Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, April 15th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Cinnabon-flavored coffee and pineapple.

I mentioned last week that I was dealing with some medical stuff and that has impacted my work in general, including this newsletter. With any luck, things are settling down now and everything will get back to a more predictable schedule. Today's newsletter is a bit short, but hopefully things should be back to normal tomorrow.

While the news that Amazon Prime has reached more than 200 million subscribers worldwide is getting a lot of headlines, Hollywood Reporter editor and reporter Alex Weprin pulled an interesting data point out of Amazon's latest 10-K: "the company spent $11 billion on video and music content last year. Up from $7.8 billion in 2019. Big increase."

In response to a question from me, he also provided a back-of-the-envelope estimation of how much of that $11 billion content spend last year was on music:

Amazon Music had about 55 million subs a year ago, half as many as Spotify. Spotify paid $5B in royalties to artists, so Amazon would be around $2.5B.

It's an interesting figure and it certainly matters that Amazon has aggressively increased the rate of its spend on content year-over-year. Still, it's difficult to know what it means, since there are so many other unknowables in this story. How much of the video spend is on original content vs licensing? How many of Amazon's 200 million subscribers actually watch the videos in any given month? Is the content spend for non-English programming increasing faster or slower than the rate for English-language programing?  So given all the lack of context, this ends up being an interesting number that doesn't provide any clarity on Amazon's business or how well it is performing when compared to Netflix.

One America News Network (OAN), the news network perched somewhere to the Right of Newsmax, announced last Friday that it is launching "OAN Plus," a broadcast digital sub channel that will have its first launch on a TV station in the Las Vegas market.

Aside from the discussion about whether having wide distribution for a network such as OAN is a good idea for American society, it did highlight the fact that for whatever reason, none of the big broadcast network affiliates have included a news channel as one of their digital sub channels. Both CBS and ABC have 24/7 news networks that get wide distribution on AVOD services and other streaming outlets. So simply adding a diginet channels seems like an easy decision and it certainly wouldn't interfere with branding efforts.

HGTV announced another new series today and the premise is going to sound really familiar to regular viewers of the network. In Fix My Flip, real estate expert Paige Turner (who previously hosted the series Flip Or Flop Nashville):

...helps SoCal’s overwhelmed flippers by taking over their flip. She is betting on her expertise by putting her own money down to help them get them back on track to make top dollar. Powered by her proven success, insider knowledge of the local real estate market and a dose of tough love, Page is ready to lend her expertise to floundering flippers.

Forgive me for not being excited about yet another HGTV series focused on flipping houses in southern California. The show certainly isn't going to offend anyone, but it seems like the safest possible choice the network can make.

And that's a perplexing decision, given that network executives have argued in several recent interviews that HGTV is altering its programming mix to better reflect the changing audience. If that is indeed the desire of the network, why not focus on some ideas that speak to a 2021 audience? For instance, how has HGTV not launched a series that focuses on the challenges of people trying to carve out space for them to work from home? This trend is going to continue, with many companies now deciding to have their employees work at least partly from home. And for most people, that involves carving out a Zoom call-friendly space out of a corner of a bedroom or under-used part of the kitchen. Maybe I don't understand the audience dynamics at play here, but ordering another flip show feels like a holding action.

Most of the decisions aren't a big surprise, but CBS has announced a number of renewals for its long-running procedurals. The broadcast network ordered a twelfth season of Blue Bloods, a sixth season of Bull, a fourth season of Magnum P.I. and a fifth season of S.W.A.T. The Hollywood Reporter is also reporting the network has come to an agreement with Mark Harmon, which will bring back NCIS for a nineteenth season. It's not clear how many episodes will feature Harmon, who originally planned to leave the show at the end of the current season.

1) Dark City: Beneath The Beat (Netflix)
In this documentary, TT The Artist captures the irrepressible bounce and infectious beats of a Baltimore club scene that demands to be heard.

2) Infinity Train (HBO Max)
In Book 3, Grace and Simon are the leaders of the Apex, an anarchic group of kids on a mysterious train. During one of their destructive missions, Grace and Simon get separated from the rest of the Apex and must find their way back. As the duo navigate through the myriad worlds of the train, they meet Hazel, an optimistic young girl, and Tuba, her gentle gorilla companion. Will Grace and Simon find new inspiration in Hazel’s innocence, or will the ways of the Apex recruit yet another aboard the train?

3) Restaurant Recovery Series Premiere (Discovery+)
Restaurateur and philanthropist Todd Graves is rolling up his sleeves to help struggling restaurant owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

4) Ride Or Die (Netflix)
Rei helps the woman she’s been in love with for years escape her abusive husband. While on the run, their feelings for each other catch fire.

5) Banishing (Shudder)
In the 1930s, a young reverend, his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret.

6) The Swim (Discovery+)
Ben Lecomte makes a historic swim across the Pacific Ocean.

7) The Wordmaker Series Premiere (Topic)
Complex family dynamics come to light when Dr. Ari Milus, a family man and a professor of sleep disorders, wakes up one night at a bar, with no memory of how he got there. He goes back to his old neighborhood in Jerusalem to consult with the doctor who treated his childhood parasomnia, but in the morning the doctor is found dead, and Dr. Milus is the prime suspect. A series of murders forces him to confront his troubled past within a religious sect, led by a charismatic and revered figure named “The Wordmaker” – a man who disappeared and whose actions led to the death of Dr. Milus’s mother.

10)  Wahl Street Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Mark Wahlberg juggles the demands of a rigorous film schedule coupled with an ever-growing network of diverse businesses including his clothing line, Municipal; his gym studio, F45; restaurant chain Wahlburgers and his production company, Unrealistic Ideas.

11) Wave Of Cinema (Netflix)
Walk down memory lane and experience the soundtrack to the film "Generasi 90an: Melankolia" through nostalgic performances.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Tag:Too Much TV