Displaying items by tag: Too Much TV

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, October 18th, 2021

18 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, October 18th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is preparing for a busy Monday that includes two virtual press tours, with a combined nine 10-minute interviews. But I'll have lots of great stuff coming....

Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw has been killing it on the Netflix beat this week and on Saturday, had a great piece on Squid Game and its eventual value to Netflix. This was one of the paragraphs that grabbed a lot of reader's attention:

Some of the metrics seen by Bloomberg are more idiosyncratic, and it’s impossible to glean from the document what data Netflix uses to calculate each formula. “Squid Game” scored 353 points in adjusted view share, or AVS, which reflects not just how many people watched it but how valuable those viewers are considered. (An AVS of more than 9 or 10 is already considered high.) Viewers who are new customers or use Netflix less often are viewed as more valuable because that suggests those shows are a reason they haven’t canceled.

AVS is where Netflix’s evaluation of a show begins, according to current and former employees, and the impact value figure is an estimate of a show’s lifetime AVS. 

I've written about this a bit in the past and while I agreed not to discuss some of the specifics (unless I learn of them independently), a Netflix employee walked me through some of this earlier this year. My understanding is that the AVS is a distillation of more than 30 factors, which attempt to assign an overall "value" for any piece of content. An example I was given was that it's possible to track which content was most watched by brand new subscribers last month. That content would be considered more valuable because it presumably was one of the reasons why viewers subscribed. But if those viewers exit after a month or two, that lessens the value of the content. The assumption being that some percentage of the canceled subscriptions came from people who subscribed primarily for a specific show.

It depends on where people are watching. A show that is more popular in a region such as the U.S., where the ARPU (average revenue per user) is higher has a greater value than one that tracks more in regions where the ARPU is lower. Although that indicator is weighted less than some others and whether the content is attracting subscribers in a territory where subscriber retention costs are high also factors into the equation. Netflix also tracks how many people complete a TV show within a week, the percentage of people who rewatch a series (although if the number is too high, it's discounted as possible fan manipulation). And there are many more. Each of the factors is weighted differently and the weighting can apparently change as the company's strategy evolves.

The number of Netflix employees who can access the granular data appears to be relatively small. Which is the ultimate reason for data such as the AVS. It's a way to provide guidance internally without getting anyone too much in the weeds. The general data is used for everything from decisions on additional seasons to PR efforts. 

But this data is only a small part of the data harvesting that is used by Netflix. The company does extensive tracking of subscriber behavior, ranging from aggressive A/B testing of thumbnails to UX heatmaps that show how subscribers are sifting through the app looking for something to watch. And it's more granular than you might expect. It's not just determining which thumbnail is mostly likely to convince someone to click into a TV show or movie. It's determining which thumbnail gets people to click in who will then watch the program more than a minute or two. It's a fine line between teasing and trickery, with one being a lot more subscriber-friendly than the other.

My point about all of this is that a lot is made of Netflix depending on "algorithms," but it's more nuanced than that. The real data crunching comes after a project is ordered. As it was explained to me, data has limited use in determining which specific project should be ordered. There are simply too any random factors that can't be properly quantified. But it's very helpful in guiding general decisions, such as the type of content people are looking for, actors who have a built-in audience, etc. And it's extremely helpful in the post-launch period, when it is easier to track subscriber behavior and use that behavior to estimate the ultimate value of a show to Netflix.

No television network or streaming service has an unlimited promotional budget. PR triage is always part of the equation: deciding which projects are the priority and then assigning the promotional bandwidth appropriately. But there's a danger that smaller projects which might have a breakout moment don't get it, because they are starved from receiving even the slightest amount of a PR push. Viral explosions can't happen in a vacuum. For people to "discover" a smaller show or movie, they have to know it exists.

The bulk of the PR messaging from Peacock this week centered on the movie Halloween Kills, which received a day-and-date release in movie theaters and on Peacock. And that makes sense, it's a big movie and based on early box office returns, it's a popular one. 

What you might not realize is that the other notable Peacock release this past week was the Original Peacock comedy special Good Timing With Jo Firestone. The special centers around a comedy class comic and actress Jo Firestone gave to a group of seniors and it is the most delightful thing I've watched in months (here's my review). It's the Ted Lasso of comedy specials, a feel-good hour that will almost certainly lighten your soul. It's not a big project, but it's distinctive and entertaining and it's the type of special that you can see becoming a viral hit.

But if you are a subscriber to Peacock, you likely didn't even realize it had premiered. The streamer sent out three promotional emails this week and the show wasn't mentioned in any of them. When you sign into Peacock, there is a big horizontal promotional carousel that is used to promote new and interesting programming. It mentioned Halloween Kills and Harry Potter. But no Jo Firestone. You either have to already know it's coming or stumble across the special while looking for something else.

I'm not arguing Good Timing With Jo Firestone deserved a Halloween Kills promotional push. But it didn't even receive a minimal effort, which is close to being PR malpractice.

One of the primary reasons I have a subscription to Hulu Live TV is that my son is a huge sports fan. I would be fine with a mix of a cheaper service such as Philo, basic Hulu and a couple of other options. But he loves sports and if you want to watch live sports, you are likely going to want a cable or virtual cable subscription. So I am excited to hear that a MLB streaming service might be in the works. And according to the NY Post, the MLB is also in discussion with the NBA and NHL:

Major League Baseball is in talks to launch a nationwide video-streaming service that would enable fans to watch their teams’ hometown games without a cable-TV subscription, The Post has learned.

The web-based service — which could address a decades-old annoyance for baseball fans that some have partly blamed for the league’s steadily declining viewership — could launch as early as the 2023 season, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said.

There are a lot of details that would have to be worked out - including navigating the complex rights deals already in place. But the big losers in this plan would seem to be the regional sports networks, especially the ones owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the broadcast rights to nearly half of the MLB teams:

While the MLB wants to give fans the option to sidestep pricey cable packages, local games will still be broadcast on cable as they are now and the broadcasts would be identical, according to people familiar with the plans. The league’s MLB.TV service, which offers out-of-market games for a subscription fee, will also continue to operate, sources said.

Sources said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred could end up offering cable-TV giants a piece of the streaming revenue to compensate for potential subscriber losses. Manfred’s pitch is that cable TV won’t lose many subscribers, as MLB is mainly targeting younger customers who have already cut the cord, sources said. The cable companies don’t have streaming rights but could retaliate by paying less to broadcast games if they don’t like the bargain, sources said.

As for the teams, MLB’s streaming service would pay them based on viewership in their local markets. One MLB owner said the league has kept its owners appraised, and believes it has general support though no vote has been taken. Indeed, the MLB and team owners are concerned over dire forecasts for viewership. Roughly half of Americans will not be watching cable or satellite TV within a few years, according to Pew Research Center annual surveys.


While the Hollywood Trades celebrated the tentative deal struck between the IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Saturday, it's worth noting that there has been a fair amount of pushback from some IATSE members, based on the general details of the agreement revealed in this deal memo that went out to union members late Saturday.

More details are set to be released on Monday, but it's worth remembering that this agreement only matters if it's approved by a majority of union members. So we shall see.

* The UK Times has an extended interview with Netflix film head Scott Stuber (subscription required) and while some it veers into the reputation burnishing category, there are a couple of interesting takeaways.

* The Chinese war epic Battle At Lake Changjin earned $73 million over the weekend, taking its China box-office total to $768.8 million

* Betty Lynn, Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on The Andy Griffith Show, dies at age 95. She received $500 an episode for those appearances.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, October 15th, 2021

14 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, October 15th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is definitely working for the weekend this week.

The biggest entertainment story going into the week is the industry shutdown that would occur if the 13 IATSE local chapters that have authorized a strike end up walking off the jobs on Monday. I'm reading a lot of think pieces in the trade publications arguing that no one wants a strike - especially just coming off of a long pandemic shutdown. I hope there isn't a strike, but I would better about the prospects for a settlement if I wasn't hearing from so many people that the studios have been pushing for extra production days and even more overtime in an effort to bank as many completed productions as possible.

Now insisting that crews work even longer hours in preparation for a possible strike over long hours and difficult working conditions might sound a bit insane. But that is Hollywood in 2021.

So now all the rest of us can do is hold out breaths.

I don't think it's any secret that Chip and Joanna Gaines are laser-focused when it comes to brand extension of their core Magnolia business.  And if you've wondered whether they'll run out of Magnolia-branded items to hawk, then let me introduce to the Magnolia-branded vacations rentals in Waco, Texas.

At a presentation for regional press on Thursday, Disney+ announced over 20 new APAC content titles including 18 Originals. The move is taking place as the streaming service rolls out into new countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Disney+ is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. It will launch in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in November 2021.

During the presentation, which was live in Japan and streamed to other parts of the globe, Luke Kang, Walt Disney’s Asia-Pacific president told the audience the streamer plans to launch at least 50 original shows and series in the region by 2023. "OTT is quickly going mainstream and Disney Plus is well positioned to take part in that."

I'm excited by this, even though I don't think I have time to watch anything else. But seriously, the biggest challenge in covering television created in other regions is that it's tough to get access to screeners, interviews, even basic press info until the shows premiere in the U.S. And even then, the info that is available is spotty. That was one of the reasons why Netflix's Squid Games took so long to break globally. While Netflix has distributed some screeners through its APAC PR group, it wasn't a show that was pushed outside of the region. It wasn't until it began to draw widespread attention with viewers that most U.S. critics even noticed it.

That's an issue with a lot of original content created outside the U.S. While the television business is increasingly a global game, TV publicity is still primarily a local endeavor.


It's a well-worn trope of the TV industry that it is a business built on relationships. While there is some truth to that, it's overblown overall. You can have the best relationships in the world. But if your projects don't make money, you'll have trouble finding work.

But there are exceptions and in his latest newsletter for Puck, Matthew Belloni has an interesting perspective on Netflix's Ted Sarandos and his unwillingness to admit that releasing Dave Chappelle's most recent comedy special as is might not have been the wisest move:

“Ted is a huge comedy fan,” Jimmy Kimmel told me for the profile. That was an understatement. Sarandos is a student of comedy; he knows the history and worships the gods. It took Netflix only a couple years to corner the market on A-list stand-up specials, doling out eight-figure deals to stars like Amy Schumer and Kevin Hart, destroying the dominance that HBO and Comedy Central had built over decades. Sarandos considers guys like Will Arnett and Ricky Gervais his personal friends. When I asked him to name a mentor type that he admires, he cited Lorne Michaels alongside Norman Lear. A dinner party at the Sarandos house might include past guests Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Jeff Garlin, or Tiffany Haddish—or perhaps even one of Ted’s favorites, Dave Chappelle.

So of course Sarandos is standing by Chappelle, despite the furor over the new special, The Closer, which is basically 72 minutes of ad hominem attacks on the transgender community, in particular, and L.G.B.T.Q.+ people, in general. For Sarandos, this is personal. He believes in the stand-up mantra, that good comedy often—and perhaps even necessarily—pushes boundaries, makes people uncomfortable, and sometimes stokes anger. The alternative scenario—a world of comedy by committee, or censorship for hurt feelings—would have neutered some of the greats he loves, like George Carlin or Eddie Murphy or Joan Rivers.

* Starz has renewed Blindspotting for a second season.

* Diane Weyermann, Participant chief content officer and a longtime champion of documentaries and who was a driving force behind An Inconvenient Truth and American Factory, has died. She was 66.

* Natalie Jarvey and Elaine Low at Insider researched the top places to sell a TV show: HBO was #1, with Apple TV+ battling Netflix for #2. 

* Amazon has picked up Jack Ryan for a fourth season.



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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

13 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, October 13th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is staring about six hours of interviews I need to transcribe.

Unless you're a regular viewer of the long-running CBS drama NCIS, you might not have realized that Monday marked a momentous moment in the show's history. Star Mark Harmon, whose Leroy Jethro Gibbs was the core of the show, exited after more than 18 seasons. 

<If you'd like to read more about the episode, check out my recap of the event>

In an earlier time, the exit of someone after 18 years - especially an actor who is the face of the show - would be a massive entertainment news event. Multiple hot takes and interviews, looks back at his time on the show. Maybe a piece on Harmon's pre-NCIS TV career and the inevitable "then and now" flashback articles. And yet, there was very little coverage of the episodes, certainly not much more than the typical "special" episode of any popular broadcast television show would generate. It was an astoundingly anti-climactic end to a run on television that really deserved to be celebrated.

I think a couple of things were at play here. First is that Harmon is notoriously uninterested in doing interviews. Which is a shame, because he is a gifted actor who has an impressively diverse career. Honestly, Harmon is that the top of my interview bucket list. Which is depressing, given the unlikely chances that it will ever happen.

But it has always felt as if there is a lot of institutional reluctance at CBS to push for press coverage of the show. The series has been a top-rated program for its entire nearly two-decade run and I get the impression that for the most part, network publicists feel that most TV critics don't watch the show and don't feel a connection to it. So most of the time, when you see coverage of NCIS, it's around "event" programming and it is almost always in the trade publications and the few remaining entertainment print publications.

To be fair, that characterization of TV critics and the show is not inaccurate. I have frequently been told by critics that they don't cover the show on a regular basis because it doesn't get the same buzz from readers as they would get from another piece about a hip, buzzy show such as Succession. I have no way of knowing how accurate that belief might be for anyone else. I can say that for several years, I wrote recaps of NCIS and those pieces were wildly popular with my readers. And because the episodes are constantly airing or being streamed somewhere, the episodic recaps continue to draw steady traffic for years after they've been posted. But it is true that generally speaking, most outlets don't consider NCIS a priority and most critics haven't been watching the show on a regular basis.

I am surprised that no one at Paramount+ bothered to capitalize on the exit of Gibbs. The streaming service did run some spots noting that every episode of the show is available on Paramount+. But it would have been very easy to curate some episodes into a "Best of Gibbs" list of pivotal episodes. It's not a big thing on the face of it. But among the many problems with Paramount+ is that it has a tendency to just dump content on the service without any curation or context. It's just one of those little things that helps a streaming service feel vibrant and worth the monthly subscription fee.

Patrick Brzeski has a very enlightening interview with Minyoung Kim, VP of Content for Netflix Asia Pacific. As you might expect, a lot of the interview centers around the unexpected success of Squid Games:

So, when it first launched, it seemed to be getting a lot of attention from our members, but Korean content tends to be pretty popular. So we just said, “Oh, OK, this is another one of our successes. That’s awesome.” We’ve had Kingdom, Sweet Home and others that have also done really well.

But then internally I started getting messages from my colleagues from all over the world — L.A., London, other places — saying they loved the show. So, I thought, ‘Hmm, my colleagues must genuinely be really liking this, because you have to really enjoy something to bother writing an email and reaching out like that.’ But they’re my colleagues, and of course they have their eyes on what Netflix shows are out there, right?

But then I started seeing more and more posts on Instagram and TikTok. And then I watched as Ho-yeon Jung’s Instagram following grew from 400,000 to over 14 million in less than a month. And even on LinkedIn, most of my whole feed started to be about Squid Game, which is really rare.

And I thought this paragraph was pretty interesting:

Squid Game, or ojingeo in Korean, is a real kids’ game here, but not all Koreans actually know it. My generation knows it, but my niece’s generation probably wouldn’t. So, initially, we knew we wanted this show to travel but we were worried the title Squid Game wouldn’t resonate because not many people would get it. So we went with the title Round Six instead, wanting it to be more general and helpful for telling people what the show is about — there are six rounds to the game. But, later, director Hwang [Dong-hyuk] suggested that maybe we should go back to Squid Game, because it’s a unique show and this game is the essence. I think the more authentic title has actually played really well. The title, Squid Game, together with the eye-catching artwork, really capture interest within our service — especially for audiences who have never watched a Korean show before but are looking for fun things to watch

In last Friday's newsletter, I wrote a bit about Bobby Flay and his probably exit from the Food Network. This is part of what I reported on the time:

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."

Today there was an update to the story in People Magazine and the headline focused on Flay's reported request for a $100 million deal. But buried towards the middle of the story were these paragraphs, which aren't all that different than what I was reporting last week. The difference is that in this case, the info is coming from the Food Network side and they are predictably glassing over some of what they are asking from Flay:

"Guy has a three-year deal," they add. "The terms of what Bobby was looking for were gravely different than just cash. The terms were longer, the scope of work was different and thus the dollars were different. It's not just $80 million to $100 million."

Ultimately, the network wouldn't budge in negotiations with Flay. "The two sides were just way too far apart. It became clear the two could not and would not be able to come to terms and so the network decided to move forward without him," the Flay source says. "Regardless, it was really much more amicable than you'd think. It was strictly business."

As I mentioned in my original piece, a big part of the sticking point is that Flay is apparently unwilling to do a lot of the grunt work that the Food Network considers essential in this digital age. He's not interested in live segments on the Food Kitchen app or spending time doing events or PR appearances. Flay is a chef first and he considers all of that stuff a distraction. That being said, he also thinks he should make as much money as anyone else on the network. Which is problematical, given that he doesn't want to do as much to earn it.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

12 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, October 12th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is trying to get caught up on all of its unread emails.

I don't write much about Bill Maher because at this point, the only purpose of his HBO series is to give the nation's hot take commentariat something to complain about on Saturdays. The entire process is predictable to the point of being soul-sucking. Maher says some unimaginatively stupid thing, people write about him and then he follows up by mocking his critics as being thin-skinned and clueless. He's television's answer to a guy standing on a street corner calling people names until someone finally punches him. Then he complains and calls the cops. Maher is a professional troll and while I admire his career ingenuity, I'm in no mood to help him by highlighting his latest trollness.

I have come to the point where I feel the same way about Dave Chappelle. Yes, Chappelle is a comedy genius. Although I don't think anyone is as funny as he is convinced he is. But in recent years, Chappelle has embraced his inner old guy and cranked out a series of comedy specials that are an uneasy mix of lazy joke telling and purposefully provocative bits that he knows will enrage some segment of his viewers. It often feels as if Chappelle realizes on some level that the current comedy scene has passed him by. So his answer is to become this generation's Don Rickles: a tired, predictable crank who alternates between repeating insulting characterizations and shrugging off criticism with a half-hearted "I kid, but I love everyone!"

Click here to read the rest of my piece on the Chappelle email from Ted Sarandos.

It's also worth noting that I am hearing Sarandos is sitting down with a major publication to do a "clarification" interview. Which is a pretty good indication that things on the PR front are not going as well as expected.

Even analysts whose careers involve making predictions on the future of television and streaming will admit that most estimates are at best a bit of leap of faith. Predicting out a year or two is relatively easy, but once you get out past that you are making assumptions based on a set of facts that will likely change in ways you can't predict.

Still, companies make lots of money writing up projections that no one will ever fact check. Which brings me to this piece in The Hollywood Reporter, which reports that a study from Digital TV Research projects Disney+ will surpass Netflix in total global SVOD subscriptions in 2026:

“Three platforms will control nearly half the world’s SVOD subscriptions by 2026,” according to Digital TV Research. “Disney+ will be the biggest winner, overtaking Netflix in 2025. Disney+ will add 140 million subscribers between 2021 and 2026 to bring its total to 284 million. About 121 million of Disney+’ subscribers (43 percent of its total) in 2026 will be in the 13 Asian countries under the Hotstar brand.”

If some of these figures sound unlikely, then you are not alone. I heard from a number of people on Monday (including some from Netflix and Amazon) who questioned the conclusions.

It's difficult for me to crunch the numbers, since I don't have a copy of the report and can't doublecheck the methodology. I did spend some time comparing some of the previous projections by Digital TV Research and while they do an okay job with projections a year out, some of their long-term estimates are painfully off. Like this projection from 2018:

The Netflix estimate isn't horrifically far off - maybe 30-40 million away from the likely number. But the Amazon estimate is off by 100 million or so. Which is outside the margin of error for anyone.

Still, nothing is as embarrassing as this 2018 projection from Ark Invest, which suggested Netflix could have 400 million global subscribers by 2023.

One of the biggest criticisms of Netflix from media industry analysts is that the company doesn't have the type of marketable titles that can spin off consumer merchandise hits.

It appears that the streaming service disagrees and on Monday it announced a wide-ranging deal with Walmart that includes a large online destination for Netflix fans called "Netflix Hub At Walmart." The digital store will showcase come of Netflix's most popular shows with items that range from hats and action figures to a Bluetooth cassette player. Some of the items will also be available on a limited basis in some Walmart physical stores.

This is not the first time Netflix shows have spawned related merchandise and the company had previously had a deal with Target for a line of Stranger Things merchandise. But this hub is by far the largest deal signed by the company and it comes days after a deal with the UK online retailer Zavvi for Squid Game merchandise.

One of the notable aspects of the Netflix/Walmart hub is that there is a big focus on the streaming service's kids programing, including the wildly popular Cocomelon and the Netflix original series Ada Twist, Scientist. The latter show was the result of a production deal Netflix made with writer/producer Chris Nees, which well may become one the smartest deals the company has made in recent years.

Walmart and Netflix are also currently running a promotion for the Netflix series Nailed It. In the promotion, fans who buy a baking kit at Walmart can participate in a virtual bake-off on October 16th and October 23rd. You can find more information on that promotion on this page.

A Walmart spokesperson told me on background that the merchandise will be regularly updated to reflect the interests of Netflix viewers. And according to the spokesperson, the decision to make the merchandise primarily available online allowed the companies to produce smaller runs of some items and be more agile about the mix of merchandise offered to consumers.


* Epic Games may make a Fortnite movie.

* Crackle has just added the 1986 ABC drama Starman to its classic TV lineup. Set 15 years after the John Carpenter movie of the same name (which you probably don't remember now), the series stars Robert Hays.

* Sony Pictures TV set to acquire producer Bad Wolf


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, October 8th, 2021

08 October, 2021

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.

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. 

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."

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.

*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.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, October 7th, 2021

07 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, October 7th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ managed to fall asleep early last night. Which was probably great for my health, not so great for getting my newsletter out on time.

One of the things that happens a lot if you regularly write about the media is that you get a lot of people at the various networks who want to influence your reporting. Sometimes the pitches are fairly benign: "Hey, you've been writing about X, have you ever considered also covering X?" But it's not uncommon to be pitched in a way that is a bit more manipulative. Early in my career, I used to get these frequent pitches from someone at Fox News PR, offering up negative ratings info and other stuff about the channel's rivals if I wouldn't include that they were the source of the information. 

And that happens fairly frequently now, especially from network PR people who want to provide "context" or pitch a certain narrative for the network. And then there are the pitches from personal publicists and other interested parties - all hoping to shape the way I write about their client, network or business. These contacts aren't necessarily bad, but I am always skeptical when it happens. Part of the trick is attempting to determine the motivation behind the pitches, because sometimes that is a much better story than the narrative I'm being pitched.

I've been writing about MSNBC since the days when I was freelancing in between regular media jobs. I've watched the network evolve through a number of phases and management initiatives. I'm also a regular viewer of the network, which likely makes me a bit more opinionated about the network's programming than the average media reporter.

One of my long-term criticisms has been that network management (and the management of NBC News in general) still tend to see MSNBC's primetime programming as a necessary evil. They are much more comfortable with the daytime programming mix of news stories and network contributors than the more difficult mix of context and opinion that fuels the three primetime shows hosted by Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell. Although O'Donnell's show is really only a small evolution away from what viewers will find in the daytime hours of the network.

As I've written before, the overwhelming success of Maddow has been a mixed blessing for the management at MSNBC. Her approach to the medium of cable news is so unique that she has really invented a new format for the network. And faced with that, MSNBC could lean into her approach and encourage similar anchors and unusual approaches. Especially since the network could use Peacock as a low-cost place to experiment. Instead, the network has decided to double down on the daytime programming approach. Various network people have been regularly reaching out with stories about Nicole Wallace's possible move into Maddow's spot when she exits her M-F schedule at some point next year.

I am recapping all of this because it provides some context into my thoughts about Chris Hayes, whose shows leads into Maddow's each night. Like Maddow, Hayes was not a natural fit for television. His first regular show for MSNBC was 2011's Up With Chris Hayes and the early shows were rough as he adapted to television. But even then, his show had a distinctive editorial approach. It was a roundtable that wasn't boring, feeling more like a conversation over breakfast with some of the coolest young voices in American politics.

When he moved to primetime in 2013, All In With Chris Hayes was a reflection of his editorial point of view. But it was also a pretty traditional cable news show. But the eventual success of Maddow's approach gave Hayes a bit more cover to experiment and his show evolved into its own distinctive editorial mix. His A-block editorial/commentary each night is a textbook example of what you want in a cable news show. Yes, he obviously has a political point of view and he is comfortable expressing it. But unlike the competition on Fox, it's never 90% opinion and 10% vague facts. He backs up what he says with figures and builds an argument with context and relevance in the same way that he used to craft arguments back in his early blogging days.

I am as much a fan of his show as I am of Maddow's and I wish that some of the network's management felt the same way. But over the past weeks I've heard all sorts of stories about how Hayes doesn't fit in with the network's post-Maddow future. That his show doesn't get her ratings (who does?) and that Katy Tur or one of a half dozen other current MSNBC anchors (primarily the female ones) would be a better with a Nicole Wallace primetime show.

To be blunt, this argument is one of the dumbest ones I've heard in a long time. Katy Tur is a fine anchor - she has her own strengths. But the primetime audience has very different expectations and it's ludicrous to expect the viewers who currently watch Hayes would be happy with Tur's much more corporate approach to cable news. The truth is that there is some concern among network executives that having Hayes on just before Nicole Wallace (or someone similar) would only highlight the difference in approaches between the two shows. Which I think is a valid concern. But the answer isn't to push Hayes out.

Chris Hayes is one of the best voices in cable news and the fact that some at MSNBC are attempting to quietly trash talk him on background is not a positive sign for the network's future.

For all of the complaints about the vapidity of the average cable news show, the print side of political journalism isn't much better. The art of Hunter Biden is "Driving The Day?"

I've written a lot about content discovery and someone from Hulu reached out to me this morning to let me know that the service has had an "exceptional success" driving viewers to watch episodes of the old ABC cop series Castle. Reruns of the show were recently picked up by Lifetime and Hulu had been highlighting the show in that big top promo window that greets users when they sign into their profile. I was told the response to that move had been very strong, but as is the case with almost all streaming metrics, there weren't a lot of specifics attached to the claim. Still, it's interesting to see how even a show that has been available on streaming for a long time can get a boost with the right promotion.

Courtney A. Kemp is one of my favorite showrunner/producers in the business. She has a distinctive, creative voice and under a deal with Lionsgate, she created the series Power, which has spawned five spin-offs and arguably kept Starz afloat as a viable streaming option. In August, she signed a new deal with Netflix and in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she displays some of the reasons why I love her work. When asked the inevitable question about whether she would ever write a script for one of the Power shows, she frames it in a way that isn't about her, but about her staff:

But there are people — Ryan Murphy and the American Story shows come to mind — who haven’t extricated themselves from old business. As a perfectionist, is it going to be easy for you to not write an episode here and there?

I’ll answer it this way: If I write an episode of one of those series, I’m actually taking money out of the pocket of writers on those series who would have been assigned and gotten paid to write it. I wouldn’t look to do that, no. I’m experiencing grief around leaving the franchise, of course, but it was necessary. That job had become so much about the business of the show, as opposed to being able to really tell stories. You get an empire, and it’s not the same anymore. At some point, Mrs. Fields stopped baking the cookies.

And these comments about the type of shows that matter to her:

I want to challenge my audience. I want to be pushed or to push people. I love honest, frank talk about race, gender and sexuality. It’s not a small thing to me. When we were creating the characters in Ghost, one of the sons in the drug-dealing family is gay and has a relationship. There were people who were like, “You shouldn’t do that because the audience won’t like it.” Well, if you make a show about people who are college-age in 2021 and everyone is straight, you’re an asshole. You’re an asshole if you make that show.



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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

06 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, October 6th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is trying not to obsess about the 200 hours or so of screeners still waiting in my inbox.

As I warned, some medical issues in the family prevented me from doing the newsletter for Monday and Tuesday. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen a couple of mentions about my son and a minor-ish heart procedure he had done on Monday. It went incredibly well and he is recovering quickly. And I am back on the newsletter beat, beginning today. Although I am easing back into it slowly.

The Streamable has a really enlightening interview with Director Ben Simms, who discusses the latest Netflix interactive film Escape the Undertaker:

Simms also addresses “ragequitting,” which is something those in the gaming space have to consider, but not really filmmakers. “It’s a little bit of a psychological game with the viewer too because you’re trying to anticipate what they are going to get upset about or what they’re not going to get upset about. And you know, one thing that’s been interesting with it a lot is people just like being in control, right?”

“So sometimes you might think they’re going to make a decision within the interactive that’s logical and makes sense, and sometimes they just want to torture the character. It’s interesting trying to guess what they’ll do next. As long as it’s entertaining I don’t know that it matters but it’s just fun to sort of play that game with the viewer too. You don’t get a chance to do that with any other type of content aside from a video game.”

I have been arguing that Netflix's interactive projects are a really under-appreciated approach, although the end results have been creatively mixed. It's interesting that Simms did the You Vs Wild interactives for Netflix, which I haven't always enjoyed. But for what it's worth, I thought Escape The Undertaker was a ton of fun, even if you don't know much about wrestling.

Despite the flashy headline, this Hollywood Reporter piece doesn't actually offer much new, although it does include this statement, which tells you all you need to know about NBCU's strategy for Peacock:

“The Law & Order brand reaches different audiences across all of our platforms, and our goal is to bring the largest number of viewers possible to the show,” said Lisa Katz, president of entertainment scripted content at NBCUniversal TV and streaming. “This strategy enables us to leverage the broad reach of the network while also making the show incredibly accessible to all of its fans on Peacock. It isn’t a case of ‘either/or’ but rather ‘yes, and.’”

Yes, and...these types of moves are why Peacock continues to struggle to become a first-tier streaming service. Say what you will about Jason Kilar's decision to move a number of Warner movies to day-and-date releases on HBO Max, he was willing to take a massive short-term hit to boost subscriber numbers and cement the image of the streaming service as a must-have destination. Comcast management has refused to do that, trying to have it both ways by keeping the best projects for their legacy media businesses and sending the B-team to Peacock. That certainly optimizes the short-term revenue stream, but at what cost to the long-term success of Peacock. Comcast executives seem to believe that live sports can be the savior of Peacock. Which seems overly optimistic.

The nature of my job involves watching a lot of television and depending on the show, that can sometimes feel more like a chore than an opportunity to be entertained. So I have a few random shows I record and watch when I want to just ride the couch and turn off my brain. A couple of them are the NatGeo shows Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks and Life Below Zero, both of which are in the middle of their seasons. But recording them can be a chore, since NatGeo airs not just a new episode of the season each week. There are can be as many as eight or more filler shows, all of them labeled "new" by NatGeo. There are clip shows, "enhanced" episodes, ten-minute "first look" episodes, episodes built around one of the cast. None of which I want to see.

I've been told that some networks do this because they've discovered that a percentage of the audience will then watch the unrequested episodes just because they are there. But this DVR cramming is an incredibly annoying practice, particularly for the millions of Americans who have limited DVR space.

Discovery has a similar love of DVR cramming, although it takes a slightly different approach. Instead of setting random extra episodes as "new," Discovery sticks new episodes of shows such as Deadliest Catch inside a two or three-hour block that appears to your DVR as if it is one episode. So viewers are then forced to fast forward to the point where their target episode is hidden.

And we won't even talk about the nightmare that will infect your DVR if you are ever foolish enough to add History's Secrets Of Oak Island to your record list.

Change.org is filled with online petitions asking for all sorts of crazy TV ideas. But of all the ones I've seen recently, this one is pretty far out there:

That being said, it would also be pretty funny. Although given that fewer than 20 people have signed the petition so far, the request seems unlikely to be granted.

Apparently Christopher "Ride Like The Wind" Cross is not a fan of the ABC series Bachelor In Paradise:

The new Julia Ioffe piece on Puck about the state of the infrastructure bill and how it is being covered in the media. But reading these two paragraphs reminded me that a lot of these criticisms could also be levied at media reporters and the way they cover their industry:

I’ve always been amazed that American journalists write about politics the same way they write about baseball: the obsession with numbers and historical trivia, the straining to find tiny moments of what passes for drama in an inherently slow and boring game. I guess it makes sense, since most political journalists love baseball—as does much of the city’s political class. I personally hate it—and find a lot of American political coverage unreadable. (Sorry, friends.) 

The Washington ecosystem of political journalism rewards both a comfort down among the weeds and the dramatization of the blow-by-blow, the hour-by-hour of what are actually pretty standard negotiations. On the print side, the deadlines are relentless and the tiniest scooplet is perfect fodder for the ravenous maw of the content machine. (Twitter also doesn’t help.) It’s hard to look up from the grind and see anything much further than tomorrow or the closest election, let alone the cosmic ramifications of the thing you’re writing about. And at many more traditional outlets, the old notions of objectivity hold sway—nothing is good or bad, it just is, so if there’s a back-and-forth, that’s what you show. The context and analysis are reserved for a different set of journalists in the newsroom. 

And I find myself often being critical of the same tendencies in the entertainment press. There are a lot of "think" pieces that are really not much more than trying to spin a story out of nothing. How many breathless "Is Netflix considering advertising?" pieces have you seen over the past few months? Or pieces that argue one round of weekend box office numbers means that "movie theaters are back!" Too often there isn't a lot of context or the context is just ignored, because it gets in the way of a good headline. As someone who writes about the stuff regularly, I have begun to rely on the opinions of a select few reporters and analysts, because most of the other people are just writing for the audience response.

 Here are five successful rock bands from the 1970s that you're probably forgotten.

Technical problems continue to plague the UK's Channel 4, which meant some fans missed parts of this week's episode of the Great British Bake-Off.

* HBO Max unveils its European roll-out dates across Europe.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, October 1st, 2021

01 October, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, October 1st, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ has sheep kicking me in the head, asking me to count them and go to sleep.

* Thanks to a steady stream of new subscribers this week, I've just crossed the 18,000 subscriber mark. It also looks like I'll set a number traffic high on AllYourScreens for September and those aren't Oxy Media numbers. I really appreciate the support and the feedback.

* I spoke earlier this week with Crackle programming head Jeff Maier and we discussed Crackle's overall programming approach. But we also spoke of a lot about Crackle's extensive collection of obscure TV shows and how he curates the choices. The entire interview will post on AllYourScreens Friday evening and I'll include a link to it (along with the other stories from the weekend) in Monday morning's newsletter.

* I also have an interview posting on Saturday with Graham McKenna and Lyndon Campbell of Marketcast. That company is rolling out a new way for advertisers and sports franchises to quantify the business impact of sports sponsorships. It sounds a bit wonky at first glance, but it turned out to be a super informative discussion and it provides a pretty good answer to the question "Does paying to put your logo on a team jersey really have any impact?"

* And as I mentioned earlier in the week, there is medical stuff going on with a family member on Monday. My plan right now is to still do newsletters early Monday and Tuesday. But that might change at the last minute.

After 70 years of broadcast television history, we are conditioned to expect to see specific ratings numbers for the various TV shows. It's a metric that is easy to understand and a quick way to assign relative success or failure. But the streaming world has never been big on transparency and even with the growth of some outside data mining of viewer's numbers, it's never clear how many viewers are watching a show and when.

An entire cottage industry has sprung up to try and parse viewer numbers from the outside by combining multiple tracking services along with some generally vague self-reported numbers from the streamers. And as much as I would like to have broadcast-level "ratings" numbers, there are so many other pieces of data that matter more. 

Take Netflix, for instance. The argument that they should release more specific viewing numbers would make more sense if viewing numbers had a direct correlation to a show's worth to Netflix. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Yes, Netflix wants people to watch and viewer numbers are one indication of a show's popularity. But I've had several background discussions with Netflix executives in recent months about this very point and they argue that other metrics have a stronger impact on determining a piece of content's value to Netflix.

At the end of the day, success for Netflix is a balancing act between growing (and retaining) subscriber numbers and content costs. Netflix doesn't sell ads, so that subscriber number is the most important metric in the company. And with more than 15 years worth of internal data to parse, Netflix has become very good at weighing the factors that give any specific piece of content value. Yes, they want subscribers to watch, but the act of watching a show doesn't have any inherent value to Netflix. What matters are the harder-to-define metrics. Does having the show on Netflix make the service more attractive to viewers? Does it provide buzz, whether or not people end up watching? Does the show help retain subscribers and does the behavior of viewers of that specific show lead to an increase in subscriber satisfaction? How many subscribers actually watch a complete series after sampling the first episode? Are there some viewing choices that people who drop their subscription have in common?

These additional factors have some impact on the survival of a linear TV show. But ultimately that success is primarily about ratings. And those viewing numbers are probably #5 or #6 on a list of factors that Netflix uses to determine a show's worth.

And while Netflix (and its other streaming competitors) aren't likely to provide answers to any of those questions, focusing on trying to determine what titles get the most raw viewers is a distraction from the numbers that matter. For instance, one of the things that I learned talking to Netflix executives is that the company has realized that the fans of certain shows will try and game the Top Ten lists by encouraging their fellow fans to leave the show streaming non-stop when they're not watching other programming. While I can't reveal any specifics (or the show that came up in this discussion), Netflix engineers can strip out the numbers from accounts that seem to be streaming a show an unnatural number of times in order to provide a more accurate number that can be used for internal planning.

If you are interested in specific viewing numbers, that's fine and on one level I don't blame you. But from my perspective, focusing too intently on the most-watched content can allow you to miss some of the big picture. For instance, I have been arguing since the beginning of this newsletter that Netflix's push into global programming was a big deal - perhaps the most important thing the streaming company will do over the next few years. And I inevitably would get pushback from skeptics noting "Well, maybe. But very few people in the U.S. are watching those international shows." Until they were. And if you focused too much on the moment and the immediate ratings, you missed the trend. 

I am spending a fair amount of time recently speaking with executives at some of the new streamers coming into the market. (Check out these interviews with executives from Topic and Struum). I recently spoke with Curia Chief Content Office Garrett Weaver and Jarod Neece, Film Acquisitions & Marketing at Curia, about the service, their programming philosophy and what distinguishes Curia from the other smaller streaming services already  in the marketplace:

So how much of this is driven by what you would like to curate and how much of is driven by "well, this is what we can get." Not just specific films, but does the availability impact the categories and types of things you're aggregating?

Garrett Weaver: There is a lot of content out there. There are a lot of films out there that are available that are just either on other platforms or that are new to any platforms. It's really an embarrassment of riches that we have at our disposal - all based on the partners that we have. Sure, there will be a case where you think "Oh, I wish we that one in this collection or that one." But I don't think that lacking one or two movies that would be amazing to add to a collection matters all that much. 

We're just putting everything in boxes for people so that it is just a little bit more accessible. You know, anyone can go through Netflix or Amazon and find the good films. But we've been to all of the festivals and seen the films and know how they performed. And we know, "oh, this a great film that just slipped through the cracks." So that's where we come in. Finding all of those gems. putting them into collections. And with a point of view that isn't something assembled by an algorithm. We're just film lovers and we are just doing what we have been doing all of our lives. Garrett and I have been recommending films to friends and family all of our lives. And now we just have a little bigger platform. 

We love these films and we just love having people find films. Find things that they've never seen. We have a collection coming up next month called "Beginner's Luck," and it's the first film from great directors. But these were before they were great. So you get to see Paul Thomas Anderson before Boogie Nights. Hard Eight is an amazing movie, but not many people have seen it. It's cool to be able to put these films in front of people in a way that they can understand. To give them some context. Where someone can say "Oh, I know about Paul Thomas Anderson, I wonder what this film looks like?" And after people experience that a few times, they begin to trust your suggestions and the collections.

You can check out the entire interview here after noon CT on Friday.

Kino Lorber has launched a new free, ad-supported streaming service call "Kino Cult." It offers "hundreds of hours of curated genre favorites," including cult and horror films. In a statement announcing the launch, Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber said: 

Kino Cult will stream the darkest thrills of visionary midnight cinema to fans at home. With our vast library built over 40 years and key partner labels in many genre specialties, we have enormous potential to hyper serve genre audiences, the most passionate of all film lovers, with a selection of both new and rare films that they can't find anywhere else, in incandescent HD. You no longer need to live in a big city with a great repertory theater to have access to the kind of curated cult gems we're able to offer now for free!

And here is a rundown of some of the titles, courtesy of Kino Cult:

Among the recent cult treasures, Kino Cult is excited to offer theatrical hits like director Ana Lily Amirpour's visionary black-and-white vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night; Academy Award®-nominated Dogtooth, a bizarre and absurdist comedy directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite); Lynchian occult nightmare Welcome To The Circle; South Korean neo-noir crime thriller Beasts Clawing at Straws; Guy Maddin's phantasmagoric ode to lost cinema The Forbidden Room; the heartfelt and oddball comedy Chained for Life starring Jess Weixler (Teeth) and Adam Pearson (Under the Skin); and weird and stunning Western Let The Corpses Tan, all available to stream free without a subscription for the first time.Those looking to add some European flavor to their horror this Halloween season can dive into the films of macabre master Mario Bava, like A Bay of Blood, Black Sabbath and Black Sunday; the vampire films of Jean Rollin; as well as the strange obsessions of filmmaker Jess Franco in films like Daughter of Dracula, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (previously unavailable!), Female Vampire, and more. Examples of curated categories include Golden Age of Exploitation, '60s espionage films in Crime & Suspense, '70s and '80s Flashback, witchcraft and devil worship in Occult. Nearly all of these titles are streaming for the first time free without a subscription, with some making their streaming debuts on Kino Cult.

Kino Cult is is available across web, mobile devices, and connected TVs, with VOD apps on all major devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google TV, iOS, Android, and more.

I mentioned in yesterday's newsletter that at some point Hulu Live TV added a "Hotstar" section to its "Hub" vertical. It looks to be primarily Hotstar Originals from the streaming service of the same name. Hotstar is an Indian subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service owned by Disney that reported having nearly 44 million subscribers in July. 

While I wasn't able to get a response from Hulu about the content, a helpful publicist at Hotstar told me that the section was "a test" of the content's popularity with U.S. audiences. 

 I wrote a review of the Demo Lovato UFO series.

I can almost guarantee that this is the craziest Hollywood story you'll read this year.

* Netflix orders second season of Ridley Jones and Ada Twist, Scientist as well as four new preschool shows.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, September 30th, 2021

30 September, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, September 30th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is drinking sleepy tea and...oh no, I've been drinking *not* sleepy tea by mistake.

When CBS decided not to pick up the legal drama All Rise for a third season earlier this year, part of the decision was the result of continued worries about the stability of the production side of the show. All Rise was generally well-liked by TV critics and the ratings were solid (although not spectacular). But the show had also been embroiled in a series of confrontations centering around then-showrunner Greg Spottiswood, Last October, five of All Rise‘s original seven writers — including the show’s three highest-ranking writers of color — announced they would not be returning for Season 2 after clashing with Spottiswood (who is white) over the series’ depiction of race and gender.

Those complaints led to an investigation by Warner Brothers Television that led to Spottiswood being fired in late March of this year:

"Warner Bros. Television has relieved All Rise executive producer Greg Spottiswood of his duties, effective immediately," the studio said in a statement. "Executive producer Dee Harris-Lawrence will continue to serve as showrunner of the series, working closely with fellow executive producers Michael M. Robin and Len Goldstein. We remain committed, at all times, to providing a safe and inclusive working environment on our productions and for all employees."

And my sense from talking to people at the network over the spring was that while lots of people liked the show, there was a fear that the chemistry of the show was broken in a way that couldn't be fixed. And that seems to have been a primary reason why CBS didn't pick up the show, despite Harris-Lawrence's successful running of the show through the later episodes of season two.

But Warner Brothers Television had continued to shop the show and announced late Wednesday that it had brokered a multi-window deal that will bring the show back for a third season. Discovery/Oprah Winfrey-owned cable net OWN has ordered a 20-episode third season of All Rise and will also air episodes of the first two seasons of the show leading up to the premiere of the new episodes. HBO Max and Hulu have acquired the subscription streaming rights to all episodes of the series via a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The first two seasons of the show will be available on both streamers beginning on December 1st.

It's not clear why HBO Max didn't also pick up the new season of All Rise, although my guess is that the various concerned parties felt the female-centric OWN was a better for the new episodes.

When I read that Duane "Dog The Bounty Hunter" Chapman was giving interviews claiming that he was on the hunt for Brian Laundrie — the person of interest after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was found dead in Wyoming, my first cynical thought was "Oh man, I bet he's working on a new TV show." And it turns out I was right, with Variety reporting that he has teamed up with the production company behind shows such Marriage Boot Camp on a new reality series.

I believe in second chances, but if Chapman has proved anything over the years, is that he really doesn't deserve to get another shot at TV stardom. He has repeatedly exhibited behavior that is fairly reprehensible:

Chapman has faced plenty of his own controversy; in 2007, production paused on the A&E series after Chapman’s use of racist slurs became public; he later apologized. But more recently, after the Unleashed project was canceled in March, the company told E! News that an independent firm’s investigation into Chapman’s conduct found that he “used racial and homophobic epithets to attack young African-American kids who star with his daughter in UTV’s The System, a show that profiles police misconduct and follows protests against white supremacy in policing.”

There are a number of discounts and special deals in the streaming TV world right now, particularly if you spend any time on Facebook. Here are just two of the ads I spotted when I was on the social media service earlier today:

My hunch is that in both these cases, this is less about dropping the price to increase subscriber numbers and more about locking new subscribers up for a longer period to help slow down churn.

At some point Hulu Live TV added a "Hotstar" section to its "Hub" vertical. It looks to be primarily Hotstar Originals from the streaming service of the same name. Hotstar is an Indian subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service owned by Disney that reported having nearly 44 million subscribers in July. 

 Linda Martindale has a great recap of Wednesday's season finale of Big Brother

* Mandalorian spin-off ThBook Of Boba Fett to premiere on Disney+ in December.

* Epix to premiere two-part docu-series about the history of A&M Records.

* Amazon launches IMDb TV in the UK.


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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

29 September, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, September 29th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is still trying to get his son to go to sleep.

Speaking of family, it wasn't your imagination, there wasn't a newsletter on Tuesday. There are some family health concerns going on here at AYS HQ this week. Not serious, but I am working around a lot of things. So the newsletter might be coming at erratic times the next few days.

NBC is bringing back its veteran series Law & Order next season and although no real details have been announced, it seems like a predictable yet very smart reboot. The series is extremely well-known and it would allow NBC the chance to build a second three-hour Dick Wolf block if it teams the returning show with the two Law & Order dramas already on the network.

I suspect the new version of the show will rely heavily on a new, younger cast. But I'd love to see Angie Harmon return to the series. She played A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael from 1998-2001.

I'm not sure that anyone outside of Netflix has a clear idea of how the company plans to integrate gaming into the service (other than it will likely be mobile-oriented). But the company made a big move on Tuesday, announcing that it was acquiring Night School Studio, publisher of the popular indie games OxenfreeAfterparty and Next Stop Nowhere, among others. Terms of the deal weren't announced:

Krankel, in a blog post, said the company was attracted to Netflix due to its respect for the publisher’s “narrative and design aspirations across distinctive, original games from the heart.”

“Netflix gives film, TV, and now game makers an unprecedented canvas to create and deliver excellent entertainment to millions of people,” Krankel wrote. “Our explorations in narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting diverse storytellers was such a natural pairing. It felt like both teams came to this conclusion instinctively.”

Mike Verdu, VP of game development at Netflix, has been tasked with creating games around the streamer’s original IP. He said the acquisition of Night School Studio is just the beginning.

“We’ll continue working with developers around the world and hiring the best talent in the industry to deliver a great collection of exclusive games designed for every kind of gamer and any level of play,” Verdu wrote in a post. “Like our shows and films, these games will all be included as part of your Netflix membership — all with no ads and no in-app purchases. Stay tuned for more.”

There are dozens of smaller streamers already in the marketplace and you might think that there just isn't room for any more. But new streamers continue to launch and many of the ones that are launching now are approaching the clutter of services by creating unusual business models and ways of accessing content.

One relatively new streamer is called Struum and it approaches streaming with an ala-carte approach. Subscribers pay a $4.99 monthly fee and they receive 100 tokens that they can use to "rent" individual titles for 30 days. Each title generally costs 3 or 4 tokens, which translates to 25-25 titles per month,

Struum was founded by a group of veteran entertainment industry executives and I just posted an interview I did with Struum CEO Lauren DeVillier. She was former Head of Product for Discovery Ventures and head of Digital for Disney Channels and she has and interesting perspective on what she believes consumers are looking for in a smaller streamer:

Because I think we've all had the experience of being interested in a show. You sign up for the free trial. You mark your calendar and you think "Okay, I'm going to finish this thing in a month because this is what I want to watch." But you can forget. This happened in my household. I downloaded CBS All-Access because my daughter wanted to watch "The Big Bang Theory" and she binged it. And then we forgot about it and I realize seven months later that I'm still paying for it. So now you've paid $75 for one season.

What we're seeing is that we are allowing consumers to come in and skim across the top of a lot of these services and then to dive into things of interest to them. And then we will recommend other content for them to explore and discover.

So for us, the value is not that the price point is inexpensive. It's the idea that you have access to content from 30 or 50 different services and that you can sample things that interest you.

On Thursday, I have a interview coming with two executives from the new streamer Curia, which creates curated lists of themed movies and specials. The approach to programming is similar to what you might experience at a ver good independent film festival and they also have a very unique streaming business model.

On Friday, I'll have an interview with Crackle Head of Programming Jeff Maier, who talks about that AVOD and specifically about why Crackle has decided to target classic TV fans.

And btw, if you are working at a streamer or other company that has an interesting story, I'd love to interview you. You can reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whip Media owns the TV Time app, which has 18 million global users. It tracks which shows its users are watching and has begun to release its own Top Ten viewing list for the week. Here is the data for the week of September 20th-26th:

If you wonder just what Whip Media does, you would be hard-pressed to figure it out based on this jargon-heavy description provided by the company:

Whip Media is transforming the global content licensing ecosystem with a market leading enterprise software platform that centrally connects data, processes and teams throughout the digital distribution journey. Powered by predictive insights and proprietary data, we enable the world’s top entertainment organizations to efficiently distribute, control and monetize their TV and movie content to drive revenue and direct-to-consumer growth.

There are literally hundreds of new linear and streaming TV shows, specials and movies coming in the next few months and it can be nearly impossible to keep track of them all. While most entertainment news web sites have some sort of "TV Premiere" list, but I will say with modesty that the list I've put together is the most complete TV premiere available anywhere. It covers more than 100 networks and streamers of all sizes and while it can be intimidating to wade through, it can help you keep track of everything that is worth watching (and some that isn't worth your time). Check out the AllYourScreens.com Premiere list here.

 A big carriage fight is brewing in New York, the country's No. 1 TV market. MSG Networks says: 'Comcast/Xfinity intends to drop MSG Networks from their New Jersey + Connecticut customers, robbing NY Knicks, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, NJ Devils + MLS’s New York Red Bulls fans of hundreds of games." No word yet from Comcast.

Netflix says it partnered with Deloitte to measure its economic impact. Deloitte’s study found that the company had contributed nearly $5 billion to South Korea’s economy and helped create more than 16,000 full-time jobs.


If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

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