Displaying items by tag: Too Much TV

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

17 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, August 17th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by lots of Ginger Ale.

'BIG BROTHER 23' AND THE CULTURAL RESET
It has been years since I have watched Big Brother on a regular basis. But freelancer Linda Martindale does a great job of recapping each episode for AllYourScreens. While the show wasn't on CBS yesterday, she wrote about the strategy being used in this season's show, which is a conscious decision from a number of the houseguests to ensure that a person of color wins the season:

Big Brother 23 has strong players in the cast, and they were easily identified. Seven of the houseguests are considered People of Color, and six of them bonded and formed “The Cookout.” Their goal was to take each other to the final six so a person of color could finally win the money. Let’s face it. The majority of the winners have been Caucasian men who played on strength and looks. This year, this group would be different, and here lies the major issue I have with them. They excluded a “Person of Color” who was of Asian descent, Derek X.

It's a really interesting perspective and as you might imagine, the piece has received quite a bit of pushback online. Below is a bit of the back-on-forth on Twitter, but here is the link if you want to read it all:





AMC NETWORKS AT THE TCAS
AMC Networks presented some of its programming to TV critics on Tuesday and here are some of the highlights:

* AMC Studios To Open Writer's Room To Explore Potential 'Lives Of Mayfair Witches' Series

* AMC Studios Opens Writers Room For Potential New Series 'Invitation To A Bonfire'

* AMC Studios Opens Writers' Room For Development Of New Genre-Defying Project 'Demascus'

ALLBLK Orders Second Season Of 'Terror Lake Drive'

* Shudder Orders Original Docu-Series 'Behind The Monsters'

A&E NETWORKS AT THE TCAS
Judy Reyes, Gloria Reuben, Fátima Molina And Camila Nuñez To Star In Lifetime Original Movie 'Torn From Her Arms'

Lifetime Greenlights New Miniseries Event 'Flowers In The Attic: The Origin'

A&E Documentary Event 'Secrets Of Playboy' Explores The Hidden Truths Behind The Playboy Empire

Lifetime Announces 'Highway To Heaven' Premiere

The History Channel Commemorates 20th Anniversary Of 9/11 With 7 Hours Of New Documentary Programming


FACTOID OF THE DAY


SEE YOU TOMORROW
Tomorrow the various Disney networks, including NatGeo. This week's newsletters will likely be a bit light (and perhaps a bit late) on Wednesday and Thursday while the TCAs are going on.

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, August 16th, 2021

16 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, August 16th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by two cups of uncomfortably strong McDonald's coffee.

THINGS I HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED
If you have been reading this newsletter for awhile, you've likely noticed that it was been tweaked quite a bit. Most of the changes are due to the way that all of you consume the newsletter. I pay attention to open rates & when the newsletter is read, as well as lots of great (and not so great) feedback from some of you. The newsletter is now getting close to 17,000 subscribers, which is rewarding. But I am always learning new things. One of which is that when I sent out my first-ever weekend newsletter on Saturday (which was really just a delayed one from Friday), the open rate was nearly identical to what I would expect from my regular newsletters. I don't know what to make of that, but I do appreciate the fact that the open rate for the newsletter - which is how many subscribers open the email - averages 60% in the first 24 hours. And that is a pretty spectacular number, when compared to other similar newsletters. And if I look a week out, nearly 80% of the newsletters are opened with 7 days of being sent. So a sincere thanks to all of you.

DISCOVERY+ AT THE TCAS
Streamer Discovery+ presented some of its programming to TV critics on Monday and here are some of the highlights:

HGTV & Discovery+ To Premiere 20 New Shows Before Year's End

Discovery+ Orders 'Smartless' Docuseries

* Discovery+ Renews 'Well Done With Sebastian Maniscalco' For A Second Season

* Discovery+ To Stream New Limited Docuseries 'Last Chance Transplant'

THIS IS THE KIND OF DAY WE'RE HAVING
Texas Senator Ted Cruz and CNN PR are whacking away at each other on Twitter:


DON'T WORRY, SCARLETT JOHANSSON AND EMMA STONE WILL BE OKAY
I have read about a half dozen newsletters over the past few days that have focused on Disney's contractual wranglings with Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone. What will it mean to talent in Hollywood moving forward, etc.? And while that is a valid topic to pursue, it's worth noting that the people in Hollywood most impacted by the changes in the industry's business model are the people who also have the least leverage: writers, producers, script consultants, various assistants. All of the people who barely make enough to pay the bills in a perfect world. Now they're being confronted with short seasons, reduced opportunities and budget constraints that seem to mostly impact the people who can't afford to complain. To say nothing of Marvel's efforts to move production of its TV shows from the showrunner-centric model to one in which a director makes the final creative decisions (which is the way it is in movies). I hope that Scarlett Johansson gets everything she deserves financially. But I wish industry analysts would devote a bit of coverage to the changes talking place away from the limelight.

MAGNOLIA RENEWS NINE SHOWS, UNVEILS FALL PROGRAMMING SLATE
The not-quite-a-linear network yet Magnolia has renewed nine shows from its initial slate of programs and has announced some of its fall programming lineup, which will be streaming exclusively on Discovery+ until the linear Magnolia Network premieres in January, 2020. This is the first time someone has extensively promoted a network lineup before it has even had its linear launch:

Magnolia Network has handed out season two renewals for eight of its original series: Family Dinner, First Time Fixer, Homegrown, Inn the Works, The Lost Kitchen, Point of View: A Designer Profile, Restoration Road With Clint Harp and Super Dad. Flagship series Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines has also been picked up for a fourth and fifth season, with a launch later this year likely.

Additionally, Magnolia Network has picked up three new titles that will launch on the Discovery+ platform in the fall: The Katie Button Project with four time James Beard Award-nominee chef Katie Button, An American Story and In With the Old. The trio beefs up a fall slate that also includes previously announced unscripted offerings including Art in Bloom With Helen Dealtry, The Established Home (previously known as Jean Stoffer Design) and Making Modern With Brooke and Brice.

ODDS & SODS
*
Ovation To Premiere Season Four Of 'Frankie Drake Mysteries' On October 2nd

* ABC's Rebel fails to find new home, will not return for season two.

* Kaley Cuoco has offered to buy horse that was punched at Olympics as she slams disgraced German coach.

SEE YOU TOMORROW
Tomorrow the various AMC networks as well as the A&E nets will be presenting to the TCA. 

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 Saturday, August 14th, 2021

13 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Saturday, August 14th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by the guilt of missing the Friday edition of the newsletter.

THIS ISN'T *TECHNICALLY* A WEEKEND EDITION
I apologize for not getting out a Friday newsletter. I was about 75% done with it, then I ended up buried in other work-related stuff and didn't get it out in time. So rather than tossing the entire thing, I stripped out a couple of items that are now less timely - like coverage of the FX announcements at the TCA - and added a couple of other things for this special "weekend edition."

A 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' SCANDAL LIKELY TO GO AWAY
Money and power can make a myriad of problems disappear if you work in the entertainment industry. By the time that someone's sexual and/or emotional harassment problem becomes public, it has likely been the subject of quietly settled lawsuits and binding NDAs. Bad situations can drag on for years and even decades because the balance of power in Hollywood is shifted so far in the direction of the powerful. And let's be honest, if the allegations involved a well-loved celebrity, it's even more difficult to force the issue into the public's view. And let's not forget that the more loved the person being accused, the more likely someone or some entity will work hard to make sure the issue is settled privately.

There are few shows in television that deserve being described as "institutions," but Saturday Night Live certainly qualifies. For better or worse, Lorne Michaels and NBC have turned the series into not just a cash cow but a star maker. Generations of comics have been turned into high paid media figures thanks to their exposure on the show. So it's not surprising that while stories of troubling behavior behind the scenes of SNL has been part of the industry rumor mill for decades, you seldom hear anyone with a connection to the show bad mouth their experience on SNL or with producer Lorne Michaels. 

On Thursday an anonymous woman filed a lawsuit alleging that comedian Horatio Sanz groomed and sexually abused her 20 years ago when he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live. At the time, she was 15 to 17 and he was in his early 30s. I think it's fair to say that Sanz isn't exactly a household name and if you read the news coverage in the trades, the focus is almost entirely on her allegations towards, which are pretty terrible:

These conversations allegedly continued, and the plaintiff was invited to several more parties in late 2001 and into 2002. At a party in May 2002 — when she was 17 — she alleges that Sanz kissed her, groped her buttocks and breasts, and tried to digitally penetrate her against her will.

The plaintiff alleges that she ran into Sanz in the summer of 2019, when he admitted to masturbating while engaging in the IM chats with her. In the subsequent text messages, from November 2019, Sanz allegedly said he “felt terrible” about hooking up with her.

The only time someone other than Sanz is mentioned in the Variety piece is when it's noted that she came to Sanz's attention because at the time, she was running a Jimmy Fallon fan web site. But if you read the actual complaint, she has a lot more to say about Fallon and other people associated with the show. At the very least, the allegations claim that other people associated with the show - including Fallon & Michaels - knew that she and her friends were underage, yet continued to allow her into after show parties:

49. On November 17, 2001, Defendant SANZ put Plaintiff on his guest list for the SNL after party for that night, as he would continue to do. Plaintiff sat with Jimmy Fallon and others in a VIP area, ordered and consumed a Budweiser beer in the presence of NBC/SNL employees. Plaintiff sat with Jimmy Fallon and they shared calamari.

50. At the party, Plaintiff told Jimmy Fallon she was in high school to which he commented: “So you have a few years before you graduate” and asked Plaintiff what she intended to study in college. They also discussed Plaintiff’s upcoming SAT. The people seated at the table became very quiet when Plaintiff disclosed she was a junior in high school.

51. At the party, Fallon also introduced Plaintiff to show producer Lorne Michaels and they discussed Plaintiff’s Jimmy Fallon website.

52. Plaintiff was never asked by anyone for identification before being served alcohol and, despite Plaintiff being underage, she was continually permitted by NBC employees to consume alcohol and attend the parties regularly, including on at least four (4) occasions in winter and spring of 2002.

And there are these allegations:

55. Defendant SANZ was not the only SNL cast member and NBC employee who openly preyed upon women and young girls.

56. For example, on September 30, 2001, another NBC employee and SNL cast member openly sexually harassed Plaintiff’s friend (17) at an SNL cast party.

57. For example, Plaintiff was warned to stay away from another SNL cast member/NBC employee because he sexually assaulted and/or sexually harassed multiple friends of Plaintiff.

58. Defendant SANZ told one of Plaintiff’s friends to stop telling people about her assault by a fellow cast member.

59. Defendants NBC knew or should have known about the sexually harassing and predatory conduct of its employees towards women and girls yet continued to facilitate their and others’ conduct leading to Plaintiff’s and others’ harm.

60. On or about May 11-12, 2002, Defendant SANZ provided alcohol to Plaintiff (17) and gave her a ride in a limousine paid for by Defendant NBC and operated by an employee and/or agent of NBC.

61. On this evening and morning, Plaintiff attended two SNL parties, one of which took place at an SNL cast member's loft, where Defendant SANZ openly put his arm around Plaintiff while they talked with other guests and NBC employees/SNL cast members.

The complaint is full of allegations that claim other SNL cast and crew were aware of her age and of the situation and neglected to take action against Sanz or to intervene:

65. Attendees at the party who were NBC employees observed Defendant SANZ groping and assaulting Plaintiff and one commented: “Are you f***ing serious?”

66. Plaintiff's friend recalled: “I remember Horatio once trying with you. Now that I'm thinking this through. And you were upset and said thank god you were wearing panty hose because it stopped the action.” By this statement, Plaintiff meant that while he had digitally penetrated her, the sexual assault did not escalate further because Defendant SANZ could not successfully remove Plaintiff’s panty hose.

67. The following week, Defendant SANZ asked a friend of Plaintiff’s not to tell anyone about him and Plaintiff. 

68. On or about May 19, 2002, Plaintiff (17) attended a SNL finale party at NBC and was admitted entry onto the premises by NBC employees Fallon and Defendant SANZ. Plaintiff openly consumed alcohol at this party while under aged, including while talking to SNL executive producer Michael Shoemaker.

69. At the SNL party, an NBC page, who previously kissed Plaintiff when she was 16, grabbed Plaintiff sexually and without Plaintiff’s consent.

70. After engaging in the nonconsensual sexual conduct with Plaintiff, described above, Defendant SANZ continued to contact Plaintiff, when she was less than 18, via AOL Instant Messenger to engage in sexually inappropriate conversation during which, she later found out (in 2019), he masturbated and solicited sexual images from Plaintiff, in violation of New York and Pennsylvania law, as outlined above.

71. During this time period, SANZ continued to put Plaintiff on his guest list for SNL after parties where she continued to be served alcohol and engaged in drug use.

NBC and representatives for Fallon have declined to comment other than to deny the allegations that specifically concerned them. There's no way to judge the validity of the claims based on just a a court filing. But if there is any truth to the allegations, I would expect NBC, Fallon and/or Michaels to negotiate a settlement. Because this is probably not the kind of case they want going into an open courtroom.

HERE'S ONE VOTE AGAINST A BINGE RELEASE MODEL
Eric Kripke, showrunner for The Boys, credits the show's Best Drama Emmy nod to the fact they decided to release new episodes of Season 2 each week:

I know some of the fans were unhappy, but it was completely producer driven. Season 1 got an amazing response. But, honestly, I think it’s dissatisfying to put that much effort and care into every detail and then have this two-week orgy of attention and love for the show. And then it’s just completely disposable. We just wanted to be a part of the conversation longer. We wanted to give the audience an opportunity to obsess over whatever happened in that particular episode’s madness. A lot of fans were really upset, and I get it. But I have to say, as the experiment, it was an incredibly successful one. We broke through in a way that other shows that are very good, but have a binge strategy, are not breaking through. We got into the conversation long enough that people started telling their friends and more articles were written. I have no doubt in my mind that we would not be nominated for best drama had we been in the binge model, rather than weekly.

SOMETIMES TELEVISION IS A GOOD JUDGE OF CHARACTER
I don't make the mistake of confusing the on-camera personality I see on a reality series with the real-life person. Even in the best of circumstances, television can only show a sliver of a person's true character. And with the tendency of reality TV producers to lean into conflict, I am skeptical of just about everything I see. Still, sometimes the character you on the screen seems to match up to reality and that appears to be the case with Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer. In each episode of the series, Taffer visits a bar in severe financial trouble and uses his expertise to try and "rescue" it. And while he certainly has expertise about the bar business, he accomplishes his goal with a combination of random bursts of anger, tough love and barely-disguised scorn. I quit watching the series after awhile, because it exhausting watching his displays. So I can't imagine what it's like to spend a week with the guy as he tries to fix your business.

On Thursday, Taffer made an appearance of Laura Ingraham's Fox News TV show, where the host asked him about whether he believed that unemployment payments were encouraging people not to work. And Taffer's response was predictable, but not very tactful: 

Ingraham: "What if we just cut off the unemployment? Hunger is a pretty powerful thing. I don't mean physical hunger, because some people really are in need. But I am talking about people who can work, but refuse to work." 

Taffer: "They only feed a military dog at night, because a hungry dog is an obedient dog. Well, we are not causing people to be hungry to work, we are providing all of the meals for them to sit at home."

Now this is not the first time Taffer has made these types of comments. But this exchange went viral on Friday. To the point where Taffer felt the need to release a statement and explain his comments:

Regarding an interview I did yesterday, I want to sincerely apologize for using a terrible analogy in reference to the unemployment situation. That was not my intention and I greatly regret it.

My comment was an unfortunate attempt to express a desire for our lives to return to normal. I recognize this has been a challenging year for everyone, and I am eager for the hospitality industry to come back stronger than ever.

ODDS & SODS
*
Changing Rooms’ Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen says he is glad Carol Smillie is not returning to the show. The iconic BBC series is getting a reboot, with Llewelyn-Bowen being the only original cast member to return. The reboot premieres in the UK this Wednesday.

* Labor unions want the FTC to block Amazon's acquisition of MGM. The letter was penned by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a democratic union federation that represents more than 4 million workers in its four affiliated member unions.

* Kaley Cuoco has offered to buy horse that was punched at Olympics as she slams disgraced German coach.

* Netflix has negotiated an agreement with the city of Verona to get special access to sites around the city for a Romeo & Juliet-inspired production entitled Love In The Villa. Production is set to begin in Novvember.

SEE YOU MONDAY
There will be a couple of reviews of Netflix shows posting on AllYourScreens.com first thing Monday, once the embargoes lift: the Netflix reality series Motel Makeover and the Nordic series Post Mortem: No One Dies In Skarnes.

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, August 12th, 2021

12 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, August 12th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Diet Rite and the feel of a summer breeze as I write this while I am also grilling chicken breasts.

DISNEY REPORTS Q3 EARNINGS
The Walt Disney Co. Aug. 12 reported that its branded Disney+ subscription streaming VOD service ended the third quarter (ended July 3) with 116 million subscribers — up from 57.5 million subs in the previous-year period. When combined with ESPN+, Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, Disney ended the period with almost 174 million subs. Specifically, ESPN+ finished the quarter with 14.9 million subs, up from 8.5 million last year. Hulu increased its sub base to 39.1 million from 32.1 million. Online TV platform Hulu with Live TV topped 3.7 million subs from 3.4 million last year.

Here are some nuggets/takeaways from the earnings call:

* Disney+ will host Disney Plus Day on November 12th to celebrate the two-year anniversary launch of the SVOD platform. The event will coincide with new product announcements and company-wide cross-promotional campaign.

*Disney is launching Disney+ Hotstar in Malaysia and Thailand in Q4. The SVOD is currently operating in limited capacity in Japan and will switch to full operation in late October. Other launches in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

* Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that film-release strategy still made on a "film by film basis" and the company will "always do what we believe is in the best interest of the film:"

“As you probably recognize, we live in a very uncertain world in terms of the recovery of some of our markets, and theatrical exhibition world is certainly a part of that. We said from the very beginning that we value flexibility and being able to make as last-minute calls as we can, given what we see in the marketplace. Certainly, when we planned our schedule that we’re executing right now, we did not anticipate — nor do I think anybody — the resurgence of Covid with a Delta variant that would have such an effect on the marketplace.”

* Chapek also said that the upcoming movie Shang Chi was planned to be opening in a "more healthy environment." He also explained why Free Guy was not released on Disney Premium+:

"On Free Guy, obviously this is a title that we acquired under a different distribution assumption and set of agreements, so we don’t have the degree of freedom to do that. On Shang-Chi, we actually think it’s going to be an interesting experiment for us, because it’s got only a 45-day window for us. The prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical for 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles."

In response to a question about whether Shang Chi could shift to Disney Premium+ at the last minute, Chapek stressed that wasn't possible at this point:

“Once again, I’ll refer back to my previous answer: when we planned Shang-Chi, that title was planned on being in a much more healthy theatrical environment, and at this point, unfortunately, due distribution agreements that we have and due to just the practicalities of last-minute changes, it wouldn’t be possible."

* And in an indirect response to the Black Widow lawsuit, Chapek said that "We have figured out ways to fairly compensate our talent'" no matter how films are distributed. He claimed that "hundreds' of agreements" with talent have fared successfully in this new operating environment. 

* As far as the streaming business is concerned, Chapek said in terms of acquiring subscribers, "I like to think of it as if we are in the first inning of the first game of a very long season." But he also added that 'Our churn (at Disney+) has declined....our retention is very healthy." He also added that churn rate on the bundles is even lower than on the individual services. Although lowering the churn rate is the primary reason to do a bundle, so it would news if that wasn't the case.

* Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the company sees both dividends and share repurchases returning but "not until we have returned to a more normalized operating environment"

* In regards to Hulu, McCarthy said that "I think if the ad-sales team had more inventory (at Hulu) they could sell it."

AMAZON MOVES PRODUCTION OF 'LORD OF THE RINGS' TO UK
It's been interesting to see how the various streamers are shifting production globally as they try and maximize their studio space and production facilities. Amazon Studios announced today that it will shift production of its high-profile Lord Of The Rings series from New Zealand to the UK for season two:

The shift from New Zealand to the U.K. aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the U.K., with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the U.K. home. 

The highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings series recently wrapped principal photography on Season One in New Zealand and is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video in more than 240 countries around the world on Friday, September 2, 2022.  

“We want to thank the people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an incredible place to begin this epic journey,” said Vernon Sanders, VP and Co-Head of TV, Amazon Studios. “We are grateful to the New Zealand Film Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Unlimited, and others for their tremendous collaboration that supported the New Zealand film sector and the local economy during the production of Season One.” 

Season One post-production will continue in New Zealand through June 2022, and pre-production on Season Two will begin concurrently in the U.K. after the first of the year. 

As is always the case, these decisions have financial consequences above the cost of the move. In this case, Amazon Studios is forgoing the five percent production rebate it was due to receive for season one, since it won't be keeping production in New Zealand:

"As we look to relocate the production to the U.K., we do not intend to actively pursue the Season One MoU five percent financial uplift with the New Zealand government or preserve the terms around that agreement, however we respectfully defer to our partners and will remain in close consultation with them around next steps," said Albert Cheng, COO & Co-Head of TV, Amazon Studios. 

THE BRANDING OF NETFLIX ORIGINALS
What On Netflix's Kasey Moore posted a 16-second branding clip that Netflix uses for its theatrical releases and suggested that Netflix should use the clip to intro every Netflix Original. Aside from the challenge of deciding what actually qualifies as a Netflix "original," I think it's a great idea.

One of the best pieces of branding HBO ever did was their iconic HBO opening that they attached to all of their original content. Just hearing a few seconds of the audio will remind you of the clip and that sort of cellular-level branding is priceless. To be honest, I am somewhat surprised that none of the streaming services have attempted a similar move.

HBO MAX TO LAUNCH NEW APP
As someone moderately obsessed with UX and content discovery stories, I am both fascinated by and jealous of the reporting of Vulture's Joe Adalian, who writes in the latest issue of his newsletter Buffering that HBO Max plans to roll out a completely new app following months of complaints over instability issues and other problems with the current platform:

The WarnerMedia exec tells me some of the trouble can be traced to bugs that cropped up as part of the June launch of a new $10 ad-supported tier and, just a few weeks later, the expansion into 39 new countries and territories. Integrating commercials into what had previously been an ad-free platform meant introducing a whole new layer of coding into the app, thus increasing the potential for technical hobgoblins to sneak in and make mischief. Similarly, distributing Max programming to dozens of new, non-English-speaking markets also required tons of engineering bandwidth with the Herculean effort needed simply to add subtitles to thousands of hours of programming.

However, the larger issue, according to HBO Max insiders, is that the current app wasn’t built from scratch the way Netflix or Hulu were brought to life. Instead, Max has been running on a retrofitted version of the old HBO Go and HBO Now services. While those were both solid applications, they were designed for a very different product. According to the WarnerMedia exec, the main concern of the engineers then was making sure everything didn’t crash when hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously streamed Game of Thrones on a Sunday night. “That program was built for scale, and it was rock solid,” he says. HBO Max obviously still needs to handle a lot of traffic all at once, but it’s serving up substantially more content to a bigger audience — subscribers who are spread around the globe rather than living in just one country. Trying to do that on the existing platform has been a challenge from day one.

Adalian reports that the HBO Max app will be replaced on every platform in the four to five months, with the Roku app first on the list.

This story is a reminder that the other major app with similar problems is Paramount+, which has also been the focus of a number of complaints from customers. It's also built on top of an older platform, the CBS All-Access framework, which I have been told has caused similar problems to the ones experienced at HBO Max. 




ODDS & SODS
Actress Sharon Gless will be releasing her autobiography in December, entitled "Apparently, There Were Complaints"

* Canadian cinema giant Cineplex has launched a discounted movie ticket program, CineClub, where members can receive one regular admission ticket for $9.99 a month and receive discounts on concessions and other benefits.

* HBO Max announced today it has ordered a new eight-episode half-hour comedy series Sort Of, created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me). The series follows follows the journey of "Sabi Mehboob" (Baig), a gender fluid millennial who straddles various identities from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Sabi feels like they’re in transition in every aspect of their life, from gender to love to sexuality to family to career.

* Disney+ has pushed back its price increase for those outside of the US who subscribed before February 23rd (when Star launched). The change has been pushed back about six weeks until now take effect as of November 3rd. It's notable that the original date of August 23rd would have fallen at the very end of the Q3 earnings period.


SEE YOU TOMORROW

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, August 11th, 2021

11 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, August 11th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and a platter of cheese and salami.

A24 STREAMING 'THE GREEN KNIGHT' FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY
The combined impact of COVID-19 and a changing movie audience has forced studios to innovate and experiment with ideas that might have sounded a bit crazy two years ago. Along those lines, A24 has decided to offer its critically-acclaimed film The Green Knight via PVOD for one night only.

The adventure drama fantasy co-starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton has grossed more than $12 million at the box office since it premiered July 30th. 

A24's online screening room will offer the movie for $19.99 on August 18th at 8:00 pm CST. Purchasers will have a four-hour window to watch the two-hour movie after starting. Pre-sale tickets are now available.

I think you're going to see more of these experiments from the smaller studios and distribution companies, as they try and maximize revenue at a time when the traditional theatrical business is still under recovery. One upside for producers such as A24 is that in the case of most output deals, the price that streamers pay for titles such as this one are dependent on box office and PVOD revenues. Aside from the money A24 makes on August 18th, this revenue boost will make the movie more valuable down the road. Which I suspect is one of the reasons the movie will only be available for one evening. 

A REALLY FUNNY NETFLIX SPOOF
Parody is tough to pull off successfully, but the new site site Nestflix is pretty damn funny.

Aside from the name, the UX of the web site has a very Netflix-influenced feel, right down to the way in which users click into titles.

As for premise of the site itself, Nestflix is a wiki dressed up as a streaming platform that catalogs fictional films and tv shows inside real movies and tv shows. Here is the criteria for what is included, according to the site:

Here’s the criteria for what gets added:

  • Must be fictional (not characters watching a real film, not a recreation of a real film)
  • Must show actual footage (not just mentioned in dialogue or seen in a poster)
  • Not a news or morning show (for now, this might change)

Designer Lynne Fisher did a great job with Nestflix and it's a fun way to kill a few minutes.

WHY DOESN'T DISCOVERY+ HAVE A REMOTE WORK SERIES
As I've mentioned a few time, I am a big fan of Discovery+'s original programming. I think the streamer is doing a really solid job of creating shows which are on brand for linear HGTV and Food Network viewers, while also pursuing some content niches that aren't broad enough for a traditional television audience.

Given all of that, I am surprised that Discovery+ hasn't rolled out a designer-oriented series that focuses on creating better spaces for people who are now regularly working at home. Obviously, carving out a good work-at-home space is key, but as anyone who works from home can tell you, other parts of the home often need to be tweaked to make working from home the least disruptive for everyone in the household. 

Honestly, this idea feels like a slam dunk for the Discovery+ demo. But maybe this is why I'm not programming a network.

THE CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZATION
The Associated Press is reporting that the Polish parliament has passed a bill that would force Discovery to sell a Polish TV network that included an all-news station that has been critical of the country's right-wing government. The move is seen as a blow to media freedom.

TVN’s all-news station TVN24 is a key source of news for many Poles but it is also a thorn in the government’s side. It is often critical and exposes wrongdoing by officials. The government’s supporters consider it biased and unfairly critical.

Government critics have long feared that Poland was following a path set by Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has gained near-total control over the media as private outlets have either folded or come under the control of the leader’s allies.

TVN represents the largest ever U.S. investment in Poland. The company was bought for $2 billion by another U.S. company, Scripps Networks Interactive, which was later acquired by Discovery.

BBC MAY SELL ITS ELSTREE CENTRE PRODUCTION CENTER
Broadcast is reporting that as part of its "Across The UK" initiative, the BBC is considering a sale of its landmark Elstree Centre studio site in Hertfordshire:

Medical drama Holby City, which is filmed in one of the smaller studios, is to be axed imminently and replaced with a continuing drama produced in northern England and another in either Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The annual Children in Need and Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day events are to move to Salford shortly, leaving EastEnders as the only regular programme produced from Elstree.

The likes of Strictly Come Dancing are also produced at Elstree but on sites owned by Hertsmere Borough Council, which are leased to commercial post-production outfit BBC Studioworks.

The out-of-London moves form part of DG Tim Davie’s Across the UK plan, under which the BBC will up its out-of-London production quota from 50% to 60%. Other shows being relocated include Top Gear from Surrey to Bristol.

Picture 1

ODDS & SODS
Shudder has acquired the period horror film The Last Thing Mary Saw ahead of world premiere at Fantasia Festival

* Viewership from the Music City Grand Prix IndyCar race beat NBC Sports' previous record from 2016, making it the most-watched race on the channel in 23 years.

* Former NFL wide receiver and current CBS Sports football analyst Nate Burleson is joining CBS This Morning, a move which reportedly will mark the end of Anthony Mason's time at the anchor desk of the morning show

* Vulture's Joe Adalian reports that the Freemantle-owned game show network Buzzr is bringing back episodes of the short-lived CBS game show Whew! which aired for one season 40 years ago.

* HBO Max has picked up a second season of Wahl Street.

* The Information is reporting that AT&T is in talks to sell WarnerMedia’s TMZ celebrity gossip brand to Fox. A number of Fox-owned TV stations already air TMZ On TV, a TV series that includes half-hour weekday shows and an hour-long weekend version.

SEE YOU TOMORROW

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, August 6th, 2021

06 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, August 6th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and a soup/salad combo from Panera.

NEWS FROM HULU
Today is Hulu's day to present their programming to the Television Critics Association (TCA). Here are some highlights from the presentation:

* Season two of The Animaniacs will premiere on November 5th.

* The new series Dopesick will premiere on October 13th.  The series "takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community to the hallways of the DEA." It stars Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson.

* Season two of The Great will premiere on November 19th.

* Hulu gave a series order to the original comedy series This Fool, inspired by the life of up-and-coming comedian Chris Estrada, in which he will also write, star and executive produce.

* Hulu has ordered two true-crime programs: the documentary Dead Asleep from award-winning director Skye Borgman and Captive Audience, a docuseries which explores the evolution of true-crime storytelling through the lens of one family’s journey.

* Padma Lakshmi will be back with a new season of Taste The Nation. This seasons is a four-episode season described as a "Holiday Edition," and it premieres November 4th. 

* Hosted by Tamera Mowry-Housley and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, Baker's Dozen will pit passionate amateur bakers against seasoned professionals to determine who will win the golden rolling pin and take home the cash prize. The show premieres Thursday, October 7th.

* Chef David Chang and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville team up on The Next Thing You Eat, a six-episode docuseries that premieres Thursday, October 21st. The series "explores the seismic changes happening all around us and what they mean for the way we’ll eat in the future. Chang and a diverse cast of characters dive headfirst into what lies ahead, including everything from robots, to lab-grown fish, to insect farms, to artificial intelligence calling all the shots."

FACTOID OF THE DAY
Hulu announced some kinda vague-ish data about the performance of season four of The Handmaid's Tale:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale was the most watched series on Hulu every week throughout season four which launched in April. (including Originals and non-Originals)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale season four finale, which debuted on Wednesday, June 16, was the most watched episode of any series on Hulu on premiere day.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale has grown in viewership season over season, every season, with season three to season four viewership up 32%.


SPEAKING OF HULU'S UX AND HULU ORIGINALS
As you probably have gathered, I am a bit obsessed with UX questions. Especially with streamers, because a good user interface can go a long way towards helping with content discovery and ultimately bigger issues such as churn. And my obsession with UX issues has resulted in me hearing from product managers and engineers at the various streamers, who will talk to me off-the-record or on background about some of the questions I've raised in this newsletter. 

And maybe it's because UX decisions are so tied to marketing and sales decisions, but it is incredibly difficult to get people to talk on the record about UX stuff. Which is too bad, because I believe that an effective UX is a core part of any successful streaming service.

Since this is turning into a Hulu-centric newsletter today, let me highlight a Hulu UX question that really stumps me. I haven't had much luck getting someone at Hulu to speak with me on the record. I know there a bunch of people at Hulu subscribed to the newsletter, so if any of you can help with this, please reach out.

Hulu spent it's time at today's TCA's promoting their upcoming original content and it's a move that makes sense. They have some excellent stuff coming later in the year and much of it is more mainstream than some of their previous efforts. So the more promotion these shows can get - both inside and outside the app - the better.

But Hulu's UX is often...awkward. I have a live Hulu TV subscription that I most often access on a Roku device. So these observations are based on that, although having looked at the web and mobile UX's, they are pretty similar.

For instance, the main home page on Hulu is a very long series of horizontal content rows. It resembles the Netflix main page, with the biggest differentiation being that Hulu's content rows come in at least two different heights. 

The problem for me is just the sheer number of horizontal rows. As well as the fact that Hulu originals are buried in the middle of everything. I am assuming that the order is somewhat dynamic based on the user profile, but based on what I've seen on the profiles on my account (which include a 16-year-old anime fan & a 70-ish mother-in-law who loves procedurals), the order isn't radically different.

And this is the current content list on my profile. Which is just overwhelming and I am someone who makes his living watching television:

Top Promo Window
Keep Watching
Tokyo 2020
Olympic Picks
Live Now
TV For You
Movies For You
Bingeable TV
Premium Add-On Promotion (In this case, Showtime)
Hulu Picks
New Shows (which appears to be new episodes of programs you already watch)
Sports For You
News For You
Live TV Favorites
Hulu Originals
Action Movies
FX On Hulu
Premium Add-Ons
Action Dramas
Award-Winning TV Dramas
Hulu Originals For Kids (most of which is YA titles)
Blockbuster Movies
Newly Added Movies
Game Shows
Newly Added TV
Mystery Thrillers
Complete Series
Comic Book Heroes & Villains
Anthology TV Series
Home & Cooking
Academy Award Nominated Films
Science TV
Kids Movies
Adventure Movies
Full Series Dramas
Martial Arts Movies
Sci-Fi Movies
Action Adventure Movies
Reality TV 
Funny Food Shows
TV About Siblings
KIds
Genres

I would love to know the reasoning behind this. I am assuming that at least some of it is driven by user interaction, but from the outside, this seems like a list that could be reduced by a third without much of an impact. My default method for finding something is by using the search function, which really shouldn't be the first thing people try. That limits the ability of a service to surface new content that might be slightly out of the user's comfort level or knowledge base.

But I am sympathetic to the difficulties that come from designing an interface that is supposed to serve both the needs of the users as well as the content providers, marketing and sales teams and original content projects. And even when you make a UX decision that seems to make things better, problems can come up that are unexpected. For instance, in the Roku Hulu app, there was a slight tweak made to the "My stuff" section. This is where all of the content is listed which you have recorded and until the update every episode was listed individually, in chronological order. One advantage of that is that since the basic Hulu Live TV package has a limit of 50 DVR hours spread across all of the profiles, it was easy to go in watch or delete the oldest episodes to stay under the limit. Because otherwise Hulu will delete the oldest content to make room for new recordings.

But a tweak was made that took every episode of a show and put them together in one folder. You then have to click into each show folder to see what episodes are inside. Which makes it almost impossible to see which episodes are older and do some triage before things are deleted. I know, it's a minor complaint. But the change also made my Hulu experience more clunky and added more steps to playing recorded titles. Not so much that it would provoke me to drop the service, but annoying nonetheless. FWIW, after I complained about it on Twitter, someone from Hulu reached out to let me know that if I was unhappy with the change, I could use the web version. Which seems like a non-optimal solution, but as I said, I am sympathetic to the challenges of trying to please multiple stakeholders and audiences.

SEE YOU MONDAY
I think this is the first time a newsletter has ended up focusing on one streaming service. And as I write this, a Hulu panel just ended that included Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez and it was just as funny as you might imagine. Back to a more normal newsletter next week. The three-day PBS sessions will be taking place, but those won't be dominating the newsletter in the same way.

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, August 5th, 2021

05 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, August 5th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea and a poke bowl.

My apologies for the lateness of today's newsletter. I was having some technical problems on my end. 

THE BIG NETFLIX DEAL THAT ISN'T SHONDA OR RYAN OR OBAMA
When you think of big first look production deals at Netflix, you might not immediately think of Shawn Levy. But as this Hollywood Reporter profile notes, Levy is one of the most reliable hitmakers in Hollywood right now. And he currently has 15 projects lined up at the streamer:

How Levy, 53, finds the time to engage remains something of a mystery. As he settles into his oversized chair at The Street Bar at The Newbury and recommends the lobster bisque, he ticks off a dizzying array of projects on the horizon for his 21 Laps production banner — 15 series in active development at Netflix alone, including an adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner All the Light We Cannot See. (Right before this meeting, he was working from his hotel room on casting ideas for the limited series.) He is bringing his hit franchise Night at the Museum to Broadway with Alan Menken, who is writing the songs. And he has two films with Reynolds on the tarmac: In addition to Free Guy, which Disney is giving a theatrical-only release Aug. 13 (the studio is not releasing any of the former Fox movies on Disney+), there’s Netflix’s The Adam Project, a time-traveling adventure about a man who must get help from his 13-year-old self.

But in an industry in which megadeals are touted and dissected relentlessly in the media, including those belonging to J.J. Abrams, Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes, little is known about Levy’s. And that’s by design. His five-year, first-look Netflix deal, signed in November, is said to be in the nine-figure range, a staggering sum for a nonwriting producer. The deal is separate from his lucrative pact with Netflix for the global sensation Stranger Things, which he has executive produced since the series’ debut in 2016, and leaves room for outside gigs like producing Paramount’s Arrival, a best picture Oscar nominee.

'SOUTH PARK' CREATORS SIGN $900 MILLION DEAL WITH VIACOMCBS

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have signed a new deal with ViacomCBS to produce two new South Park movies a year for Paramount+. The deal is notable for a couple of reasons. The $900 million deal apparently doesn't include the actual production costs of the films. And it's an interesting way to get South Park content onto Paramount+, since Viacom licensed every episode of its long-running Comedy Central series to rival streamer HBO Max.

I can't say this is a bad deal. When you look at what Netflix or Amazon are spending on their slate of original movies, nearly a billion dollars isn't out of line for a dozen or so "movies." But it is also worth remembering that South Park is not a viable theatrical release IP. It's not accurate to say these movies are "skipping theaters." They are more like the old school "direct-to-DVD" films that have a name familiar enough for viewers to hopefully tune in.

PITCHFORK TAKES ON PEPPA PIG
This is 2021, so I always assume that there's a 50 percent chance that whatever I'm reading is something written primarily to get people to click on the headline. The music site Pitchfork has posted a review of the album Peppa Pig Adventures. And while I know in the abstract that this is satire, it's honestly the funniest thing I've read in a long time:

This minor concern aside, Peppa has proven herself a graceful navigator of a pop scene often hostile to her species. When My First Album debuted, in 2019, on the same day as Iggy Azalea’s In My Defense, Azalea cruelly threatened to turn Peppa into “a breakfast special.” In light of such attacks, Peppa’s unapologetic embrace of her identity is all the more inspirational. She oinks without shame; she celebrates “jumping in muddy puddles” on no fewer than four of this record’s nine tracks. “Birdy Birdy Woof Woof” demolishes preconceived notions about animal vocalists—“The birds go woof, and the dogs go tweet!”—as Peppa enlists friends and frequent collaborators Suzy Sheep, Pedro Pony, and Candy Cat to sing in one another’s styles. 

Bravo. Really hilarious.

FACTOID OF THE DAY
What's the best streaming TV service option between "free with ads" and "paid with no ads"? In a "Monetizing Video" study conducted by Hub Research, consumers were twice as likely to prefer a service that offered a choice of tiers (with or without ads) than a single, limited-ad tier:
Image


WHY IS THIS TELEVISION SO IMPORTANT?
I don't generally point to a thread on Twitter and suggest you read the entire thing. But this thread is pretty crazy and it turns out this particular TV could be the last remaining one of its kind in the U.S. Trust me, if you're a fan of old tech and/or the history of gaming, you'll want to read this one.

Image

ODDS AND SODS
* Amazon Studios has hired Laine Kline to head its local-language production. He is the former head of Sony's local-language production business.

* Roku is in negotiations to produce a Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist holiday movie. It's not quite the new season fans were hoping for, but it certainly would provide Roku will a lot of press coverage for a small amount of money.

* Discovery is picking up Battlebots for two seasons. The episodes will be produced in Las Vegas and will include up to 80 hours of programming.

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, August 3rd, 2021

03 August, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea and lasagna.

Today's newsletter is running a bit late. I was sidetracked a bit after I discovered someone had gotten access to my Panera account and was ordering food to be delivered all over Chicago. 

A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE SMALL STREAMER TOPIC
I recently had the chance to speak with Ryan Chanatry, General Manager of the streaming service Topic. He provided a really enlightening look at what it's like to run a smaller streamer in such a competitive environment:

You mentioned that larger streamers such as Netflix are heavily invested in international programming. And that strikes me as being another challenge for Topic, because they have deep pockets and a lot of resources. Do you find yourself competing for shows with other platforms, and what is your argument about why a show should be on Topic instead of on a rival streamer?

I think our platform in general makes a pretty strong argument. We're emerging as a pretty powerful place to host these stories. There is so much great programming being made right now - particularly in Europe. The great thing about that growth is that most of those productions are cross-channel, cross-country productions. Which will often mean that there are no global rights available. So for HBO or Amazon, the fact that they can't acquire global rights doesn't entirely knock the show out of consideration. But it makes it much less likely for them.

And we really find that to be our sweet spot. It's the four or five country co-production that doesn't rely on the U.S. or Canada to get made. And now we can make a pretty strong case that the best home for this show in the U.S. and Canada will be on Topic.

I really enjoy discussions like this one and I wish more small streamers were willing to make executives available for interviews about the details of their business. No one can make the case for their streamer better than the people running it, but that is a surprisingly challenging conversation for some executives.

IS 'MANIFEST' THE GOAT OF STREAMING?
I am finally getting caught up with all of the stuff I missed while I was on vacation and I wanted to make sure I highlighted this piece from the Entertainment Strategy Guy. He takes a look at the success of Manifest on NBC and puts its performance in context against some other very popular shows that have streamed on Netflix:

For all the (again deserved) applause for Manifest, this chart shows that, in the US, Ozark season 3 remains Netflix’s best season performance on record. (Again, records go back to March of 2020.) Since they have similar number of episodes, (30 and 29) this a good comp. In other words, if Manifest is Suni Lee (all-around gold medal winner, congrats!), then Ozark is Simone Biles.

Like I said, some nuance. Going further, it’s also tough to compare different series on Netflix given the different release times. Other Netflix series had, simply put, tougher competition. Like The Crown S4, which started even stronger, but then dropped off as Netflix released multiple top series and films, like Bridgerton and Cobra Kai. Further, this is Manifest’s first time on the platform; if you add up Lucifer or Cobra Kai’s multiple seasons together, they would be higher than Manifest’s 29 episodes dropping at once.

Then again, look at how steady Manifest’s decay has been. This is a series that folks seem to not just be starting, but finishing. It’s a remarkable hold on the viewership. Here’s the weekly Top Ten list in the US, and you can see how steady it is.

He has plenty of charts to provide context to the performance of Manifest. The bottom line is that the show might not be the most successful TV series on Netflix, but it's one of the most-watched. The challenge for any examination of Manifest is that while the first two seasons are on Netflix, season three is currently spread across Hulu, Peacock and the NBC TV Everywhere app. It's not clear how well the show is doing on those platforms, since they only have season three available. That third season is headed to Netflix in some other territories at the end of August, but Netflix declines to say whether or not it those episodes will soon be available in the U.S.

A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS ABOUT DISCOVERY+
Discovery+, the subscription streaming video platform Discovery launched in January, topped 17 million paid subscribers through the second quarter ending June 30th, and 18 million through August 3rd, according to company on Tuesday. That number is complicated by the fact that it includes Eurosport Player and GolfTV, among others. Discovery+ has the rights to the local Olympic coverage in a number of European markets, which also skews the growth numbers. Still, it's a solid increase and I continue to be bullish on their future growth.

I know it's always dangerous to substitute real life experience for a wider look at any streaming service. But my wife and I are both longtime viewers of a number of the Discovery channels - we've been watching the Food Network since it was airing live shows during early primetime 20+ years ago. And we have entirely stopped watching live programming on any of those networks. We watch everything through Discovery+ and the upcharge to get the ad-free version is the best $2 a month I've ever spent. Nearly everything is available on Discovery+ the same day as its linear premiere. And if we have to wait a day, it's not a big deal since none of their programming is exactly time-sensitive. In a lot of ways, it's the streaming service we use the most. Or at the very least, equally with Netflix and Hulu Live TV.

PRESENTED BY COMCAST (SPONSORED POST)
In the next 10 years, Comcast is committing $1 billion to reach 50 million people from low-income families with the tools and resources they need to succeed in a digital world.  We’ll do this by connecting people to low-cost $10 Internet at home, equipping community centers with free WiFi and working with thousands of nonprofit community organizations, city leaders, and business partners to create new opportunities, particularly in media, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. Learn more

DATAPOINT OF THE DAY

ODDS AND SODS
* Three years after the series Start-Up ended, producers may bring it back after it became a hit on Netflix.

* HBO Max is no longer available to new subscribers through Prime Video Channels. First time since 2016 that it's not on Amazon, when it was HBO Now. Existing subscribers can still log-in to HBO Max App using Amazon credentials.

* Beginning today, HBO Max will provide free access to a number of their premiere episodes to potential subscribers via the HBO Max Now app. Non-subscribers will be able to watch the premiere episodes of Batwoman, Euphoria, Game of Thrones, Harley Quinn, Lovecraft Country, Love Life, Perry Mason, Raised By Wolves, The Flight Attendant, Titans, Veneno and Warrior.

WEDNESDAY PREMIERES:
1) Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings Of Miami (Netflix)
"Two childhood friends go from high school dropouts to the most powerful drug kingpins in Miami in this true story of a crime saga that spanned decades."

2) Car Masters: Rust To Riches Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
"As Gotham Garage's star rises, Mark broadens his business strategy beyond "upgrade and trade" as he courts clients with big ideas and deep pockets."

3) Control Z Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
"Someone intent on seeking vengeance for Luis starts targeting students and teachers at the high school as Sofía rushes to solve the latest mystery."

4) Cooking With Paris Series Premiere (Netflix)
"With an anyone-can-cook attitude, Paris Hilton adds her own flair to every dish. Fun is just one edible glitter bomb away on this unique cooking show."

5) My Feet Are Killing Me Season Premiere (TLC)
"The series follows these expert podiatrists and surgeons as they bring their warm bedside manners to the task of restoring their patients’ confidence and getting them back on their feet. Throughout the series, viewers will immerse themselves with both doctors – one west coast and one east coast – as they juggle all sorts of eye-popping cases, from wart clusters and funky fungus, to toe amputations and foot reconstructions."

6) Short Circuit (Disney+)
"If you could tell any story with the team of talented artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios, what would you create? Welcome to Short Circuit, an experimental, innovative program where anyone at the Studio can pitch an idea and get selected to create their own short film."

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, August 2nd, 2021

02 August, 2021

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.

PRESENTED BY COMCAST (SPONSORED POST)
In the next 10 years, Comcast is committing $1 billion to reach 50 million people from low-income families with the tools and resources they need to succeed in a digital world.  We’ll do this by connecting people to low-cost $10 Internet at home, equipping community centers with free WiFi and working with thousands of nonprofit community organizations, city leaders, and business partners to create new opportunities, particularly in media, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. Learn more

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. 

TUESDAY PREMIERES:
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, news interviews and a ton of never before seen footage & photos, the series takes us through Obama’s childhood and his perspective as the son of a white mother from Kansas and an estranged African father, his spiritual formation by a generation of Black leaders and his desires and hopes for a more inclusive America. By detailing the story of one man irrevocably bound to the history of a country."

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."


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, July 30th, 2021

30 July, 2021

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...

PROGRAMMING NOTE
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.

FOLLOW FRIDAY
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!

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.