Displaying items by tag: Too Much TV
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, August 2nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and a week's worth of that sweet vacation sleep.
HBO MAX OFFERS A SPECIAL PREVIEW OF 'SUICIDE SQUAD'
Offering theatergoers the chance to see a highly anticipated movie the night before its official opening day is a time-honored Hollywood tradition. But I believe this is the first time that the special preview idea has been extended to a streaming service. On Thursday, WarnerMedia is premiering its new movie Suicide Squad at a special preview, which will take place simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max:
I think this is a really smart idea, although I haven't seen it receive a lot of attention. The number of people who are going to watch the movie on HBO Max is already baked in, but this special preview should provide some extra social media buzz, which in theory will drive more people to the theaters and help the weekend box office.
THE COST OF NOT BEING TRANSPARENT
Andrew A. Rosen's Monday Briefing newsletter does a nice job of framing what I also believe is the most important aspect of Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney - it's about transparency and forcing media companies to back up their numbers with actual receipts:
Because any revenues from PVOD distribution may fall outside of the contract language of “wide theatrical distribution” (the lawsuit seeks to include PVOD within it), Disney may have no legal obligation to disclose anything more than the $60MM figure it has shared with both the public and with Johansson and her reps.
We, as investors and observers, have no idea how the $60MM is calculated. But neither does Johansson and her reps because there is no contract with Disney for PVOD distribution.
Disney has not told us how many Disney+ subscribers downloaded Black Widow - we are left to infer it based on the $29.99 price point (so 2MM est.). But, the $29.99 price point may be inaccurate. An average price may include new sign-ups for Disney+ ($33.98 with Disney+ Hotstar or $35.60 without Hotstar), and may even include Disney+/ESPN+/Hulu bundle sign-ups who bought Black Widow in that $60MM number ($43.98).
So, $60MM more likely reflects a weighted average of different consumers. Or, it simply may be a public-relations-driven, financially engineered figure that has no independent verification outside of Disney’s DTC accounting team, and no legal recourses for confirming it except via a lawsuit.
It's one thing for Disney to release SVOD revenue numbers to the press in an effort to frame the box-office story of a movie. The press don't have any leverage and all they can do is decide whether or not to put those numbers in a headline. But it's another thing entirely to release the numbers without any explanation of how it was compiled and then ask talent to simply accept the word of the studio. You are going to see more of these battle in the coming months, as Hollywood begins to shape the next generation of contracts.
AS EVERYONE PREDICTED, REESE WITHERSPOON'S HELLO SUNSHINE IS SOLD
Reese Witherspoon’s media business, Hello Sunshine, is selling itself to a firm backed by private-equity giant Blackstone Group, the companies said, part of a plan to build an independent entertainment company for Hollywood’s streaming era:
The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. People familiar with the matter said it values Ms. Witherspoon’s company, whose production slate has included programming such as the HBO drama “Big Little Lies,” at about $900 million.
The as-yet-unnamed media venture Blackstone is backing will be run by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Hello Sunshine will be its first acquisition. Ms. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine Chief Executive Sarah Harden will join the board of the new company and will continue to operate Hello Sunshine.
Blackstone is spending more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from existing Hello Sunshine investors, including AT&T Inc. and Emerson Collective, some of the people familiar with the matter said. Ms. Witherspoon and some Hello Sunshine executives and investors will roll over the remaining equity into ownership stakes in the new company Blackstone is forming.
You are going to read a lot of hot takes in the coming days making predictions about the ramifications of this acquisition. The truth is that no one has a clue at this early point whether or not this is a wise move for Witherspoon and/or for Blackstone. Saying "only time will tell" sounds like a lame response. But in this case, it's also the wisest approach. At this point, there are too many unknowns to formulate a reasoned opinion.
ARIANA GRANDE COMES TO FORTNITE
Ariana Grande is the latest musicians to give a virtual performance inside the Battle Royale game Fortnite. She'll be headlining Fortnite's upcoming Rift Tour concert series, which runs August 6th-8th. Travis Scott and Marshmello have both given in-game Fortnite performances in recent months.
Players who attend the event will receive a special pink umbrella and other items and challenges will be available during the event.
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ODDS AND SODS
* Along with her work for Fox Sports, Erin Andrews is also an ambassador for the Fox-owned ad-supported streamer Tubi.
* Amazon has released a premiere date for its TV series based on Lord Of The Rings. Spoiler: you have some time to wait.
* News Corp is making a big B2B acquisition, buying the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) for $1.15 billion in cash, for a company that will make $130mn this year; that is an almost 10X revenue multiple, which sounds a bit crazy.
1) Obama: In Search Of A More Perfect Union (HBO)
"The three-part documentary chronicles the personal and political journey of President Barack Obama, as the country grapples with its own racial history. Through weaving together conversations with colleagues, friends and critics, interspersed with Obama’s own speeches,
2) Pray Away (Netflix)
"Survivors and ex-leaders of the so-called "conversion therapy" movement speak out about its harm to the LGBTQ community and its devastating persistence."
3) Shiny Flakes: The Teenage Drug Lord (Netflix)
"Max S. reveals how he built a drug empire from his childhood bedroom as a teen in the real story behind the series "How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)."
4) Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified (Netflix)
"Though claims of extraterrestrial encounters have long been dismissed, many believe the existence of UFOs is not just likely, but a certainty."
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, July 30th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by memories of the beach...
I am not back from vacation, but I am home and here with a mini-newsletter. I'm back for real beginning Monday.
I managed to mostly stay away from work-related news this week and what little talking I did about television was trying to explain to "civilians" why they couldn't watch more of the live Olympic coverage on Peacock. And while I understand all of the business reasons why NBCU had to protect their linear Olympic partners and split the live coverage over multiple platforms, it was an incredibly difficult decision to explain to consumers. And, while I'm no marketing expert, I suspect that the average consumer's expectations for what they can watch at "America's Home For The Olympics" was a bit different than what they found when they logged into Peacock.
Speaking of Peacock, I am astounded by the number of entertainment outlets that posted headlines this week touting Peacock's reported "54 million signups" metric. Sign-ups are only a slightly less mushy data point than tracking how many people downloaded the Peacock app. Even the subscriber number without context has limited value, since Comcast is providing a free subscription to its television subscribers.
The numbers I really want to learn are the ones Peacock is not going to provide publicly. How many paid subscriptions does Peacock have? How many people continued their subscription after their pre-launch annual subscription deal expired recently? (FWIW, Peacock offered me a deal to reup my Premium subscription for a year at the discounted rate). How many people who received a free subscription via Comcast or another MVPD have actually regularly used the service?
I find myself remaining skeptical that Peacock is building a value proposition for potential subscribers. It's not the service's problem launching originals, although that certainly remains a problem. Like Paramount+, Peacock just seems like it's not part of the conversation for most people and that's an issue in the long-term.
ON THE PR FRONT
I'll try not to get too inside baseball with this, but it's worth noting that the virtual TCAs begin next week, with the network and streaming service presentations to critics happening a few days a week over a six-week period. I finally decided to join this year after a decade or so of back-and-forth conversations about its role in the changing face of television. For what it's worth, I'm proud to be part of an organization filled with a lot of talented critics. I still believe the way TV shows are promoted often feels relatively unchanged from 20 years ago. But that's more of a industry problem than one with the TCA or any other specific organization.
One consequence of the pandemic for critics was that most of the interview opportunities and press junkets moved online. Which was really helpful for people like myself who are located outside of the Hollywood/NYC entertainment news complex. It gave me access to people I wouldn't have been able to speak with otherwise and I hope that doesn't completely disappear. Although I am already hearing from some networks who are moving back to live events, even if they are held in socially distanced venues such as driveins.
I know Zoom calls can be exhausting, especially when you are an actor or creator who has to spend the entire day speaking with journalists. But I can't help thinking that doing a series of ten-minute video calls from home is a lot easier than doing those horrible press junkets at some Hollywood-area hotel.
I DON'T CARE ABOUT MICHAEL CHE
One of the upsides of working for myself is that I get to choose what stories matter to me. So while the "troll says something stupid on social media" story has become a reliable traffic generator for entertainment sites of all sizes, I tend to ignore them even when I'm not on vacation. And I certainly wouldn't wade in a with a quick hot take on Michael Che's Instagram jokes about Simon Biles.
I will say that the incident illustrates what I dislike about his work on SNL and his HBO Max series, That Damn Michael Che. There is a strain of modern comedy that can best be described as "smug six-year-old pretends to be surprised when you are insulted" and Che mines that point of view with all the humor and predictability of late-stage Jerry Lewis. Che says the things he does because he confuses being cutting edge with being a jackass. And in more ways that he would probably like to admit, Che is not all that different than political trolls such as Ben Shapiro, who have managed to carve out successful careers saying stupid things, laughing at anyone who takes his comments seriously and then moving on to the next topic. I refuse to get sucked into this Ferris Wheel of ginned-up outrage, no matter how outrageous the comments might be.
Back in the dinosaur days of Twitter, it used to be common on Fridays to share the Twitter handle of people you believed were worth following. I figured I should end this mini-newsletter on a more optimistic note and I decided the best way would be to revive the "Follow Friday" tradition.
If you are a fan of Big Brother, you should be following Linda Martindale, who has been recapping the show for AllYourScreens. Her Twitter handle is @ThePopCulWriter and she knows the show as well as anyone I've read. I'm proud to have her contributing to the site and I'd appreciate if you'd give her a follow.
SEE YOU ON MONDAY WITH A FULL-SIZED NEWSLETTER!
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, July 23rd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and Werther's soft caramel candy.
I will be on vacation next week, spending a few days at the beach. There will be a newsletter on Friday, but it's likely to be a bit shorter than usual. I can really use the break because the following week the TCA's begin and then the new fall season and then....
NETFLIX, GAMES AND INTERACTIVE CONTENT
A lot of attention this week has been paid to Netflix's probable move into mobile gaming. But my question is how Netflix's interactive content will fit into this mix. The streaming service has devoted a lot of time and effort into building its version of the "Choose Your Adventure" story and over the past two years they have rolled out one-off interactive episodes of everything from Captain Underpants to Black Mirror. Generally, the animated efforts seem to work best, in part because the format allows for a wider range of viewing choices. With a couple of exceptions, the software works seamlessly and it brings a different dimension to how subscribers interact with Netflix. But I get the sense that Netflix still doesn't quite know what to do with the concept.
Part of the challenge is that the idea is constrained by the fact that Netflix is being consumed on a number of platforms with a variety of controllers. So any interface has to extremely simple and easy to figure out. Still, I can see how Netflix could cut a deal with the NFL to use game footage to create a "Create Your Own Adventure" version of a big rival matchup, the fate of which would depend on what decisions you make along the way. Or it could create games that allow subscribers to tackle a question such as "You're 30 years old and you've just won $50 million in a lottery. What do you do?" Each choice takes you down a different path and the goal is to hit retirement age with as much money as possible. Or Netflix can create interactive "super fan" quizzes that test someone's deep knowledge of The Witcher or The Crown.
I think this interactive platform Netflix has created doesn't get enough attention and I think that's a mistake. Because it provides the easiest way into the world of gaming.
I AM ALREADY WEARY OF THE METAVERSE
At first glance, this might seem a bit off-topic for a newsletter that is primarily concerned with television and the streaming world. But this is an idea that is going to seep into every corner of the entertainment industry, and you are likely only about three months from your boss wondering out loud in a meeting "Should we be doing something with this Metaverse thing?"
The Metaverse idea is based on Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, and it basically reimagines the Internet as an interconnected virtual world. Imagine everything you do online being done in some heavily commercialized Fortnite interface. The idea has been kicking around for awhile, but it gained traction in the investment world when venture capitalist Matthew Ball wrote a nine-piece treatise outlining a tightly integrated world where everyone interacted via avatars and traded virtual goods that would of course be sold to you by big corporations tracking your every move:
This is where the potential for Omniverse gets so exciting. As the world shifts to mirrorworlds and simulation technology, it becomes possible to interconnect previously independent simulations. Imagine interconnecting the Hong Kong International Airport to the local highway to scenario-test the flow of traffic. Then to the streetlights system that manages that traffic. Potentially with precise information on every car on the local grid.
The best indication this is a bad idea is that the Metaverse concept is extremely popular with Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the crypto community and Mark Zuckerberg. Zuck just gave an interview to The Verge's Casey Newton in which he raved about the Metaverse concept and how he is positioning Facebook to be a major player in any future Metaverse:
And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company. And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. So there’s a lot to jump into here. I’m curious what direction you want to take this in. But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry.
If the idea of combining the problems of the blockchain with the invasiveness of Facebook sounds like a dream world, then you are going to love the Metaverse.
I have many concerns about the idea, the most obvious one the issue of privacy and the problem of having your Avatar - your online personality - attached to a blockchain. Entries in a blockchain can't be deleted, can't be changed without leaving a very public trail. And given all of the problems that we are already having with digital trails and personal information following us around, do we really want to create a world in which any mistake is on our public record forever? Every online interaction is there to be dug out by a future spouse or child?
I understand why this idea is so attractive to venture capitalists. It's a new world of selling opportunities and with the ability to follow your customers online, the upside is nearly unlimited.
But is that the world most customers want? I suspect if you asked them, they would prefer to balance convenience with privacy. And that's really the first question that should be addressed in any meeting that involves the Metaverse: what is best for our customers? Because whether it is a streaming service or digital goods, if you approach the problem from a customer-first direction, you will almost always come out ahead financially.
TBH, I WOULD WATCH THIS ON PAY-PER-VIEW
As you probably know, television coverage rights to the Olympics are sold off to local or regional broadcasters in each country. Which means that while those of us in the United States are familiar with NBC's kinda predictable template for covering Olympic events such as the opening ceremony, other broadcasters have their own approach. And while I haven't seen every broadcaster's opening ceremony coverage, it's hard to imagine one that is more painful to watch than the one put together by South Korea's MBC, which for some reason, decided to choose an image that they believe best "represented" each country in the ceremony. Spoiler: it do not go well.
For Haiti, they included an image of rioting in the streets:
And if it's Italy, it's got to be pizza:
Norway gets an image of salmon...
And The Ukraine team got an image of Chernobyl...
After the ceremony, the MBC issued a statement apologizing for the decision:
In today's Opening Ceremony broadcast, inappropriate photos were used when introducing countries like Ukraine and Haiti. Also, inappropriate photos and subtitles were used for other countries. We apologize to the viewers of Ukraine and other countries.
Some of those other countries might be the Marshall Islands, which the announcer described as once being "a nuclear test site for the US." Or Micronesia, which for some reason they placed in the Atlantic Ocean:
SEE YOU NEXT FRIDAY!
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, July 22nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and peanut butter candy.
HBO MAX MAY DELAY EUROPEAN ROLL-OUT UNTIL 2022
It sounds as if the winter 2021 roll-out of HBO Max into the European markets might not happen now until 2022:
The media giant on Thursday said it may delay its launch of a localized version of HBO Max in Europe in some territories to early 2022 as it “leans into” generating more subscriber growth in Latin America. AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches told analysts during a morning call that the bulk of HBO Max subscriber growth in 2021 will come from lower-revenue subscribers, mainly from a localized version in Latin America.
As WarnerMedia focuses on Latin America near-term to exploit that growth opportunity, Desroches warned WarnerMedia may delay its HBO Max launch in some areas of Europe until early 2022. A European launch for HBO Max had earlier been set for the second half of 2021.
There was a bit of a perplexing comment from Andy Forssell, executive vp and general manager, WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer. This "different languages" thing feels like the kind of thing you should expect when you're going into multiple international markets at the same time:
Importantly, he said, “we are learning. And what you learn is the complexity of doing this right. The team executed really well, but as you add languages and new sets of subtitles and audio, it is all built on one platform, it is working very well, but we want to do it right.” Concluded Forssell: “And so you adjust your schedules as you go along. It is about executing really crisply and making sure that we launch well and get the right kind of returns out of Europe and the countries beyond that.”
NOT ALL OF THE APPLE TV+ DISCOUNTS HAVE DISAPPEARED
While Apple has gotten rid of its "buy an Apple product and get a free year of Apple TV+" promotion, not all of the discounts have gone away.
If you are a target shopper, you are likely familiar their loyalty program called "Target Circle." Membership is free and if you are a Circle member, you are eligible for an offer that gives you four free months of Apple TV+ (new subscribers only):
If you have the Target app, you can find the deal by clinking into the Target Circle tab and then searching for Apple under the Circle deals.
NO, PEACOCK AND PARAMOUNT+ COMBINING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA
I generally don't spend a ton of time highlighting pieces I don't agree with for two reasons. First, it really serves no useful purpose to bring attention to pieces that I believe are fundamentally misguided. Also, I have certainly put forward some boneheaded ideas of my mine over the years. And I appreciate that all you haven't brought attention to this more often.
Still, I do want to take a look at this piece from TV [R]EV's Alan Wolk. In part because I tend to find myself on the opposite side of every piece he writes. And because I am seeing a lot of pieces this week arguing that an overseas combination of Peacock and Paramount+ would be a great idea. And I humbly disagree.
First, Wolk notes that it is unlikely that NBCU and Viacom/CBS could merge in the U.S.:
They’re looking at the Disney-Hulu-ESPN empire and the upcoming Discovery-Warner-CNN one and realizing that yes, scale really does matter.
Many observers have noted that ViacomCBS and NBCU would make a good combination, were it not for the fact that largely outdated regulations around broadcast TV ownership plus Comcast’s role as a distributor would seem to make a U.S. merger unlikely.
First, I don't think that laws that would prohibit two of the big 3 1/2 broadcast networks from merging is an "outdated" concept. If anything, I think there are good reasons for the government to look closely at both the Discovery/WarnerMedia and Amazon/MGM deals. They both have the potential to have negative impacts on consumers, which is really the role of government oversight. An NBCU/ViacomCBS merger would be great for bankers and for the executives of both companies that would walk away with tens if not hundreds of millions in bonuses and fees. But it would be a terrible development for consumers.
Like many analysts, Wolk argues that if the company's combined their streaming efforts internationally, it would become a mega player in the space:
While there are differences between the two, there’s also a shared aesthetic based on their background as broadcast and cable networks.
It’s a more mainstream aesthetic that’s also more family friendly, though broad enough to encompass everything from Comedy Central to Bravo.
Which is the other strength the two network groups have: a really deep library of well-known programming.
There’s much focus on originals as a way of keeping track of who is winning the so-called “streaming wars” but the reality is that one way to keep viewers subscribing is to have a really deep and broad library of well known series and movies that they can turn to during the 23 hours when they’re not watching your hit show.
While it would nice to have all of these titles under one banner, does anyone really believe that the lack of catalog is the primary problem for either Peacock or Paramount+? Like all bad mergers, combining the two efforts won't solver their core problems. It will just mean that instead of struggling streaming services, we would have one larger one.
Despite what some people industry believe, size doesn't always matter.
COMING NEXT WEEK
I spoke this morning with Ryan Chanatry, the General Manager of Topic, First Look Media's streaming service. The interview will run on AllYourScreens.com next week. It's a really good look at the challenges and upsides of running a small, niche streamer in 2021. One of the things he mentioned was that Topic is finding a lot of success licensing titles that are co-produced by multiple international networks. That more complicated structure means the shows aren't available for licensing globally and/or in many of the bigger international markets. Which means they are generally not of interest to the bigger, global streamers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
More next week....
ODDS AND SODS:
* The Food Network is premiering the new competition series Raid The Fridge on September 1st, and it sounds as if it is essentially the same premise as three other shows that have recently been on the network.
* HBO Max has renewed That Damn Michael Che for a second season.
* Hulu has announces that a special animated episode of Pen15 will premiere on August 27th.
1) A Second Chance: Rivals! (Netflix)
"In this sequel, after a grown-up Maddy gets injured and can’t qualify for the Olympics, she starts coaching a team of elite junior gymnasts as they go up against rival team."
2) Bankrolled (Netflix)
"Two directionless millennial bros get high and pitch a bold new social justice app that raises millions. Then they have to come up with the app."
3) Blood Red Sky (Netflix)
"Flying with her young son, a mysteriously ill woman is forced to unleash a dark secret when terrorists attempt to hijack their transatlantic flight."
4) Chip N Dale: Park Life Series Premiere (Disney+)
"This new animated series follows two tiny troublemakers, Chip and Dale, trying to live the good life in a big city park while having giant-sized, sky-high adventures. Nervous worrier Chip and laid-back dreamer Dale make the perfect odd couple: they’re best buddies and they drive each other nuts. In their perpetual pursuit of acorns, these ultimate underdogs are joined by Pluto, Butch and other iconic Disney characters as they face down bullies great and small."
5) Darcey & Stacey Season Premiere (TLC)
"As Darcey and Georgi’s engagement faces unprecedented hurdles, Stacey and Florian are exploring ways to expand their family, despite opposing opinions on how to make it happen."
6) Jolt (Amazon)
"Lindy is a beautiful, sardonically-funny woman with a painful secret: Due to a lifelong, rare neurological disorder, she experiences sporadic rage-filled, murderous impulses that can only be stopped when she shocks herself with a special electrode device. Unable to find love and connection in a world that fears her bizarre condition, she finally trusts a man long enough to fall in love, only to find him murdered the next day. Heartbroken and enraged, she embarks on a revenge-filled mission to find his killer, while also being pursued by the police as the crime’s prime suspect."
7) Kingdom: Ashin of the North (Netflix)
"Tragedy, betrayal and a mysterious discovery fuel a woman's vengeance for the loss of her tribe and family in this special episode of "Kingdom."
8) Masters Of The Universe: Revelation Series Premiere (Netflix)
"The war for Eternia begins again in what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor. A new animated series from writer-director Kevin Smith."
9) Mind For Design Series Premiere (Discovery+)
"Brian tackles the design of three kids rooms at his sister’s house, including a nursery for his twin nieces and his toddler nephew’s bedroom and shared bathroom, by creating fun and functional spaces without any major construction."
10) Playing With Sharks (Disney+)
"A true pioneer in both underwater filmmaking and shark research, Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the underwater world whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today. Through remarkable underwater archival footage, along with interviews with Valerie herself, "Playing with Sharks," from twice Emmy®-nominated director Sally Aitken, follows this daring ocean explorer’s trajectory from champion spearfisher to passionate shark protector. From the birth of cage diving to “Jaws” hysteria to the dawn of cageless shark diving, Valerie became a trailblazing advocate for the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures."
11) Sky Rojo (Netflix)
"Adrenaline and action are back in the driver’s seat in the second season of "Sky Rojo," from the creators of "Money Heist."
12) Stuntman (Disney+)
"Millions have seen his work, but nobody has seen his face. From Director Kurt Mattila comes the visceral and inspirational film “Stuntman.” It follows professional Hollywood Stuntman Eddie Braun as he prepares and attempts the most dangerous stunt of his career. Contemplating retirement and having survived over three decades of hellacious car crashes, explosions, high falls, and death-defying leaps, Eddie Braun decides to finish out his career by recreating the infamous Snake River Canyon rocket jump, an audacious televised event that almost killed the man who inspired Eddie to become a professional stuntman: Evel Knievel. "
13) Ted Lasso Season Two Premiere (Apple TV+)
"Jason Sudeikis is Ted Lasso, an American football coach hired to manage a British soccer team—despite having no experience. But what he lacks in knowledge, he makes up for with optimism, underdog determination...and biscuits. The widely acclaimed series also stars Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Nick Mohammed. Sarah Niles joins the cast this season as ‘Sharon,’ a sports psychologist who has been brought in to work with AFC Richmond."
The Last Letter From Your Lover (Netflix)
"After finding a trove of love letters from the 1960s, a journalist sets out to solve the mystery of a secret affair. Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes."
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, July 21st, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by BBQ pizza and trail mix.
HOLLYWOOD SUPPORT STAFF SEEK LIVING WAGES
I've written before about how the pay and benefit crunches for support staff are going to be one of the central issues of the upcoming negotiations between Hollywood unions and the studios. The Hollywood Reporter does a nice job of laying out some of the problems:
Larger TV production trends also have stymied those seeking raises. Short production schedules, small episode orders and writers “mini-rooms” have led to less overall income on each show and more job-hunting, 871 members say, while the general dearth of series with multiple seasons has diminished the number of roles with relative job security and chances for promotion.
“There used to be a clear ladder where the first season, you were the writers’ PA, the second season you were the writers assistant or script coordinator, maybe the second or third season you got a freelance job, and once you freelanced, the next season you would staff,” says writers assistant and 871 member Amy Thurlow, who is on the local’s negotiations committee. “And you can’t get there when there’s only one season of a show.”
While it would cost some money in the short term, if I were running one of the big streamers, I would unilaterally announce a raise for any support staff hired on an original production. In an era where the competition for talent is so intense, being known as a support staff-friendly company is a good selling point to producers and showrunners looking for a home for their next project. Investing in support staff is not unlike investing in a better studio or upgraded equipment. It's money that isn't seen on the screen. But it makes everything up to that point work so much smoother.
AN UPDATE ON 'MANIFEST'
In Friday's newsletter, I mentioned that I had spoke with Manifest creator/showrunner about the show's future after it had been canceled by NBC after three seasons. The first two seasons of the show were added to Netflix in June and it has remained near the top of that services "Top Ten" list ever since. That success has sparked a series of stories wondering if the show might return in some form and he recently spoke with me about that:
One of my favorite movies is Field Of Dreams and we both remember the mantra, "If you build it, they will come." So there is a little bit of reckless optimism going on here and I have just set out to keep the conversation alive. A lot of the actors as well as a number of fans have been engaging in the conversation with me. I have seen enough Cinderella story endings over the years with other shows. A show is canceled and then due to overwhelming popularity in reruns or a platform or social media engagement either a third-party studio or a third-party network stepped in and created a number of new episodes or a movie or kept the show going. I've seen it happen often enough that I have to ask myself, "Why not Manifest?" Here we are a month, almost five weeks after the announcement of cancelation and more people than ever are watching the show.
All I can report from Hollywood is that the incredible support and enthusiasm for the show has been noticed and has resulted in some conversations. I know that NBC is aware of the interest. I know they've taken notice. Obviously, Netflix is aware. They've taken notice. And other people have taken notice. We have taken several calls discussing financing assistance. These are companies that produce television and movies and music and they're reached out to us and sat down with us and had a serious conversation about figuring out how we could keep the show going.
Aside from the discussion of Manifest, we had an interesting conversation about social media and it's something that I think doesn't get enough attention inside the industry:
When I think about the relationship between social media and Manifest, there is a deep connection that has always felt very organic. In my opinion, one of the satisfying aspects of the show for the viewer is that you're not only watching a show, you're on a shared journey with the characters and everybody else who is watching the show with you. And I think that social aspect - in a really wonderful way - has elevated the television viewing experience. Because it allows us as a community of entertainment consumers to communicate with each other, to brainstorm together, to puzzle-solve together when it comes to the mysteries of the show. And then also to just emote communally. To just share in the emotional journey together.
I think we've always done that. But it was always at home. Alone, or with whomever was with us on the couch. But in this modern era, to have the opportunity to find like-minded people and have the ability to have an ongoing conversation about the journey makes the experience all the more satisfying and powerful. So as the creator and showrunner, I like to participate in that aspect of the experience as much as I can. Because I like to think that my contribution to the dialogue is additive and hopefully brings additional insight into the viewing experience.
SPEAKING OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter has announced that is testing an up/down voting feature. The theory is that Twitter could use the responses as an alternative way to determine which tweets should be highlighted to a larger audience.
This is a great idea, in theory. But it's pretty easy to see how well-organized campaigns could use the voting to downvote politicians or causes they don't like so that the algorithm begins to de-prioritize them.
IF I WERE RUNNING CNN+
Did you know that nearly 1,000 coal miners have been on strike for more than 100 days? You certainly didn't if you were watching any of the big three cable news networks. A new study by watchdog group Media Matters shows that while that attempt to unionize some workers in Alabama received hours of national coverage, the Alabama strike has not received one mention on CNN, Fox News or MSNBC:
The strike gained coverage from larger print publications like The Guardian and The Nation in June, but even after protesters faced arrest and targeted acts of violence, cable news still did not deem it newsworthy. (For comparison: Fox News, an outlet that has consistently claimed it cares about coal jobs, devoted 1 hour and 18 minutes over just five days that month to covering a school district in New Jersey that changed references to holidays on its academic calendar to simply “days off.”) When the miners took their efforts to New York City to protest the hedge funds that backed Warrior Met -- including its largest stakeholder, BlackRock -- the biggest names in news remained silent.
If I was in charge of the content mix at the upcoming news streamer CNN+ (or the original news coverage at Peacock), these are the types of stories I'd lean into. Under-covered local stories with national implications. Stories that have the potential to break out on social media and promote the service. Instead, Peacock and CNN+ seem to be leaning into a mix of familiar formats with some newer faces and a few shows featuring faces from their linear news networks. That approach is safe and no one will get fired if it doesn't work. But it's not going to do much to build a new audience or increase revenue.
ODDS AND SODS:
* Zack Snyder's Stone Quarry Productions signs a first-look deal with Netflix.
* A day after making it available on Amazon Fire devices, Sling is rolling out its new interface on Roku devices. Apple and Android devices will be added later this year.
* The state of Florida plans to give the Walt Disney Co. more than half a billion dollars in corporate tax breaks to subsidize Disney's planned new regional headquarters.
* Netflix faces several uphill battles. This is why it wants to fight them.
* HBO is premiering a three-part documentary on August 3rd entitled Obama: In Pursuit Of A More Perfect Union.
1) Ghost Adventures Season Premiere (Discovery+)
"The Ghost Adventures crew receive calls on the regular about claims of unrelenting paranormal activity that is terrifying those in its wake. Whether it’s poltergeist activity at a popular Hollywood costume shop or shadow figures inside a celebrity residence, these complex paranormal mysteries leave everyone wanting answers. Using advanced cutting-edge technology along with their unique paranormal intuition and more than two decades of experience, Zak, Aaron, Billy and Jay examine each situation searching for evidence that will point them to a better understanding of the unexplained phenomena."
2) Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years (Paramount+)
"At Kamp Koral, the craziest sleepaway camp in the kelp forest, 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants and his pals spend the summer building underwater campfires, catching wild jellyfish, and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck."
3) Kandisha (Shudder)
"It’s summer break and best friends Amélie, Bintou and Morjana hang together with other neighborhood teens. Nightly, they have fun sharing scary stories and urban legends. But when Amélie is assaulted by her ex, she remembers the story of Kandisha, a powerful and vengeful demon. Afraid and upset, Amélie summons her. The next day, her ex is found dead. The legend is true and now Kandisha is on a killing spree— and it’s up to the three girls to break the curse."
4) Keeping Up With The Joneses (LMN)
"Vivica A. Fox stars in this tale of a high-powered businesswoman and her stepdaughters fighting for control of the family company."
5) Through Our Eyes (HBO Max)
"Through Our Eyes spotlights the perspectives of children as they experience some of the most challenging issues facing families today – homelessness, parental incarceration, military caregiving, and climate displacement – in four 30-minute films designed for adults and as a co-viewing experience for kids ages 9 and older."
6) Ultra City Smiths Series Premiere (AMC+)
"Hey Guy. Welcome to Ultra City. It’s Detective David Mills’ first day on the job and things just got heavy. Carpenter K. Smith, Our Last Bright Hope, went out for a pack of cigarettes...gone seven hours since."
7) Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Netflix)
"After meeting one bright, sunny day, a shy boy who expresses himself through haiku and a bubbly but self-conscious girl share a brief, magical summer."
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, July 20th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea.
NETFLIX UNVEILS 2Q
Netflix released it second quarter 2021 earnings information after the close of the stock market on Tuesday. Here are a few quick takeaways:
Netflix added 1.54M subscribers in Q2, above estimates. About 2/3 of that subscriber growth was in Asia.
It forecast additions of just 3.5M subscribers in Q3 2021, below Wall Street estimates.
Netflix lost 433,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada in Q2. It was the only region where it lost subscribers and the first time it has lost subscribers in the U.S. since 2019, when it lost about 130,000 subscribers.
But aside from the soft subscriber numbers, there were some positives. Netflix reports its chur rate continues to be low and ARPU (average revenue per user) is growing and should stay on that track.
The Netflix Q2 Investors Letter also offers up some viewing factoids for some of the Netflix Originals that were released during 2021 Q2:
For example, Shadow and Bone, a fantasy series based on the popular Grishaverse book series, proved to be very popular with our members. Over 55m member households chose to watch this show in its first 28 days and we’ve renewed it for a second season. Sweet Tooth, based on the beloved DC comic, was another hit series with 60m member households choosing this title in its first four weeks. Our expansion into non-fiction series is going well. This past quarter, standout unscripted titles include season two of dating show Too Hot to Handle and social experiment reality program The Circle (an estimated 29m and 14m, respectively, chose to watch in the first 28 days) as well as the true crime docu-series The Sons of Sam (19m). We’re building out some of these unscripted titles with local versions of the same formats. As one example, Too Hot to Handle: Brazil and Too Hot to Handle: Latino will be launching later in July and September, respectively, to serve our LATAM region.
We’re also quickly growing both our live action and animated original film offering, with several impactful titles in Q2. Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead was a blockbuster as 75m member households chose to watch this action packed zombie spectacle in its first 28 days of release. As an extension to Army of the Dead, a prequel, Army of Thieves, will be released in Q4’21 along with a spinoff anime series later in 2022. Fatherhood, a dramedy starring Kevin Hart, was another hit, drawing an estimated 74m member households in its first 28 days. And Q2 also featured our biggest Netflix animated film to date with 53m member households choosing to watch The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
There is also a bit of info about Netflix's international programming:
Our non-English content investments are growing both in scope and impact. Our P&L content expense for this content category has more than doubled in the past two years. Illustrating how great stories can come from anywhere and be loved everywhere, part two of Lupin from France was our largest non-English title in the quarter with 54m member households choosing this title in its first four weeks. Season four of Elite from Spain drew 37m member households in its first 28 days, while season two of Who Killed Sara? built on the success of the first season with 34m households choosing the latest installment of this gripping thriller from Mexico.
In the past few weeks, there have been news reports that Netflix is moving quickly into the games sector and has hired several executives to lead their gaming efforts. There is a bit of information about the gaming plan, although it's still not clear how everything will be integrated:
We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg, Black Mirror Bandersnatch) and our Stranger Things games. We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV. Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices. We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.
I'll have more in tomorrow's newsletter.
CHRIS NEES ON KIDS TV, WORKING WITH NETFLIX
For all of the attention paid to the really huge deals Netflix has made with writer/producers like Ryan Murphy, I'd argue that one of the most important ones is the one the streamer made with kids TV writer/producer Chris Nees (Doc McStuffins). The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose has a great interview with her and it's filled with a lot of insight about the kids television and her experience with Disney:
What was the bigger fight on Doc McStuffins: Doc being a girl or being Black?
Her being Black was a quick yes. The girl piece was interesting. I pitched Doc as a girl, but in the pilot, which I’m amazed has never leaked, Doc was a boy. Disney bought the show and said, “We think the character needs to be a boy.” It was about what was on the channel then. They weren’t paying attention. I remember thinking, “This is a terrible idea, but development takes years so I have time to get it back to being a girl.” And nobody else had bought it. Nickelodeon famously passed.
It seems like your Disney tenure wasn’t light on battles.
A lot of blood was lost. Disney is very meddling. That said, it was very hard to choose to leave there. I ended up with a very good thing, but you’re constantly fighting back a million notes, and I certainly found my sea legs to do that. It’s the Disney way. They’d put a lot of new execs with me and I was not easy on them.
There is also a really fascinating discussion about profit participation and it's a reminder of just how umm...frugal big media corporations can be with the people who create the content they'll make money off of for decades:
I went and found a team around me who understood that I fucking love the fight. I ended up with a groundbreaking deal with profit participation, and it was done in many ways with Phineas and Ferb. It’s their story to tell, but I’d been hearing rumors that those guys [creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh] had finally broken [the participation precedent], and while I didn’t know them at the time, I knew people in common, so I reached out to Dan. I said, “This is who I am. This is what’s happening. I’m hearing you guys may have done something.” He canceled his lunch and I drove over that day and he gave me the information I needed to hold firm [and get participation in my deal]. But then I wasn’t satisfied with just changing my deal, I wanted to change the deal structure [for everyone]. And they didn’t give me a gag order, so I called every other showrunner and I’d say, “This is going to be a really uncomfortable conversation, but it’s going to give you what you need to know to change things.” Then I’d share every number I just got. I intended to tell the first round of people and then they would [pass it on], but then they all got gag orders.
ODDS AND SODS:
* NBC Sports & IndyCar have reached a multiyear media extension that will increase the number of network races. NBC will broadcast 13 races next year, including the Indy 500. The remaining races will be shown on USA Network & Peacock Premium. Peacock will have 2 exclusive streams.
* The L Word showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan has signed an overall deal with Showtime.
1) Behind The Attraction Series Premiere (Disney+)
"The series explores how Imagineers filled the Haunted Mansion with 999 happy haunts, how the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! (while defying gravity in the process) and why Space Mountain took so long to launch. From the 1950s to today, from Jungle Cruise to "it's a small world" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Disney Parks attractions have amazed millions. And this is the story of how they did it."
2) Chernobyl 1986 (Netflix)
"After reuniting with a lost love, firefighter Alexey retires to begin a new life — but the Chernobyl disaster suddenly plunges him back into danger."
3) Expedition Unknown: Rediscovered Season Premiere (Discovery)
"Josh Gates revisits his journey to Jerusalem and Istanbul to search for lost pieces of the cross used in the crucifixion of Christ."
4) Fasten Your Seatbelt Series Premiere (A&E)
"In the Atlanta airport terminal, an intoxicated traveler goes off the rails and then straight off a balcony. A ticket holder gets furious at aa gate agent when her family's vacation gets disrupted and a captain leaves the cockpit to take down a passenger."
5) Hunting Atlantis Series Premiere (Discovery)
"Stel and Jess trek to the Black Sea, where they investigate a 7,000-year-old skeleton buried in gold treasure, and uncover evidence of an ancient catastrophe that could be the basis for Noah's flood and the destruction of Atlantis."
6) Married At First Sight Season Premiere (Lifetime)
"The 10 newly minted fiancees have only two weeks to prepare to meet their mystery spouse at the altar. When the wedding day arrives, one bride's hopes are dashed when a clue about her husband's passions leaves her feeling devastated."
7) Sexy Dreams Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Hoping to say goodbye to superficial dating, real-life singles sport elaborate makeup and prosthetics to put true blind-date chemistry to the test."
8) The Movies That Made Us Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
"Get the real story behind the blockbusters that defined a generation. Actors, directors and industry insiders lead the way on entertaining deep dives."
9) Too Hot To Handle Brazil Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Ten sizzling hot Brazilians meet at a dreamy beach resort. But for a shot at R$500,000, they'll have to give up sex in this fun reality show."
10) Trollhunters: Rise Of The Titans (Netflix)
Heroes from "Trollhunters," "3Below" and "Wizards" join forces to fight a shadowy enemy threatening to take over their worlds — and reset Earth itself.
11) Turner & Hooch Series Premiere (Disney+)
"When an ambitious, buttoned-up US Marshal inherits a big unruly dog, he soon realizes the dog he didn’t want may be the partner he needs. Turner & Hooch stars Josh Peck as Scott Turner, son of Detective Scott Turner portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 1989 film of the same name."
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, July 16th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by some truly terrible coffee and vanilla pudding.
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR 'MANIFEST?'
One of the real licensed TV success stories of the summer has been the former NBC drama Manifest. The network recently decided against picking up the show for a fourth season and the studio has been shopping the show around to other networks and streamers, apparently without much luck so far.
Which isn't an unusual story, except for the fact that the first two seasons of Manifest were added to Netflix in the U.S. and Canada about a month ago., Since then, the series has been on Netflix's "Top Ten" list in the U.S., spending nearly all of that time in the one of the top couple of positions. It would be an impressive run for any licensed show, but an especially ironic one given that there have been reports that Netflix has also passed on the series.
I just got off the phone with series creator Jeff Rake and while I'll have the full interview later tonight on AllYourScreens.com, I wanted to pass along these thoughts from him.
I wanted to talk to him about how he has used social media to engage with the show's fan and build a community between the cast and the viewers. But I also wanted to ask him about the future of the show. He told me he is optimistic that someone will step up to produced additional episodes or a finale movie. He obviously wasn't going to provide any details, but he did pass along that he and other producers had received calls from outside production companies who were impressed by the show's success on Netflix. He described the process as a bit like the movie Field Of Dreams.
He also said that the studio had originally asked the cast to extend their contracts for several weeks after the show was canceled in hopes it could place the show somewhere. But those options have now lapsed, so if new episodes or a finale movie were to be ordered, new contracts would have be negotiated with the cast.
Read the interview, it was a really interesting conversation. I'll also post the link in Monday's newsletter, in case you do something crazy like take the weekend off for friends and famiy.
DISCOVERY LAUNCHES MAGNOLIA NETWORK APP
While the linear version of the Magnolia Network isn't launching until January, the rollout of the network continues. Yesterday more than a dozen Magnolia Network shows rolled out on Discovery+, with new episodes and series being added over the next month. And now the Magnolia App has launched and while I haven't had time for a deep dive yet, I do have a couple of quick thoughts.
The Magnolia app contains all of the Magnolia Network programming but it is also home to a number of Magnolia brand extensions: shopping, blogs, additional ways to connect with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their everything is branding approach isn't a favorite of mine, but it is wildly popular.
I'll have a more in-depth review this weekend, but one interesting aspect is that a subscription to Magnolia costs $5 per month. But it's free if you currently have a Discovery+ subscription. And that points to a likely path for the future of streaming at Discovery. I can see the company taking a similar approach with other current standalone apps, such as the Motor Trend or Food Network Kitchen app. Offer a standalone subscription, but offer subscribers of Discovery+ access as part of their subscription.
That would also be an interesting way to solve the mismatch between HBO Max and Discovery+ if the two companies do end up as one entity. Sell standalone subscriptions to Discovery+, but offer it for free to anyone who subscribes to HBO Max for full price. It's a form of bundling, using the most expensive product as leverage.
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT 'BLACK WIDOW' AND STREAMING
As you might expect from former Hollywood Reporter journalist Matthew Beloni, his new twice-a-week newsletter "What I'm Hearing" has quickly become a must-read for anyone who follows the business of entertainment. His most recent edition focused on the Marvel movie Black Widow and he had some thoughts about why Disney had uncharacteristically shared revenue numbers from Disney+ Premium:
Disney is paying bonuses to its stars and creatives based on lumping in the premium access revenue with box office for a total “consumer spend” pool. That means the numbers eventually will be public, or at least shared outside the company, so there is less reason not to release them now. Plus, agents, lawyers, and the media have been making increasing noise about the lack of transparency. Stars do Disney tentpoles for the scale; they want to be able to talk about how much money their movies have made.
Beloni also argues that the box office numbers for Black Widow were only so-so and that doesn't bode well for this weekend:
Yes, the $80 million opening isn’t terrible for a movie available at home during the latter stages of a pandemic. But did you see those trajectories? Yikes. Typically, a Marvel movie opening day (Thursday-Friday combined) represents 39.8 percent of the weekend gross, according to rival distribution executives, which suggests that Black Widow was on track to open at about $100 million. But attendance dropped precipitously from Friday to Sunday for a huge 49.1 percent opening day ratio, well above other Marvel pics, suggesting apathy among those who might have gone to a Saturday date night showing or a Sunday matinee. OK, but the pandemic!, Disney argues. Casual fans who aren’t dressed up as Red Guardian on opening night might be reluctant to visit a theater at all. But the opening day percentages for F9 and A Quiet Place II—two summer 2021 films not available at home—were much stronger, according to NATO numbers.
FWIW, one indication that Black Widow might be in trouble at the box office this weekend is that AMC Theatres is offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal for the movie to all 2.5 million AMC Premium Stubs members:
READERS SOUND OFF ABOUT STREAMING SERVICE EPISODE LISTINGS
In yesterday's newsletter I wrote about some people's unhappiness with the way Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV handled the Norman Lear shows that have just been added to their services. I tied it in with Amazon's general casualness with it comes to its UX.
That prompted a flurry of responses from people complaining about other streaming services. I received a number of emails, many of them similar to this one:
"If Paramount+ saw its subscribers as more than just a cash machine, they'd put more effort into their listings and the way things are organized. It's a sad world when the fans of the show care more about it than the people who own it and who are responsible for its history."
I heard complaints about every service, like this one on Twitter:
But by far, the biggest number of complaints came from Disney+ subscribers, who argued that the service has had a long-running issue with incorrect or out-of-order episode listings. And the only time they seem to corrected is when one of the show's creators publicly complains about it.
One of the people I heard from was Drew, who runs the website DisneyDejaVu.com. He keeps a running list of all of episodic order issues on Disney+ and I asked him to share some of his thoughts about why this matters:
I remember after Disney+ launched being irritated that some episodes were out of order while competitors like Prime Video had in the proper order. Disney+ says they add them in airdate order, but it's known that airdate order is often wrong for kid's shows. Disney was notorious for this - they aired episodes as they pleased, not as they were written. For TV that may have worked - people drop in and out.
The problem is that this is the binge era now and the service serves as the "forever home" for these titles. People don't "drop in and out." They watch from the start and in order. When pilots that introduce the story and characters are placed 20 episodes into the series or villains are appearing multiple episodes after they've been vanquished, it ruins your enjoyment.
You can read his entire op-ed here.
Have a great weekend!
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, July 15th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by a fruit smoothie.
COMPLAINING ABOUT AMAZON'S TERRIBLE STREAMING UX SEEMS ALMOST POINTLESS AT THIS POINT
I've spent entirely too much time over the past year complaining about the terrible interface on Amazon Prime Video and now its ad-supported sister streaming service IMDb TV. The search function is nearly unusable, things are collected into odd and often inaccurate categories. Even worse, if you subscribe to a streaming service through Amazon Channels, that content is shown in an Amazon wraparound interface. Believe me, you haven't experienced frustration until you're tried to find an older title of Starz by searching through its Amazon Channels interface.
Amazon and IMDb TV made big news yesterday when they announced a number of Norman Lear's most popular shows would be coming to those streaming services beginning today. But fans are already complaining about the experience, from being unable to find the shows at all to discovering episodes are listed out of order and some are missing altogether:
I've some off-the-record talks with people at Amazon and even after their explanations, I remain perplexed about why these issues continue to plague the company. A lot of stuff falls into the category of basic UX issues that any serious streamer should be able to solve. And for whatever reason, it's not a big priority at Amazon.
ESPN'S JIMMY PITARO TALKS THE FUTURE OF SPORTS AT DISNEY
Variety's Brian Steinberg has a good interview with chairman of ESPN and Disney sports content Jimmy Pitaro and the future of sports programming and how more of it is shifting to streaming from its traditional linear home:
“Sunday Night Baseball” has been a mainstay of the Disney sports network since the show’s launch in 1990, but on August 8, the program will air on ESPN’s corporate cousin, ABC. When ESPN this fall launches its first NHL season coverage in a decade and a half, a good chunk of the games will be made available for viewing by ESPN digital subscribers on Hulu. In 2024, portions of ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage will turn up on ABC and the streaming outlet ESPN Plus. And in 2026, when Disney gets the rights to its first Super Bowl in 20 years, ESPN’s chief expects viewers will be able to watch several different broadcasts of the game across multiple networks, some potentially with unique camera views and others with celebrities and athletes joining the conversation.
ABC, NBC ANNOUNCE THEIR FALL SCHEDULES
We are getting more broadcast network premiere dates as I am writing this. Rather than making this newsletter even later today, here is a link to the comprehensive AllYourScreens premiere dates page, which I am updating as I write this. It's updated multiple times a day, so it's a good page to bookmark if you want to keep track of these programming changes.
JUNE VIEWERSHIP-AT LEAST, ALL THE VIEWERS NIELSEN CAN PUBLICLY DISCUSS
Nielsen Media Research released its "The Gauge" viewing infographic for June and the big change is that Netflix and Disney+ each gained a percentage point from May's numbers, primarily at the cost of the broadcast networks:
ANALYST ESTIMATES NETFLIC ADDED JUST ONE MILLION FOREIGN SUBS IN Q2 2021
Ahead of the Netflix Q2 earnings report, Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter said today that he is estimating that Netflix will add one million international subscribers and stay unchanged in North America for the fiscal period ended June 30th. That's inline with guidance from Netflix, but below the Wall Street consensus of 1.97 million subs:
Regardless, Pachter says Netflix’s pact with Steven Spielberg’s studio Amblin Partners, and separate five-year deal with Sony Pictures, in which Sony movies will stream on Netflix in the U.S. after their theatrical and home entertainment runs, represent strong cards in hand for the SVOD pioneer.
“This appears to be a major coup for Netflix when it is both facing immense competition and a drying spigot of licensed content,” Pachter wrote.
ODDS AND SODS
* IMDb TV may pick up the canceled ABC series Rebel.
* Paramount+ has renewed the iCarly reboot for a second season.
* The Television Critics Association have announced the 2021 TCA Award nominees.
* Steam is jumping into the handheld gaming device business with Steam Deck. Designed by Valve, powered by Steam. Shipping December 2021 at a cost of $399.
* Netflix has hired a former Facebook and EA exec to lead its videogame push.
* Viacom/CBS and Charter have signed a new carriage deal.
1) Deep (Netflix)
"Four insomniac med school students are lured into a neuroscience experiment that spirals out of control - and must find a way out before it’s too late."
2) Explained Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
"From monarchies to apologies, pooches to plastic surgery, this docuseries explores a wide range of fascinating topics to illuminate your world."
3) Extinct or Alive: Jaws of Alaska (Discovery+)
"International wildlife biologist Forrest Galante travels the world in search of rare and elusive wildlife, including those lost to science, and mysterious cold-water sharks. "
4) Fear Street Part Three: 1666 (Netflix)
"Dark secrets. Unspeakable evil. The merciless world of 1666 holds the truth behind a powerful curse — and the key to one town's future."
5) Icon: Music Through The Lens (PBS)
"The series follows the fascinating lives and often wild experiences of the artists who documented popular music in images, from the earliest darkrooms to the fast-evolving digital landscapes of the present day. Featuring irreverent interviews with some of the most famous music photographers, musicians, gallerists, music journalists and social commentators, Icon is an eye-opening thrill ride that captures what it was like on both sides of the camera when the most recognizable images in history were taken."
6) I Was Prey: Terrors Of The Deep 2 (Discovery)
"Two adventure seekers recount their horrifying shark attack experiences."
7) Johnny Test (Netflix)
"How much trouble could one imaginative boy, his faithful dog and two science-loving sisters possibly get into? Hmm, that sounds like a challenge!"
8) Making The Cut Season Two Premiere (Amazon)
"Making the Cut is once again on a mission to find the next great global fashion brand. In the second season, hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn will be joined by new judges Winnie Harlow, world-famous supermodel, and fashion pop icon and Moschino Creative Director Jeremy Scott. Plus, additional guest judges, including Prabal Gurung and Shiona Turini will make cameos throughout the season."
9) McCartney 3,2,1 (Hulu)
"Paul McCartney sits down for a rare in-depth one-on-one with legendary producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 70s arena rock of Wings and his 50 years and counting as a solo artist. In this six-episode series that explores music and creativity in a unique and revelatory manner, join Paul and Rick for an intimate conversation about the songwriting, influences, and personal relationships that informed the iconic songs that have served as the soundtracks of our lives."
10) Monster Sharks Of Andros Island (Discovery)
"Shark researchers Dr. Tristan Guttridge, Annie Guttridge, Alannah Vellacott and Khrys Carole travel to Andros Island to determine if it's a new Great Hammerhead hotspot, and they're using reports of a half-octopus, half-shark creature known as the Lusca to help them locate massive sharks for their study."
11) Mystery Of The Black Demon Shark (Discovery)
"In Mexico, legends swirl around El Demonio Negro, a 50-foot shark that has terrorized fisherman and tourists alike for generations. Is this an undiscovered predator? Forrest Galante hunts for answers in the most rugged and remote parts of the Baja Peninsula."
12) Ninja Sharks: Mutants Rising (Discovery)
"In the icy waters of Alaska, off populated beaches of New York, and lurking in ghostly shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina, scientists and shark experts Dr. Craig O’Connell, Joe and Lauren Romeiro, Avery Paxton, Madeline Marens and Hap Fatzinger have discovered three sharks that have developed unique and deadly ninja skills."
13) Schmigadoon (Apple TV+)
"A parody of iconic Golden Age musicals, “Schmigadoon!” stars Strong and Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship who discover a magical town living in a 1940s musical. They then learn that they can’t leave until they find “true love.” The six-episode season also stars Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada. Martin Short guest stars. "
14) Space Jam: A New Legacy (HBO Max)
"In the film, basketball champion and global icon LeBron James goes on an epic adventure alongside the timeless Tune Bugs Bunny and the Tune Squad in this animated/live-action event. This transformational journey is a manic mashup of two worlds that reveals just how far some parents will go to connect with their kids."
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, July 13th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and a Lean Cuisine.
NETFLIX, UNIVERSAL EXPAND THEIR ANIMATION DEAL
Following an announcement earlier this week that Universal has split its pay-one movie window between Peacock and Amazon, the company announced today that it has expanded and extended a deal between Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Netflix:
The pact is a multi-year licensing deal and guarantees that the streamer will have access to films involving the Minions, Shrek and much more. Under the agreement, Netflix’s window to stream upcoming animated films such as “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” or “The Bad Guys” will begin after a four-month window on Peacock, the in-house streaming service launched by Universal parent company Comcast in 2020. This new agreement builds upon Netflix’s pre-existing Illumination output deal with Universal to now include DreamWorks Animation, another Universal-owned animation brand. Tentpoles such as “Minions: The Rise of Gru” will be among the initial 2022 offerings.
As part of the new deal with Universal, Netflix will also license rights to the full animated and live-action slate from Universal Filmed Entertainment Group four years after release. The deal also grants the streamer rights to select titles from Universal’s movie library.
This is rightfully being seen as a big deal, but I do have some questions. This deal seems to be mostly limited to the U.S.? So who will have the other global rights to these movies? I'm assuming that will depend on the region and the local competitors. There also hasn't been able mention of the part of the previous deal that allowed Netflix to create new shows based on Dreamworks IP. I'm assuming that continues, since it's not mentioned in the release.
I've reached out to Netflix and Universal to see if I can get some clarity. I'll let you know if I get a response.
A BIT ABOUT THE EMMY NOMINATIONS
The 2021 Primetime Emmy nominations were released today and I'm not going to wade into the hits/misses of the nominations. I will mention that the most inconvenient nominations are the 18 HBO's Lovecraft Country received - including one for best drama. That show was canceled by HBO after its first season and the creator of the series ended up signing a new with Apple TV+.
I'll be interested to see how quickly any of the streamers put together a vertical of "2021 Emmy Nominee" programs. That would especially be helpful at HBO Max, which has a wide range of nominations, some of them for shows that subscribers have likely forgotten about at this point (such as David Byrne’s American Utopia).
THIS IS THE TWITTER BOT I WANT
One of the continuing challenges with any large streaming service is content discovery. How do you get subscribers to notice all of the content that is buried inside the streamer's massive library?
Archive.org has a massive collection of media, including a library of tens of thousands of old records. In particular, their collection of digitally transferred 78 records may be the biggest archive of this recordings in the world. And one way that let people know what has been added is to create a Twitter bot account that automatically tweets out a random new title once an hour.
I would love to see one of the streamers do the same thing. A Peacock Twitter bot that tweets out a reminder for every live Olympic event or an HBO Max bot that randomly tweets out titles buried deep in the archives. I'd also find it helpful to have a Twitter bot that tweets out a notification every time Hulu adds new episodes of television shows.
It's not that this is some massive game changer. It's that the bots are not especially hard to set up and once they are up-and-running, they don't require a lot of attention. And aside from the convenience it provides subscribers, it's also an easy marketing tool. There will definitely be people retweeting the messages, which provides even more free impressions.
FORGET BOB IGER, THIS IS THE DISNEY RETIREMENT REPORTERS CARE ABOUT
This is a bit of inside baseball, but The NY Times has a piece (free for TooMuchTV subscribers) on the upcoming retirement of 65-year-old Zenia B. Mucha, the much-feared terror who protected the image of Disney and was not afraid to confront any reporter whom she felt was being unfair. Or even, not cooperative
Ms. Mucha — who has been variously described during her career in politics and at Disney as “warrior princess,” “razor-sharp and acid-tongued,” “mother crocodile” and “director of revenge” — has influence at Disney that extends far beyond her official duties. As other C-suite executives have cycled through the company over the decades, Ms. Mucha has endured to become leadership team bedrock, giving her a voice in nearly every major corporate decision. In 2016, for instance, when Disney was thinking about buying Twitter, she was against it. (Too much porn, she cautioned.) Mr. Iger passed, later citing the platform’s “nastiness.”
Lately, Ms. Mucha’s job has taken on a difficult new dimension. Disney’s family-friendly brand is meant to be for everyone. But neutrality in today’s hyperpartisan world is almost impossible. Many employees and customers want and expect companies like Disney to be advocates for progressive issues. Another faction is just as adamant that Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear steer clear of politics and hot-button cultural topics.
Anyone who covered Disney for any length of time has been the recipient of a call or email from Mucha, who is very....passionate about the company and more than willing to cut off any reporter's access if she believes they are painting Disney in a bad light.
THE MAGNOLIA NETWORK LAUNCHES ON DISCOVERY+
The Chip & Joanna Gaines Magnolia Network isn't having its linear launch until later this year. But in the meantime, it is doing a streaming launch on Discovery+, where a total of 22 shows will be premiering or adding new seasons. Most of the shows will launch on Thursday and AllYourScreens will have a bunch
ODDS AND SODS
* The Smash Brothers-style platform game Nickelodeon's All-Star Brawl is coming this fall. Click here to see the trailer.
* What it look like if Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson was a TV critic?
* ITV is rebooting Undercover Boss for the U.K.
1) A Classic Horror Story (Netflix)
"In this gruesome suspense film, strangers traveling in southern Italy become stranded in the woods, where they must fight desperately to get out alive."
2) Good Trouble Season Premiere (Freeform)
"Some bold decisions were made in love and life, and now it’s time to deal with the consequences. Nothing says “adulting” like not apologizing for being your authentic self… no matter how many tables you turn. Season three continues with Callie battling Jamie in the biggest court case of her career while rekindling her rooftop romance with Gael. Mariana is forced to choose between Evan and her friends and colleagues in the Fight Club. Malika deals with the aftermath of changing her relationship structure with Isaac. Alice stands alone after her bold departure from the problematic comedy diversity program. Gael prepares for fatherhood. Dennis returns to the Coterie to pick things back up with Davia, but has she grown tired of waiting?"
3) Gunpowder Milkshake (Netflix)
"Three generations of women fight back against those who could take everything from them in the mother of all action movies."
4) Heist (Netflix)
"A 21-year-old woman steals millions in Vegas casino cash. An aspiring father swipes a fortune from the Miami airport... and uses TV shows to learn how to get away with it. A Kentucky dad is accused of one of the biggest bourbon burglaries in history. Using dynamic reenactments, original interviews, and a fast-paced style that fits perfectly into the cinematic canon alongside films like Ocean’s Eleven and Catch Me If You Can, directors Derek Doneen (The Price of Free), Martin Desmond Roe (Two Distant Strangers), and Nick Frew (We Are the Champions) each take the helm of a single heist, told over two episodes."
5) Mechashark (Discovery)
"Researchers Kina Scollay, Mark Erdmann and Al Baxter build a submersible mechanical shark to track down New Zealand's monster great whites and pilot it deep into what they believe could be a mating ground."
6) My Unorthodox Life Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Follow Julia Haart, Elite World Group CEO and a former member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and her adult kids in this reality series."
7) Private Network: Who Killed Manuel Buendia? (Netflix)
"A deep dive into the work of renowned Mexican journalist Manuel Buendía looks to unravel his murder and the ties between politics and drug trafficking."
8) Return To The Lair Of The Great White (Discovery)
"Dr. Craig O'Connell and Marc Payne return to where they filmed a juvenile great white. Believing there's a nursery nearby, they follow the trial to a discovery that could change everything known about great whites."
9) The Guide To The Perfect Family (Netflix)
"A couple in Québec deals with the pitfalls, pressure and high expectations of raising kids in a society obsessed with success and social media image."
10) The Real Sharknado (Discovery)
"Ian Ziering and Tara Reid join Dr. Tristan Gutteridge to see if a real "Sharknado," with sharks risking their lives to attack humans, could happen."
11) Tiger Queen (Discovery+)
"The shark population in Turks and Caicos has a sizable concentration of female tiger sharks, leaving scientists wondering where all the males are hiding. Shark enthusiast Kinga Philipps joins Dr. Austin Gallagher to help solve this puzzling mystery."
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, July 12th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by the fact that I have (mostly) recovered from my viral infection.
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU
I continue to add subscribers at a pretty regular clip and crossed the 16,000 mark over the weekend. It's especially gratifying the subscription list includes a large number of people working inside the industry. I'm pleased that I can offer value to all of you. I'm also enjoying the fact that I've carved out a unique niche for myself. I don't think there is anyone else out there doing a free Monday-Friday newsletter devoted to the entertainment industry other than maybe CNN's "Reliable Sources" newsletter, which has two people writing it.
WHAT HAPPENS TO A TWITTER ACCOUNT WHEN THE SHOW ENDS?
Every network and streamer creates show-specific Twitter accounts for their shows and depending on the social media team, the success of the accounts vary wildly. But one of the challenging questions for any team is deciding what to do with the account when the show ends.
In most cases, the Twitter account just sits there untouched for years. For instance, this Twitter account for the Fox series Fringe was last updated when the series ended in 2013.
If the show is produced in-house (ie. NCB Studios for NBC), then it might make sense to just leave the account live and pin a tweet at the top that points fans to where they can stream the show (in this instance, Peacock). The only other time to update it would be when one of the stars of the show is appearing on a new series on the network. It might not have a huge impact, but give that fans of the cancelled series are probably still following the show's Twitter account, you might was well take advantage of the captive audience.
You can also just take the account offline, which in some ways is the easiest approach and the one least likely to cause any problems down the line. But what you don't want to do is completely delete the account name. Because if you do that, someone else can come in and claim the name.
I noticed several months ago that the Twitter accounts for some canceled Fox shows had been deleted, so I went in and claimed the one for the 2018 series The Cool Kids. I posted a few times and was curious to see if anyone would notice. I did receive some confused DMs from fans of the show, but otherwise, it has managed to stay off of everyone's radar.
I mention this primarily because a bad actor - imagine someone hyping adult content - could come in and take over deleted accounts and use them for months with no connected with the show even noticing. Until one day The Daily Beast publishes an expose about how someone is using the old Cool Kids Twitter account to link to dolphin sex videos.
So, no. Don't delete your Twitter accounts. Take them offline and protect everyone involved.
HEAD OF PARAMOUNT+ SAYS 'BLACK WIDOW' NUMBERS POINT TO WINDOWING 'OPPORTUNITY'
Kelly Day, who overseas Paramount+ as President International Streaming Services at ViacomCBS, said during a panel at the Cannes Film Festival Marche that the generally strong numbers from Black Widow last weekend point to a future where theatrical and streaming releases can have variable windows that allow them to co-exist and maximize revenue:
Day noted that Paramount was also continually analyzing its windows strategy. Timing with the launch of Paramount+ earlier this year, ViacomCBS president Bob Bakish confirmed that the company would be halving the traditional window on its titles to 45-days, and 30 for smaller films.
Day also repeated that Paramount+ plans to launch in 45 markets by the end of next year.
DISNEY TO RAISE PRICE FOR ESPN+ SUBSCRIPTIONS
Disney will increase the cost of an ESPN+ subscription from $5.99 to $6.99 per month beginning in August. The cost of an annual subscription will increase from $59.99 to $69.99:
In April, Disney reported that ESPN+ had 13.8 million subscribers as the streamer continues to win exclusive streaming rights to major sporting events and release original programming with prominent athletes like Abby Wambach, Ronda Rousey and Tom Brady. Earlier this month, ESPN nabbed the exclusive rights to the Wimbledon championship through 2035, with live streaming rights going to ESPN+, which will be the only platform for tennis fans to watch full match replays and live coverage of the qualifying rounds. The streamer will also have exclusive access to 75 games from the National Hockey League for the upcoming season, as well as next season’s PGA Tour Live.
It's interesting that while the stand-alone subscription will increase the cost of the Hulu/ESPN+/Disney+ bundle will remain the same at $13.99 a month. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen with Disney+ - a nominal increase for standalone subscriptions while the bundle price remains the same.
ONE LAST THING ABOUT DAN SCHNEIDER
I have written a great deal about former teen TV show producer Dan Schneider in recent weeks. And given that, I found this excerpt from a Hollywood Reporter interview with Nickelodeon President and CEO Brian Robbins very interesting:
You’ve known and worked with Dan Schneider since Head of the Class. He recently told the New York Times that he has a desire to come back and has programming that he’s working on. Is there room for him at ViacomCBS?
I don’t think right now we’re looking to work with Dan. I don’t know what his plans are, quite frankly, but whatever they are, I wish him luck. I wasn’t here when he was dismissed and he and Nick went separate ways so it’s hard for me to comment on that relationship and I’d hate to speculate on rumors. I have no ill will but we are not contemplating working together right now.
Schneider created the original iCarly. Was he compensated for the revival?
I don’t know the specifics; I wasn’t here when he did his separation agreement. He definitely didn’t have anything to do with the new iCarly, so I don’t believe he was compensated, no.
A couple of thoughts on this. First, I know that due to the terms of the separation agreement there are limits to what anyone at Nickelodeon can say on the record about the split or his behavior while he worked with the network. But I do believe this is the first time I've heard someone at the network officially describe the split as a "separation agreement.
Not that we are ever going to know, but if Schneider did indeed sign away his rights to a future iCarly reboot, then the network must have had a very strong case.
From a journalism standpoint, I wish there would have been a follow-up questions along the lines of "Without getting into specifics about Dan Schneider, what guidelines has the network put into place to help prevent this situation from happening in the future.?"
BTW, the interview with Robbins is an interesting read and while he does use a bunch of CEO-speak when he discusses strategy, there still are a number of good insights.
FACTOID OF THE DAY
The LeBron James skins and weapons have now joined Fortnite
ODDS AND SODS
* Starz has greenlit a second season of Power Book III: Raising Kanan ahead of the series premiere.
* I'm not sure what the audience is for it, but Samsung has expanded its AVOD platform to the web so anyone can use it.
1) Brad Paisley's Shark Country (Discovery)
"Country star Brad Paisley and comedian JB Smoove meet in the Bahamas to attract new fans, Sharks! With Dr. Austin Gallagher's help, they put Brad's musical talents to the test in shark-infested waters to see how sound can attract or repel sharks"
2) Fin (Discovery+)
"Acclaimed filmmaker Eli Roth and a professional group of scientists, researchers and activists sail around the globe to unveil the truth behind the death of millions of sharks, exposing the criminal enterprise that is impacting the extinction of the misunderstood creatures."
3) Great White Comeback (Discovery+)
"In 2017 one of the strangest ocean mysteries occurred in South Africa when an entire Great White population disappeared overnight. Alison Towner and her team, Enrico Gennari and Andy Casagrande head out on an epic investigation to find the missing Great Whites of Seal Island."
4) Miracle Workers Season Three Premiere (TBS)
"Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail follows an idealistic small-town preacher, a wanted outlaw and an adventurous prairie wife as they lead a wagon train west."
5) Mother Sharker (Discovery+)
"It's a great mystery where tiger sharks give birth. One team of scientists and shark experts including Dr. James Sulikowski, Dr. Toby Daly-Engel, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and Jamin Martinelli deploy an arsenal of new technology to find out, but they need to meet some of the Bahamas' biggest tiger shark mothers face-to-face for it to work."
6) Ridley Jones (Netflix)
Curious kid Ridley and her friends protect the Museum of Natural History’s treasures and keep its magical secret safe: Everything comes alive at night!
7) Spawn Of El Diablo (Discovery)
In 2012, Michelle Jewell documented one of the largest great white mating scars ever recorded. Recently similar marks have appeared, leading her to believe this is a possible mating ground and that mega-shark El Diablo has returned to South Africa
8) World Biggest Bull Shark? (NatGeo)
It was a freak encounter that broke all the records. In 2012, off the coast of Florida, shark scientist Dr. Neil Hammerschlag caught the mother of all bull sharks—it stretched more than 10-feet long and weighed over 1,000 pounds! They named her Big Bull and set her free. Bull sharks in Florida patrol the beaches, terrifyingly close the swimmers, and feast on seasonal migrations of baitfish. Many long thought these sharks were just well-fed, but now some scientists believe that Big Bull is the matriarch of a unique population of giants. There is only one way to find out ... and you gotta get close.
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