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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

06 July, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, July 6th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Ginger Ale and a lot of antacids.

USING THE NY TIMES TO SPIN YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY
It is incredibly difficult to get interviews with A-level media executives or people who in the media industry who are the subjects of serious controversy. When those interviews do happen, they tend to take place at places like the NY Times and the interviews tend to be very focused on putting for the best argument for the person being interviewed. In some cases, the resulting piece feels more like an attempted whitewashing of the controversy than a well-rounded. And in other cases, it's more of a "hey, let's remind everyone how important we are in case we get fired or sidelined."

The latter case is illustrated perfectly in today's NY Times piece about MGM's Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael De Luca, whose long-term prospects are uncertain if Amazon is indeed successful in acquiring MGM. The piece spends a lot of time arguing that the duo "understand Hollywood" and know how to build the relationships that will lead to box office success:

In the past 15 months, MGM has experienced a resurgence, led by Mr. De Luca, a one-time brash and reckless young executive who introduced filmmakers like Mr. Anderson and David Fincher to the culture when he was president of production at New Line Cinema, and now, after 36 years in the business, is seen as one of its most reliable statesmen. His deputy, Pamela Abdy, produced “Garden State” when she was at Jersey Films and amplified the career of Alejandro González Iñárritu, among others, during her time as a Paramount executive and later at New Regency.

At MGM, the two have compiled a heady mix of A-list directors and compelling material they hope hearkens back to the days when Fred Astaire and Judy Garland roamed the once-hallowed studio’s hallways. The next six months will show if their strategy pays off. Mr. Anderson’s movie will debut on Nov. 26. It will follow Ridley Scott’s pulpy drama “House of Gucci,” starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. In December, Joe Wright’s musical adaptation of “Cyrano,” with Peter Dinklage and featuring music from The National, will be released.

But the article does note that the priorities of Anderson and De Luca might differ quite a bit from their possibly soon-to-be bosses at Amazon:

In a shareholder meeting last month Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and executive chairman, called the reason behind the acquisition “very simple.” He said MGM had a “vast, deep catalog of much beloved” movies and shows. “We can reimagine and redevelop that I.P. for the 21st century.”

That runs counter to the approach Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy have primarily taken.

“Mike and I did not sit down and say let’s raid the library and remake everything,” Ms. Abdy said. “Our focus is original ideas with original authorship and real filmmakers, but you know every once in a while something will come up that’s fun and we’ll pursue it if we think it makes sense.”

My hunch is that Amazon cares more about the IP of MGM than anything. If MGM's upcoming slate does well, it's likely that Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke will be willing to let them create higher-concept feature films that keep that theatrical window. While Amazon releases other projects same-day or straight-to-Amazon. Amazon is also focused on building out its television production, especially on nichier projects that can go straight to AVOD.

USING THE NY TIMES TO SPIN YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY: PART DEUX
And then there are the stories where the interviewee is desperately trying to rehabilitate their reputation. Which brings me to this interview last week with former Nick teen show producer Dan Schneider. He's kept a low-public profile since he split with the network three years ago after a 20-year run as the most successful creator and producer of teen-oriented comedies in the history of the industry. But at the very least, Schneider had a reputation in the business as an often abusive boss. I've written about him a number of times in the past couple of years and was waiting for his inevitable attempt at rehabilitating his career. And now with a show set to premiere on a "streaming service" (anyone know which one?), Schneider gave his first interview in more than three years to the NY Times. And while it included negative comments about his behavior, it spent a great deal of time recounting his genius and how much he's really just a kid at heart:

Many of Schneider’s allies said he reminds them in some ways of a big kid — one who respects his young viewers as his equals and who was uniquely (and profitably) able to tap into what they would find funny. He is a fan of “Star Trek,” and has a penchant for timepieces and vintage lunchboxes. He is obsessed with his pets, and even had his pet rabbit Cookie ferried from Los Angeles to San Diego so that the rabbit could receive medical care from a particular veterinarian.

Schneider’s blog and YouTube channel from when he was Nickelodeon’s star showrunner captured the way he would interact with teenage actors and young fans of the show — like he was of their generation. He posted a video of him spooking the “iCarly” actress Miranda Cosgrove as she walked into a room, as well as one of Justice as he cajoles her into eating a sardine; on his blog, he would share “fun facts” about his episodes and solicit comments from fans (while routinely reminding them to “be nice” to one another in the forum).

I wrote a piece over the weekend going through the problems with the piece, which you can read here

I have two overall reactions to the efforts to rehabilitate his reputation. First, it's worth noting that the criticisms laid out by the NY Times track exactly with what I have been reporting for three years. Secondly, I don't think Schneider deserves a second chance. Yes, he's talented. But so are lots of other producers whose abusive behavior haven't driven people out of the business.

FOX TO LAUNCH STREAMING WEATHER SERVICE
Rupert Murdoch is set to launch a streaming weather service later this year that promises to "do for weather reporting what Fox News did for politics. Feel free to insert your onw joke here.

Brian Wieser, the lead analyst at GroupM, the media investing arm of the ad giant WPP, laughed at the notion that weather could be considered apolitical. “You would think — except I’m sitting here in Portland, Ore., in 115 degrees,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s an uncontroversial topic.”

Referring to Fox Weather, he added: “How do you address the fact that weather changes are caused to some degree by humans when you have a media property with a history of challenging that fact?”

Fox Weather will be overseen by Suzanne Scott, the chief executive of Fox News Media, and Sharri Berg, a longtime Fox executive who helped launch Fox News at its inception in 1996. Fox declined to make either executive available for interviews. But its spokeswoman said the service would have “a dedicated team of leading meteorologists and experts” that would offer “in-depth reporting surrounding all weather conditions, and we are excited to showcase to viewers what a full-service comprehensive weather platform can deliver beginning this fall.”

Speaking of weather and television, have you noticed how reluctant Discovery and NatGeo are to acknowledge any impact climate change might be having on their shows? Both networks will run climate change PSA's or news specials discussing climate change. But in both cases, none of their shows acknowledge climate change in any way other than using phrases like "uncharacteristic summer weather" or "the winter was warmer than normal." I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this, although I suspect it's an effort to not wade into possible political hot water. But if your Alaska-based show has suffered through multiple unusual seasons of weather, than not mentioning climate change is political statement in itself.

UNIVERSAL TO MOVE PAY-ONE MOVIES FROM HBO TO PEACOCK 
Universal announced today that it would begin distributing feature films through NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, instead of HBO, beginning in 2022:

The move, which impacts Universal franchises such as Jurassic World, Fast and Furious and Despicable Me, is aimed at bolstering Peacock sign-ups in addition to offering third-party distributors non-exclusive access. Specifically, Peacock will have exclusive access for the first four months and last four months of the 18-month pay-one window. Select third-party streamers and/or streaming service will have access to the movies during the middle 10-month period.

The unconventional pay-one structure mimics Universal’s new distribution deals with theaters that enables it to offer theatrical titles into the premium VOD window just 17 days after their box office debut depending on ticket sales.

STREAMING COMPETITION LEADS TO INCREASED PRODUCTION COSTS AT BBC
Increased competition from streaming services for talent and scripts has led to production cost increase of up to 35% at the BBC, according to a report from new BBC chair Richard Sharp. He says production costs for some popular shows has nearly doubled and those increases will force the channel to cut back on the overall number of productions in the coming years:

The director general said each genre team is “looking in detail at how much output they need”. “I think you are beginning to see in drama, and other areas, that we are prioritising impact over volume,” he said. 

The DG tasked each genre team with examining where it would cut back if it reduced its output by 20% while maintaining spending at the same level.  

That audit is now slowly being put into practice, but as a general principle of producing fewer but better funded hours, rather than a specific 20% reduction. Davie stressed that the project is “work in progress” and may take several years to come to fruition. 

FACTOID OF THE DAY


ODDS AND SODS
Cruel Summer is a hit for Freeform, but it became a breakout series for the Disney-backed cable network without its creator’s involvement. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that creator Bert V. Royal quit his Freeform series after clashing with an exec at the basic cabler last summer.

* ITV will launch Shoppable TV, allowing viewers to discover and shop items from its programs directly on screen, the first service of its kind in the United Kingdom.

* Scripps has launched two of its new diginets: Defy TV' which airs reruns of shows such as Counting Cars, American Pickers and In Search Of History; and True Real, which airs Hoarders, The Rap Game and Gene Simmons Family Jewels

* So much are the rights for Queen's music worth if the band was willing to sell? This piece estimates the price could top $1 billion.


WEDNESDAY'S PREMIERES 
1) Big Brother Season Twenty-Three Season Premiere (CBS)
It's another summer of moderately good looking, manipulative people stuck in a house in hopes of winning a million dollars.

2) Cat People Series Premiere (Netflix)
"Cat people come in all shapes and sizes, but they share a love for their enchanting, unique feline friends. This docuseries reveals their tales."

3) Dogs Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
"Their love for dogs — and their dogs' love for them — becomes a lifeline for an astronaut, a Brazilian priest, a college mascot's caregiver and more."

4) Kitchen Crash Season Premiere (Food)
"Three chefs meet up with host Jeff Mauro to beg homeowners to shop in their own fridges and share the bounty."

5) Love Island Season Three Premiere (CBS)
It technically doesn't take place on an island. And love probably won't be involved. But otherwise, it's a perfect show title.

6) Major Grom: Plague Doctor (Netflix)
"When a masked vigilante’s killing spree throws a city into chaos, a renegade detective and his rookie partner are the only ones who can stop it."

7) Monsters At Work Series Premiere (Disney+)
"When Tylor Tuskmon arrives at Monsters Incorporated to begin his dream job as a Scarer, he discovers that scaring is out and laughter is in.  As a result he is temporarily reassigned to MIFT, the Monsters Incorporated Facilities Team."

8) Music's Greatest Mysteries Season Premiere (AXS TV)
"Considering questions such as if Dennis Wilson triggered Charles Manson; whether Post Malone is cursed by the world's most haunted object and if a failed audition saved Faith Hill's life."

9) Shark Gangs (NatGeo)
"For years sharks have been viewed as solitary predators, but scientists have recently discovered a surprising new behavior. In this special, we reveal how this apex predator likes to hang out in gangs. So what is behind this behavior? Do sharks enjoy a social life, or are they working together to become even more effective hunters?"

10) Stone House Revival Season Premiere (DIY)
"Jeff and his team take on the Yardley Tavern. While renovating the mudroom, the team makes a historic find that gives clues to the structure's past."

12) The Good, The Bart & The Loki (Disney+)
It's The Simpsons/Loki crossover events we've all been waiting for.

13) The Mire: '97 (Netflix)
"The flood of the century unearths another body in Gronty forest and with it comes corruption, scams from the ’90s and long-hidden secrets from WWII."

14) The War Next Door (Netflix)
"After winning a house in a raffle, the humble but loving López family moves to a posh neighborhood, where the snobby Espinozas give them a cold welcome."

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

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 2nd, 2021

02 July, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, July 2nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by buffalo cauliflower and Diet Rite.

PROGRAMMING NOTE
There won't be a newsletter on Monday. I'm taking a three-day weekend, which is really needed after this crazy week. I'm also going to be taking off a few days at the end of the month in order to see family (and maybe sit on the beach). I'll update everyone as that trip gets closer.

Today's newsletter will also be brief, given the lack of news today ahead of the holiday weekend.

Everyone have a wonderful Fourth of July.

GROWTH SLOWING AT DISNEY+
The Information has a piece today reporting that according to internal documents it obtained, Disney+ growth slowed substantially in the first half of 2021:

Disney+ had a little more than 110 million total subscribers late in Disney’s third fiscal quarter, which ran through early July, according to the internal data, up from the 103.6 million the company reported for the quarter ending April 3. Of the most recent total, nearly 38 million were in India, up 12 million over the past six months. The U.S. and Canada together accounted for close to 38 million subscribers. That compares with the start of February, when North America had about 37 million subscribers.

It's a subscriber-only piece, but it's worth reading if you have access. 

Just a side note, I wish that more news outlets that are subscriber-only would provide a limited-run direct free link to the press, so we could offer access to the full article. Seems as if there is no better way to bring in new subscribers than by getting your target audience to read a free article or two.

WEEKEND READING
* If you are interested in reality television, then Andy Denart's web site Reality Blurred should be at the top of your reading list. He has as wide a knowledge of the genre as anyone in the business and after doing it for twentyish years, he has a perspective and knowledge of reality television that is really unique. One example of his writing is this recent piece on pandemic-influenced changes to reality TV shows that should stick around after things reopen fully. He also includes a suggestion from me at the end of the piece, but that's not why I mention it. Especially since my suggestion isn't exactly earth-shattering. But I think Andy and I might be just about the last two journalists in the entertainment news space who have managed to build a career as a solo entrepreneur and his success is due in large part to his deep knowledge and love of the genre.

* Gabriel Barradas is a Media Strategy researcher and practitioner based in Rio. He has a really interesting piece on how most SVOD metrics cover exit processes (aka avoiding churn) but don't reward loyalty:

Churn rate has a similar issue, as in it only shows the outflux number. It’s tier 2 metrics can get very complex, such as Tech Service Level and Product Quality and all of them respond to the same action: Exit. But should the loss of customers that had been loyal for years be treated the same way as customers that had been around for some months? Maybe those groups have different needs and reasons.

A larger issue is that Exit pressure happens after it is already too late. Instead of focusing on avoiding Exit, services should change their mindset to focus more on rewarding Loyalty. Some Chinese services do it very well. Loyal customers are rewarded with VIP status, early access and prizes. Those loyal customers will be brand ambassadors and are key both to acquire and to retain other customers.

* I wrote a bit earlier this week about how Netflix is using its Netflix Jr. YouTube channel to promote the upcoming Ridley Jones series. Emily Horgan at whats-on-netflix.com has a solid in-depth look at how Netflix built that channel into a destination for kids and its a must-read for people interested in children's programming.

ODDS AND SODS
* The HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl will be premiering in the UK on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year. iPlayer will also have the entire series run of the original Gossip Girl.

* Kevin Can F**k Himself is set to launch exclusively on Amazon Prime Video worldwide next month, excluding the U.S., Canada, Spain and Portugal.

* The Dallas Cowboys will be the focus of this season's HBO sports series Hard Knocks. The five-episode season will begin on August 10th.


FRIDAY'S PREMIERES 
1) Big Timber (Netflix)
"A no-nonsense logger and his loyal crew battle brutal elements and finicky machines to chop and transport valuable lumber on Vancouver Island."

2) Fear Street Part One: 1994 (Netflix)
"After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that's plagued their notorious town for centuries. Welcome to Shadyside."

3) Haseen Dillruba (Netflix)
"Under investigation as a suspect in her husband’s murder, a wife reveals details of their thorny marriage that seem to only further blur the truth."

4) Mortel Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
"When Obé returns — in a startling new form — and begins to raise an army of followers at the school, Sofiane, Victor and Luisa race to stop a disaster."

5) My Lottery Dream House Season Premiere (HGTV)
A Portland man is homeless when he inherits $1.4 million after his mother passes away.

6) Roswell: The Final Verdict (Discovery+)
"In 1947, a rancher near Roswell, New Mexico, claimed to have discovered mysterious debris on his property, triggering decades of official government denials, and countless conspiracy theories, about aliens. Now, tapes of haunting first-person accounts from the past are being analyzed in a totally modern way, using artificial intelligence (AI) lie detection software to test if the eyewitnesses are telling the truth. Although most of the witnesses are now deceased, AI permits truth to be separated from fiction and the most important UFO event in world history can be weighed in the balance with all the evidence at hand. Truth seekers will now decide...the final verdict."

7) Summer Of Soul (Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Hulu)
"In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion."

8) The Boss Baby: Family Business (Peacock)
"The Templeton brothers have become adults and drifted apart, but a new boss baby brings them together again."

9) The 8th Night (Netflix)
"With prayer beads in one hand and an ax in the other, a monk hunts down a millennia-old spirit that's possessing humans and unleashing hell on Earth."

10) The Tomorrow War (Amazon)
T"ime travelers arrive from 2051 to deliver an urgent message: 30 years in the future mankind is losing a war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians to be transported to the future and join the fight."

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

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, July 1st, 2021

01 July, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, July 1st, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by root beer and more root beer.

BETTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF STREAMING
Viacom/CBS announced earlier today that it will unify the company’s US and international businesses under a simplified global leadership structure. This comes on the heels of last week's massive executive realignments that was billed as an effort to realign the company more in the direction of streaming.

I've been going back-and-forth all day with stock analysts who cover the company and they've been picking my brain trying to get a handle on where Viacom/CBS is headed in the future. There are also a number of questions about how seriously executives are taking the threat of the streaming business with one frustrated analyst telling me that he had spoken with several people at the company and recent days and that they seemed to have a core belief that at the end of the day, strong IP will win the day. "The problem with that attitude, he complained is that "great IP won't save if you're going to get hit by an oncoming train."

There are a number of very talented people writing about the traditional television industry as well as the world of streaming. All of us have a slightly different approach an mine is to focus less on individual executive moves or ratings for a specific program. And as important intellectual property is to any network or streamer's content pipeline, at the end of the day any streaming service is only as important as it's ability to feel necessary to its subscribers. Focusing on specific IP or subscriber numbers or executive prowess only gets you so far. How many people will happily subscribe every month without the need for expensive discounts?

The temptation is to look at some ideal monthly subscription fee charged by a streaming service or its overall subscriber numbers & use that as a benchmark for a service's "value." But in reality, what a service is worth in the real world is a concept called "perceived value." This is how it's described in the business dictionary:

A customer's opinion of a product's value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product's market price, and depends on the product's ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.

Media industry analysts and reporters often parrot the argument that "content is king." And while content is important, a bigger factor in the success of a media business is perceived value to the customer. How valuable is the content to the customers you're targeting? Is your user interface friendly enough that it doesn't lessen the value of your content in the eyes of frustrated users? There are a lot of factors that go into how customers perceive the value of a streaming service. And because it's all a bit squishy & difficult to quantify on a spreadsheet, it's often overlooked by industry analysts.

For instance, subscribers numbers are important. But to a certain extent, subscriber numbers are also a lagging indicator of perceived value. The customers subscribe in large BECAUSE the price matches or is lower than their perceived value of the service. It's why the cost of Amazon Prime Video is rolled into a package that includes everything from free music to free shipping. That's the customer's perceived value of the Amazon content. 

It's also why both Apple TV+ & Disney+ are priced low and extensively discounted. It's not that their respective content doesn't have value or that customers won't eventually pay a higher monthly fee at some point down the line. The pricing is a reflection of the reality facing both companies. Apple has all original content, but not an especially large amount of it. And for all of the intellectual property owned by Disney and headed for Disney+, trying to charge $9.99 a month for the service would be a slog. Keeping the price low and bundling it with other Disney-owned streamers is a good compromise between revenue growth and keeping down the subscription churn rates,

Perceived value is why all of those hot takes arguing that the $6.99 pricing for Disney+ was the "beginning of the end for Netflix" were wrong. That price isn't the result of an attempt to "take down" Netflix. It is a reflection of Disney's assumption of the services perceived value to the average streaming customer. It's likely that some small percentage of Netflix customers might drop the service for Disney+. But even Disney doesn't expect that to be a trend in the short or medium term. Instead, they're angling on being most customer's choice for the last of the services they'll probably add to their lineup. And everything they are doing - from the aggressive lineup of new shows to discount pricing - is in service of that effort.

Which brings us back to Viacom/CBS and their streaming platform Paramount+. Last week I wrote about some of the problems behind the scenes of the streamer and ever since my in-box has been filled with current and former employees venting about some core problems at the service. 

I'm struck by the level of frustration at the streamer. There are complaints about the scalability of the app and some of the content decisions being made. But the overall fear is that Paramount+ will remain a service that is there but not in the top tier of consumer choices. Both employees and stock analysts have expressed concern to me that while Viacom/CBS executives spend a lot of time talking up the company's IP, it has struggled in recent years to develop new franchises. That has led to a lot of reboots and reworkings of 90s-era shows for Paramount+. Which is good fan service, but it doesn't exactly build the brand.

And aside from the executive changes at Viacom/CBS, the real question is what the company sees as its streaming ambition. There are really only two choices for a mass-market streamer in 2021. You are either betting a substantial amount of your resources by going all-in on a streaming future. Or you are trying to hedge your bets, spending as much as you can on streaming as long as it doesn't disrupt your current revenue streams or substantially impact your bottom line. 

At this juncture Viacom/CBS seems to be taking the second approach with its business and with Paramount+. I think it's a mistake, but I've been wrong before. What is clear is that even if this approach works, it's going to be a messy and disruptive transition.

THE NY TIMES HAS A NICE WHITEWASH OF DAN SCHNEIDER
I have spent a lot of time over the past several years reporting on Dan Schneider. The teen show creator was arguably the Dick Wolf of teen TV: a person responsible for the some of the biggest hits of the past 20-ish years. But he was the target of a lot of rumors from people inside the industry. He had a reputation as a hard-driving, often difficult boss who crossed way over the line between passionate and abusive. So when Nickelodeon suddenly cut ties with him in early 2018, it seemed pretty clear that the channel had reached its breaking point. And in fact, Nick executives said as much behind the scenes.

Since then, I've spoken to dozens of people who worked with him and have written a bit about what I discovered. But I wasn't able to be as specific as I wanted to be because many of my sources didn't want to be identified:

After nearly two year of talking to network executives, cast and crew for all of Schneider's shows, I find myself left with a "Rosebud" level mystery. I've reached out to over 100 people and done some level of interview with more than 40 former co-workers of Dan Schneider. And after all of that, there is a limited amount I can talk about publicly.

When I began research for this piece, what I didn't anticipate is that no one would be willing to talk on the record. Slightly more than 40 interviews, more than a dozen of them wider-ranging, extensive discussions and not one person wanted to be identified. To be fair, this doesn't mean that all the interviews ended up being negative towards Schneider. I spoke with people who raved about his talent and described him as a kind and generous writer and producer. But they didn't want to be quoted by name.

On one level, I understand their reluctance to attach their name to even positive comments about Dan Schneider. All sorts of rumors have swirled around him in recent years and while some of them are QAnon-level crazy, no one wants to take a chance that there might be some level of truth in one of the stories. No one wants to have to explain their positive comments about someone who might at some point be the focus of an unsettling story.

But I spoke with a number of people who were less kind about Schneider and their reasons for remaining anonymous were as varied as their stories. Some people were out of the business and weren't eager to publicly rehash an experience they considered to be unhealthy and unpleasant. In many cases, the people I spoke with are still in the business in some level and feared that airing their complaints in public would brand them as "difficult" in an industry that depends on trust and discretion. I also spoke with several former stars of Schneider shows and in their cases they feared that discussing their experience working with the producer would follow them around for years. "I've busted my ass to build the career I want since the show ended," said one actress. "The last thing I need is to have every interview for next ten years ask me about Schneider and his show. I respect and appreciate my fans from that era, but I also need to move on. Let those fans remember the show however they want. I'm done."

The other factor in this story is that I was told in no uncertain terms that publishing a negative story about Schneider would spark a lawsuit:

When you are writing about powerful Hollywood people - even if the story is only marginally unpleasant - you run the very real risk of being sued. While Gawker-type extinction events are rare in journalism, they do happen. What's scarier is the prospect of being sued and facing a legal bill so big my grand kids will be paying it off. I'm not a journalist at some big media outlet that has a team of experienced litigators in speed dial. I'm a one-man show who's only real legal advice comes from the free legal aid I can request from the local bar association. It doesn't matter if I'm right. Any level of a legal battle would ruin me financially and likely force me out of journalism. I'm brave and all that. But what I am not is financially suicidal.

So imagine my joy today to read this piece in the NY Times, which is constructed as a career rehab piece for Schneider. There are some sources - some of them I suspect supplied by Schneider's people - who argue that "sure, Dan was difficult. But he was just passionate about his work." And besides, he was just a kid at heart:

Many of Schneider’s allies said he reminds them in some ways of a big kid — one who respects his young viewers as his equals and who was uniquely (and profitably) able to tap into what they would find funny. He is a fan of “Star Trek,” and has a penchant for timepieces and vintage lunchboxes. He is obsessed with his pets, and even had his pet rabbit Cookie ferried from Los Angeles to San Diego so that the rabbit could receive medical care from a particular veterinarian.

Words almost fail me about when it comes to this story. No one is denying that his behavior wouldn't be tolerated in 2021 Hollywood (probably). Nickelodeon can't comment publicly because of an agreement both sides signed when Schneider and his production company split with the network. But it's notable that the two network people quoted in the story are not the executives would have dealt with him over the course of his career.

I don't care if Schneider is a better person now. That doesn't mean that he should get the chance to launch a comeback in the industry without any consequences other than a well-paid three-year vacation.

AND THE MATTER OF EMBARGOS
All reporters struggle with embargo when it comes to reviews and there are sometimes some very strange embargo limitations imposed by the studio and/or the network. But I can't recall one as odd as the one attached to the upcoming Netflix series Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness. Reviewers who received the screeners later received a note asking them to not write about the politics of the show or to draw comparisons between the politics of the show and current events. Which just seems...strange.

Another difficult embargo restriction is the one for HBO Max's Gossip Girl, which has pretty much been spoiled in cast interviews. And to be honest, I don't know how you can even seriously review the series without mentioning the core "spoiler," which happens in episode one.

PROGRAMMING NOTE:
The nightly listings will be back tomorrow. It's been an extremely busy news day and I am backed up with people who want to talk to me. 

Also, for those of you who are new to the newsletter, I am not generally this cranky.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

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, June 29th, 2021

29 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, June 30th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by root beer and more root beer.

THE CHALLENGE OF LAUNCHING A BROADCAST TV SHOW IN 2021
After a year of pandemic-related changes to the television industry, the broadcast television networks are preparing to launch their new seasons and I don't envy their choices. Viewership at the broadcast networks continues to decline and while they're managed to use a combination of live sports events and retransmission revenue to remain profitable, it's fair to say that they are a declining part of the television/streaming universe.

In some ways, broadcast television in 2021 reminds me a lot of the what the music industry went through more than a decade ago as sales for physical units took a precipitous dive. The audience for CD's was mostly older and more willing to spend lots of money on elaborate box sets than new music. So there was an explosion of rereleases and special editions of familiar titles in an effort to keep the revenue flowing in while the streaming industry evolved. And you can see that same trend in the upcoming broadcast television primetime schedules: more spin-off of familiar titles, procedurals that could have been rolled out  20 years ago and TV veteran actors coming back for another round.

All of which is fine. But it does make things challenging for the publicity/communications part of the business. How do you promote these shows to younger audiences? Is there to expand your viewer base or at least slow down the decline? Because one advantage of overall small ratings is that a few hundred thousand more viewers in the 18-35 demographic can make a huge difference in both the weekly ratings and the survival chances of the show.

And yet, I don't see a lot of effort to do that in recent promotional and marketing campaigns for the various broadcast television shows. In many case, the PR campaign isn't that different than you would have seen ten years ago. Which is a generation or two in TV years. Stories pitched to the big general interest magazines and web sites, an appearance by the cast at the TCA's and some select solo interviews leading up to the premiere. It's all very traditional and safe. And not at all suitable for 2021.

I was a big fan of NBC's Debris, which wasn't picked up by the network for a second season. It's a challenge getting a broadcast TV audience to embrace a complex science fiction series in the best of times, but now you really have to pursue every opportunity and I was extremely frustrated by NBC's lack of effort on the show. The fact that after a full season of episodes, the official Twitter account for the show only had 314 followers is astounding to me. There are a lot of factors for that, but one important variable is that the showrunner for Debris wasn't active on social media and neither was some of the cast. It's not the only thing that matters, but not having official advocates on social media who can drive up weekly interest and serve as faces for the show does have an impact.

Obviously, it's tough to reach out to new audiences if you're working with NCIS: Hawaii (although there are some things that might work). But for the few slightly more adventurous new shows, if you aren't exploring every avenue from Twitch to Tik-Tok, then you're leaving money on the table, so to speak. I'll write about this more as the fall season draws closer, but if you have any thoughts reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter at @aysrick.

HBO MAX CONTENT CHIEF CASEY BLOYS 
I live in a weird spot in the TV/media reporting hierarchy. I write a lot of reviews and other news coverage for the web site, so I'm in that specific PR silo. But I also write a lot about the business of the industry (especially in this newsletter), so I end up getting put in that PR silo by a separate group of publicists. It's an odd mix and there are plenty of blind spots. All of which is leading up to the that point that I wasn't part of yesterday's gathering between some of the press and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys at WarnerMedia's Hudson Yards headquarters yesterday, although you can read a good recounting of it in this piece in the Hollywood Reporter

He did apparently have a lot to say HBO Max, including the importance of having returning series as well as limited run shows:

“The nice thing with an ongoing series is you don’t have to introduce viewers to it every year, and you have a built-in fanbase, so that is great when you have one working. With a limited series, because it is not ongoing, you tend to have [higher-profile] actors that are not looking to be tied up for five years,” he says. “I would not want a service that is only ongoing series, and I would not want a service that is only limited series. The number one job is keeping viewers and subscribers happy, and the way to do that is with the right mix of programming. So limited series will be a part of that, ongoing series will be a part of that, but I think you do try to balance so that you are not offering too much of one thing at a time.”

He also talked about his belief that HBO Max has all of the money and resources it needs to be competitive:

“Right now, I feel like we have got enough to do the programing we need to do, but there will always be a debate about the right amount of programming, and therefore is there the right amount of money?” he adds. “We would have these debates at HBO within Time Warner, how much does HBO need, do we have the right amount? … What is the right amount of programming to reach subscribers? And I don’t know, I’m not sure anybody has the exact right answer, some of it is always going to be trial and error.”

Although it wasn't in the THR story, reporters there apparently also got an embargoed look at trailers for the upcoming season of Succession as well as the upcoming Game Of Thrones spin-off.

There are a few other things I'd like to know about HBO Max, including the fact that I've been told by more than one writer that the streamer isn't taking new pitches for shows right now and that they believe they have enough projects in the pipeline to keep HBO Max busy for the next six months or so.

DAZN AND YOUTUBE TEAM UP ON UEFA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
YouTube announced a partnership with DAZN the leading global sports streaming platform to stream the UEFA Women’s Champions League to fans around the world live for free. This move marks the first time UEFA has centralized all Women’s Champions League matches globally:

At a time when professional women’s sport continues to fight for more exposure, this new partnership brings visibility like never before to players, Clubs, and the elite competition itself by making matches all season long available to fans all over the globe. For the first two seasons (2021-23), fans will be able to watch live and on demand all 61 matches from the group stage onwards on DAZN and free on DAZN’s YouTube channel. For the last two seasons (2023-25), all 61 matches will be live on DAZN while 19 matches will be made available for free on DAZN’s YouTube channel. 

The multi-year deal grants DAZN exclusive rights worldwide, with the exception of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) – where rights do include clips and highlights – and China and its territories. The agreement is one of the largest broadcast deals in women’s club football history and signifies another game-changing move in DAZN’s long-time global commitment to women’s sport, centered on the mission of growing the UEFA Women’s Champions League, turning more players and teams into household names, and inspiring the next generation of players – all of which starts with more people around the world watching the game. 

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE AN ARREST OVER CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES TO END A LONG-RUNNING SHOW
Following the arrest of Josh Duggar, TLC has announced that it is ending the series Counting On, which was a spin-off of the popular series 19 Kids and Counting.  According to Deadline, the cancellation is in response to Josh Duggar facing a federal trial for receipt and possession of child pornography:

“TLC will not be producing additional seasons of Counting On,” read the statement. “TLC feels it is important to give the Duggar family the opportunity to address their situation privately.”

That situation is Duggar scion Josh’s federal trial for receiving and possessing child pornography, which was supposed to begin on July 6, but was pushed to November 30, 2021 just minutes before the show’s cancelation was revealed.

Counting On was a spinoff show meant to “follow the next generation of Duggars as they celebrate some of life’s milestone moments, including the realities of growing up and raising their own families.” It began in 2015 after the Duggar-centric predecessor, 19 Kids and Counting, was canceled amid the news of Josh’s alleged behavior. 19 Kids and Counting was, at the time, TLC’s most popular program. The last new episode of Counting On aired in September 2020.

ODDS AND SODS
* ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) has entered into a first-look deal for Spanish-language content with AGC Television. The deal covers two years and ten projects.

A curated collection of concerts and specials from the music-centric streamer The Coda Collection is now available for viewing on many United Airlines flights.


THURSDAY'S PREMIERES 
1) Audible (Netflix)
"Amaree Mckenstry-Hall and his teammates at Maryland School for the Deaf pursue success in football while coping with personal struggles and tragedy."

2) Dynasty Warriors (Netflix)
"Warlords, warriors and statesmen wage a battle for supremacy in this fantasy tale based on the hit video games and the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

3) Generation 56K (Netflix)
"Having formed a bond during the 56K modem era, Matilda and Daniel meet again by chance two decades later. Can their friendship turn into something else?

4) Impractical Jokers Awards Show (truTV)
"Join Joe, Q, Sal and Murr for an Awards Special unlike any other, as they honor and celebrate moments of cinematic mastery and outstanding achievement over “Impractical Jokers” franchise comprising 200+ episodes."

6) Martha Gets Down And Dirty Series Premiere (Discovery+)
"Trusted lifestyle expert Martha Stewart will let her hair down as she showcases her seasonal gardening know-how, lifestyle and entertainment tips from her Bedford, N.Y. property in Martha Gets Down and Dirty. During the eight-episode series, the Emmy® award-winning television personality and The New York Times bestselling author will prep her farm for spring and summer, as well as share fun summer decor and entertainment ideas with help from her longtime friend and Creative Director Kevin Sharkey and right-hand gardener Ryan McCallister. Martha’s superfans and celebrity friends also will reach out for video check-ins to get her valuable and cheeky counsel on their home projects. "

7) Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway (Netflix)
"After Char’s rebellion, Hathaway Noa leads an insurgency against Earth Federation, but meeting an enemy officer and a mysterious woman alters his fate."

8) No Sudden Move (HBO Max)
Set in 1954 Detroit, No Sudden Move centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them – and for what ultimate purpose – weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

9) Philly D.A. Series Premiere (Topic)
In 2017, Krasner, a civil rights attorney who sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times throughout his career, mounted a long shot campaign for and ultimately won the District Attorney’s seat in a city that has the highest incarceration rate of any large city in the United States. Philly D.A. brings viewers inside the emotional, high stakes work that Krasner and an ensemble of idealistic outsiders from different walks of life take on as they attempt a fundamental overhaul of an expansive, entrenched criminal justice system. The series follows them undertaking this so-called “social experiment” as they push reforms such as prosecuting police misconduct and brutality, rethinking sentencing, probation and parole reform, minimizing the use of cash bail, and ending pursuit of the death penalty.

10) The Surge At Mt. Sinai (Discovery+)
COVID-19 is the greatest challenge our generation has ever faced. Nowhere embodied the catastrophe of the pandemic like New York City in the spring of 2020.  With unprecedented access,  this documentary tells the story of this chaotic time from the perspective of frontline healthcare workers staffing one of the country’s largest--and most overwhelmed health care systems, as they fight night and day to save the lives of COVID-19 patients, their city, and themselves.

11) Top Chef Amateurs Series Premiere (Bravo)
"
In each 30-minute episode, two amateur chefs will compete head-to-head in some of the most iconic challenges from the “Top Chef” archives including the mis-en-place race, blind taste test and they’ll even try to break the curse of “Top Chef’s” most dreaded dish – risotto."

12)Young Royals (Netflix)
"Prince Wilhelm adjusts to life at his prestigious new boarding school, Hillerska, but following his heart proves more challenging than anticipated."

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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, June 28th, 2021

28 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, June 28th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Irish Cream-flavored cold brew coffee.

First, my regular Monday welcome to all of the new subscribers. This free newsletter goes out Monday-Friday, typically between 3-5 pm CT. Although it can sometimes show up a bit earlier, depending on my daily workflow. If you ever have feedback or questions, please reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via Signal or WhatsApp at 612-207-2108. 

NETFLIX USES YOUTUBE TO BUILD INTEREST FOR UPCOMING KIDS SHOW 'RIDLEY JONES'
Anyone who has ever had kids will tell you that they possess a magical power which allows them to watch their favorite TV shows dozens of times without getting bored. It's a primary reason why all the streaming services are battling over preschool viewers. Once they're hooked on a show, they're all in. And woe to the parent who cancels whatever service they're used to watching.

On the most popular destinations for young viewers is YouTube and Netflix is pursuing an interesting strategy with its Netflix Jr. YouTube channel. The channel has 7.8 million subscribers and while there are the usual trailers, the central feature of the channel is that there are lots of full episodes of children's shows that are available on Netflix. And it makes sense. Gets kids hooked on the shows on YouTube and then move them onto Netflix. 

And Netflix has been extremely aggressive in the way it uses its Netflix Jr. YouTube channel to build interest in new programming. Over the weekend the channel added a second full episode of the new animated series created by Chris Nee (Doc McStuffin). Ridley Jones doesn't premiere on Netflix until July 13th and season one only runs six episodes. So putting a third of that output on YouTube for free might appear to be counterproductive. But the first episode of Ridley Jones has already received more than 10 million views, which means there are lots of kids watching the show multiple times. It's not an approach that would work for a scripted adult show. But it plays perfectly into the way young kids consume media.

A BIT MORE ABOUT PARAMOUNT+
Given that this newsletter now has more than 15,000 subscribers, the typical edition generally sparks a few emails and DMs on Twitter. But my newsletter from last week that focused on Paramount+ sparked an insane amount of feedback and I'm still working my way through it all. But I'll some post updated thoughts in a day or two as I talk to people about the service, including a few more people who work on some aspect of the streaming service. One takeaway? I had no idea so many people had such strong feelings about former CBSI CEO Marc DeBevoise.

One other quick note about Paramount+. I have no idea what contractual restraints discourage Paramount+ when it comes to the question of how quickly it can post new content from the Viacom/CBS linear channels. But that being said, I am perplexed by the inability of Paramount+ to capitalize on the BET Awards, which aired last night on BET. That event is arguably the channel's biggest moment of the year and nearly 24 hours later there is still not a mention of it in the BET silo of Paramount+. Don't have the rights to stream the show? Fine, slap together some kind of video content that will distract subscribers when they come looking for the broadcast. Some original interviews, a video recapping who won (which you could easily do with Getty Images)...something...ANYTHING to address the needs of those fans. Right now, all the BET section includes are a bunch of old shows, laid in an A-Z horizontal section. It's embarrassing. 

YOUTUBE TV ADDS OPTION FOR UNLIMITED STREAMS, DOWNLOADING CONTENT
The good news for subscribers of YouTube TV is that they will soon be able to add a premium option that allows for unlimited simultaneous streams, the ability to download shows offline on your mobile device and 4-K streaming. The downside is that the premium add-on will run an astounding $19.99 per month.  And even worse, the unlimited streams only applies inside your house. It's difficult for me to see how this will appeal to many people and given that the features included in this $20-per-month add-on likely only cost YouTube a few bucks, this seems more like an effort to try and lessen some of the financial hit Google still takes on every YouTube TV subscription.

EYEING EMERGING MARKETS, NETFLIX LAUNCHES PARTIAL DOWNLOADS
Netflix is launching partial downloads
, so people can start watching movies or shows before they've completely downloaded. This move should make viewing easier for subscribers in emerging markets, where spotty mobile and internet connectivity can make downloading a challenge:

Whether it’s a long flight or an extended commute, downloaded series and movies can make any moment on the go more entertaining. So we know the disappointment when you realize your download never completed because of unreliable wifi or a maxed out data plan. 

That’s why we’ve improved the Netflix download experience so you can now start watching The Mitchells vs The Machines or the next episode of Luis Miguel - The Series even if it hasn’t completed downloading. Once you’ve regained a strong enough connection, you can choose to finish the download and keep watching — avoiding those surprise notices that you’ve gone over your data limits.

Netflix also says it will begin testing partial downloads on iOS next month.

MTV PAUSES WORK WITH UK'S GOBSTOPPER TV FOLLOWING MULTIPLE BULLYING ALLEGATIONS
Broadcast Now is reporting (subscription required) that MTV is suspending its work with the UK-based production company Gobstopper TV following multiple allegations that chief executive and founder Ross McCarthy created a highly toxic working environment:

The majority of the allegations against McCarthy relate to incidents said to have taken place during the filming of MTV reality show Just Tattoo of Us, which ran for four series between 2017 and 2019, and other Gobstopper shows including recent MTV prank show Revenge Prank, which was produced in the US.

An MTV Entertainment spokeswoman said: “We take these allegations seriously and have put our projects with Gobstopper on pause until we gather more information."

Despite the number of allegations laid out in the Broadcast Now piece, the statement from McCarthy about the charges is remarkably lacking in any substantive apology or recognition there is a problem other than the optics of how some people responded to his behavior:

We strongly refute the version of events described in these allegations, but are saddened to hear how working at Gobstopper and with me personally has made some people feel.

We fully recognise the need to create a more enjoyable and creatively rewarding working environment for our talented teams and we are already actioning a plan for the business to bring about further meaningful changes.

 We have heard the message loud and clear and we are, and I am, sorry for any unintentional hurt caused.

ANOTHER NETFLIX UX TEST?
Kasey Moore, from the super helpful web site whats-on-netflix.com, is based in the UK, and she posted this screenshot this morning which shows that she is now able to see a description of the title without clicking into it. 

Image

A couple of weeks ago, someone else had posted a similar test from Disney+ that seems to have been limited to their browser interface and only outside the U.S. (this person lives in Brazil). That test has apparently now disappeared.

Image

ODDS AND SODS
* Netflix's grip on streaming-TV audiences is driving other media companies to pursue expensive mergers and takeovers that whiff of desperation. This Bloomberg piece argues Netflix might still beat them all without having spent a single penny to acquire any competitors.

* I have no idea how many subscribers the Martha Stewart TV SVOD has, but are there really that many people willing to pay $9.99 a month or $70.99 a year for access to a bunch of old episodes of Martha Stewart Living?

* HBO Max has renewed Made For Love for a second season.

* Pluto TV has upgraded its web interface.


TUESDAY'S PREMIERES 

1) America's Top Dog Season Premiere (A&E)
"Four police K9 teams, including fan-favorites from the hit series Live PD, and one civilian team will face off for the title of "Top Dog” in three rounds of high velocity, furry competition. The skilled teams will be tested on their speed, agility, scenting ability, and teamwork by completing a series of expert tasks on one of the biggest and toughest K9 obstacle courses ever assembled - designed by experts to mimic real-life challenges that these furry heroes face every day on the beat. Teams will navigate a complex maze to locate scented items and apprehend a suspect in a bite suit with a takedown, among a variety of other challenges. Each week’s winning team will receive $10,000 and an additional $5,000 to donate to the animal charity of their choice. In the final week of competition, top competitors will return to the finale course to battle for the title of “America’s Top Dog” and an additional $25,000 cash prize."

2) Good Bones Season Premiere (HGTV)
"Mina adjusts to caring for two young children while simultaneously taking the reins of the family business and working to make an even bigger impact on more local neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Karen's semi-retirement means she can focus on more of the landscaping, renovation and do-it-yourself projects that she loves the most."

3) StarBeam (Netflix)
"When villains come out to play, second grader Zoey transforms into StarBeam, a pint-sized superhero, to save the day."

4) TMZ Investigates: UFOs-The Pentagon Proof (Fox)
"TMZ will walk viewers through UFO footage, including a never-before-seen video of UFOs from the deck of a USS naval ship, and speak with some of the people who experienced it firsthand. Interviews will feature senators, military pilots, a Harvard scientist, former Pentagon officials and the two people who pushed the government to release information it has held secret for more than 70 years."

5) The Legend Of The Underground (HBO)
"A searing and timely look at the struggle against rampant discrimination in Nigeria today, as seen through the lens of several bold and charismatic, non-conformist youth who fight to live life out loud."

6) Vicious Fun (Shudder)
"Joel, a caustic 1980’s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in with his homicidal surroundings or risk becoming the next victim."

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

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, June 24th, 2021

24 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, June 24th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Panera coffee.

THE MESS THAT IS PARAMOUNT+
I wrote some in yesterday's newsletter about the executive restructuring at Viacom/CBS as they make an effort to shift the company more in the direction of streaming. But all the executive reshuffles in the world won't help if the company can't solve some of its biggest issues and at the top of that list are the problems plaguing Paramount+.

You will be hard-pressed to find anyone inside or outside the company that thinks the current Paramount+ app works effectively in its present form. Content discovery is a joke, the catalog has random exclusions that don't seem to make sense. And it took Viacom/CBS three months to add the ability of subscribers to create a wish list. That last feature is one that should be one of the half dozen core features of any mass-market streaming service. The fact that Paramount+ launched without it is just astounding.

I write a great deal about the UX issues of the various streamers, so it's not uncommon for some designer or executive at one of the streamers to reach out to me. Particularly if they are unhappy with decisions being made at their streamer. Earlier this week I heard from someone behind the scenes at Paramount+ and they put me in touch with a couple of other people familiar with the decision-making process at Paramount+. While all of the discussion was either off-the-record or on background, what they laid out was a process that was filled with too many voices and too little vision. 

I had the opportunity to look at a number of screenshots for a proposed revamping of the Paramount+ UX, which at least in images appears to be light years ahead of what is available now. That plan was apparently rejected and another take on the UX now seems to be on hold due to the executive revamping. I spoke with some extremely frustrated people, who talked to me with quite a bit of passion about their belief that executives at the top of the decision-making process for Paramount+ put too much value in the content and Viacom/CBS IP and not enough emphasis on the need to provide an app that is more than just functional. A lot of scorn was also directed at the original CBS All-Access UX framework, which was described to me as being "solid, but not easy to scale." 

I'll have more to say about this in the coming days and weeks. But let me add one personal story of my own about Paramount+. I signed up for the special deal before the launch, which cost me $30 for a year's subscription. Unfortunately, I screwed up during the sign-up and made a typo when I input the account email. It's a stupid mistake, but one that should have been relatively easy for customer service to resolve. And yet after three months I finally had to give up and pay Google $5 to open an email account with the mistaken address for a month because Paramount+ customer service could not figure it out. Emails to customer service went unanswered for weeks and when they did respond, it's clear the person did not read my complaint, since they just kept suggesting that I could log in and change the email address. But I couldn't log-in, because the system wants to send a confirmation email to the bad email address. Phone calls to the Paramount+ customer service didn't fare any better. Each called require sitting on hold for long stretches before some agent would simply read suggestions off of a script or tell me to just go in and change the email address myself.

I only mention that because this specific nightmare feels like an indication of the overall problems at Paramount+. There's a lack of expertise that infects the service from the top on down. And all of the reboots of classic IP in the world won't make those problems go away. And until they do, Paramount+ will continue to feel a bit like a streaming service dumpster fire.

COMCAST EXPLORING ACQUSITION OF VIACOM/CBS OR ROKU
The Wall Street Journal had a piece yesterday that focused on Comcast and its ambitions to be "a streaming giant." The pieces is getting a lot of attention because it offers up some unsourced speculation about the possibility of Comcast acquiring one of its media rivals:

Comcast’s CEO is also wrestling with whether to build or buy to become a streaming powerhouse, people close to him said. Several big players, including ViacomCBS Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Amazon.com Inc., have struck mergers meant to supercharge their streaming efforts.

Mr. Roberts, 61 years old and known as an aggressive deal maker in his two decades atop Comcast, has told people close to him that he doesn’t feel a need to seek a merger. But he is scoping out options, and ideas on the table include a potential tie-up with ViacomCBS Inc. or an acquisition of Roku Inc., one of the people said.

Both of those ideas seem more idle speculation than representative of actual ambitions. And even if they are a possibility, it's hard to see how either acquisition would help Comcast. Viacom/CBS arguably is the one major media company out there whose execution of a streaming plan is off to a shakier start than the one being haphazardly executed by Comcast. And while I'm sure Comcast would much rather have a Roku device to cram onto its Xfinity customers instead of its Flex device, it's difficult to see how that acquisition would have value beyond that. And it certainly is hard to imagine that Roku executives would see it as a positive.

But the part of the piece that is much more interesting (and is getting a lot less attention) is the discussion of the tensions between wanting to build out Peacock and the traditional parts of the NBCUniversal business:

NBCUniversal plans to start shifting some cable and broadcast shows to Peacock and become a launchpad for new content: The entire new season of the Bravo show “Below Deck Mediterranean” was made available on Peacock a week ahead of the cable network premiere in late June. However, pay TV distributors might not pay as much to carry TV channels if their good content shifts to Peacock, and talent would have to go along with the plans.

The Peacock push has caused some internal tensions. NBCUniversal had considered moving major NBC network shows like medical drama “New Amsterdam” and even hit talent show “The Voice” to Peacock, a senior executive said. However, network executives balked at those moves.

In the case of police comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” producers and the cast, including star Andy Samberg, also resisted the shift to Peacock, saying it wouldn’t be fair to the show’s fans to put the last season of the show behind a paywall, people familiar with the situation said. Another factor was that the cast and writers would need compensation of around $16 million to make the move, one of the people said.

I think it's fair to say that Peacock has so far turned out to be a middling success and a great deal of its struggles is related to similar problems being faced by Viacom/CBS with Paramount+. The only way to do well with streaming is by going all-in. You don't have to burn your current business model to the ground, but you do need to be willing to pay a sometimes heavy financial price in the short term. Comcast so far is trying to make changes without undergoing any pain. And while I understand that inclination, I believe it's only going to make the inevitable business model disruption even more painful in the end. 

ODDS AND SODS
* U.S. ranks last among 46 countries in trust of media.

* Netflix has renewed its comedy The Upshaws for a second season.


FRIDAY'S PREMIERES 

1) Bosch Season Seven Premiere (Amazon)
The seventh and final season of Bosch puts Detective Harry Bosch’s famous motto center stage: “Everyone counts or no one counts.” When a ten-year-old girl dies in an arson fire, Detective Harry Bosch risks everything to bring her killer to justice despite opposition from powerful forces. The highly charged, politically sensitive case forces Bosch to face a grueling dilemma of how far he is willing to go to achieve justice.

2) Central Park (Apple TV+)
In season two, the Tillerman family continues to navigate living in and caring for the world’s most famous park. Molly (Emmy Raver-Lampman) experiences the trials and tribulations of adolescence, Cole (Tituss Burgess) is challenged by a truly embarrassing moment at school, Paige (Kathryn Hahn) continues to chase down the Mayor’s corruption story, and Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.) juggles managing the park, his staff, and his family all with a smile on his face. Meanwhile, Bitsy (Stanley Tucci) inches ever closer to her sinister goal of claiming Central Park as her own; with Helen (Daveed Diggs) by her side, eternally wondering whether she’s made it into Bitsy’s will. Every step of the way, we are guided along by our friendly, fumbling, fiddler narrator, Birdie (Josh Gad).

3) 48th Daytime Emmy Awards (CBS)
Festivities salute excellence in daytime television at the Emmy stage in Los Angeles. Sheryl Underwood hosts.

4) False Positive (Hulu)
After months of trying and failing to get pregnant, Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) finally find their dream fertility doctor in the illustrious Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan).  But after becoming pregnant with a healthy baby girl, Lucy begins to notice something sinister through Hindle’s gleaming charm, and she sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about him, and her own “birth story.”  As if getting pregnant weren’t complicated enough…

5) Fathom (Apple TV+)
“I’m trying to start a conversation”, proclaims Dr. Michelle Fournet, an American researcher studying the communication of humpback whales. As she enlists a team to aid her study in Alaska, we follow Dr. Ellen Garland, a Scottish researcher in French Polynesia scrutinizing how such patterns evolve, even across oceans and continents. For these women, this is an ambitious opportunity for rich discoveries—but it also provides them the environment that they feel the most at ease in, by connecting with a creature that has mystified humanity for generations. Filmmaker and cinematographer Drew Xanthopoulos returns to Tribeca with the visually stunning Fathom, a thought-provoking documentary that prompts the audience to immerse itself in a sensorial experience of awe and wonder.

6) Mary J. Blige's My Life (Amazon)
Nine-time Grammy-winning recording artist and Academy Award nominated singer and actress Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP "My Life," a collection of powerful confessionals about her battles with abuse, depression and addiction that forged a profound and enduring connection with millions of fans around the globe. In Oscar-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth’s documentary, the singer, producer and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her from the soul-crushing world of New York’s housing projects to international stardom. In the process, she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time. 

7) Put A Ring On It (OWN)
Three couples at a crossroads in their relationship turn to Dr. Nicole LaBeach for a nine-week experiment: to see if dating other people helps bring clarity to their own situations.

8) Ray (Netflix)
From a satire to a psychological thriller, four short stories from celebrated auteur and writer Satyajit Ray are adapted for the screen in this anthology.

9) September Mornings Series Premiere (Amazon)
The series tells the journey of Cassandra (Liniker) who left her hometown behind when she decided to no longer make any concessions and become who she always wanted to be: a free and independent transgender woman. After years of suffering in silence, things finally begin to get on track in her life. Cassandra has a place of her own for the first time as well as a boyfriend who she loves, Ivaldo (Thomas Aquino), and in addition to a job as a courier in downtown São Paulo, she gets to fulfill her dream of being a cover artist of Vanusa, a famous Brazilian singer from the 70s. Her life takes an unexpected turn, however, when Cassandra’s ex, Leide (Karine Telles), shows up with a kid she claims to be Cassandra’s.

10) Sex/Life Series Premiere (Netflix)
Sex/Life is the story of a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and her past that takes a provocative new look at female identity and desire.

11) The A List Season Premiere (Netflix)
A group of teens find their friendship and courage tested on a mysterious island where the dead never die.

12) The Choe Show Series Premiere (FX)
David Choe paints portraits - literally and figuratively - of Asa Akira, Kat Von D and Rafael Reyes.

13) The Ice Road (Netflix)
After a remote diamond mine collapses in far northern Canada, a ‘big-rig’ ice road driver (Liam Neeson) must lead an impossible rescue mission over a frozen ocean to save the trapped miners. Contending with thawing waters and a massive storm, they discover the real threat is one they never saw coming.

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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

23 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by lemonade and random snacks.

HULU DRAWS MOST DAILY MINUTES OF TUNE-IN AMONG STREAMERS
Deadline has a good piece recapping a presentation by Nielsen SVP of product strategy Brian Fuhrer at Tuesday's Cannes Lions conference:

A snapshot of the new competitive landscape yielded some striking results in the month of May. Hulu had the most average viewing minutes per day of any major service, with 130. YouTube was next at 128 minutes, followed by Netflix at 110, Amazon Prime Video at 97 and Disney+ at 89. The high tally for Hulu is likely tied to its longtime position as a place for catch-up viewing. Many series stream on Hulu after their linear airings, making it a fixture among viewers who have come to rely on it more than a DVR.

Nielsen measures only Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+ and YouTube and only U.S. viewing on a TV screen. So it's worth remembering that these numbers are only a snapshot of a segment of the streaming audience. But with those caveats, it's still interesting to see the demographic breakdowns of the services:

About 33% of Hulu’s viewers were between the ages of 18 and 34, the highest percentage in that demo of any service. Streaming overall also remains tilted toward women, especially for Hulu, whose viewing was 57% female. Competition for male viewers, Fuhrer observed, could be the next streaming battleground, a notion supported by live sports investments like Amazon’s multi-billion-dollar bet on exclusive NFL rights.

VIACOM/CBS RESTRUCTURES EXECUTIVE RANKS
Viacom/CBS has announced a massive restructuring of its executive ranks as it seeks to maximize the company's ability to not suck in the new streaming era.

I'm not sure that there is a simple way of explaining the movies, but essentially the new structure elevates each of ViacomCBS’s global content leaders to oversee their respective genres within Paramount+, while appointing Tanya Giles as a centralized programming head to chart content strategy for Paramount+ and Pluto TV globally. She will report to Tom Ryan, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Streaming. Showtime’s David Nevins will serve as chief content officer for scripted originals at Paramount+.

Other moves include:
George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, will also serve as chief content officer for news and sports at Paramount+.

Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, will also serve as chief content officer for movies at Paramount+.

Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming and events, will also serve as chief content officer of music for Paramount+.

Chris McCarthy, president of MTV Entertainment Group, will also serve as chief content officer of unscripted entertainment and adult animation at Paramount+.

Nicole Clemens will expand her responsibilities as president of Paramount Television Studios (PTVS) to include president of Paramount+ original scripted series.

Brian Robbins, president of kids and family entertainment, will also serve as chief content officer of kids and family for Paramount+.

Kelly Day will continue as president of streaming and chief operating officer of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI). Day will continue to report to Ryan and Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of VCNI.

Scott Mills will continue to oversee BET+ in his capacity as president of BET, reporting to Nevins.

Each respective executive will reportedly also have the ability to greenlight programming directly for Paramount+

There's a lot to unpack about these moves, one thing that stands out to me is that it certainly appears that the long-rumored idea to move Showtime's content into Paramount+ in some fashion seems closer to reality.

CABLE COMPANIES TREAT THEIR CUSTOMERS WITH CONTEMPT, PART 314
Altice announced on Wednesday that it is cutting the upload speeds for new broadband customers up to 86% beginning next month. The ISP says the move is an effort to bring its speeds in line with "industry norms":

Altice claimed that its cable network isn't having any trouble offering its current advertised speeds. "Our network continues to perform very well despite the significant data usage increases during the pandemic and the speed tiers we offer," the company said. The upload-speed change is apparently being implemented not to solve any network problem but to match the slower upload speeds offered by other cable ISPs. Altice told Ars that it is changing its cable upload speeds to bring them "in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry."

Altice's 100Mbps download plan currently comes with 35Mbps uploads. But those uploads will be dropped to 5Mbps, an 86 percent cut. The 200Mbps plan with 35Mbps uploads today will get only 10Mbps uploads after the July 12 changeover date. The 300Mbps and 500Mbps-download plans that currently have 35Mbps uploads will be cut to 20Mbps on the upload side. Download speeds will remain the same.

Additionally, Altice's 400Mbps-download plan is being cut from 40Mbps uploads to 20Mbps, while the gigabit-download plan's upload speeds are being cut from 50Mbps to 35Mbps.

ANOTHER SATISFIED PARAMOUNT+ CUSTOMER
This one comes from Hollywood Reporter TV critic Daniel Fienberg:


THE NFL LOOKS FOR PARTNERS FOR ITS MEDIA PROPERTIES
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint is reporting that NFL has retained Goldman Sachs to find partners for its media properties including NFL Network. But league sources stress they are not interested in selling, but they are looking for investment partners:

Both networks are facing the same challenges with cord-cutting as other channels. Other media companies such as Walt Disney Co. and AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia are focusing on building up their direct-to-consumer relationships. The NFL wants to keep pace and find new ways to exploit its content. To achieve that, Mr. Kraft thinks the league needs an assist.

“I’m not sure we are the best at taking advantage of what we have in our system,” Mr. Kraft said, adding that whether the league partners with a traditional media company, tech firm or startup, “we would just want to be with someone who is hungry.”

The NFL’s other properties include the NFL.com, its NFL app, production facilities and library. The league’s media operations, currently based in West Los Angeles, are moving to new offices adjacent to SoFi Stadium, home of the Rams and Chargers.

Even if the NFL was interested in selling off their media assets. I can't imagine anyone would be insane enough to buy media assets that only have value due to content owned by someone else. 

ODDS AND SODS
* Fox Sports 1 could cancel Fox Bet Live, one of the first sports TV programs to focus on sports betting.

* John Bodega's recent exit from a Netflix series gets a bit more mysterious.

Movies And Specials: 'LFG'
THURSDAY'S PREMIERES 

1) An Unquiet Grave (Shudder)
Jamie, a widower who lost his wife in a car crash, convinces her sister, Ava, to return with him to the site of the accident to help him perform a strange ritual. But as the night wears on, it becomes clear that he has darker intentions. 

2) Epstein's Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell (Peacock)
The three-part documentary series is an investigation into the British socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell, known for her association with financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as she awaits trial on multiple sex trafficking charges.

3) Godzilla Singular Point (Netflix)
Brought together by a mysterious song, a grad student and an engineer lead the fight against an unimaginable force that may spell doom for the world.

4) Good Girls Season Premiere (NBC)
The stakes get higher in season four as the Secret Service closes in on our women's counterfeit ring. When we last saw Beth, she was struggling to carve out her own criminal path separate from Rio, using her husband's spa company, Boland Bubbles, as a front. Ruby seemed to have salvaged her marriage after a rocky road, but only time will tell if her hidden secrets implode. Annie is focusing on inner love and healing as she takes the journey to rebuild independence.

5) Innocent Season Two Premiere (Sundance Now)
Sally’s (Katherine Kelly, Cheat, Criminal: UK) spent the last 5 years in prison for the murder of a teenage boy – once her pupil. Now a free woman, life in her hometown has moved on. Her ex-husband is about to remarry, her friends have new lives, and her mother with dementia can no longer remember her. Can she find the real killer and prove her innocence?

6) Jiva! (Netflix)
A talented street dancer from Umlazi, Durban must confront her fears and deal with family objections to pursue her dancing dreams.

7) LFG (HBO Max)
In 2019, the players filed a class-action, gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, three months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which sets the stage for LFG. The film interweaves transcendent athletic performances with the players’ ongoing pursuit for equal pay, granting viewers unprecedented access to these game-changers as they meet the physical demands and pressures of being some of the world’s top athletes, while showcasing their courage, unflinching spirit and resiliency in an effort to create long-lasting social change with the biggest fight for women’s rights since Title IX.  

8) Making It Season Premiere (NBC)
In this six-episode competition, eight of the most talented makers from across the country will take on a variety of handmade projects with the hopes of impressing Poehler, Offerman and our expert judges, Simon Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson. Poehler and Offerman both share a love and passion of craftsmanship, albeit from different perspectives. Poehler is a self-proclaimed crafting novice who has long harbored a secret appreciation for those who can imagine and execute incredible things by hand. Offerman is a New York Times best-selling author in the woodworking space and is well known for his love for making a variety of objects himself.

9) RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars Season Six Premiere (Paramount+)
The highly anticipated new season is bringing back 13 fabulous queens to vie for a spot in the “Drag Race Hall of Fame” and a cash prize of $100,000.

10) Sisters On Track (Netflix)
An intimate portrait of girlhood following three determined sisters in Brooklyn as they race against all odds on a journey toward hope, belonging and a brighter future

11) The Good Fight Season Five Premiere (Paramount+)
In the fifth season, Diane (Christine Baranski) is forced to question whether it’s appropriate for her to help run an African American law firm with Liz (Audra McDonald) when the firm loses two top lawyers. Meanwhile, Marissa (Sarah Steele) and the firm become entangled with Hal Wackner (Mandy Patinkin), a regular Chicagoan who decides to open his own courtroom in the back of a copy shop. 

12) The Naked Director Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
Now known as the pioneer of the adult video industry, Toru Muranishi aims for even loftier heights - his dream to broadcast porn via satellite, but his growing ego and ambitions may spell his downfall.

13) Yellowstone Super Volcano: The Next Pompeii (Discovery+)
Hidden seven miles below Yellowstone, America's most famous National Park, lies an unseen terror, a time-bomb bigger than 1,000 Hiroshima bombs: the supervolcano. A natural fiery monster building up to its next eruption, when it blows it will be a modern Pompeii and the biggest natural disaster ever to hit the modern world. This supervolcano is a danger waiting to explode, and it's not the only one on the planet. NASA races to try to beat this natural killer, using the very latest science.

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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, June 22nd, 2021

22 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Diet Rite and leftover pineapple fried rice.

AMAZON/MGM DEAL TO BE REVIEWED BY FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
When it comes to the subject of media industry mergers and acquisitions, much of the news coverage tends to focus on the business aspects of the deal. Will it affect the stock price, will it give the company more leverage in the market? Whether the deal is good for consumers is a secondary consideration and that's why M&A deals are almost always framed as positive overall. There's a lot of talk about "synergy" and "expected cost-savings," but not "hey, this decrease in competition will end up costing you more."

There are news reports today that Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio will be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and I don't have a problem with that. I'm not a fan of industry consolidation in general, but this particular merger is less of an issue for me. I'm not sure that MGM being acquired by Amazon is any better or worse than if it were acquired by Apple or Netflix. And while the MGM IP is nice, it's not a substantial enough advantage for Amazon to justify blocking the deal. 

Frankly, if I were a consumer I would be much more concerned about the proposed Discovery/WarnerMedia merger. As I wrote back in May, the deal is likely to cost consumers money, since one of the rationales for the merger is that it gives the combined companies more leverage when it comes to carriage negotiations:

All Cable and Satellite providers (TV providers) pay each Network owner (Programmer) a fee for every household that receives a particular Network - regardless of whether anyone in the household actually watches it. John Malone (one of the biggest holders of Discovery Inc. voting stock) essentially invented the now common practice of bundling together a bunch of lesser networks with those that the TV providers consider to be "must have" networks in order to extract regular increases in subscriber fees from the TV providers. Increases which are passed directly on to the subscribers.

WarnerMedia owns several of the channels which charge the highest per-subscriber rates in the industry. And thanks to its acquisition of the Scripps Networks, Discovery owns some of the most popular general consumer channels in the industry (Food, HGTV). So the easiest way for this new combined entity to extract money from customers is to raise the subscriber fees when it negotiates upcoming carriage deals. These increases will be passed on to you, so don't be surprised when your monthly cable or satellite bill increases in a year or two.

STRANGELY, PEOPLE DON'Y LIKE SEEING ADS WHILE THEY'RE PLAYING VR GAMES
Facebook’s first partner for advertising in its Oculus VR headset has pulled out of the initiative less than a week after it was announced. This move came after users had started posting one-star reviews of the game Blaston in protest of their push ads:

The idea of introducing advertising to virtual reality has long been rejected by some gamers. After selling Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for about $2bn, founder Palmer Luckey said that the company would be able to continue to operate with autonomy from its new parent company, adding: “We are not going to track you, flash ads at you, or do anything invasive.” Later on Monday, Blaston said in a tweet that as an alternative to its test, Resolution Games was “looking to see if it is feasible to move this small, temporary test” to its free fish-catching game Bait.

WILL NETFLIX AND OTHER STREAMERS FACE MORE GOVERNMENTAL OVERSIGHT IN THE U.K.?
No matter the government, it is always tempting for politicians to ask for more oversight over social media companies and streaming services. And as the world's largest streamer, Netflix has faced its share of problems. From being locked out of the massive Chinese market to facing government constraints in places such as India, Netflix is fighting a multi-front war to remain as independent as possible in a world filled with governments that have their own individual agendas.

Some of the issues - such as requirements to produce some percentage of content locally - are easy enough to finesse. In most cases, Netflix is expanding it localized production capacity anyway. But then there are regions such as the U.K., where the government is seeking to have the ability to regulate Netflix and other streaming services the same way it does British TV networks — including punishments for "bias" and "inaccuracy:"

Netflix will be regulated by Ofcom under Government plans to level the playing field for the BBC and other traditional broadcasters struggling to compete. Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, is due to set out the proposal this week, with other streaming giants including Amazon Prime and Disney+ also brought under the UK’s regulatory framework.

The plans, due to be set out in a broadcasting white paper, would see Ofcom’s remit extended to cover on-demand services, meaning it could rule on complaints relating to bias and inaccuracy.

It comes after Netflix, the world’s biggest streaming service, was last year embroiled in a row over the accuracy of scenes in The Crown, the historical drama based on the Queen and the Royal Family. Following the release of the fourth series, which chronicles the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Diana, the Princess of Wales, Mr Dowden called on Netflix to use disclaimers making clear it was a “work of fiction”.


Amazon Prime was also criticised for hosting anti-vaccination documentaries in the US that it later removed.

But it's worth noting that some of these complaints about inaccuracies are less an issue than the fact that broadcasters in the U.K. are losing audience share to the streamers:

A Government source said: “UK broadcasters are having to compete with these giants with one hand tied behind their backs. The companies have deep pockets and go largely unregulated, leaving them free to impose their interpretation of British life…

“With the pace of change and the increase in global competition, the Culture Secretary feels it is time to look at how we can level the playing field between broadcasters and video-on-demand services and make sure the UK’s broadcasting landscape is fit for the 21st century.”

THE TOXIC ATMOSPHERE OF SPORTS COVERAGE
Several times in recent weeks female sports journalists have written in detail about the corrosive atmosphere of sexual harassment for women who are simply trying to cover the sports world. Kat O'Brien just wrote an achingly personal piece that the NY Times that tells her story of how she was raped by an MLB plater while she was a sports reporter. It is a powerful piece, but it is extremely difficult to read:

I knew that if I told anyone what happened that it would ruin my career. I was 22 with no track record, and at that time — nearly two decades ago — most people in baseball would have rallied to protect the athlete. So I blamed myself. I must have been too nice, too trusting, too friendly and open. Even though I said no, it must have been a misunderstanding. I lived in fear the story would get out.

Soon after the assault, I was back at the ballpark in Arlington, in the visiting team’s clubhouse. An All-Star player stared at me, saying my name and the name of his teammate, the man who had raped me. Suddenly I realized he must have told people, making himself out to be a stud and me some girl who was there to pick up ballplayers instead of do my job. I felt humiliated and ashamed. The player who had raped me never said another word to me.

And then there are all of the small moments that happen to women. Stories and battles that would never have to be faced by male journalists:

There was the time another sports reporter told me that he had heard a false rumor that I got my job covering the Rangers because I slept with a team executive. There was the coach who was a regular source for me who nicknamed me “Legs.” Players commented that I must be wearing a thong under my pants since they couldn’t see any panty lines, or maybe I wasn’t wearing underwear at all. I heard people — often male sportswriters — speculate as to whether a female reporter had slept with a certain player simply because she was friendly or had been at a bar frequented by players. There was the team manager (not with the Rangers or Yankees) who had a blowup doll in his office; team members would feign sex acts with it. There was the road series where players watched porn on a large television in the clubhouse, even when it was open to reporters. During that same series, a player asked what sexual positions I liked. That was the only time I ever spoke up, and thank you to the general manager, who acted quickly once he heard about it. But it did occur to me — being able to watch porn in a work setting with no consequences might have led to him thinking he could do that.

And this is the inherent problem you have when there is such an intertangling between sports news coverage and sports rights. Few outlets - whether television or print - want to risk alienating big sports organizations by highlighting what insiders would consider to be "dirty laundry." And newer upstart digital outlets that depend on their subscribers to stay afloat don't want to tackle issues that might potentially be seen as divisive to some fans. Although it's a sad world we live in one of the editorial considerations has to be "well, what about the subscribers who believe that she shouldn't have dressed that way.

WEDNESDAY'S PREMIERES 
1) Card Sharks Season Premiere (ABC)
Joel McHale returns as host for the second season of “Card Sharks,” a suspenseful game where a fortune can be won on the turn of a single playing card! The road to glory and riches begins with two players who face off in a head-to-head elimination game with the goal of one player making it to the life-changing money card round. In the money card round, the winning player has to make gut-wrenching decisions and risk it all to win it all. Ultimately, players can either take their earned cash and quit or continue wagering for a chance to take home a major cash prize.

2) Good On Paper (Netflix)
After years of putting her career ahead of love, stand-up comic Andrea Singer has stumbled upon the perfect guy. On paper, he checks all the boxes but is he everything he appears to be?

3) Murder By The Coast (Netflix)
In 1999, teen Rocío Wanninkhof is murdered. Her mother's ex-partner, Dolores Vázquez, is suspected. Did she do it? A second victim reveals the truth.

4) The House Of Flowers: The Movie (Netflix)
The De La Mora siblings concoct a mischievous plan to break into their old family home to retrieve a hidden treasure of significant importance.

5) The Parisian Agency: Exclusive Properties (Netflix)
This reality series follows the Kretz family and their luxury property business as they help clients buy and sell houses in France and beyond.

6) Too Hot To Handle Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
The world's hottest no dating dating show is back with ten sexy new singles.  Anyone who dares to break the rules of no kissing, no heavy petting, and no self-gratification of any kind will see the $100,000 prize drop faster than our contestants’ libido in the least sexy vacation getaway of their lives.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

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, June 21st, 2021

21 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, June 21st, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea and a PB&J.

A BIT OF HOUSEKEEPING
I'm tweaking the newsletter a bit in response to feedback and as I see how and when people are reading it. Over the past few weeks, I've been sending this out progressively later during the day. That's due to a couple of factors. One, doing it later just allows me to include more things from throughout the day. And secondly, it just takes a long time to assemble and write these newsletters. The average newsletter comes in at somewhere between 2 and 3,000 words. And given that I'm balancing the newsletter on top of the "normal" work I'm doing for my web site, it's just difficult to get it out consistently earlier in the day.

So the plan now is to get it out to you every day between 3-5 pm CT. So it should hit your mailboxes in between the morning/early afternoon email rush and before CNN sends out their daily "Reliable Sources" email. Based on the open rates for this newsletter, that seems to be the sweet spot for the biggest slice of the just-over 15,000 users. 

Also, since the newsletter is going out later in the day, I will be switching up the "premieres tonight" section so that it features the programming that premieres the following day instead of the same day. Which should make it more helpful for those of you will find the listings helpful (and there appear to be quite a few of you)

Secondly, despite regular questions about the decision (including from my wife), I still have no plans to make any of this subscription-based. There are more advantages to the viral aspects of a free newsletter than I would get from a smaller base of paid subscribers. That being said, I do get regular questions about how best to support this and the web site. So what I am going to do is turn on the option tomorrow for anyone who wants to subscribe. There won't be subscriber-only options for now, but it will provide a way for you to support my work if you are interested. But this daily email newsletter will always be free, so you won't have to do anything to continue receiving them each day.

THE CHALLENGE OF ANY TV CRITIC OR MEDIA ANALYST
I don't spend a lot of time talking about my process behind being a TV/media critic and analyst. Despite what you might think after reading today's newsletter. I have strong feelings about it, but discussing the process in public just feel self-indulgent and the epitome of inside baseball. But I wanted to highlight this piece from music critic Ted Gioia. He talks about his realization that he needed to be one of the "honest brokers" in the industry. And for what it's worth, it tracks pretty closely with what I believe:

This was a whole new consideration, one that had never dawned on me before. And I could tell by consulting various cutting edge critics, that this issue hadn’t got on their radar screens either. They didn’t give a rat’s ass for the reader’s musical pleasure. Or, if they did, they made sure to hide it at every pass. I started reading  music reviews just looking for the words: enjoyment, pleasure, delight. They had gone missing in action. Why didn’t anyone talk about them? Shouldn’t enjoyment be a make-or-break part of the deal? Yes, a critic expands the readers’ horizons, informs and educates, but also guide them to pleasure. After all, wasn’t that why I listened to music? Wasn’t that what brought me to my vocation in the first place?

Lost in this maze, I started recognizing all the other priorities that people had who wrote about music. And the more I mulled over the ecosystem, the more polluted it seemed. I saw smart people who wrote entire books about music with the aim of securing tenure from their elder colleagues in a college music department. I saw others twisting themselves into all sorts of contortions in order to win a grant or please an editor or curry favor with some institutional power broker. I even read reviewers who wrote with the apparent goal of ingratiating themselves with other reviewers. Talk about the blind leading the blind!

Above all, I noticed a whole syndrome that I came to call the Clement Greenberg problem—named after the art critic who achieved enormous success (and very large paydays) by heralding the work of Jackson Pollock and other abstract expressionists. Greenberg had made it clear that the single most lucrative move for a modern-day critic was to announce the newest new thing, the coming revolution that would sweep everything else aside. And he had proven so influential that, by the time I came of age as a critic, a revolution in music was getting announced every few weeks. I couldn’t pick up a newspaper or magazine without reading about some futuristic, world-beating sound that had altered all the rules—and then a few weeks later it would be forgotten, replaced by something just as ephemeral. The whole thing was a joke to anyone who looked at it from the outside, but within the feverish world of music journalism, no one could figure out any better way to operate.

You should read the entire piece, which talks more about the idea of the Honest Broker. But I really like that framing and it's really what I try and do on a daily basis. Write pieces for the viewers, not to show off for other critics or please a specific publicist or network. And I try and approach this newsletter the same way. I'm not giving investment advice or writing things that I don't quite believe because it will convince people to subscribe. Not every journalist operates that way, but enough do that I decided the best way I can stand apart is just be what I realize now is an "honest broker."

THE REAL CULPRITS OF THE AT&T/WARNER MESS
I missed this late last week, but here is a really smart explanation of what has been going on at AT&T and how M&A bankers have often been driving the decision-making at the company:

The Wall Street banker view of the world also highlights the deal’s masterful financial engineering. Nowadays, AT&T’s world-beating debt is down to around $145 billion, from about $180 billion at the time that the TimeWarner deal closed in 2018; its credit rating remains a manageable BBB, according to S&P. This new deal is structured as a “Reverse Morris Trust,” which allows it to be tax-free to AT&T shareholders, despite the sale—a veritable fantasy for investment bankers, for whom matters of tax avoidance border on legit erotica. The Financial Times estimated the combined WarnerDiscovery could be worth around $150 billion, giving AT&T a stake in the company, which will be run by Discovery C.E.O. David Zaslav, one of the smarter executives in the industry, worth $106 billion. So AT&T sheds the responsibility of running WarnerMedia, along with billions of debt, and retains the possibility of recouping its initial investment if Zaslav continues to work his magic. That’s the kind of deal Wall Street loves.

And there is the point that AT&T has managed to reward its executives richly for continuing to make bad decisions:

But if it doesn’t, and soon, shouldn’t Stephenson and Stankey regurgitate a portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars in collective compensation they took out of the company they have run so poorly? AT&T’s stock was trading around $35 a share on the announcement of the DirecTV acquisition. Seven or so years later, it’s around $27 a share, a decline of 16.4 percent, during a time period when the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased some 108 percent. It is a mystery how the board of directors at AT&T, which includes buyout mogul Glenn Hutchins and Samuel De Piazza Jr., the retired C.E.O. of PricewaterhouseCoopers, justifies paying these two men so much money for such mediocre financial performance. Shouldn’t there be some accountability for poor management decisions over a long period of time? (AT&T did not respond to a request for comment on the compensation paid to its two top executives.)

This all comes from a new newsletter by M&A lawyer William D. Cohan called "Dry Powder" and you can subscribe to it here.

ODDS AND SODS
* Netflix has signed a deal with Steven Spielberg that will apparently provide the streamer with multiple new films per year.

* HBO announced the premiere of the 6-episode documentary series 100-Foot Wave, which premieres July 18th. The series "captures the decade-long odyssey of surfing pioneer Garrett McNamara, who, after visiting Nazaré, Portugal in hopes of conquering a 100-foot wave, pushed the sport to ever-greater heights and alongside locals helped transform the small fishing village into the world’s preeminent big-wave surfing destination. "

* Fox is premiering a TMZ-produced special entitled TMZ Investigates: UFOs-The Pentagon Proof on Tuesday, June 29th.

* Cable operators Comcast and Charter Communications are partnering with Dish and Vizio in hopes of solving their addressable advertising problems.

* Nexstar Media's cable network NewsNation says it has hired Cherie Grzech, previously VP of Fox News, as VP of news, managing editor.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one on Monday. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, June 18th, 2021

18 June, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, June 18th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by McDonald's coffee and plenty of stuff from the farmer's market.

HOW ROKU DOMINATED STREAMING
CNBC's Alex Sherman has a really solid piece on the rise of Roku as a streaming hub for many customers and it is filled with lots of new details about the company. Among other things, I had forgotten that the streaming device that eventually became Roku was first developed at Netflix:

After first meeting at a conference, Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood pestered Hastings for months to let his company make a streaming video box for Netflix. Hastings at the time wanted to build the box in-house at Netflix. So the two struck a deal -- Wood took a part-time job at Netflix to make the device while remaining CEO of Roku, which had about 15 employees.

That experiment lasted nine months. Hastings wanted Netflix to be available on all sorts of streaming devices, such as Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation, and Apple TV. Those companies felt Netflix’s hardware posed a threat to their own businesses. Moreover, people surveyed in focus groups said they wanted a box that could stream more than just Netflix.

So Hastings decided to spin out the division to Roku. Wood received an unfinished device, patents, 20 to 30 Netflix employees (more than doubling the size of Roku) and some cash. In return, Netflix received about 15% of Roku’s equity.

It's tempting to read those paragraphs and say "see, Netflix can make mistakes too!." But truthfully, their instincts were right about the viability of a device that only streamed Netflix. And if you're going to also include other services, it can't be part of Netflix.

Although, Netflix's timing on the sale of its shares was not great:

Netflix would later sell its Roku shares to venture capital firm Menlo Ventures to avoid the perception of being conflicted by favoring one streaming distribution manufacturer over another. When Netflix sold its stock in 2009, it claimed a $1.7 million gain on a $6 million investment.

If Netflix had held, its stake would be worth nearly $7 billion today. Roku has been one of the pandemic’s big winners. Shares have have gained more than 480% from March 17, 2020, as the media world shifted to focus on streaming video. Today, Roku’s market capitalization is more than $45 billion.

I especially Like this explanation of Roku's business model:

“I remember this PowerPoint deck I presented around 2009, 2010 where I kind of laid it all out,” Carolan said in an interview. “We called it our popcorn strategy, because movie theaters don’t make money off movies, they make money off the popcorn. How are we going to continue to incrementally add services revenue?”

And then there is this factoid about Quibi and its content, which was acquired by Roku earlier this year:

In addition to licensed content, Roku has begun dabbling in original programming. Earlier this year, Roku bought more than 75 shows that Quibi created for its short-lived service. It also acquired “This Old House,” which is still making new episodes in its 42nd season. Roku has programming for kids and adults, building offerings for anyone in the family.

There’s some evidence the original programming is finding an audience. The 10 most-watched programs on The Roku Channel from May 20 to June 3 were all Roku originals. Since adding the Quibi library last month, according to Roku’s own data, more Roku users have seen that programming in two weeks than Quibi users in its six-month lifetime.

The strategy at this point looks a lot look like — surprise — Netflix. In Netflix’s early days, it was happy to license whatever content media companies would give it. Former Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes famously called it “The Albanian Army,” emphasizing its small stature at the time.

Now, Netflix spends $17 billion on content a year.

Roku plans to spend more than $1 billion on content next year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Wood declined to comment on the exact total, but did admit the budget will grow next year and in years to come.

CRUNCHYROLL ORIGINALS HAVE BEEN A DISASTER
As an overall streaming service, the anime-centric Crunchyroll is generally seen as a success. But when it comes to Crunchyroll Original productions, it's been a very mixed bag and Callum May at AnimeNewsNetwork.com has just posted a brutal takedown of the streamer's past efforts to create original programming:

Even with the streaming service only using five floors, those at the studio still found an abundance of space within the large Hicut Building with some rooms being left half-empty. In a city where most studios consist of small rooms with tightly packed lines of desks, Crunchyroll Studios Tokyo was bizarre and overly expensive. It started in 2018 and shut down in 2020, with most studios going elsewhere. Tsumugi Animation packed their bags and moved all the way to Akita (this move was unrelated to Crunchyroll Studio Japan's closure, only a part of their staff worked there) where they are finishing off work on Meiji Gekken: Sword and Gun, while Yapiko's Japan studio has now closed after having struggled to handle production on two different shows.

If this is the first time you're hearing about it, that's not surprising. Crunchyroll's struggles to maintain their own Japanese production house have been kept tightly under wraps by the streaming service, and the teams behind their shows have never been mentioned in any promotional material. Even some of those working at the company and on these Original shows weren't clear on how the relationship between Crunchyroll and the studios at Hicut Building actually worked.

ANOTHER REASON WHY I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE 'THE BEATLES: GET BACK'
Peter Jackson's epic The Beatles: Get Back documentary focusing on the final days of The Beatles promises to be a treat for rock fans and Vanity Fair has a deep-dive on the production and what viewers can expect. And according to Jackson, one thing they'll discover is that while the conventional wisdom is the recording sessions for the Let It Be album were contentious and not especially productive, the truth is very different:

Far from a period of disintegration, says Jackson, “these three weeks are about the most productive and constructive period in the Beatles’ entire career.” The tracks you hear on Let It Be were recorded during this three-week period. The band also rehearsed three-quarters of the Abbey Road album, about half of Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, a half dozen songs that would later appear on McCartney’s solo albums, and a couple that would show up on Lennon’s. It was, Jackson marvels, “the Beatles doing these.”

I can't wait to see this. I'll be honest and admit that I don't regularly listen to the music of The Beatles anymore. I've heard it so much that it's almost too familiar to me. But what sets the band apart from everyone else isn't just their commercial success or the way they defined what it meant to be a rock band. It's the raw talent that was assembled into one band. Whether you love rock, rap, EDM or polkas, there hasn't been another group that included three musicians who could have easily been successful solo artists. Imagine the three most talented people in whatever music genre you love and combine them together into one group along with one of the world's best drummers. That was The Beatles and that is part of the reason why they still matter and why this documentary will be a must-watch for music fans.

And btw, if you enjoy the music of The Beatles but haven't been following the release of the deluxe re-releases of their classic albums, make sure to check out the deluxe edition release of the band's White Album, which includes the so-called "Esher Demos," which are just astounding to hear. They are acoustic, often very casual early versions of songs like "Blackbird," "Julia," "Sexy Sadie" and "Revolution."

The Beatles: Get Back opens in theatres August 27th, 2021 and will also be available on Disney+. And to get a sense of what you'll see, check out this extended montage released by Peter Jackson last December.

NETFLIX CANCELS 'GRAND ARMY'
Variety posted what it described as an "exclusive" last night: Netflix has canceled its original drama Grand Army after one season. Reading the piece, you might be perplexed by the decision, since the short post just mentions the generally positive reviews from critics and it includes an excerpt from one of its in-house reviewers.

Well, one explanation for the cancellation might be that Grand Army's showrunner was publicly accused on overt racism and creating "poverty porn" by one of the show's ex-writers. Here's some of what I reported on this last September:

But the sources I spoke with on Thursday described a series of battles over the idea of authenticity and why certain storylines were given to specific characters. Although I've seen all of season one, I am under the terms of an embargo and can't talk much about the specific of the plot points. But early in the process of breaking down the season and the season's beats, disputes reportedly began to take place between Cappiello and several of the show's POC writers. According to descriptions of the conversations, the writers (who often had more experience in television) felt some of Cappiello's creative choices relied too heavily on familiar racial tropes and that some of the language and decisions made by the characters didn't feel as if they were based in the reality of a current high school. And there were complaints that some of the white characters were given stories that should have gone to a non-white character.

One Grand Army staffer who asked not to be identified had sympathy for both sides of the situation. "She (Cappiello) strongly felt that she was telling the stories like teens she had met over the years. When she got pushback, her back went up because she legitimately felt she was doing right by these characters. But she might not have handled things the way someone would have that had more experience running a staff. I didn't agree with all of the arguments, but I think if someone brings up legitimate concerns about whether a character is racially authentic, you should at least listen."


TODAY'S PREMIERES 
1) A Family (Netflix)
Taken in by the yakuza at a young age, Kenji swears allegiance to his old-school boss, pledging to adhere to the family code amid ever-changing times.

2) Elite Season Premiere (Netflix)
A strict principal and four new students arrive at Las Encinas, bringing an onslaught of romantic entanglements, intense rumors and a fresh mystery.

3) Fatherhood (Netflix)
After the sudden death of his wife, a new father (Kevin Hart) takes on the toughest job in the world: parenthood. Based on a true story of loss and love.

4) Friday Night Vibes Series Premiere (TBS)
This essentially "Dinner & A Movie," with new, hipper hosts Tiffany Haddish and Deon Cole.

5) Jagame Thandhiram (Netflix)
When a clever, carefree gangster is recruited to help an overseas crime lord take down a rival, he is caught off guard by the moral dilemmas that follow.

6) Love After Lockup Season Premiere (WE tv)
The wildly addicting series follows couples who meet their felon fiancés at their prison releases and the journey on their road to the altar. With stunning firsts, shocking family drama, secrets & lies, will their love survive after lockup or is it all just a con?

7) Luca (Disney+)
Set on the Italian Riviera, Pixar's 24th feature film is an original story centering on a pair of young sea monsters, voiced by Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer, who seek to learn more about the world beyond the sea. The debut film from director Enrico Casarosa also features the voices of Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan. 

8) Physical Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Rose Byrne star as the "quietly tortured" San Diego housewife Sheila Rubin, who finds a unique path to empowerment: launching a VHS aerobics-instruction business.

9) Rise Again: Tulsa And The Red Summer (NatGeo)
Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown is at the heart of the film, reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America's history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Klu Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity.

10) Sherni (Amazon)
A jaded forest officer (Vidya Balan) leads a team of trackers and locals intending to capture an unsettled tigress, while battling intense obstacles and pressures, both natural and man-made.

11) So Not Worth It (Netflix)
New friends, new loves and new experiences mix together inside a colorful college dormitory in Korea that's home to students from around the world.

12) The Rational Life (Netflix)
Always one to choose reason over emotion, a woman struggles when she’s drawn to two very different men, while also navigating unfairness at work.

13) The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals Series Premiere (Netflix)
On a budget, ready to splurge or just need someplace new? Three travelers visit short-term rentals around the globe and share tips for terrific stays.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one on Monday. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.