Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, July 20th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea.
NETFLIX UNVEILS 2Q
Netflix released it second quarter 2021 earnings information after the close of the stock market on Tuesday. Here are a few quick takeaways:
Netflix added 1.54M subscribers in Q2, above estimates. About 2/3 of that subscriber growth was in Asia.
It forecast additions of just 3.5M subscribers in Q3 2021, below Wall Street estimates.
Netflix lost 433,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in Q2. It was the only region where it lost subscribers and the first time it has lost subscribers in the U.S. since 2019, when it lost about 130,000 subscribers.
But aside from the soft subscriber numbers, there were some positives. Netflix reports its chur rate continues to be low and ARPU (average revenue per user) is growing and should stay on that track.
The Netflix Q2 Investors Letter also offers up some viewing factoids for some of the Netflix Originals that were released during 2021 Q2:
For example, Shadow and Bone, a fantasy series based on the popular Grishaverse book series, proved to be very popular with our members. Over 55m member households chose to watch this show in its first 28 days and we’ve renewed it for a second season. Sweet Tooth, based on the beloved DC comic, was another hit series with 60m member households choosing this title in its first four weeks. Our expansion into non-fiction series is going well. This past quarter, standout unscripted titles include season two of dating show Too Hot to Handle and social experiment reality program The Circle (an estimated 29m and 14m, respectively, chose to watch in the first 28 days) as well as the true crime docu-series The Sons of Sam (19m). We’re building out some of these unscripted titles with local versions of the same formats. As one example, Too Hot to Handle: Brazil and Too Hot to Handle: Latino will be launching later in July and September, respectively, to serve our LATAM region.
We’re also quickly growing both our live action and animated original film offering, with several impactful titles in Q2. Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead was a blockbuster as 75m member households chose to watch this action packed zombie spectacle in its first 28 days of release. As an extension to Army of the Dead, a prequel, Army of Thieves, will be released in Q4’21 along with a spinoff anime series later in 2022. Fatherhood, a dramedy starring Kevin Hart, was another hit, drawing an estimated 74m member households in its first 28 days. And Q2 also featured our biggest Netflix animated film to date with 53m member households choosing to watch The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
There is also a bit of info about Netflix's international programming:
Our non-English content investments are growing both in scope and impact. Our P&L content expense for this content category has more than doubled in the past two years. Illustrating how great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere, part two of Lupin from France was our largest non-English title in the quarter with 54m member households choosing this title in its first four weeks. Season four of Elite from Spain drew 37m member households in its first 28 days, while season two of Who Killed Sara? built on the success of the first season with 34m households choosing the latest installment of this gripping thriller from Mexico.
In the past few weeks, there have been news reports that Netflix is moving quickly into the games sector and has hired several executives to lead their gaming efforts. There is a bit of information about the gaming plan, although it's still not clear how everything will be integrated:
We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg, Black Mirror Bandersnatch) and our Stranger Things games. We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV. Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices. We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.
I'll have more in tomorrow's newsletter.
CHRIS NEES ON KIDS TV, WORKING WITH NETFLIX
For all of the attention paid to the really huge deals Netflix has made with writer/producers like Ryan Murphy, I'd argue that one of the most important ones is the one the streamer made with kids TV writer/producer Chris Nees (Doc McStuffins). The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose has a great interview with her and it's filled with a lot of insight about the kids television and her experience with Disney:
What was the bigger fight on Doc McStuffins: Doc being a girl or being Black?
Her being Black was a quick yes. The girl piece was interesting. I pitched Doc as a girl, but in the pilot, which I’m amazed has never leaked, Doc was a boy. Disney bought the show and said, “We think the character needs to be a boy.” It was about what was on the channel then. They weren’t paying attention. I remember thinking, “This is a terrible idea, but development takes years so I have time to get it back to being a girl.” And nobody else had bought it. Nickelodeon famously passed.
It seems like your Disney tenure wasn’t light on battles.
A lot of blood was lost. Disney is very meddling. That said, it was very hard to choose to leave there. I ended up with a very good thing, but you’re constantly fighting back a million notes, and I certainly found my sea legs to do that. It’s the Disney way. They’d put a lot of new execs with me and I was not easy on them.
There is also a really fascinating discussion about profit participation and it's a reminder of just how umm...frugal big media corporations can be with the people who create the content they'll make money off of for decades:
I went and found a team around me who understood that I fucking love the fight. I ended up with a groundbreaking deal with profit participation, and it was done in many ways with Phineas and Ferb. It’s their story to tell, but I’d been hearing rumors that those guys [creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh] had finally broken [the participation precedent], and while I didn’t know them at the time, I knew people in common, so I reached out to Dan. I said, “This is who I am. This is what’s happening. I’m hearing you guys may have done something.” He canceled his lunch and I drove over that day and he gave me the information I needed to hold firm [and get participation in my deal]. But then I wasn’t satisfied with just changing my deal, I wanted to change the deal structure [for everyone]. And they didn’t give me a gag order, so I called every other showrunner and I’d say, “This is going to be a really uncomfortable conversation, but it’s going to give you what you need to know to change things.” Then I’d share every number I just got. I intended to tell the first round of people and then they would [pass it on], but then they all got gag orders.
ODDS AND SODS:
* NBC Sports & IndyCar have reached a multiyear media extension that will increase the number of network races. NBC will broadcast 13 races next year, including the Indy 500. The remaining races will be shown on USA Network & Peacock Premium. Peacock will have 2 exclusive streams.
* The L Word showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan has signed an overall deal with Showtime.
1) Behind The Attraction Series Premiere (Disney+)
"The series explores how Imagineers filled the Haunted Mansion with 999 happy haunts, how the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! (while defying gravity in the process) and why Space Mountain took so long to launch. From the 1950s to today, from Jungle Cruise to "it's a small world" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Disney Parks attractions have amazed millions. And this is the story of how they did it."
2) Chernobyl 1986 (Netflix)
"After reuniting with a lost love, firefighter Alexey retires to begin a new life — but the Chernobyl disaster suddenly plunges him back into danger."
3) Expedition Unknown: Rediscovered Season Premiere (Discovery)
"Josh Gates revisits his journey to Jerusalem and Istanbul to search for lost pieces of the cross used in the crucifixion of Christ."
4) Fasten Your Seatbelt Series Premiere (A&E)
"In the Atlanta airport terminal, an intoxicated traveler goes off the rails and then straight off a balcony. A ticket holder gets furious at aa gate agent when her family's vacation gets disrupted and a captain leaves the cockpit to take down a passenger."
5) Hunting Atlantis Series Premiere (Discovery)
"Stel and Jess trek to the Black Sea, where they investigate a 7,000-year-old skeleton buried in gold treasure, and uncover evidence of an ancient catastrophe that could be the basis for Noah's flood and the destruction of Atlantis."
6) Married At First Sight Season Premiere (Lifetime)
"The 10 newly minted fiancees have only two weeks to prepare to meet their mystery spouse at the altar. When the wedding day arrives, one bride's hopes are dashed when a clue about her husband's passions leaves her feeling devastated."
7) Sexy Dreams Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Hoping to say goodbye to superficial dating, real-life singles sport elaborate makeup and prosthetics to put true blind-date chemistry to the test."
8) The Movies That Made Us Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
"Get the real story behind the blockbusters that defined a generation. Actors, directors and industry insiders lead the way on entertaining deep dives."
9) Too Hot To Handle Brazil Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Ten sizzling hot Brazilians meet at a dreamy beach resort. But for a shot at R$500,000, they'll have to give up sex in this fun reality show."
10) Trollhunters: Rise Of The Titans (Netflix)
Heroes from "Trollhunters," "3Below" and "Wizards" join forces to fight a shadowy enemy threatening to take over their worlds — and reset Earth itself.
11) Turner & Hooch Series Premiere (Disney+)
"When an ambitious, buttoned-up US Marshal inherits a big unruly dog, he soon realizes the dog he didn’t want may be the partner he needs. Turner & Hooch stars Josh Peck as Scott Turner, son of Detective Scott Turner portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 1989 film of the same name."
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