Displaying items by tag: Too Much TV

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, September 27th 2022

27 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, September 27th, 2022.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT PEACOCK?
I've been doing a bunch of interviews this week for some pieces I'm working on and I've been struck by how often Peacock has come up in the course of the conversations. Anytime the streaming media business comes up, the person I'm interviewing will ask me if I know what's going on with Peacock. The conventional wisdom seems to be that it's struggling more than any of the other major mass market streamers and both its subscriber numbers and what we can tell about its viewership seems to bear that feeling out.

I had someone ask me what I would do if I was running Peacock & that question stumped me a bit. My answer would be coming in a couple of days as I work through things, but it's clear there are a few interconnected issues. Comcast is spending money on content for Peacock, but a lot of it has been going towards sports rights. Which will bring in hit-and-run viewers, but I have serious doubts that it's enough of a bump to be a longtime answer. Peacock is spending a modest amount on original scripted and unscripted programming - at least when compared to its competitors - but the impact on subscriber growth seems to be moderate at best. Peacock has had some engaging original shows and some of them have what might be referred to as niche hits. But the streamer hasn't found a breakout show that will leave potential subscribers with the feeling that they need to sign on and watch the show.

There are some changes coming in the pipeline. There are new original scripted shows coming over the next three months and Comcast-owned Universal continues to send new movies to Peacock in a compressed theatrical release window. But I don't think that's enough and as I sit here, I can't think of any magic wand I could wave that would make things markedly better in the short-to-mid term. 

What would you do if you were in charge of turning around Peacock? Reply directly to this newsletter or add a comment below. I'll include some of the comments in my upcoming piece and I am hoping you'll have some surprising thoughts about this.

SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW
I interview a lot of people in the course of a month. But some of my favorite interviews are when I get the opportunity to speak with some talented person who isn't yet a household name. Highlighting people you should know is a joy of mine and I recently had the opportunity to speak with writer/actress/producer/comedian Jeannette Bonner and she was a delight to speak with. She recently made an appearance on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, but she's also done a series about ice cream and also does a long-running podcast about being single. It was a fascinating interview and you can read the entire thing here (there is also a video version of the interview at the bottom of the page):

And what was funny is that I booked the role and I was in the makeup trailer with the actress who plays Noa Olivar (Maia Reficco). And she asked me when I was coming back because she said they were all trying to figure out what happened in the story. It turned out they were keeping things so under wraps that they didn't know who did it. And I said, "I hate to tell you, I'm only booked for this episode, so it's not me." 

I don't know if they developed this as they were filming or they knew where it was going but kept it so under wraps. But I did not know that I was going to have a scene with my daughter Angela, with speaking lines, further down the line. So it was a gift. My manager said they want me back and it's a really juicy scene. But it was all booked off of a really weird, non-speaking role.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD
The Ankler's Richard Rushfield has a piece that is just out which runs through a number of pressing issues facing Hollywood. I agree with a lot of his points, but I did want to highlight this part of his take, which focuses on a possible writer's strike next year:

It's hard to see at this point what the specific points are that would become the rallying cries for IATSE or the WGA. The ground hasn't been laid on any one issue, as it was on residual money in the past, for instance. But there's a general sense all around that the way things are going for the working folk of Hollywood just can't go on. If strike talk rallies not around one specific point but a general sense that the whole arrangement has fallen apart, that any sense of trust or transparency has fully disintegrated, that gets pretty hard to negotiate our way out of.

I find this a bit perplexing, because if you spend any time talking with writers, it quickly becomes clear what they are hoping to change. They are incredibly unhappy with the current streaming business model that buys out everyone's residuals for a flat fee. Meaning that unlike linear television, being part of a hit series won't continue to bring in any additional income. There is also a lot of unhappiness with short seasons that have led to so-called "mini writing rooms," which are lightly staffed. And because the workflow of a streaming series is different than on  - for instance - a broadcast network procedural, writers don't have the opportunity to be on set when their episode shoots or learn the other parts of the business that would allow them to eventually become an experienced showrunner.

A connected part of their unhappiness is also the tendency of some studios (Marvel's Disney+ productions) to eliminate the writing showrunner role entirely and shift to a more theatrical approach, where the director also serves as the creative decisionmaker and default showrunner on the show. You can also add unhappiness with staff pay, which is finding staffers working extra long hours for less money than they would make at Walmart. 

And let's not forget the ways in which streamers get around current pay guidelines for animated shows (which mandate an increase in season two), by ordering a full season, then splitting into two or more seasons to save money.

To be clear, I think these are all valid points and in a better world, they would be addressed in a way that would be fair to everyone. But especially on the streaming side, the big media companies seem unlikely to agree to any wholesale changes in their business. And with writers seemingly prepared to go to war to change what they see as core challenges to their way of life.

I have no idea how this will all shake out. But with Hollywood's business model already under immense pressure, a prolonged strike could be an extinction level event for many people in the industry.

WHIP MEDIA MOST WATCHED STREAMING ORIGINALS
Here is Whip Media's rundown of the most-watched streaming originals series last week. The company notes that the weekly ranker features TV shows that are SVOD exclusives. As a result, "House of the Dragon" does not qualify for this report. However, looking at how all shows, both on streaming and on linear TV, stacked up last week, "Dragon" would rank second overall.



PHILO'S WEEKLY STREAMING ROUND-UP
Here is a rundown of the most popular titles on the entertainment-centric vMVPD for the week ending Sunday, September 25th:

Top Ten TV Shows
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta (VH1)
Love & Hip Hop: Miami (VH1)
Love After Lockup (WEtv)
The First 48 (A&E)
Martin (BET)
Married at First Sight (Lifetime)
Black Ink Crew: Chicago (VH1)
90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? (TLC)
My True Crime Story (VH1)
Waka & Tammy (WEtv)

Top Five Movies
Acrimony (BET)
Fly Away With Me (Hallmark Channel)
Home Alone (VH1)
Wedding of a Lifetime (Hallmark Channel)
The Secrets of Bella Vista (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

ODDS AND SODS
* A new survey found that nearly half of all current Netflix subscribers would consider shifting to an ad-supported model once it becomes available.

Netflix has unveiled its latest cast additions for the highly anticipated Avatar: The Last Airbender live series. New cast members include Amber Midthunder (Prey, Roswell) as Princess Yue, A Martinez (Cowboy Bebop) as Pakku, Irene Bedard (The Stand) as Yagoda, Joel Oulette as Hahn, Arden Cho (Partner Track) as June, Utkarsh Ambudkar as King Bumi, Danny Pudi as The Mechanist and George Takei as the voice of Koh, an ancient predatory spirit.

* The family sports comedy Fantasy Football will exclusively premiere on Paramount+ November 25th in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, and next year in additional international territories where Paramount+ is available.

WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY:

Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Adnan Sayed: Overturned (Investigation Discovery)
American Greed Season Premiere (CNBC)
Bachelor In Paradise
 Season Premiere (ABC)
Bobby's Triple Threat Series Premiere (Food)
11 Minutes (Paramount+)
La Brea Season Two Premiere (NBC)
Murder In The Valleys (Sundance Now)
Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy (Netflix)
Outchef'd Series Premiere (Food)
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Season Premiere (HBO)
Reasonable Doubt Series Premiere (Hulu)
The Munsters (Netflix)
The Rookie: Feds Series Premiere (ABC)
30 for 30: Deerfoot Of The Diamond (ESPN)
Yankees-Dodgers: An Uncivil War (ESPN)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU WEDNESDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, September 26th 2022

26 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, September 26th, 2022.

Today's newsletter is a bit shorter than normal. I'm feeling a bit under the weather, but with any luck, I'll be back at full strength tomorrow.

I AM A BIT PERPLEXED BY TUDUM
As you likely know (especially if you were unfortunate enough to be signed up for breaking news emails at one of the trades), Netflix held its Tudum event over the weekend. It's a virtual fan event, which this year spanned four events in different places across the globe. There are interviews with fan favorites, lots of new trailers and release dates and it is essentially one big, slick infomercial for Netflix.

The event is livestreamed on YouTube. but I will admit that I am surprised Netflix didn't also stream the event inside the app. When I mentioned this online, I received a few possible answers, but none that seemed any more likely than the others.

One reason might be that Netflix wants to lean into its social media engagement and that is certainly a smart idea. But I don't think there's a lot of overlap between subscribers who will watch the live stream on YouTube and those who would watch it inside the app. In fact, having it livestreamed inside the app would likely lead to increased engagement with the app. Which is almost always a positive for subscriber retention.

Several people suggested that it could be that Netflix lacks the infrastructure to live stream something inside the current app. I was under the impression that Netflix had built out that technology, in part because at one point it was considering making a bid for rights to Indian cricket. But when I checked with a few of my sources at Netflix today, the only confirmation I could get on background was along the lines of "well, I've heard we can do it." Which is vague enough to be useless for my purposes.

If Netflix doesn't haven't had the capability to live stream at this point, it should be considered technology malpractice. But if it can do it, then why not test it with a lower-risk event such as Tudum?

While Netflix didn't livestream it inside the app, the streamer did add archived and edited versions of the livestream inside the app. Although after checking my profile and those of my family, I didn't see the streams mentioned anywhere. So while the four events are available for streaming (unlike last year's event), the only way you would know it was available seems to be that you have to actively look for it.

IT MIGHT SUPRISE SOME PEOPLE THAT ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA INDUSTRY REPORTING IS ALSO JOURNALISM
I was looking over the winners list for 2022 Online Journalism Awards and it is an impressive list of reporters and news organizations. But I couldn't help noticing that while there are a wide range of categories of journalism - ranging from breaking news and science reporting to newsletters and sports - there isn't one for entertainment or media reporting. They don't even award one on the default "culture" category, which sometimes gets used when contests don't want to seem too crass and lowbrow.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of what passes for entertainment industry journalism is pretty vapid and disposable. But there are also some really excellent journalists working in this niche of journalism and I wish the Online News Organization (which runs the awards) would create a category to recognize their work.

ONE POSSIBLE VERSION OF THE TOP 100 TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME
TV Guide used to regularly trot out out some list like this every time they needed to goose up interest in their publication. And while I don't think Rolling Stone is quite in that dire of a situation in 2022, it's list of "100 Greatest TV Shows Of All-Time" is as flawed as any of these lists tend to be. The list relies too much on shows produced since the 1990s, it's extremely U.S.-centric and you could make a list of 100 shows left off this list that should have also been included. I loathe these lists, along with their evil holiday spin-offs, the "Top Ten TV Shows Of The Year." 

It's one thing to list 100 worthwhile TV shows. But ranking them 1-100 is just high-level trolling.

DEEP FAKE ELVIS AND DEEP FAKE BOB ROSS MAY BE COMING TO AN AD-SUPPORTED CHANNEL NEAR YOU
This Indiewire interview with Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk has a lot of interesting stuff in it, including this pretty frightening take on an idea he's been pursuing for several of the company's AVOD channels:

McGurk also has a big idea to plant a flag in the originals game. “On our Bob Ross Channel and on our Elvis Channel, we’re considering deepfake Bob Ross and deepfake Elvis,” he said. “Bob Ross died in 1992; we have his library. It’s an enormously successful channel. It’s probably our most successful channel. Imagine if we could have Deepfake Bob Ross with A.I. creating new painting and new episodes. A.I. dubbed into 10 different languages overseas.”

McGurk said he is in preliminary talks with representatives for the Presley and Ross brands. No one’s talking about new Elvis movies at this point, but the deepfake technology could be used to create digital presenters and channel interstitials.

It’d be “cheap” to pull off, McGurk said, and “there’s a good chance” that Authentic Brands, the brand-management company that controls Elvis’ copyright, will agree. “There are so many deepfake Elvises out there, why not control their own?”

I can think of a bunch of reasons why he shouldn't do it. But I have this sinking suspicion that this idea is on its way.

TWEET (S) OF THE DAY



ODDS AND SODS
The truth about The Great British Bake-Off, written by someone who appeared on an early season.

*  
CNN just called Minneapolis the "Mini Apple." In 2022.

* Hannah Gadsby has signed to do a third comedy special for Netflix, along with 

WHAT'S NEW FOR MONDAY:

Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

A Trip To Infinity (Netflix)
Chefs Vs. Wild Series Premiere 
(Hulu)
Halloween Cookie Challenge 
(Food)
My Little Pony: Make Your Mark (Netflix)
Panhandle Series Premiere (Spectrum)
POV: Delikado
 (PBS)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU TUESDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, September 23rd, 2022

23 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, September 23rd, 2022.

CONSTANCE WU SAYS SHE WAS SEXUALLY HARRASSED BY 'FRESH OFF BOAT' SENIOR PRODUCER
Actress Constance Wu has a new book coming out, and in Making A Scene, she tells the story of her life in the form of 18 different essays. In one, she describes a prolonged period of sexual harassment she endured while a cast member of the ABC comedy Fresh Off The Boat:

In her book, Ms. Wu alleges that during her first year on “Fresh Off the Boat,” she was sexually harassed by a senior member of the production team. Naming him only by an initial, she writes that he controlled her, demanding that she run all her business matters past him and telling her what to wear.

Ms. Wu put up with it. In the beginning, she tried to see him as her friend and protector. But she was also afraid of the consequences if she didn’t.

One evening, she writes, after she and the man attended a sporting event, he placed his hand on her thigh, his hand ultimately grazing her crotch. She found a way to politely stop him from touching her again, and the two seemingly brushed off the incident as if it had never happened. This was in 2015, she reminds the reader, before #MeToo.

By the time season two arrived, Ms. Wu began to feel more secure on the job. The show had garnered her fame and accolades. She felt empowered to say no to his demands. In the book, she recalls that after an explosive argument over whether or not she would attend a film festival with him, their relationship soured. Soon, they were no longer on speaking terms.

But the book is much more than those allegations and I am looking forward to reading it. Based on the New York Times piece, it seems to be very honest and self-aware. And I have always been a fan of her work.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING NEW TO STREAM THIS WEEKEND
Netflix has an abundance of really solid original films that premiered today, spread across a number of genres. Since this is Netflix, I didn't get screeners for some of them (i.e., the ones produced outside the U.S.), but having made my way through all four films, there isn't a dud amongest them. It really gets down to your tastes and what subject matter you're willing to absorb at this point in the work week:

A Jazzman's Blues
"Tyler Perry's sweeping tale of forbidden love unspools 40 years of secrets and lies soundtracked by juke joint blues in the Deep South."

After watching it, I'm not sure I can say I loved the film. But I was glad I watched it and it does offer a very specific type of story that is underrepresented in Hollywood.

Athena
"Hours after the tragic death of their youngest brother in unexplained circumstances, three siblings see their lives thrown into chaos."

This French-produced film has just an amazing opening that is so good, it's worth watching the film just to see it.

The Girls At The Back
"Five women in their 30s, friends since high school, gather for their annual getaway. But this year, one of them has just been diagnosed with cancer."

This Spanish-produced film has such a specific vibe and while there are moments that are staggeringly sad, there is also a friendship and longing that cuts across cultural lines.

Lou
"Thinking she’d put her dangerous past behind her, Lou (Allison Janney) finds her quiet life interrupted when a desperate mother (Jurnee Smollett) begs her to save her kidnapped daughter. As a massive storm rages, the two women risk their lives on a rescue mission that will test their limits and expose dark and shocking secrets from their pasts."

I never thought I'd write that Allison Janney makes a great late-career action star. But seeing her in this film makes me wish they could find an action project to team her up with Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

MLB'S GREED WITH APPLE TV+ DEAL NOW BITING THEM IN THE....BUTT
The New York Yankees are hosting the Boston Red Sox for a four-game series, but this edition of the teams’ fierce rivalry has different stakes than usual. Rather than win-loss records or the playoff race, the main focus this time will be whether Yankees slugger Aaron Judge sets an American League record for home runs. And, to the consternation of media watchers and many Yankee fans, tonight’s series opener will only be available on Apple TV+, not on the YES Network or anywhere else on the linear TV dial:

Apple and Major League Baseball in March announced a multi-year deal for Friday Night Baseball, with the tech giant paying a reported $85 million per season for exclusive rights to stream the weekly showcase. Unlike the norm for Prime Video, Peacock, ESPN+ or other sports streamers, Apple isn’t requiring viewers to pay to see the games, as they would to watch Ted Lasso or its other original programming. But the free pass isn’t stopping Yankee fans from flooding local sports-talk radio and social media with their gripes about not being able to watch history on traditional TV.

While regional sports networks are under stress, ratings on YES have surged during this rousing season for Judge and the division-leading Yankees. The formerly Fox-run network — which now is controlled by the team along with Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Group and private equity investors — held talks with Apple about a potential swap that would allow it to air tonight’s game. One scenario even had them sending lead play-by-play announcer Michael Kay in to the Apple booth to deliver his signature “See ya!” call in the event of Home Run No. 61 or 62. Because of its commitment to growing a presence in live sports, and sensing the opportunity to use Judge as a lure for new viewers, Apple was not willing to budge.

YES does have rights to Saturday’s game, which could see the record set, though ESPN will have exclusive rights to Sunday’s series finale. If the chase lingers into the weekend, rival networks will be contractually allowed to do live look-ins to show Judge’s at-bats as they happen, but the Apple deal precludes such a move tonight, barring any last-minute arrangements.

TWEET (S) OF THE DAY




ODDS AND SODS
* As The Waltons turns 50, The Federalist TV critic Josh Shepard takes a look at the 10 Must-See episodes to watch with your family.

*  The Jetsons,
now 60 years old, is iconic. That's a problem.

* FX’s Fleishman Is In Trouble, based on Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s critically acclaimed, best-selling novel, will premiere Thursday, November 17th exclusively on Hulu. 

WHAT'S NEW FOR FRIDAY:

Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

A Jazzman's Blues (Netflix)
Athena (Netflix)
Haunted Scotland (Discovery+)
Jamtara - Sabka Number Ayega (Netflix)
Lou (Netflix)
Mija (Disney+)
Minions: The Rise Of Gru (Peacock)
On The Come Up (Paramount+)
Pokémon: The Arceus Chronicles (Netflix)
Section 8 (AMC+)
September Mornings (Prime Video)
Shark Tank Season Premiere (ABC)
Sidney (Apple TV+)
The Girls At The Back (Netflix)
20/20 Season Premiere (ABC)
What Happened To My Sister? (LMN)
Who's Talking To Chris Wallace? Series Premiere (HBO Max)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU MONDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

22 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, September 22nd, 2022.

THE TRANSITION FROM BROADCAST TO STREAMING
Joe Adalian takes a look at three shows that recently moved from linear television to streaming in the latest edition of his Buffering newsletter for Vulture, and the piece does a nice job of sifting through the available ratings data. Of the three shows he highlights: Amazon's Thursday Night Football, Disney+'s Dancing With The Stars and Peacock's Days Of Our Lives - Amazon seems to be finding the most success so far:

Let’s start with what the title we will likely end up knowing the most about from a data point of view: Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football. The Amazon-owned platform actually worked out a deal with Nielsen to release an actual ratings figure for its weekly telecasts, and after a nearly weeklong wait, we finally got data this morning. Per the ratings giant, the Chargers-Chiefs showdown attracted a massive average audience of 13 million total viewers and a peak viewership of 14.6 million during the last 15 minutes of the 10 p.m. hour. That’s better than the 8.8 million viewers who watched TNF on the NFL Network the same week last year, and in the ballpark of the franchise’s multiplatform ratings average last season (16.4 million viewers on Fox, Prime Video, and NFL Network).

Joe mentions his unscientific observation that Dancing With The Stars seems to have had quite a social media buzz this week and for what it's worth, I've noticed the same trend. Despite what might be described as a lack of big star power, everything I've written about the show has received a lot of traffic. Including my piece in yesterday's newsletter which offered some suggestions about the show's presentation on Disney+. I've gotten so many comments about the piece that I'm expanding on it tonight and breaking it out into a separate article so it will be easier for people to share. I'll link to it in tomorrow's newsletter.

CHARLIE COLLIER EXITING FOX ENTERTAINMENT FOR ROKU
Variety is reporting that veteran TV executive Charlie Collier is exiting his post as CEO of Fox Entertainment to become president of Roku Media:

Collier will oversee advertising sales and content for Roku’s owned-and-operated channels featured on the streaming platform that hosts the fast-growing number of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels as well as serving as a key funnel for Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+ and other subscription streamers.

Collier’s appointment coincides with other senior-level changes at Roku. Two top executives, Mustafa Ozgen and Gidon Katz, have been upped to presidents as Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood vows to create a “next-generation media company.”

HULU, BRAVO AND CREATING ORIGINAL CONTENT
I try not to link too much to pieces behind paywalls - even if I subscribe. Because I don't like pointing to posts that many of my readers might not be able to access. And it's not fair to the publication to pull out all the main points of the piece.

But I will ignore that self-imposed edict on occasion and in that spirit, I wanted to highlight the new weekly column from Entertainment Strategy Guy for The Ankler. He takes a look at the state of Hulu's original lineup and offers up his estimate of how the loss of next-day programming from Bravo and other Comcast will impact Hulu in the coming months:

More importantly, Hulu is pretty dependent on these day-after-air series to drive engagement on its streamer. As much as it pushes its originals, the data shows that, compared to other streamers, Hulu’s value to customers comes from acquired titles.

Parrot Analytics “demand” data illustrates this well. (To calculate “demand,” Parrot collects a lot of user ratings like IMDb and Reddit conversation, and behavior data, like search and piracy, and synthesizes it.) It tracks both the demand of the entire streaming catalogue and the demand for originals. And you can see the gap for Hulu:

The entire piece is well worth reading and as always, ESG does a nice job putting context on a bunch of different data points. As an aside, he talks about Hulu picking up a number of A&E titles and if you want to see what's been added, I have the entire list of 120+ seasons here.

And I hesitate to bring this up, because every time I say something even remotely positive about Netflix, I have people accusing me of being in the tank for the streamer. But despite that, I will note that if you look at the chart above, it's clear that no matter what you think of the overall quality of Netflix's originals, they are driving much more interest than any other streamer's original slate. The biggest caveat is Apple TV+, which essentially doesn't have a catalog of licensed content to use as a comparison.

ADVENTURES IN STREAMING UX TWEAKS
Here are a couple of little recent adjustments I've noticed in the UX of a couple of streamers:

Entertainment-centric vMVPD Philo continues to make little changes in its UX. They've added the current time in the upper right-hand corner on some of the platforms.

The second change is much more interesting. When you go into the episode page of a show you've recorded, you now see two options: the version you've recorded (complete with ads you can't skip through) and a shorter on-demand version that has a couple of pre-roll ads added to it:



Since the page lists the running times of both versions, users likely will pick the shorter one (which is the on-demand version). My hunch is that those pre-roll ads on the on-demand version are sold by Philo and the change is a subtle way to change subscriber behavior and increase available ad inventory for Philo.

I also noticed a slight tweak on Discovery+ and it all comes down to convenience. Any time you can cut a step out of a process, the better it will work for subscribers and the more likely they are to complete the action. The streamer recently changed the way subscribers can add a show to their watch list. Previously, subscribers had to click the show tile and then add the show using a button on the next page. Now a button pops up offering the save option when a subscriber's cursor hovers over the show tile, which makes the action more intuitive and allows them to do it in one less step:



ODDS AND SODS
* The success of House of The Dragon has led to more viewership of HBO Max across the board. Three of its shows are now in the top 10 of all streamed shows: Game Of Thrones, House Of The Dragon and The Big Bang Theory.

* 'Riverdale'
actor Ryan Grantham has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his mother.

* Season two of the Max Original documentary series Wahl Street, which offers fans a glimpse into global star Mark Wahlberg’s life as he juggles the demands of a rigorous film schedule coupled with an ever-growing network of diverse businesses, debuts with ten episodes on HBO Max beginning on Thursday, October 6th.

WHAT'S NEW FOR THURSDAY:

Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Batali: The Fall of a Superstar Chef (Discovery)
Charmed And Cheated (LMN)
Karma's World (Netflix)
Law & Order
 Season Premiere (NBC)
Law & Order: Organized Crime Season Premiere (NBC)
Law & Order: SVU Season Premiere (NBC)
Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music And Laughter (ABC)
Power Of Women (Lifetime)
Raven's Hollow (Shudder)
Snabba Cash (Netflix)
Thai Cave Rescue (Netflix)
The Dreamlife of Georgie Stone (Netflix)
The Hype Season Premiere (HBO Max)
The Kardashians Season Two Premiere (Hulu)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU FRIDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

21 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, September 21st, 2022.

SO...I GUESS THIS IS THE START OF THE FALL PREMIERE SEASON?
I was interviewed yesterday afternoon about the new fall TV season and about twenty minutes into it, I was asked a question that somewhat stumped me: "If you could pick one must-watch new fall show, what would it be?"

It is a much tougher question than you might expect. As I ended up explaining to the host, I'm not sure that there is a "must-watch" new broadcast television series. Last tear brought the premieres of Abbott Elementary and Ghosts. But there aren't any potential breakout comedies this season and even the dramas feel either familiar of just middling. As I mentioned in my review of NBC's Quantum Leap, it's hard to know how that show will shake out creatively, because the network only sent the premiere episode out to critics. Likewise, the Hillary Swank ABC drama Alaska Daily shows some promise, but I've also only seen one episode of that series. The CBS cop drama East New York has some great actors, but what I've seen so far just feels like another CBS cop procedural. It's the same with the CBS procedural Fire Country, which so far feels more paint-by-numbers than can't miss. 

Fox's Monarch has already premiered, but it strikes me as the kind of show that would have been in the Top Ten list of 1998. And if that were the case, its lead-in would have probably been the NBC comedy Lopez Vs. Lopez. The premise of ABC's Gina Rodriguez comedy Not Dead Yet sounds promising, but I haven't seen anything yet but a short clip. 

All in, the four broadcast TV networks are premiering around a dozen shows over the next couple of months. And none of them has that "high concept" feel that brings along the buzz. It's all depressingly safe and it's in stark contrast to the various streaming services.

I understand all the challenges faced by the broadcast networks in 2022. An audience that continues to get smaller, budgets that continue to get tighter and viewers that tend to be older and more creatively conservative. Still, the lack of ambition saddens me. I grew up in a world where broadcast television was the only thing available. And now, it's just another take-it-or-leave it option.

SPEAKING OF A LACK OF AMBITION
There has been a lot to like so far about the move of Dancing With The Stars to Disney+. The production values have been solid, adding Alfonso Ribeiro was a smart move and I have seen few complaints over any issues with the live streaming presentation on the streamer.

I am disappointed that Disney+ has not taken more advantage of the space it has to build off added content around the show. If you go into the Dancing With The Stars tile on Disney+, the "extras" tab has one entry: a 54-second promo for the new season. There are no EPKs, no interviews, nothing at all to keep fans happy throughout the week. And weirdly, the recent Dancing With The Stars: The Pros' Most Memorable Dances special is listed under "suggested," along with programs that range from Hamilton to The Simpsons.|

I realize there's no money in the budget for creating a bunch of unique content just to stick into the "extras" section. But if anyone asked, here are a few quick and relatively inexpensive things I'd try as the season progressed.

* Pick a few songs that didn't make the cut for an upcoming week's show. Encourage fans to post video on social media dancing along to the tune and post some of the best of them in a compilation video.

* My son is obsessed with watching the official NFL, NBA, and NHL compressed highlight videos each of the leagues post about individual games. Four or five days after the weekly episode has aired, post a ten-minute highlight video which would serve as an entry point for viewers who happened to miss the previous week's episode.

* How about a a "dances only" version of the episode that cuts out everything but the performances themselves?

* Tape the couples re-watching their performance and discussing how it felt, what they were thinking, etc. I know they'll be busy with preparation for the upcoming week, but it can be as simple as sit down and watch your performance, say what pops into your head and you're done.

* It's not cheap, but my Dancing With The Stars digital bucket list would be to have a couple of people do a "Manning Cast" version of the performances.

* Tape some exclusive interviews. Have someone walk around backstage and provide a look at the set. Track down some former participants and ask them to recall their experience on the show. 

Honestly, there are all sorts of content that can be created for Disney+. Moving the show to streaming was a really smart idea. But simply streaming the show without any additional content is digital promotion malpractice. 

ODDS AND SODS
* The Food Network has picked up a third season of Alex Vs. America, which just finished up its second season last week.

Musicians are back on the road, but every day is a gamble.

* Dr. Sanjay Gupta is hosting a CNN Special Report Immaculate Concussion: The Truth Behind Havana Syndrome, which premieres Sunday, September 25th on CNN.

WHAT'S NEW FOR WEDNESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Abbott Elementary Season Two Premiere (ABC)
Andor Series Premiere (Disney+)
Big Sky 
Season Premiere (ABC)
Chicago Fire
 Season Premiere (NBC)
Chicago Med Season Premiere (NBC)
Chicago PD Season Premiere (NBC)
Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix)
Designing Miami Series Premiere (Netflix)
Escape From Kabul (HBO)
Firebuds Series Premiere (Disney/Disney Jr./Disney+)
Fortune Seller: A TV Scam (Netflix)
Home Economics Season Premiere (ABC)
Iron Chef Mexico Series Premiere (Netflix)
Lego Masters Season Premiere (Fox)
Malicious Mind Games (LMN)
Meet Cute (Peacock)
Prisma (Prime Video)
Shadowland (Peacock)
Super/Natural Series Premiere (Disney+)
Survivor Season Premiere (CBS)
The Amazing Race Season Premiere (CBS)
The Challenge: Untold History (MTV)
The Conners Season Premiere (ABC)
The Goldbergs Season Premiere (ABC)
The Masked Singer Season Premiere (Fox)
The Perfumier (Netflix)
The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist (Netflix)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU THURSDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, September 16th, 2022

16 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, September 16th, 2022.

THE FIREHOSE OF CONTENT THAT IS NETFLIX
I spend a fair amount of time (maybe too much, from your perspective) in this newsletter complaining about how difficult it is to be an American journalist covering shows that are produced internationally. Especially if they are shows that were originally produced in a language other than English.

One of the reasons why I care is people looking around on their favorite streaming service will run across an unfamiliar title and do a web search for more information. And a surprising amount of the time, my review or feature might be one of the few English-language pieces they'll find.

So having as much info as possible is good for me and my pocketbook. But it's also good for the streamer, because that info might be enough to persuade them to watch.

And there is a lot of international content being released this week. As an example, these are the new titles hitting Netflix today. ELEVEN titles, coming from places including from South Africa, Japan, Great Britain, Spain, India, and the U.S. And for the most part, there is almost no info out there about most of the titles.

For the record, here are the eleven titles and a quick logline:

The Brave Ones (South Africa)
Reincarnated as a human being to avenge her sister’s death, a goddess must learn to harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family.

Do Revenge
After a clandestine run-in, Drea (Alpha, fallen it girl) and Eleanor (beta, new alt girl) team up to go after each other’s tormentors. Do Revenge is a subverted Hitchcock-ian dark comedy featuring the scariest protagonists of all: teenage girls.

Drifting Home (Japan)
One fateful summer, a group of elementary school kids set adrift on an abandoned apartment building must look within themselves to find a way back home.

Fate: The Winx Saga: Season Two
Bloom tries to understand and control her powers while she and the other students at Alfea pull together to defend Solaria from a catastrophic threat.

Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance (Australia)
In the wake of an injury, American teen Kyra Berry gets a second chance to chase her dreams — and a gymnastics scholarship — in faraway Australia.

I Used to Be Famous (Great Britain)
Two decades after his peak, a former boy band star gets an unexpected second shot at success when he forms a bond with a gifted young drummer.

Jogi (India)
Amid tension in 1980s India, three friends of different faiths unite in a noble yet dangerous effort to save hundreds in their town.

Love Is Blind: After the Altar: Season Two
What happened to the couples and singles from Love is Blind season two after the weddings? Love is truly blind, but is the future blurry? Follow the stories of Jarrette, Iyanna, Deepti, Shayne, Natalie and more when Love is Blind: After the Altar (S2) premieres September 16th.

Mirror, Mirror (Spain)
Five employees grapple with their respective desires by arguing with themselves in the mirror, ahead of their cosmetic company's 50th anniversary party

Santo (Spain)
Two cops (Bruno Gagliasso, Raúl Arévalo) must learn to work together to catch the world's most-wanted drug dealer, whose face has never been revealed.

Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard (Great Britain)
Upstart payment firm Wirecard wowed the financial industry with its runaway success — until a tenacious team of journalists exposed massive fraud.

HBO MAX CANCEL-ATHON CONTINUES
Apparently, the executives at Warner Bros Discovery haven't quite grasped the nuances of the 24/7 news cycle. Because once again, they have waited until late on Friday to announce they've stopped production and/or pre-production on some projects. If this were 1997, a Friday news dump might work. In 2022? Not so much.

First, a spokesperson at HBO Max just confirmed to me that the streamer is not moving forward with its in-the-works series centered around the DC Comics character of John Constantine. Similarly, a HBO Max standalone series about DC Comics’ Madame Xanadu has also been scrapped. Both projects come from J.J. Abrams’ Warner Bros.-based Bad Robot and will be taken out to the marketplace in search of a new home. Although it's not clear who would be willing to take on projects using IP owned by a rival media company.

HBO Max is also making additional cuts in its animation division. According to people working on the show, the crew of Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical were laid off earlier today. The film was set to be the first Looney Tunes film to be a full-blown musical and was scheduled to premiere on both the Cartoon Network and HBO Max.

Image

This is just the latest of a series of decisions that cancelled direct-to-streaming animation titles based on long-running Warner Brothers characters. It's not clear it there is a strategy behind the moves other than saving money. But as intellectual property goes, most major studios and streamers would pay a lot to own beloved characters ranging from Bugs Bunny to Scooby Doo.  It just seems short-sighted not to invest in the future of these characters.

THE CHANGING FACE OF NON-FICTION STREAMING DOCUMENTARIES
The Hollywood Reporter has a really great look at how the success of true crime and other non-fiction documentaries produced for streamers has changed the production and editorial process for producers. And mostly, it hasn't been for the better:

But then, a red flag: Gibney started to get notes from the streamers “that tried to scientifically rationalize the process,” he says: “‘Our algorithm states that by minute 10 you should do X, Y or Z.'” In the meantime, he admits, his company attempted to industrialize its production process to meet the streamers’ demand. “Both us as a production company and then soon the streamers themselves were trying to reintroduce formulas,” Gibney says. “And suddenly we realized that that was the road to perdition.”

While the streamers’ appetite for documentary content has created a new golden age for nonfiction filmmaking, it’s come with transformations that many find worrying: Doc subjects are being paid, timelines are getting scrunched, and the line between premium nonfiction and reality television is blurring. Two camps have emerged, one that has welcomed the resources, reach and riches, the other fearful of a Faustian bargain with the powerful platforms.

One thing documentaries have in common with other streaming genres is that crews are regularly complaining about compressed time schedules, tight budgets and workflow that values efficiency over accuracy:

“My fundamental rule for editing used to be, before I even talk about structure, I want to screen every frame of footage,” says filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills; Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes). “In today’s fast-paced, highly compressed editing schedule, not only do I not look at all the footage, but the editors working on my shows often don’t look at all the footage.”

According to labor group the Alliance of Documentary Editors, an ideal edit schedule for a traditional documentary is about a month per 10 minutes of finished work, or nine months for a 90-minute film; editors who spoke for this story report recently being asked to complete films in five to six months. Several doc producers have introduced the role of “story editor” or “story producer,” a job commonly found in reality television but not traditionally in documentary — which some believe is intended to save time and help edits hit particular story beats.

Other reality television techniques are creeping into the field, such as “frankenbiting,” or the practice of editing different parts of dialogue together. Documentary editors often edit out “ums” or “ahs” for clarity purposes, but multiple sources say that in some cases — still rare — subjects’ words can be pieced together to punch up dialogue or help facilitate a story arc. “Frankenbiting is part of the process of editing to a certain degree, but what I’m talking about is something where the reality of what we’re seeing onscreen is often a fun house mirror version of reality,” says one veteran documentary editor. “For me, the most concerning is the fact that I’m seeing this at companies that are run by veteran documentary filmmakers who should know better.” Artificial intelligence is also, somewhat controversially, helping docs to re-create voices, or at least their likenesses. Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner had an AI model of Anthony Bourdain’s voice speak words he had written in email, while Andrew Rossi’s The Andy Warhol Diaries used an AI-actor hybrid to foster the illusion that the artist was reading his own diaries.

And in what seems to be a recurring them in today's newsletter, cutbacks at Warner Bros Discovery have also impacted its non-scripted documentary slate:

As nonfiction has become a larger part of streamer strategies, fortunes will now ebb and flow with those of the wider entertainment industry, like the recent downturn for Netflix stock and Warner Bros. Discovery’s cost-cutting — HBO Max, after mass layoffs in the nonfiction division, will no longer be acquiring or commissioning original projects, with future documentary film content now managed by HBO proper’s docs team. (Current HBO Max projects that are in production will be completed on a case-by-case basis.) Still: “Even if Netflix trims down their $17 billion [overall] budget, you can still make a lot of docs with $1 billion,” says Mooser.

WHAT'S NEW FOR FRIDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

CMT Giants: Vince Gill (CMT)
Dateline
 Season Premiere (NBC)
Do Revenge (Netflix)
Drifting Home (Netflix) - [photo gallery]Dying To Win (LMN)
Fate: The Winx Saga Season Premiere (Netflix)
Goodnight Mommy (Prime Video)
Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance (Netflix)
Heathers: The Musical (The Roku Channel)
I Used To Be Famous (Netflix)
Jogi (Netflix)
Los Espookys Season Two Premiere (HBO)
Love Is Blind: After The Altar Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
Mija (Disney+)
Mirror Mirror (Netflix)
My Dream Quinceañera Season Premiere (Paramount+)
Sago Mini Friends Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Santo (Netflix)
Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard (Netflix)
The Brave Ones (Netflix)
The Grand Tour Presents: A Scandi Flick (Prime Video)
The Great British Baking Show Season Premiere (Netflix)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU MONDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, September 15th, 2022

15 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, September 15th, 2022.

COMCAST CEO BRIAN ROBERTS TRIES SOME JEDI MIND GAMES WHEN TALKING ABOUT HULU
After months of doing a bit of a dance about whether Disney plans to roll Hulu into Disney+, CEO Bob Chapek said on Wednesday that once the company controls all of Hulu, he sees an integration of the two services as almost inevitable. He also mentioned that - if the price was right - Disney would be interested in acquiring the 33 percent of Hulu still owned by Comcast.

In a separate speech on Wednesday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts countered that, well actually, Comcast thinks Hulu is a pretty good business. And if Disney was willing to put the service on the open market, Comcast might be interested in acquiring the while thing:

“Hulu is fantastic, it has a wonderful platform, and I believe if it was for sale, put up for sale [by Disney], Comcast would be interested, but so would a lot of other tech and media companies,” Roberts said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia + Technology Conference this week.

Whether Roberts statements are a negotiating tactic or real interest remain to be seen. “I think Hulu's got tremendous value, and I'm sure our shareholders share that belief,” he said. “Our position is a very enviable one."

His statements have sparked a round of stories today suggesting Disney and Comcast are now going to be "battling" over Hulu. Which I think misses the entire point of Roberts' Jedi mind game comments.

Roberts is correct when he says that Comcast is in an enviable spot when it comes to Hulu. Currently, Comcast and Disney are working under the terms of a mutual agreement in which Disney could potentially acquire Comcast’s minority stake in Hulu in 2024. But Comcast isn't required to sell to Disney. If it does, Disney is required to pay Comcast a fair-market value for the one third of Hulu, based on a third party evaluation of the streamer's value.

The problem for Comcast is that Disney seems to have been purposely putting less effort into Hulu than it normally would, in an effort to keep the overall value of the service as low as possible until 2024. The other problem for Comcast is that no one really knows what the value of a service such as Hulu might be on the open market. There has never been a service available before with this scale and subscriber base. So how does Comcast ensure that it gets every drop of money from Disney it can under these constraints?

Well, Roberts is hoping that by making these comments, he can spur some talk about whether Disney should sell Hulu. It's extremely unlikely Disney would choose to do so, but the speculation would spark some outside estimates on the value of Hulu which Comcast could use as an indication of the streamer's value in 2024. Given the level of Comcast debt and the clunky content licensing issues involved with acquiring Hulu, it's unlikely Comcast is seriously considering an offer. But Roberts wouldn't mind having someone publicly kick the tires and put together an accurate estimate of Hulu's value.

This all might seem like a lot of work and machinations back-and-forth. But we are talking about massive numbers no matter how the deal shakes out. Under the terms of the agreement, Disney guaranteed a minimum total equity value of Hulu in 2024 of $27.5 billion. That figure seems extremely low in today's market. A 2021 analyst report estimated the value of Hulu at that time at $45 billion. And based on subscriber growth and Hulu's strong ARPU (average revenue per user), a $55-60 billion valuation in 2024 doesn't seem out of the question. 

So what is going to happen in 2024? At this point, I don't think either Chapek or Roberts knows for certain. There's a chance Comcast may opt to hold on to its ownership share in Hulu, given that the company is apparently making some money from the current situation. But even more importantly, retaining control of Hulu would frustrate Disney's apparent plan to eventually roll Hulu into Disney+. So the calculation for Comcast is whether it's worth walking away from Hulu with a big paycheck or making much less money while simultaneously hobbling a competitor.

Decisions, decisions.

DOES IT MATTER WHAT TIME A STREAMING SHOW PREMIERES?
I got into a bit of a back-and-forth on social media a few days ago about whether it was a good idea that streamers tend to premiere new programs in the United States at midnight Pacific Time rather than at some "normal" time such as 9:00 pm.

There are a couple of things at play in this discussion. There is always a bit of "well, I'm normal and this is what I would like. So this is what Netflix/Amazon/HBO Max should do?" Which is a valid enough point of view, but it also isn't especially scientific. 

I also hear a lot of comments along the lines of "HBO shows premiere at that time and they do extremely well, so why wouldn't every show have the same response?" Well, my snarky answer would be that most shows as not House Of The Dragon. But that answer also is a truthful one. Streamers can't make decisions based on the outliers. Opting to premiere streaming shows at 9:00 pm because it works for House Of The Dragon is a bit like deciding to release every show on a one-episode-a-week basis because it worked well for The Mandalorian

From what I can tell, some of the reasoning behind the midnight U.S. premiere is driven by "this is the way we've always done it," but talking to people at Netflix and Amazon this week, there also is a lot of strategy behind the decision. Streamers tend to depend a great deal on word-of-mouth and social media buzz to drive content discovery on titles that aren't considered buzzworthy for other reasons - recognizable names or IP, for instance. And there is a strong belief - especially at Netflix - that the very early release time helps drive the buzz.

I recently had a long conversation at Netflix with someone who walked me through the data for several recent shows, including the recently released Devil In Ohio. That show in particular is an interesting case study, because it received almost no press ahead of the premiere. But looking at the data, you can see subscribers slowly discovering the show, discussing it on social media and then driving more people to watch. The show then starts popping up on Netflix's just released section and then within several days on various top ten lists. It's not organic growth per se, but it is also the best case scenario for how a release should happen. 

The person who shared the data with me on background did so because they had seen the discussion on Twitter and wanted to provide me with a bit of context.

To be fair, this type of rollout doesn't work with a lot of titles. And some very good ones end up being overlooked because this promotional flywheel falls apart at some point. But it is an indication of why many people working at streamers aren't concerned with releases in the U.S. taking place very early in the morning.

I mentioned the complaint that I heard from several people that by releasing a show early in the morning, it meant there was less of a social media event for the premiere and it somehow felt less special. The response I heard was that for most shows - especially those that are dropped on a binge release schedule - it's not that the buzz is gone for the shows. It's that the buzz is diffused across friends, family and social media. And that type of buzz tends to feel more authentic and organic than the reaction that comes because a bunch of viewers are watching together at a specific time.

What is your thought on this issue? Respond directly to this newsletter or post a comment below.

TWEET (S) OF THE DAY





ODDS AND SODS
*
Saturday Night Live adds four featured players for the new season: Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker

Former Netflix Exec Carla Engelbrecht is joining subscription book company Literati as Chief Product Officer.

*
The new streaming service Cineverse has episodes of the short-lived 1966 talk show The Joe Pyne Show, which is....something else. It also has episodes of the 1960 series Country Style U.S.A., which was sponsored by the U.S. Army and featured top country and western singers playing their hit songs interspersed with announcements urging viewers to visit their local Army recruiting station.

* G4TV hit with major layoffs less than a year after coming back to life.

Blade Runner 2099, Amazon Studios' live-action series set in the Blade Runner universe, has been picked up to series for Prime Video.

* Amazon has also picked up a series that is apparently loosely based on the movie Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, although it reportedly may be set in an alternate history and involves other planned spin-offs. So who knows what this will look like when it airs.

* Fans have been asking for months & now Disney+ is adding the first two seasons of Zorro in the U.S. on 10/5. On the kids side, the first four seasons of Bear in the Big Blue House & the first three seasons of PB&J Otter are coming on 10/19.

WHAT'S NEW FOR THURSDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Atlanta Season Premiere (FX)
Bastard!! Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy (Netflix)
Dogs In Space
 (Netflix)
Fate Of A Sport (ESPN)
Ghost Adventures Season Premiere (Travel)
Messyness (MTV)
Speak No Evil (Shudder)
Terim (Netflix)
The Light In The Hall 
(Sundance Now)
Thursday Night Football
 Season Premiere (Prime Video)
Vampire Academy (Peacock)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU FRIDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

14 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, September 14th, 2022.

PROGRAMMING NOTES
* Just a reminder that there is a new free morning newsletter available for you to join. "10 Stories You Should Know" compiles ten links to stories you should have on your radar for the day. It's a combination of a few breaking media industry stories from North America, along with stories of interest from around the globe. It's a quick M-F read and a productive jumpstart to your day. To subscribe, visit https://toomuchtv.substack.com/account and click the notifications box for the newsletter. 

* I try not to mention this more than once every few weeks, but as you know, this newsletter is free and I plan to keep it that way. I think having it free means that it's easier to share with others and I see that happening every day. It varies a bit from day to day, but about twenty percent of this newsletter's readers each day come from it being shared. And the open rate averages over 50%, which is well above the industry average. I believe this newsletter has a distinctive point of view that you won't find anywhere else and the reader engagement illustrates that. 

While TooMuchTV is free, there is a paid option for those of you who are able to help support my work. And for those of you who already have made that decision, my sincere thanks. 

If you'd like to switch to the paid option, visit https://toomuchtv.substack.com/subscribe and switch to one of the paid options. And now back to our regular programming.....

BOB CHAPEK REALLY WANTS TO INTEGRATE HULU
After months of doing a bit of a dance about whether Disney plans to roll Hulu into Disney+, CEO Bob Chapek said on Wednesday that once the company controls all of Hulu, he sees an integration of the two services as almost inevitable:

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Tech Conference on Wednesday, Chapek said he was interested in a faster timeline to acquiring Comcast’s remaining stake in Hulu before the 2024 deadline and his desire to remove the “friction” for consumers when they have to jump between the Disney+ and Hulu apps to access content.

“There’s a little bit of consumer friction there in terms of having to go out of one app and into another and so I think we, long term, we can avoid that. But 2024 is not that far away,” Chapek said. “We’d have to have full ownership of Hulu to integrate it into Disney+. We would love to get to the endpoint earlier, but that obviously takes some level propensity for the other party to have reasonable terms for us to get there. And if we could get there, I would be more than happy to try to facilitate that.”

I hate these conference appearances by media company executives, because it allows them to essentially just issue mission statements without anyone being able to ask follow-up questions.

I'm sure that Disney would like to "reasonable terms" for Comcast's share of Hulu. But given that Disney is contractually committed to paying a fair market price that is determined by a third party, Comcast executives would have to be insane to agree to sell for a lower price just so they can their billions from Disney a year or so earlier.

But aside from that, there are so many other questions I have about these statements. What does this mean for Hulu Live TV? Does Chapek really believe the combination of the two services and the "decreased friction" will offset the current sizeable revenue stream provided by Hulu?

I suspect that the integration is driven in large part by the onset of an ad-supported Disney+ plan. Hulu's ad-supported offering is extremely lucrative, with an ARPU (average revenue per user) that is close to $13.00. That figure is one reason you see the service offering so many deals on its ad-supported tier. Each new subscriber is almost money in the bank. Translating that success to Disney+ has to be a longterm goal for the company.

NETFLIX TO USE TUDUM FESTIVAL TO SHOWCASE GLOBAL AMBITIONS
When it comes to Netflix and non-English original content, there are two camps. Camp one argues that native English-language audiences still prefer programming in English and focusing too much non-English language originals is bad business. Camp two (and I'm in this one) argues native English-language audiences are showing an increasing appreciation of global originals. And even if they weren't, given that Netflix's business is growing primarily outside of North America and Europe, regional originals are the best option to grow subscribers.

If you want to know in which camp Netflix falls into, you only have to look at the lineup for this year's virtual fan convention Tudum, which will take place in four different regions over a 24-hour period on September 24th.

In a press release announcing the event, Netflix promises Tudum will offer the streamer’s fans an "exciting day of exclusive news, never-before-seen footage, trailers, and first looks, as well as interviews with Netflix’s biggest stars and creators. The free virtual event is a celebration of Netflix fandom and is dedicated to sharing the scoop on over 120 fan-favorite shows, films, specials and games from across the globe."

Here is the schedule of events:

  • At 11:00 am KST (7:00 pm PT September 23), Tudum kicks off with an exciting show out of Korea.
  • At 11:00 am IST (10:30 pm PT, September 23), fans will be treated to a fun look at what’s ahead from India.
  • At 10 am PT, Tudum kicks off as a two-part show with Part 1 out of the United States and Europe, and Part 2 at 11:30 am PT out of Latin America, including surprises from other countries. 
  • At 1:00 pm JST September 25 (9:00 pm PT September 24), our stars from Japan will close out Tudum with a celebration of our Japanese entertainment.

Here are some of the TV shows that will be highlighted:

1899 • 3 Body Problem • Alice In Borderland • Belascoarán • Berlin • Bridgerton • Class • Dead To Me • El Amor Después Del Amor • El Reino • Elite • Emily In Paris • First Love • Glitch • Guns & Gulaabs • Heartstopper • Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure Stone Ocean • Love Is Blind: Brazil • Lupin • Manifest • Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area • Nayanthara: Beyond The Fairtytale • Never Have I Ever • Outer Banks • Physical: 100 • Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story • Rana Naidu • Scoop • Shadow And Bone • Soup • Squid Game • Stranger Things • The Crown • The Fabulous • The Makanai: Cooking For The Maiko House • The Umbrella Academy • The Watcher • The Witcher • The Witcher: Blood Origin • Triada • Vikings: Valhalla • Wednesday • You • and many more! 

And some of the movies:

20th Century Girl • Ardiente Paciencia • A Través Del Mar • Beyond The Universe • Carga Máxima • Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga • Enola Holmes 2 • Extraction 2 • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery • Guillermo De Toro’s Pinocchio • Heart Of Stone • Kathal Khufiya • Matrimillas • Monica, O My Darling • Qala • The Redeem Team • Slumberland • The School For Good And Evil • They Cloned Tyrone • Your Place Or Mine • and many more! 

And these Netflix original games:

Compass Point: West • Destra: The Memories Between • Kentucky Route Zero • Nailed It! Baking Bash • Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales • Triviaverse

I'm very bullish on the global television sector. There has been some phenomenal growth in interest internationally and whether American reporters like it or not, it's where the future of the streaming industry lies.

NETFLIX'S NEW ALGORITHM OFFERS OPTIMAL RECOMMENDATION LISTS FOR USERS WITH FINITE TIME BUDGET
I will admit that I only somewhat understand this discussion, but it's a super fascinating glimpse at the complexities involved in tweaking a recommendation engine:



The simulation is very helpful to study and better understand the problem. With simulation, various recommendation algorithms are trained and compared. To evaluate the performances a simple metric is used at is the average number of success of the generated stater referred to as play rate. In addition to play rate, it is important to consider the effective slate size: one of the ways to improve the play-rate is to construct lafer effective slates, this metric is important to understand the mechanism of recommendation algorithms.

It's difficult to find people willing to discuss this stuff in public and to be honest, a lot of it is extremely tech heavy. But I feel that the more we understand how the backend of streamers work - particularly when it comes to various algorithms - the easier it will be to accurately assess how good of a job a streamer is doing with things such as recommendations and content discovery.

ONE STORY, TWO VERY DIFFERENT DESCRIPTIONS OF THE STORY'S AUTHOR






WHAT'S NEW FOR WEDNESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Broad Peak (Netflix)
El Rey, Vicente Fernandez (Netflix)
Heartbreak High (2022 Reboot) (Netflix)
Hell Of A Cruise (Peacock)
NFL Slimetime (Nickelodeon)
Sins Of Our Mother (Netflix)
The Catholic School (Netflix)
The Handmaid's Tale Season Premiere (Hulu)
The Lørenskog Disappearance (Netflix)
The NFL Pile On (Prime Time)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU THURSDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

13 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, September 13th, 2022.

THE CHALLENGE OF CONTENT DISCOVERY
I write a lot about content discovery because it really is the core challenge of the streaming media business. Finding something to watch has become an existential issue for nearly everyone and it's only getting more difficult as new streamers launch and content moves around from streamer to streamer without warning. That's why the recent study from Plex which suggested the average person spends nearly a half hour searching for something to watch has resonated with so many people today. Even if you're in the business, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of everything you'd like to watch or might enjoy if you even knew it existed.

The problem is the result of a lot of well meaning decisions that have made a complicated content discovery problem even more challenging. So let's go through a few of them and I'll make some recommendations.

The entertainment press certainly bears its share of blame for the lack of helpful content discovery. If you look at the front page of any of the industry trades - or nearly any of the smaller competitors - you'll find a content mix that would feel familiar to a reader from twenty years ago. Breaking news, some interviews and recaps. Maybe some executive comings-and-goings and a hot take or two. But what you won't find is the answer to the question that most readers probably have at the moment: what should I watch tonight? This doesn't mean a list of every show airing that night (although I can tell you from personal experience those are very popular). 

Readers need articles that are essentially content discovery calls to action: "Five Shows Worth Watching Tonight," "Shows To Watch While Waiting For The New Season Of 'Squid Games'," "Six Comedies To Watch If You Love 'Ghosts,'" etc. These types of articles don't have run 5,000 words, but they shouldn't be listcicles, either. People want help with finding stuff they'll love and while it's not the sexiest reporting you can do, it's perhaps the most useful to the readers.

This also ties in with my frequent complaints about publicity and marketing. I get it - every company has limited resources and bandwidth. Too many projects and not nearly enough manpower to effectively promote each show.

But let us help you. There are things you can do to make it easier for journalists to discover and highlight new and returning programs. Things which don't require huge outlays of time or resources. Have information about every upcoming show on your press site. This is especially important for services such as Netflix, Prime Video and HBO Max, which can sometimes have a firehose of new content. Have photos, helpful synopsis on the page as a minimum. Ideally, some cast and crew information. And for all that is holy, include a specific press contact. For instance, Netflix tends to just include this generic PR email address on global shows that aren't a priority in North America. Which wouldn't be an issue if anyone ever answered those emails. I've had to spend time compiling local PR contacts for a lot of territories, in hopes of making it easier to track down info.

Make screeners available and make them easy to access. I can't recommend a show based on one episode. And if it's a choice between reviewing a show I can watch on my TV and one I have to watch on my laptop, guess which one I'll prioritize? I know that tight production schedules can make getting screeners out in advance a challenge. But don't send out screeners two days ahead of a premiere and expect much attention unless you're working on an extremely high profile show.

And if you work at Discovery, drop me a line. At this point, I feel as if your publicists have joined the witness protection program.

Most entertainment journalists love television and enjoy introducing readers to a great new show they were unfamiliar with until now. As I said at the top, help us help you.

Streaming services have their own role in this content discovery Armageddon. It's not just the clunky UX or the content suggestion algorithms that don't work. It's that none of the services are set up to provide the service that subscribers would find useful: curated, personalized watch lists driven by past viewing behavior.

The services also have a lot of odd quirks in their UX. I was looking around the various major streaming services today looking to see how they handled their Emmy wins from last night. I noticed that Prime Video has a small banner on "The Wheel Of Time" hyping the show was Amazon's "#7 In The US." But as far as I can tell, Amazon doesn't have a public list of their top ten titles available anywhere on its app. So the #7 claim is pretty much just meaningless if there isn't the slightest nugget of additional context. One other thing and it's something that continues to be a challenge for Prime Video. Since it is the only major streaming service that prioritizes both free and ad-supported video as well as paid rentals and purchases, the UX is still a confusing mess, even after the recent reboot.

One example of the mixed priorities is the top promo carousel, which has ten slots. The top one is a promo for NFL's Thursday Night Football (which Prime Video now streams). There are slots for the Prime Video Originals Flight/Risk, The Wheel Of Time and The Rings Of Power. But the other six slots are devoted to hopefully generating revenue - from hyping Top Gun Maverick rentals to offering free trials of a number of smaller streaming services that are part of Amazon Channels. I'm all in favor of a company making money. But even with this new UX, you might be hard-pressed to know what is available to watch on Prime Video, much less what might be new or in your wheelhouse.

To Hulu's credit, each time I logged on today (and I have Hulu Live TV, so it was a few times), the top promo spot was highlighting another Emmy-nominated show. But this was a time when Hulu's lack of a rotating top promo carousel is an issue. It would be nice for the service to be able to promote multiple titles at the same time. In past because it would highlight the amount of Emmy-worthy content Hulu has available.

HBO Max seemed to be working under the assumption that everyone who had watched their Emmy winners had already seen the shows. So despite HBO's big night at the Emmys, their top promo carousel promoted the newest episode of House of Dragons, the movie Moonfall and the latest episode of Industry. Then it's highlighting the Emmy winners Succession and The White Lotus. Then Thursday's season finale of Harley Quinn, and the Emmy-winning Euphoria

There is an argument to be made that if you are playing the long game, one of the larger streamers should be in a database that showed where every possible show is streaming - even if it's at a rival service. Yes, you run the risk of sending your subscriber to another service. But if you create a database that is useful enough, the traffic to rivals is offset by the engagement and stickiness provided by a really useful service. And a clever addition would be a tactful list of several suggestions if the show or movie they are looking for isn't available anywhere or is on a service they don't currently subscribe to. The challenge with those suggestions is that those suggestions would work best with some human curation. Which is labor intensive, but probably well worth the investment on at least the major titles. 

The other upside of this database is that it would provide all sorts of useful search data, some of which you could include in the search function. From "other people searching for this also searched for these titles" to combining someone's watch history with their search history to provide more accurate content suggestions. 

WHIP WATCH REPORT MOST WATCHED-STREAMING ORIGINALS
The weekly ranker features TV shows that are SVOD exclusives. As a result, House of the Dragon does not qualify for this report. However, looking at how all shows, both on streaming and on linear TV, stacked up last week, Dragon would rank second overall.




TWEET OF THE DAY



WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Academy Of Country Music Honors (Fox)
Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker 
(Fandor)
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (Netflix)
Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns Series Premiere (Discovery)
Facing Suicide (PBS)
Jo Koy: Live At The Los Angeles Forum
 (Netflix)
M*A*S*H: When Television Changed Forever (Reelz)
Oprah And Viola The Woman King (OWN)
The Alligator (MHz Choice)
The Come Up Series Premiere (Freeform)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU WEDNESDAY!

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.




Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, September 12th, 2022

12 September, 2022

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, September 12th, 2022.

PROGRAMMING NOTE
Today's newsletter is a bit shorter than normal thanks to my need to cover tonight's Emmy Awards. I look forward to tomorrow's headlines in the trades claiming that either HBO or Netflix had a bad night and are now creatively struggling.

ARI EMANUEL DOESN'T SEE SLOWDOWN IN CONTENT SPENDING
I have been arguing for weeks that the conventional wisdom about a huge slowdown in content spending is overblown. Yes, spending is being trimmed industrywide. But that is as much a reflection of a soft global economy as it is some seismic shift in the way the streaming business is structured. Still, it's a hard impression to change in the industry and it's rare to see any piece written about streaming that doesn't reference spending contents in the industry. And the picture is even more muddied by the actions at Warner Bros. Discovery, which is cutting spending on everything from content to branded water bottles in an effort to pay down some of the debt it inherited during the recent merger.

As it turns out, I am not the only person who is skeptical of this theory. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel recently spoke at the Goldman Sachs conference, and he said he also doesn't believe we're seeing any notable slowdown in spending:

Films take 18 months to two years to make, while most TV shows take a year or more. With Endeavor’s representation of actors and writers and directors, the company is seeing the demand pipeline full two years out. And while companies like Netflix, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery may be becoming more selective with where they spend their cash, they still spend billions of dollars annually, and much of that still flows to A-list talent. Peacock and Paramount+ meanwhile appear poised to increase their content spend.

And tech giants like Apple and Amazon are also significantly increasing their spend, while new players like Roku continue to enter the space.

He also had a bit to say about streaming services and theatrical windows. And go figure, there is no hard-and-fast approach to the question:

But that doesn’t mean everything is A-OK with Hollywood’s traditional business lines. Theatrical film distribution will change, with fewer titles in theaters and new windowing options, Emanuel said, adding that WME is negotiating with companies like Amazon and Netflix about how and when their films will see theatrical releases.

“We are having conversations with Amazon about, is it going to be 15 days, 25 days, day and date? There is no one way or another,” he said. “Certain movies even on Netflix now, they are going to do 4 weeks in theaters … There is no set model right now, because they are still figuring it out.”

PARAMOUNT+ BUTTON ADDED TO NEW ROKU EXPRESS REMOTE
Today Roku announced two new products in their device lineup, the Roku Express player and Roku Wireless Bass. This is not the type of news I would normally include in this newsletter, but I thought it was interesting because the just released photo of the new Roku Express remote shows that the Hulu quick access button on the remote has been replaced by one for Paramount+.



I've seen some speculation already that this is another indication that Disney plans to roll Hulu into Disney+, so the button would no longer be needed. I think it's more likely that Paramount is paying for the position or it was part of the recent negotiations that took place between Roku and Paramount+ over a variety of access and advertising issues.

Regardless, it's an interesting move. I'm not convinced this helps drive subscriptions. But I can see it being a convenience that helps keep subscribers engaged.

IS THIS THE LAST SEASON FOR 'EXTRA?'
The Daily Beast Confider newsletter is reporting that the syndicated entertainment newsmagazine Extra may be heading into its final year. Multiple sources told Confider roughly 15 people were recently laid off from the show. And recent drama surrounding the long-running show continues to plague the show:

Longtime executive producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey called it quits this summer, just months after The Daily Beast reported about a “toxic” workplace culture at the show, which staffers said she ran like the “mafia.” While employees told Confider that the staff is “hopeful” under current executive producers Theresa Coffino and Jeremy Spiegel, they also fear the show’s fate may have already been decided. “It’s no big secret this could be the final renewal year,” one current staffer said. “It’s the fact they put Theresa and Jeremy just to replace [Gregorisch-Dempsey]. There’s no new leadership.” This source added that the layoffs, which cut about 10 percent of the show’s workforce, has “less to do with Lisa” and “more to do with the merger"

From an editorial standpoint, it's been at least a decade since Extra really mattered. But it apparently still makes money, albeit maybe not enough for WBD executives.

TWEET OF THE DAY



ODDS AND SODS
* Starz is producing a pilot for an interview series with rapper Fat Joe as the host and Sean "Diddy" Combs attached to executive produce.

* The Muppet Christmas Carol is being restored for Disney+ and it will include a song that was deleted from the theatrical release.

* I recently talked to The Serpent Queen star Samantha Morton.

WHAT'S NEW FOR MONDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:

Access Season Twenty Seven Premiere (Syndicated)
Ada Twist, Scientist 
Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
Days Of Our Lives Season Premiere (Peacock)
Dr. Phil 
Season Twenty One Premiere (Syndicated)
Emmy Awards 
(NBC)
Ghostober Preview Party (Travel)
Halloween Baking Championship Season Premiere (Food)
Hot Bench Season Nine Premiere (Syndicated)
Independent Lens: Hazing (PBS)
Inside Edition Season Thirty-Five Premiere (Syndicated)
Jeopardy! Season Thirty-Nine Premiere (Syndicated)
Love It Or List It Season Premiere (HGTV)
Monday Night Football 
Season Premiere (ABC/ESPN)
90 Days: The Single Life Season Premiere (TLC)
Pictionary Series Premiere (Syndicated)
Rachael Ray Season Seventeen Premiere (Syndicated)
Relative Justice Season Two Premiere (Syndicated)
Sherri Series Premiere (Syndicated)
The Drew Barrymore Show Season Three Premiere (Syndicated)
The Jennifer Hudson Show
 Series Premiere (Syndicated)
24 Words Or Less Season Four Premiere (Syndicated)
War Of The Worlds Season Three Premiere (Epix)
Wheel Of Fortune Season Forty Premiere (Syndicated)
You Bet Your Life With Jay Leno Season Two Premiere (Syndicated)

Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.

SEE YOU TUESDAY!

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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