Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022
The rapidly shrinking HBO Max.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022.
'DAYS OF OUR LIVES' IS MOVING TO PEACOCK
Sometimes you hear some news that is simultaneously a bit surprising as well as something you should have seen coming. And so it is with the announcement today that the long-running NBC daytime drama Days Of Our Lives is moving from the broadcast network to Peacock beginning September 12th. The show will be replaced on NBC by NBC News Daily, which NBC News promises will "provide signature world-class reporting and breaking news coverage in a first-of-its kind, live in most markets mid-day news offering. The hour-long program will be anchored by Kate Snow, Aaron Gilchrist, Vicky Nguyen and Morgan Radford and offer “up-to-the-minute national and international news, with the option for NBC stations to add local news." NBC News Daily will also air live on the NBC News app as well as Peacock.
There are a couple of things going on here. The live news component is becoming an increasing fixture on local affiliates, as many of them are expanding their local news coverage into daytime and early off-prime evening hours. And they are doing it for the same reason as the networks are embracing added news programming. It's much less expensive than other programming and they can repurpose some of the reporting assets across multiple hours of the day, reducing the programming costs even further.
As for the move for Days Of Our Lives, the show has already produced two spinoffs for the streamer dubbed Beyond Salem. And while Peacock hasn't provided any public viewing data, based on this move it seems likely executives were happy with the results. It's also a variation of the primary reason why Disney shifted a sizeable amount of FX scripted programming to "FX on Hulu." It keeps the programming in the corporate family and the shows still have enough of an audience to make it worthwhile to produce them. But the substantial programming costs are shifted to the streaming part of the business where it can be more easily absorbed.
The addition of Days also will likely bring some viewers into the Peacock premium tier subscription plan, especially if Peacock decides to build out a more robust daytime drama hub. There are a number of older soap programs that aren't currently available for streaming and building out a streaming version of the old ABC SoapNet channel feels like a workable idea. And given that there is likely only room for one daytime drama streaming hub in the marketplace, this is an opportunity for Peacock to get there first.
DISNEY AT THE TCAS
Wednesday is Disney's second of three days at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer gathering, which is virtual once again. Here are a few of the highlights:
* Season 31 of Dancing With The Stars is premiering on Disney+ Monday, September 19th.
* The new science and invention series Super/Natural will premiere Wednesday, September 21st on Disney+ It's produced by James Cameron and hosted by Benedict Cumberbatch. According to the streamer, the show will "utilize the latest scientific innovations and leading-edge filmmaking technology to reveal the secret powers and super-senses of the world’s most extraordinary animals, inviting viewers to see and hear beyond normal human perception to experience the natural world as a specific species does — from seeing flowers in bee-vision to eavesdropping on a conversation between elephant seals to soaring the length of a football field with glow-in-the-dark squirrels."
* Season two of Mighty Ducks: Game Changers will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 28th.
* Disney+ has announced two new shows that will premiere on Thursday, September 8th, which the Walt Disney Company promotes as "Disney Day." Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory is a new science series from National Geographic that promises to take viewers "on epic and nail-biting journeys that push into the most spectacular and secretive corners of our wild world." And created by Brie Larson and Culture.House, Growing Up is "an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories."
A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS ABOUT UPSTART ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY MEDIA COMPANIES
Yesterday's piece in the L.A. Times that highlighted the new entertainment news sites/newsletters The Ankler and Puck received a lot of attention and based on questions I've received since it posted, it prompted a lot of people to look around and see what other companies and newsletters may be out there that they weren’t familiar with yet.
The piece does a really nice job of framing what each company does and what it hopes to accomplish in the marketplace. Although in both cases, the unspoken plan seems to be "we’re going to be this generation's THR or Variety." They are focusing on "insider" information and launching high-priced features and events that would appeal to media company upper management types who can easily write off the products.
But the piece also reminded me that while there's definitely a place for fresher voices in the entertainment industry news business, there is also a place for other voices. AllYourScreens.com and this newsletter have carved out a decent-sized niche by focusing on the under-reported stories and the under-covered programs. Although I have lived and worked on the West Coast, I have lived in the Twin Cities of Minnesota for a number of years. And I leverage that outsider point of view in my coverage. I'm less concerned about executive comings and going than I am about the nuts and bolts of the television and streaming business. In this newsletter, I write a lot about marketing and publicity issues, UX challenges and everything else that impacts what people watch and why.
And the subscriber base for this newsletter reflects that editorial focus. While I have my share if upper-management types subscribing, the vast majority of industry subscribers seem to range from middle managers to non-editorial employees such as marketing heads, various levels of publicists, project managers and other people doing the nuts and bolt jobs of this industry.
On the web side, you'll see a lot of coverage of international programming, lesser-covered domestic scripted and unscripted shows as well as the resurfacing of shows you may have missed the first time around. That's translated to more than 2.5 million unique visitors a month and over 26,000 subscribers to my newsletters. It's a very different business than Puck or The Ankler. But in a way, we are all doing variations of the same work: trying to carve an audience out of an industry that is mostly dominated by Penske Media (which owns Variety, Billboard, Rolling Stone, IndieWire, Deadline, TV Line and The Hollywood Reporter).
I see my role as the TV and streaming industry equivalent of that guy at the old school video store who always had some suggestions on what to watch after you had already rented all of the current Hollywood hits. That idea seems to be resonating in the marketplace and I thank all of you for your support.
THE RAPIDLY SHRINKING HBO MAX
There has been a lot of news over the past couple of weeks about various programs being pulled from HBO Max as part of it restructuring/strategic refocus. Among the exits were a number of newer TNT & TBS programs as well as six Warner Brothers streaming exclusives:
Within the past few weeks, at least six Warner Bros. movies have been removed from HBO Max: “Moonshot,” a sci-fi rom-com starring Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse; artificial-intelligence dystopia comedy “Superintelligence,” starring Melissa McCarthy; Robert Zemeckis’ 2020 remake of “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock; comedy “An American Pickle,” starring Seth Rogen as an immigrant who wakes up after being pickled for 100 years; Doug Liman heist pic “Locked Down” with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and drama “Charm City Kings” from director Angel Manuel Soto.
All six of the films were labeled as “Max Originals.” The removals were noted by users on Reddit in a discussion of the Warner Bros. decision to nix plans to release “Batgirl” — in theaters, on HBO Max or via any other platform.
Meanwhile, the reboot of comedy classic “House Party,” from LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill, was previously slated to premiere July 28 on HBO Max but was scrubbed from the release calendar.
While those removals rightfully garner a lot of attention, there are also a number of other shows quietly disappearing from HBO Max here in the U.S. Especially titles that are lesser-profile internationally-produced content.
HBO Max announced today that season four of Selena + Chef is premiering on the platform on Thursday, August 18th. Back in March, I wrote about the fact there are several regionalized versions of the show streaming internationally:
What you might not know is that HBO Max has begun creating regionalized versions of the format in other markets and last week two of those versions were added to the U.S. version of HBO Max. Sandy + Chef stars Sandy Leah Lima, a Brazilian singer-songwriter and actress. Lima is huge in Brazil and some other parts of South America. She first came to prominence with the duo Sandy & Junior, which she formed with her brother. The two of them went on to have two of the best-selling Brazilian albums of all-time and as a solo artist had three hit albums. She also starred in a television series and was a judge for two seasons on the reality competition series Superstar.
Juanpa + Chef stars Juan Pablo Martínez-Zurita Arellano, commonly known as Juanpa Zurita. He's a high-profile Mexican social media influencer, vlogger, actor and model who has a strong presence among Spanish-speaking teens across the Americas.
It's great that HBO Max has added these two shows in their U.S. app and Sandy + Chef in particular is a charming and fun show to watch. But for whatever reason, HBO opted not to dub the episodes and simply added English subtitles. Which feels like marketing malpractice, given the small amount of money (relatively) that it would have required to get the shows dubbed into English.
I just checked and at some point, those shows have disappeared from the U.S. version of HBO Max. Which is a shame in the abstract, although I get it. They weren't dubbed into English and likely very few people were watching. I would not be surprised to see Warner Bros. Discovery license the shows to a Spanish-language streamer such as Vix+.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the decision by Warner Bros. Discovery to dump Batgirl and the animated sequel to Scoob! If you're interested in that backstory, Scott Mendelson at Forbes has a nice rundown of the ramifications.
But I will pass along a couple of overall thoughts about Warner Bros. Discovery. Longtime newsletter subscribers will know that I have been railing against the merger since the day it was announced. It's bad for consumers, it's bad for the entertainment business. The merger didn't make the two companies stronger strategically. In fact, I'd argue it is having the opposite effect. The merger added to the Warner Brothers debt and that massive obligation has forced the company to make moves that offset the advantage it gained by its increase in reach and content consolidation.
Over the past year, I've been amused reading the string of "insider" pieces in the entertainment trades that touted Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav's "talent-friendly" approach to the business. Driven by a lot of behind-the-scenes pitching from publicists and some well-publicized "private" meetings with executives and creatives, the storyline was that Zaslav "gets" Hollywood and respects talent. It's the mirror image of the "Jason Kilar doesn't respect Hollywood traditions" stories that filled the trades during his reign at Warner Brothers and in both cases, the takes are mostly wrong and driven by optics and whomever happened to be the most diligent about spinning the press their way.
And while it seems inconceivable to most people, never underestimate the role of ego when it comes to making large corporate decisions. I spent a few years as a financial reporter and I was always stunned by how often large strategic shifts happened because the CEO and his or her team believed in their vision despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
Tomorrow is the quarterly investor/media day for Warner Bros. Discovery and I would expect to hear some more talk about retrenching. layoffs and shifts in corporate strategy. At least I’ll have plenty to write about in tomorrow’s newsletter.
TWEET OF THE DAY
ODDS AND SODS
* What is the absolute least amount of effort Discovery+ can put into reworking a British true crime series for its American audience? We find out with the new Discovery+ series Death On The Beach.
* Jack Osbourne, Jason Mewes and Jamie Kennedy are teaming up for the Discovery+ special Jack Osbourne's Night Of Terror: UFOs, which premieres Saturday, September 3rd on Discovery+. This is a follow-up to the previous Discovery+ special Jack Osbourne's Night Of Terror: Bigfoot, in which Osbourne and Mewes spent two hours not finding the big hairy guy.
* vMVPD FuboTV has laid off staff in the US, making a 'small workforce reduction' as it takes a 'conservative approach to growth.'
* Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing legislation that will extend California’s film and television tax program for an additional five years through 2030. The expansion of the program included $150 million in tax credits to encourage soundstage construction.
* New management at CNN is considering a revamp of the network's on air lineup for fall, examining such elements at time slots, on air chemistry and adding groups of regular 'family' or 'friends' to various shows. More on this tomorrow.
* HBO Max has scrapped season three of the animated series Little Ellen ahead of its premiere.
WHAT'S NEW FOR WEDNESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
CMA Fest (ABC)
Don't Blame Karma (Netflix)
Good Morning, Veronica (Netflix)
Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making Of Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
Reservation Dogs Season Two Premiere (Hulu)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU THURSDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.