Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, July 16th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by some truly terrible coffee and vanilla pudding.
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR 'MANIFEST?'
One of the real licensed TV success stories of the summer has been the former NBC drama Manifest. The network recently decided against picking up the show for a fourth season and the studio has been shopping the show around to other networks and streamers, apparently without much luck so far.
Which isn't an unusual story, except for the fact that the first two seasons of Manifest were added to Netflix in the U.S. and Canada about a month ago., Since then, the series has been on Netflix's "Top Ten" list in the U.S., spending nearly all of that time in the one of the top couple of positions. It would be an impressive run for any licensed show, but an especially ironic one given that there have been reports that Netflix has also passed on the series.
I just got off the phone with series creator Jeff Rake and while I'll have the full interview later tonight on AllYourScreens.com, I wanted to pass along these thoughts from him.
I wanted to talk to him about how he has used social media to engage with the show's fan and build a community between the cast and the viewers. But I also wanted to ask him about the future of the show. He told me he is optimistic that someone will step up to produced additional episodes or a finale movie. He obviously wasn't going to provide any details, but he did pass along that he and other producers had received calls from outside production companies who were impressed by the show's success on Netflix. He described the process as a bit like the movie Field Of Dreams.
He also said that the studio had originally asked the cast to extend their contracts for several weeks after the show was canceled in hopes it could place the show somewhere. But those options have now lapsed, so if new episodes or a finale movie were to be ordered, new contracts would have be negotiated with the cast.
Read the interview, it was a really interesting conversation. I'll also post the link in Monday's newsletter, in case you do something crazy like take the weekend off for friends and famiy.
DISCOVERY LAUNCHES MAGNOLIA NETWORK APP
While the linear version of the Magnolia Network isn't launching until January, the rollout of the network continues. Yesterday more than a dozen Magnolia Network shows rolled out on Discovery+, with new episodes and series being added over the next month. And now the Magnolia App has launched and while I haven't had time for a deep dive yet, I do have a couple of quick thoughts.
The Magnolia app contains all of the Magnolia Network programming but it is also home to a number of Magnolia brand extensions: shopping, blogs, additional ways to connect with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their everything is branding approach isn't a favorite of mine, but it is wildly popular.
I'll have a more in-depth review this weekend, but one interesting aspect is that a subscription to Magnolia costs $5 per month. But it's free if you currently have a Discovery+ subscription. And that points to a likely path for the future of streaming at Discovery. I can see the company taking a similar approach with other current standalone apps, such as the Motor Trend or Food Network Kitchen app. Offer a standalone subscription, but offer subscribers of Discovery+ access as part of their subscription.
That would also be an interesting way to solve the mismatch between HBO Max and Discovery+ if the two companies do end up as one entity. Sell standalone subscriptions to Discovery+, but offer it for free to anyone who subscribes to HBO Max for full price. It's a form of bundling, using the most expensive product as leverage.
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT 'BLACK WIDOW' AND STREAMING
As you might expect from former Hollywood Reporter journalist Matthew Beloni, his new twice-a-week newsletter "What I'm Hearing" has quickly become a must-read for anyone who follows the business of entertainment. His most recent edition focused on the Marvel movie Black Widow and he had some thoughts about why Disney had uncharacteristically shared revenue numbers from Disney+ Premium:
Disney is paying bonuses to its stars and creatives based on lumping in the premium access revenue with box office for a total “consumer spend” pool. That means the numbers eventually will be public, or at least shared outside the company, so there is less reason not to release them now. Plus, agents, lawyers, and the media have been making increasing noise about the lack of transparency. Stars do Disney tentpoles for the scale; they want to be able to talk about how much money their movies have made.
Beloni also argues that the box office numbers for Black Widow were only so-so and that doesn't bode well for this weekend:
Yes, the $80 million opening isn’t terrible for a movie available at home during the latter stages of a pandemic. But did you see those trajectories? Yikes. Typically, a Marvel movie opening day (Thursday-Friday combined) represents 39.8 percent of the weekend gross, according to rival distribution executives, which suggests that Black Widow was on track to open at about $100 million. But attendance dropped precipitously from Friday to Sunday for a huge 49.1 percent opening day ratio, well above other Marvel pics, suggesting apathy among those who might have gone to a Saturday date night showing or a Sunday matinee. OK, but the pandemic!, Disney argues. Casual fans who aren’t dressed up as Red Guardian on opening night might be reluctant to visit a theater at all. But the opening day percentages for F9 and A Quiet Place II—two summer 2021 films not available at home—were much stronger, according to NATO numbers.
FWIW, one indication that Black Widow might be in trouble at the box office this weekend is that AMC Theatres is offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal for the movie to all 2.5 million AMC Premium Stubs members:
READERS SOUND OFF ABOUT STREAMING SERVICE EPISODE LISTINGS
In yesterday's newsletter I wrote about some people's unhappiness with the way Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV handled the Norman Lear shows that have just been added to their services. I tied it in with Amazon's general casualness with it comes to its UX.
That prompted a flurry of responses from people complaining about other streaming services. I received a number of emails, many of them similar to this one:
"If Paramount+ saw its subscribers as more than just a cash machine, they'd put more effort into their listings and the way things are organized. It's a sad world when the fans of the show care more about it than the people who own it and who are responsible for its history."
I heard complaints about every service, like this one on Twitter:
But by far, the biggest number of complaints came from Disney+ subscribers, who argued that the service has had a long-running issue with incorrect or out-of-order episode listings. And the only time they seem to corrected is when one of the show's creators publicly complains about it.
One of the people I heard from was Drew, who runs the website DisneyDejaVu.com. He keeps a running list of all of episodic order issues on Disney+ and I asked him to share some of his thoughts about why this matters:
I remember after Disney+ launched being irritated that some episodes were out of order while competitors like Prime Video had in the proper order. Disney+ says they add them in airdate order, but it's known that airdate order is often wrong for kid's shows. Disney was notorious for this - they aired episodes as they pleased, not as they were written. For TV that may have worked - people drop in and out.
The problem is that this is the binge era now and the service serves as the "forever home" for these titles. People don't "drop in and out." They watch from the start and in order. When pilots that introduce the story and characters are placed 20 episodes into the series or villains are appearing multiple episodes after they've been vanquished, it ruins your enjoyment.
You can read his entire op-ed here.
Have a great weekend!
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