. But please, someone there convince me that I'm wrong.
I agree that Peacock needs some original news programming. But instead of attempting to cobble together a cut-rate MSNBC out of leftover cable TV parts, why not create some programming that is truly different, while still being cost-effective. That means shorter shows, a mix of daily and weekly. Unexpected formats, ranging from a reimagined version of the old weekend Up With Chris Hayes panel show (with a different host), to specials and panel shows created by local NBCOO affiliates. Opening up perspectives doesn't just mean finding some hosts who aren't white. It also means hearing from people outside the traditional media centers. If you want people to regularly check in, you need to give them something unexpected. And once you do that, for the love of everything hire someone whose job it is to rework and share the content on every possible platform.
NETFLIX BECOMES EUROPE'S 2ND BIGGEST TV GROUP
A new report from Ampere Analysis shows found that Netflix became the second-largest TV group in Europe by revenue last year. Comcast (which owns SKY TV) garnered 12 percent of the European market in 2020, with Netflix holding 6.1 percent. German broadcaster ARD followed with 5.7 percent, then the BBC with 4.2 percent and Canal+ Group with 3.2 percent.
Tony Maroulis, principal analyst at Ampere Analysis, offered up this bit of analysis in the report:
While Netflix has enjoyed success across the continent, local broadcasters are facing increased pressures. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the TV advertising market into decline, compounding and accelerating the woes of traditional and established brands. And while Netflix’s pockets are getting deeper, local entities are struggling to compete. Over the next few years, Netflix alone is set to be better funded than many leading commercial broadcasters, and its scale means that it is able to produce quantities of high-quality content that most of its local competitors cannot match. This global vs. local imbalance will further accelerate the online viewing shift, which is now beginning to shift to older demographics as well as young.
ODDS AND SODS
Netflix has released its first inclusion report. You can read the entire report here.
HBO Max has given an eight-episode first season order to Julia, based on the life of world-renowned chef Julia Child. The series from Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment stars Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) and David Hyde Pierce (Frasier),
WHAT'S ON TODAY:
Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:
1) American Gangster Trap Queens (BET+)
Trap Queens is a new installment of the critically acclaimed American Gangster series that examines the lives and the legend behind some of America's most notorious female criminals.
2) Cleopatra In Space Season Premiere (Peacock)
Viewers can follow Cleo as she is transported 30,000 years into the future, to an Egyptian-themed planet that is ruled by talking cats and where she discovers she is the prophesied savior of the future world. In order to prepare for her role and mission, Cleo is sent to an elite academy where she has to train to take on the bad guys, figure out how to eventually get herself back home to Egypt, as well as tackling the highs and lows of being a teenager in high school.
3) Double Cross Season Two Premiere (ALLBLK)
Erica & Eric Cross (Ashley A. Williams, Jeff Logan) are the "Wonder Twins" that decide to take matters into their own hands after a sudden rise of sex trafficking in their neighborhood. Haunted by their own traumatic past, the twins set down a unique path of vigilante justice.
4) Hunted (Shudder)
What started as a flirtatious encounter at a bar turns into a life-or-death struggle as Eve (Lucie Debay) becomes the unknowing target of a misogynistic plot against her. Forced to flee as two men pursue her through the forest, she’s pushed to her extremes while fighting to survive in the wilderness—but survival isn’t enough for Eve. She will have revenge.
5) Locked Down (HBO Max)
Just as they decide to separate, Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) find life has other plans when they are stuck at home in a mandatory lockdown. Co-habitation is proving to be a challenge, but fueled by poetry and copious amounts of wine, it will bring them closer together in the most surprising way.
6) Search Party Season Four Premiere (HBO Max)
Dory (Alia Shawkat) is held prisoner by her psychotic stalker Chip (Cole Escola), who is determined to make Dory believe that they are best friends. Meanwhile, Portia (Meredith Hagner) is starring in a film about the trial, although not as herself; Elliott (John Early) has switched party lines to become a far-right conservative talk show host; and Drew (John Reynolds) is trying to escape his dark past by working as a costumed cast member in a theme park. As the friends begin to connect the dots that Dory might not be touring Europe as her faked social media suggests, they must decide whether to put their traumatic pasts behind them and once again become a search party – but this time, for Dory.
7) The Event (HBO Max)
Known as the crème de la crème of the industry, Wolfgang Puck Catering is responsible for some of the nation’s most legendary corporate, cultural, and entertainment events. Placing viewers both behind-the-scenes and inside these lavish affairs, this four-part special follows renowned restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and members of his skilled catering team through every step of their intricate execution process. Each episode features a different high-profile event – from the SAG Awards to HBO’s “Westworld” premiere party – offering access to trade secrets and an unprecedented look into the creative development, planning, and immense scope of running a world-renowned catering company.
8) UFO Witness Series Premiere (Discovery+)
Former federal agent and paranormal investigator Ben Hansen is on a mission to uncover the truth behind the country’s most shocking and infamous UFO sightings. With unprecedented access to more than 10,000 case files from the archives of Dr. Alan J. Hynek, the chief scientific consultant of Project Bluebook, Hansen believes the answers to UFOs in America are hidden in the cases of the past. Aiding Hansen on his quest is Jennie Zeidman, the last surviving operative of Project Bluebook, and Mark O’Connell, an accomplished UFO investigator and former confidant of Dr. Hynek. Together, they will uncover the secrets of the past to shed new light on today’s freshest UFO encounters.
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