Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, August 25th, 2022
PR is not easy. But it's increasingly essential.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, August 25th, 2022.
SOMETHING WARNER BROS DISCOVERY EXECUTIVES COULD LEARN FROM A24
Everyone is piling on Warner Bros. Discovery this week and to be honest, it's for pretty good reason. Every time you think the PR problem can't get any worse, the company just seems to decide, "you think that sounds bad, hold my beer!" Let's face it, it takes a particular type of not reading the room to follow the countless "look at all the things being canceled at WBD" stories with the decision to do some private farewell screenings of the canceled film Batgirl. Oh, and let's make sure someone mentions we might just destroy the film in order to maximize the immediate tax benefits.
The importance of industry buzz and the perception about a studio can often be overblown. But I don't think it's an exaggeration that the recent events of the past couple of weeks haven't made WBD feel as it's the type of place a producer might want to take that project that means something special to them.
Which is why this paragraph from Joe Adalian's profile of A24 popped out at me, because it's an 180 degree opposite description of what's happening now at Warner Bros. Discovery:
One exec at a major streamer working with A24 says the company’s film and TV divisions are also attractive to buyers because their projects so often “punch well above their weight in terms of cultural significance,” allowing them to get buzz and attention even if they’re not always smash hits at the box office or in the ratings. When A24 pitches projects, according to this exec, “They say they’re very filmmaker forward and they believe in the vision of their creators — all the buzzwords you hear from studios — but they also really back it up,” he says. “Every project they do is their ride or die. And they make creators feel that way. It’s their superpower.”
If it was my call (and it's probably a good idea that it's not), I would use the private screenings of Batgirl as an excuse to turn around the bad news cycle. Announce the private screenings have changed minds in the executive suites at WBD. Cancel the removal of the film, authorize the money to finish it and release into theaters. Spin it as "we've heard you and we're going to let the audience decide." At this point, the movie is pre-marketed and a lot of people who wouldn't have normally seen it in theater will go out of curiosity. The company can find the savings somewhere else.
One of the qualities that any great executive possesses is recognizing when they're fighting a losing battle. You either listen to your ego or your customers. It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out.
THE FALL BROADCAST TV SEASON APPROACHES
I spent time today updating my editorial coverage calendar for the upcoming weeks and it was a reminder that September brings the start of the broadcast television primetime fall premieres.
Now let's be clear, I think publicists have a difficult and challenging job. You want to maximize exposure for the shows you are pitching and you have limited bandwidth to get it done. But we also live in a time when there are a hundred other shows out there on people's radar. And especially when it comes to broadcast network shows, the ever-declining viewer audience means that it doesn't take much to move the ratings bar. Another 50,000 or 100,000 viewers in the right demographic can be the difference between success and failure. So in general, the more people you can get to sample your show, the more likely it will succeed.
And I have a unique perspective on this because I exist in this weird middle-ground of the television press. At the top are the entertainment press trades, the few remaining entertainment/culture magazines and TV shows. And at the bottom are hundreds (if not thousands) of personal web sites, podcasts and other media. There is no way any press campaign could adequately service them all.
But there are a few of us in this odd spot. Big enough to have a real impact on coverage, but not big enough to feel as if we're a "must" in press coverage. AllYourScreens is doing more then 2.5 million unique visitors a month. Which is a bigger audience that all but the few biggest newspapers and entertainment web sites. On the other hand, no publicist is likely to get a bonus at the end of the year because they placed coverage on our site.
So given that, I can get a pretty accurate sense of what networks see as priorities. If a show isn't a huge priority, I may not hear from the network publicist at all. Or if I reach out, they will essentially blow me off. On the other hand, some networks and streamers are super aggressive about coverage, either directly or through third-party PR firms. In my experience, Apple TV+ has been incredibly helpful on every title. A similar story with Hulu and Amazon. Netflix PR efforts tend to run the gamut from being blown-off to being incredibly helpful. It depends on the publicist and the project. And as I've mentioned before, getting help with their internationally-produced titles can sometimes be a logistical nightmare. As for Warner Bros. Discovery...it depends. I get pretty solid access to HBO Max docs and specials. But for whatever reason, their scripted stuff is an issue. I'm a member of the TCA, but that hasn't helped at all. It feels as if I've annoyed someone there at some point. But the end result is that I cover their stuff a lot less than I probably should.
All of this is a long-way-around way of talking about the upcoming broadcast TV premieres. In general, the PR at the broadcast networks is the most difficult to deal with. And it's been exacerbated by their decision to either not do TCA sessions in early August or push them back into October and November. I have had less contact with them than usual and while I won't pretend that I understand the incentives they work under, I am continually amazed by how often I am just blown off or ghosted after an initial contact.
I'm not publicly calling out anyone specific because that's not the point. I'll be fine whether I get help from the network publicists or not. I have plenty to cover and more than I could possibly ever watch. But I am writing about this because I grew up on broadcast television. I think it serves an important function. I want people to view the shows and I get that I'm nowhere near The Hollywood Reporter. On the other hand, while THR might do a lone story about your show when it premieres, if it's something I like, I'll pound away about it week after week. So when you're into week three of the new season and you're scrambling around to land coverage of your show, reach out to some of us mid-sized sites.
It would be good for all of us.
NIELSEN'S TOP ACQUIRED STREAMING TITLES OF THE WEEK
Data research firm Nielsen its list of the most-streamed acquired titles for the week ending July 31st and I don't know that there are any real surprises:
But the interesting about this list is that there are new seasons of several shows on this list headed to various streaming services. A new season of Cocomelon is coming to Netflix in September and seasons of Alone are coming to Hulu on September 1st as part of that services massive acquisition of A&E Networks past seasons. So I would expect to see those two titles continue to do well. I'm also curious about whether Criminal Minds will pop back up on the list now it's headed back to Netflix after a four-month absence.
I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS THE IDEAL WAY TO SUBSCRIBE TO APPLE TV+, BUT IT'S CERTAINLY DIFFFERENT
MOST-WATCHED TITLES ON PARAMOUNT+
There aren't a lot of specifics about the numbers, but this list of the "Most Watched Library Titles" on Paramount+ since its launch is interesting:
#9 Wrath of Man
#8 PAW Patrol
#6 Top Gun
#4 Sonic the Hedgehog
#3 Big Brother
#1 SpongeBob SquarePants
A SHOW TO PUT ON YOUR RADAR
Topic is a smaller streamer that programs primarily smaller international titles (I interviewed CEO Ryan Chantry about a year ago). It doesn’t get a ton of attention, but the service manages to grab some pretty cool stuff. This three-part mini-series is really clever and creepy. The kind of thing I could see airing on HBO if it was an English-language original.
Here is the logline of the show, which premieres on Thursday, September 8th:
”The three-part series The Rope focuses on a small group of scientists on a remote base in Norway uncovers a mysterious rope--apparently endless--skirting their observatory and disappearing into the vast expanse of the surrounding forest. Some will follow it, others will remain. As the initial fascination transforms into a quest to unravel the mystery, all will be confronted with the life-changing consequences of their choices.”
ODDS AND SODS
* Apparently Hulu Live TV+++ is a real thing...at least in commercials.
* In it's never-ending quest to discover every possible variation of competitive cooking format, the Food Network is premiering its new show Outchef'd, hosted by Eddie Jackson. In the series, home cooks compete in "a head-to-head competition against a world-class chef." It premieres Tuesday, September 27th.
* An open letter to David Zaslav from Ivory Aquino.
* Comcast is selling its Washington, D.C. RSN to Ted Leonsis' Monumental Sports & Entertainment. The deal will close at the end of next month and it will be interesting to see if Comcast drops the RSN in D.C. like they did with Altitude Sports in Denver. Very similar situation with very similar product levels.
WHAT'S NEW FOR THURSDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Angry Birds: Summer Mansions (Netflix)
Bargain Mansions Season Premiere (HGTV)
Caillou: Adventures With Granma And Grandpa (Peacock)
Everything I Know About Love Series Premiere (Peacock)
History 101 Season Premiere (Netflix)
House Of Ho Season Premiere (HBO Max)
Little Demon Series Premiere (FXX)
Rilakkuma's Theme Park Adventure (Netflix)
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season Three Premiere (Paramount+)
That's Amor (Netflix)
The End Is Nye Series Premiere (Peacock)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU FRIDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.