Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, June 17th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee, coffee and coffee.
ANOTHER WAY TO MEASURE (SOMEWHAT) STREAMING VIEWERSHIP
Nielsen is rolling out a new viewing metric called "The Gauge." This infographic provides a snapshot of total television and streaming viewing. You can read more about the info here.
The NY Times also has a write-up about "The Gauge," including providing a bit more context on how the information collected and why:
On Thursday, the firm reported that 64 percent of the time American viewers used their television sets in May 2021 was spent watching network and cable TV, while they watched streaming services about 26 percent of the time. Another 9 percent of the time, they were using their TV screens for things like video games or watching programs or films they had saved on DVR.
The streaming share is increasing rapidly. It stood at about 20 percent last year, Nielsen said; in 2019, it was about 14 percent. A Nielsen spokesman said that the firm anticipates the streaming share could go up to about 33 percent by the end of the year.
And as it turns out, even Netflix is now on board with these measurements:
Nielsen calls its new metric The Gauge. It comes in addition to its previous method of measuring how many people are watching streaming platforms, which relies on audio-recognition software included in Nielsen devices that are now in 38,000 households across the country. Both metrics measure only what is viewed on television screens and do not count what is watched on phones or laptops.
When Nielsen started releasing ratings numbers based on its audio-recognition software in 2017, Netflix was not impressed. Netflix called the data “not accurate, not even close” when Nielsen put out ratings four years ago for the platform’s hit series “Stranger Things.”
Now that The Gauge is here, Netflix is changing its view of Nielsen.
“They’re in a good place to referee or score-keep how streaming is changing the U.S. television landscape,” Reed Hastings, the co-chief executive of Netflix, said in an interview.
And speaking of Hastings, he took to Twitter on Thursday to ask WarnerMedia's exiting-at-some-point CEO Jason Kilar why his company won't allow HBO Max's numbers to be included in the Nielsen data:
THE DANGERS OF RELYING ON SOCIAL MEDIA WHEN YOU WRITE A STORY
A very common (and frankly, very lazy) way to put together a "reaction" story about an upcoming movie is to just troll through social media such as Twitter, some some quick reactions from critics and other insiders and then embed them into a story. The problem with that approach is that it's more a Frankenstein approach to journalism than actual reporting. Even worse, you're putting your name on a story that includes reactions from people who may or may not be telling the truth.
Over the past few years, writer/producer Ben Meckler has amused himself by posting tweets that include made-up - and often ludicrous - reactions to hot new releases. He then delightfully posts screenshots of stories that include his tweets and just about every publication from The Hollywood Reporter on down has fell for the ruse at some point. And now a few other publications have included his latest attempt, which claims the upcoming Black Widow movie includes a scene that takes place in a Russian J.C. Penny's:
IS APPLE TV+ WORTH $5 A MONTH?
That's what millions of people are going to have to decide beginning next month, as the current round of freebie subscriptions ends. In his Buffering newsletter, Vulture's Joe Adalian takes a look at some of the challenges faced by Apple as it tries to convince subscribers that Apple TV+ is worth $5 a month:
Earlier this week, Apple quietly confirmed it was changing the terms of its free trial. On its website, the company is now telling consumers that as of July 1, buying a new Apple device will only entitle them to three months of TV+ gratis, rather than a whole year. What’s more, the millions of TV+ users who’ve been freeloading off of Tim Cook’s benevolence for so long — like me — will apparently not get another reprieve when those original 2019 free trials run out next month. Apple hasn’t officially said anything, but given how much advance notice the company gave before those previous extensions, it is looking like they won’t be doing so again. If that happens, consumers will finally be forced to decide whether TV+ merits its sticker price of $5 per month.
But with its two-year anniversary just around the corner, TV+ now has multiple known quantities, and they’re shows many people really like. Ted Lasso is a social-media sensation that could soon turn in a strong Emmy performance, while space drama For All Mankind has a similarly passionate chorus of online enthusiasts and TV critics behind it. The Morning Show, which Apple execs have groomed to be the platform’s signature drama, got a mixed reaction early on — but had many critics singing its praises by the time its first season ended. Comedies Dickinson, Central Park, and Mythic Quest also have passionate fan bases, while industry sources who’ve talked to Apple execs say insiders there insist Jason Mamoa’s See is actually a global hit. Sure, there are still no old movies, and just one old TV series (Fraggle Rock). But the service does now have a decent, if small, content library — of its own originals.
Will this be enough to get people to pay just two dollars less per month than what Disney charges for the ad-supported level of Hulu, a service stuffed with tens of thousands of hours of viewable content? I’ll be honest: I don’t know. And given Apple’s historic insistence on saying virtually nothing about how TV+ is performing, unless or until the company suddenly decides to close the service down — or fire its top execs — we may never fully understand how things are going at the streamer.
Joe's free weekly newsletter is one of the must-read ones for me, and in the most current one, he also explains why Seinfeld will disappear from streaming until the fall once it exits Hulu next month. You can subscribe here.
AND MORE NETFLIX DATA
Scott Mendelson at Forbes takes a look at the opening weekend data for its high-profile Army Of The Dead movie and wonders if the 6.5 million number represents a ceiling of sorts for Netflix viewership. Which is a problem if you're doing $90 million movies:
It nabbed about the same number of initial viewers as Amazon’s Without Remorse (around 6.8 million views) but was well below Amazon’s Coming 2 America (around 12.8 million complete viewings) and Disney+’s Soul (around 18.5 million viewers over Christmas weekend). However, we have a big-budget original action movie that barely earned more viewers in its opening weekend than, say, Jason Statham’s Homefront which debuted on January 18 with around 4.7 million viewers. That was almost tied with Netflix’s original Anthony Mackie’s Outside the Wire (around 4.8 million initial viewings of the 115-minute actioner) and Jennifer Garner’s Yes Day (around 4.7 million views of the 89-minute family comedy on its opening weekend).
If the Netflix originals don’t vastly outperform older “missed it in theaters” studio flicks, then that heightens the potential peril for when Netflix’s third-party content mostly migrates elsewhere. They are aware of this and that’s probably why they signed a first pay-tv window with Sony starting next year. I’m not shocked that Army of the Dead (which I’d argue is one of Netflix’s best “blockbuster approximation movies” and which I rather enjoyed watching in its brief theatrical engagement), earned strong but not (by top-tier streaming standards) superlative initial viewership.
One thing Mendelson doesn't mention is that for all of the hype of it being a Zack Snyder film, there are plenty of people who are not going to watch a Zombie movie, not matter how slickly it's put together.
But what movies like that do is help round out Netflix's catalog. It doesn't want to be just the place that cranks out solid rom-coms or YA films. It literally wants there to be something for everyone. And in a world where there are just fewer high-profile action movies being produced overall, if Netflix wants a steady supply, it's going to have to produce its own.
ODDS AND SODS
* Disney+ has tapped top creators from Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt for a 10-part sci-fi animated anthology that will transport viewers to Africa’s future. Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire will premiere in late 2022.
* WKRP In Cincinnati star Frank Bonner is dead at age 79.
The series follows five young women on journeys of self-discovery against the backdrop of New York City’s male-dominated skateboarding scene.
1) Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens (Netflix)
After his father's passing, a teenager sets out for New York in search of his estranged mother and soon finds love and connection in unexpected places.
2) Battle Of The Brothers Series Premiere (Discovery+)
The Voltaggio Brothers put promising young chefs to the ultimate test.
3) Black Summer Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
Winter comes with cold-blooded new challenges during the zombie apocalypse as frantic scavengers and violent militias battle the dead and desperate.
4) Civil War (Or, Who DO We Think We Are) (Peacock)
A look at how Americans portray the story of their Civil War, revealing a nation haunted by an embittered past and the stories it refuses to tell.
5) Deadly Women Season Premiere (ID)
Ciera Harp snaps after realizing aspiring rapper Rahim Grant will never be hers.
6) Generation (HBO Max)
A dark yet playful half-hour series following a diverse group of high school students whose exploration of modern sexuality (devices and all) tests deeply entrenched beliefs about life, love and the nature of family in their conservative community.
7) Holey Moley Season Premiere (ABC)
Take a look at what's coming down the fairway on tonight's two-hour season premiere of Holey Moley 3D in 2D! Rob Riggle, Joe Tessitore, and Jeanne Mai are back to watch the action unfold in a series of brand-new challenges including "Corn Hole," "Agony of Defeat," and the festive "Ho Ho Hole."
8) Homestead Rescue Season Premiere (Discovery)
The Raneys face an emotional rescue of young, inexperienced homesteaders in Alabama.
9) Hospital Playlist Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
It’s another season of extraordinary days for the doctors and patients inside a hospital, where birth, death and everything in between coexist.
10) Hot Mess House Season Premiere (HGTV)
Cas & Wendell finds a way to turn a family of six's basement into a space that works as a play area, a gym, an entertainment space and an office.
11) Intelligence (Peacock)
At the U.K.'s geeky, sprawling Government Communications Headquarters, a maverick American NAS officer enlists the help of a junior systems analyst in a workplace power grab that threatens to disrupt the team's cybersecurity directives.
12) Katia (Netflix)
In Iceland, after the subglacial volcano Katla has been erupting constantly for a whole year, Gríma is still looking for her missing sister who disappeared the day the eruption started. As her hope of ever finding her body is fading, the residents of the surrounding area start to have visits from unexpected guests. There might be something hidden under the glacier no one could ever have foreseen.
13) My Name Is Bulger (Discovery+)
Bill Bulger, now 85, was State Senate President for almost 20 years in Massachusetts. His older brother James 'Whitey' Bulger was a Boston gangster who was murdered in prison on October 30th 2018, aged 89. This documentary weaves its way through the stories of both brothers and their respective rises and falls. Featuring intimate interviews with family and an exclusive conversation with James Bulger’s girlfriend and partner, Catherine Greig, the film strips away the hysteria of daily print headlines and nightly news bulletins to unfold the story of a unique American family who crave to be judged for who they are and what they’ve done, not what their infamous relative did.
14) Record of Ragnarok (Netflix)
Before eradicating humankind from the world, the Gods give them one last chance to prove themselves worthy of battle. Let the Ragnarok games begin.
15) Superdeep (Shudder)
The Kola Superdeep borehole is the largest Russian secret facility. In 1984, at the depth of more than 7 miles below the surface, unexplained sounds were recorded, resembling the screams and moans of numerous people. Since these events, the object has been closed. A small research team of scientists and military personnel go down below the surface to find the secret hidden these many decades. What they discover will pose the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.
16) The Gift Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
Seeking to reach her daughter Aden, Atiye faces a wrenching dilemma as dark forces attempt to harness Aden's cosmic powers to bring about destruction.
17) The Hustler Season Premiere (ABC)
Craig Ferguson hosts the return of television's sneakiest, scheming-est, most diabolically fun and twisty game show.
18) The Killer In My Backyard (LMN)
Hoping to ease their expenses, a woman and her fiance unwittingly rent out their guest house to a tenant with sinister intentions.
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