Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, October 8th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is trying to get caught up on all of its unread emails.
IS BOBBY FLAY SET TO PART WAYS WITH THE FOOD NETWORK?
For all of the changes that have taken place at the Food Network since it launched in 1993, one constant has been Bobby Flay. He joined the network in 1995 and has been a presence ever since, hosting a series of shows, making numerous guest appearances and in many ways serving as the face of the network as it said goodbye to familiar personalities ranging from Emeril Lagasse to Mario Batali.
But as Variety's Cynthia Littleton reported on Thursday night, negotiations between the Food Network and Bobby Flay have broken off, reportedly because the two sides are still far apart on the finances of the deal:
Flay and Food Network have been in negotiations on a new contract for some time. His most recent exclusive three-year pact with the Discovery-owned cabler expires at year’s end. Sources close to the situation said that Food Network has ended the negotiations.
Flay representatives at WME declined to comment on the situation, citing the policy of not commenting on active negotiations. That’s an indication that Flay’s team sees some hardball negotiating tactics afoot. But sources close to Food Network say the decision has been made to move on as the sides were far apart on financial terms. Food Network declined to comment for this story.
It doesn't take much reading between the lines to realize the story is coming from the Food Network side and that was confirmed by someone familiar with Flay's team and their take on the negotiations who reached out to me early Friday morning:
"What the Variety piece fails to mention is the main sticking point isn't financial. It's that the network wants to expand the scope of their 360 deal. The current offer obligated Bobby to participate in a wide range of activities unrelated to his core TV role, including new content for Food Network Kitchen and other digital projects. Bobby doesn't need to do this stuff at this point in his career. In fact, it's a bit of an insult to expect him to do it. He appreciates everything the network has done for him. But he also feels he has done a lot for the Food Network and that isn't being appreciated or acknowledged in their last (and we were told final) offer."
I've reached out to the Food Network for comment.
THE BEST INTERVIEW YOU'LL READ TODAY
All of the medical distractions earlier this week at AllYourScreens HQ meant that some previously announced features were pushed back a few days. One of them was a long interview with Crackle head of programming Jeff Meier, which I finally posted Thursday night. There is a lot of interesting stuff in the interview, but his description of why viewers connect with classic television is the best explanation I've ever read:
Well, I look at classic TV this way. Most of this television aired back on the major networks when there are only three networks and programs were getting cancelled when they had a 20 share. And so those are big numbers of people. These are shows that were getting on the cover of TV Guide, and lots of people were watching, Compared to what constitutes a hit today, I'm pretty sure more people probably watched Tabitha at the time, then watched a typical episode of Girls. But that really doesn't get reported. Because everything's about the numbers and the relative success today versus other things today. I do think there's a lot of collective memory bank for most of these shows.
Second, I think heavy TV watchers want to watch things that feel like the kind of stuff they used to love, but they don't remember it because it hasn't been repeated 20,000 times. It is sort of watching something fresh, but in an old medium. And I think that's sort of a fun way to analyze it.
And speaking of Crackle, I'll also mention that appears the service has reupped its deal with Sony TV, because all of the Sony shows that disappeared from Crackle on October1st are back. Along with the entire run of the Jeffrey Meeks detective series Raven and a couple of episodes of The Gregory Hines Show. Raven was created by the legendary Frank Lupo and it's maybe the last vestige of the 70s/80s action detective drama genre. It's not all that good, but it's worth watching just to see an overweight, lightly bearded Lee Majors playing his drunken, out-of-shape sidekick "Ski."
'NO TIME TO DIE'S LONG BATTLE TO BREAK EVEN
In his "What I'm Hearing" newsletter (subscription required), Matthew Belloni breaks down the finances of the upcoming James Bond movie No Time To Die & he estimates the best-case scenario for MGM is that the film might eventually break even:
But will it deliver A-level box office? It needs to. Adding up those expenses gets to nearly $500 million in sunk-in costs to release the film. And that’s not including the expense associated with it sitting on a shelf for a year and a half. If the cost of money is generally 4 percent or 5 percent, that’s more cash not used on other things.
But we’ll forget that and focus on what this thing needs to gross. These days, revenue splits with theaters aren’t exactly 50-50, as many still assume, especially overseas, where Bond movies generate more than 70 percent of their revenue. Splits in China can be especially dicey, and the last Bond, 2015’s Spectre, grossed $83 million there, making it the third largest market behind only the U.S. and U.K. Even without knowing the exact splits, the experts I asked think No Time to Die needs to get to about $800 million to break even.
The cost of the movie was the primary reason why the movie was never going to be sold off to a streamer, even if the Broccoli family (who have some control over the decision-making) would have allowed it. The movie itself like cost in the range of $260 million and MGM would have needed something north of that to make the deal. And that figure is just too high for any streamer to justify, even factoring in the PR value.
One of the reasons some industry analysts cite as an advantage of a theatrical release vs a streaming release is the downstream revenue a theatrical release can get from VOD, DVD and Pay One window deals. Which is true. But even in the case of No Time To Die, I'm not sure that's really a factor. Yes, the downstream revenue will be substantial. But given that MGM & Universal (which distributes the movie overseas) will end up paying close to $200 in marketing and other costs on the film, trading that expense for the downstream revenue might seem like a good deal.
So I suspect if the budget for No Time To Die had been $150 million, we might have seen a different scenario for a release. At that price point, a day-and-date release might have made financial sense, depending on how the deal with Craig is structured.
ODDS AND SODS
*The animated series Blade Runner: Black Lotus is premiering November 13th on Adult Swim and Crunchyroll.
* The third and final season of Netflix's Lost In Space is premiering December 1st.
* A soundtrack for the CBS/Paramount+ series SEAL Team will be available today on all of the major digital music platforms.
SEE YOU MONDAY!