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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, September 27th 2022
What would you do if you were running Peacock?
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, September 27th, 2022.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT PEACOCK?
I've been doing a bunch of interviews this week for some pieces I'm working on for next week and I've been struck by how often Peacock has come up in the course of the conversations. Any time the streaming media business comes up, the person I'm interviewing will ask me if I know what's going on with Peacock. The conventional wisdom seems to be that it's struggling more than any of the other major mass market streamers and both its subscriber numbers and what we can tell about its viewership seems to bear that impression out.
I had someone ask me what I would do if I was running Peacock & that question stumped me a bit. My answer will be coming in a couple of days as I work through things, but it's clear there are a few interconnected issues. Comcast is spending money on content for Peacock, but a lot of it has been going towards sports rights. Which will bring in hit-and-run viewers, but I have serious doubts that it's enough of a bump to be a longtime answer. Peacock is spending a more modest amount on original scripted and unscripted programming - at least when compared to its competitors - but the impact on subscriber growth seems to be moderate at best. Peacock has had some engaging original shows and some of them have what might be referred to as niche hits. But the streamer hasn't found a breakout show that will leave potential subscribers with the feeling that they need to sign on and watch the series or risk missing out on some cultural touchstone.
There are some changes coming in the pipeline. New original scripted shows are coming over the next three months and Comcast-owned Universal continues to send new movies to Peacock in a compressed theatrical release window. But I don't think that's enough and as I sit here, I can't think of any magic wand I could wave that would make things markedly better in the short-to-mid term.
What would you do if you were in charge of turning around Peacock? Reply directly to this newsletter or add a comment below. I'll include some of the comments in my upcoming piece and I am hoping you'll have some surprising thoughts about this.
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WHAT'S WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD
The Ankler's Richard Rushfield has a piece that is just out which runs through a number of pressing issues facing Hollywood. I agree with a lot of his points, but I did want to highlight this part of his take, which focuses on a possible writer's strike next year:
It's hard to see at this point what the specific points are that would become the rallying cries for IATSE or the WGA. The ground hasn't been laid on any one issue, as it was on residual money in the past, for instance. But there's a general sense all around that the way things are going for the working folk of Hollywood just can't go on. If strike talk rallies not around one specific point but a general sense that the whole arrangement has fallen apart, that any sense of trust or transparency has fully disintegrated, that gets pretty hard to negotiate our way out of.
I find this a bit perplexing, because if you spend any time talking with writers, it quickly becomes clear what they are hoping to change. They are incredibly unhappy with the current streaming business model that buys out everyone's residuals for a flat fee. Meaning that unlike linear television, being part of a hit series won't continue to bring in any additional income. There is also a lot of unhappiness with the short seasons that have led to so-called "mini writing rooms," which are lightly staffed. And because the workflow of a streaming series is different than on - for instance - a broadcast network procedural, writers don't have the opportunity to be on set when their episode shoots or learn the other parts of the business that would allow them to eventually become an experienced showrunner.
A connected part of their unhappiness is also the tendency of some studios (Marvel's Disney+ productions is a main culprit) to eliminate the writing showrunner role entirely and shift to a more theatrical approach, where the director also serves as the creative decisionmaker and default showrunner on the show. You can also add unhappiness with staff pay, which is finding staffers working extra long hours for less money than they would make at Walmart.
And let's not forget the ways in which streamers get around current pay guidelines for animated shows (which mandate an increase in season two), by ordering a full season, then splitting it into two or more shorter seasons to save money.
To be clear, I think these are all valid points and in a better world, they would be addressed in a way that would be fair to everyone. But especially on the streaming side, the big media companies seem unlikely to agree to any wholesale changes in their business. And with writers seemingly prepared to go to war to change what they see as core challenges to their way of life, I don’t see this ending well.
I have no idea how this will all shake out. But with Hollywood's business model already under immense pressure, a prolonged strike could be an extinction level event for many people in the industry.
WHIP MEDIA MOST WATCHED STREAMING ORIGINALS
Here is Whip Media's rundown of the most-watched streaming originals series last week. The company notes that the weekly ranker features TV shows that are SVOD exclusives. As a result, "House of the Dragon" does not qualify for this report. However, looking at how all shows, both on streaming and on linear TV, stacked up last week, "Dragon" would rank second overall.
PHILO'S WEEKLY STREAMING ROUND-UP
Here is a rundown of the most popular titles on the entertainment-centric vMVPD for the week ending Sunday, September 25th:
Top Ten TV Shows
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta (VH1)
Love & Hip Hop: Miami (VH1)
Love After Lockup (WEtv)
The First 48 (A&E)
Married at First Sight (Lifetime)
Black Ink Crew: Chicago (VH1)
90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After? (TLC)
My True Crime Story (VH1)
Waka & Tammy (WEtv)
Top Five Movies
Fly Away With Me (Hallmark Channel)
Home Alone (VH1)
Wedding of a Lifetime (Hallmark Channel)
The Secrets of Bella Vista (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
ODDS AND SODS
* A new survey found that nearly half of all current Netflix subscribers would consider shifting to an ad-supported model once it becomes available.
* Netflix has unveiled its latest cast additions for the highly anticipated Avatar: The Last Airbender live series. New cast members include Amber Midthunder (Prey, Roswell) as Princess Yue, A Martinez (Cowboy Bebop) as Pakku, Irene Bedard (The Stand) as Yagoda, Joel Oulette as Hahn, Arden Cho (Partner Track) as June, Utkarsh Ambudkar as King Bumi, Danny Pudi as The Mechanist and George Takei as the voice of Koh, an ancient predatory spirit.
* The family sports comedy Fantasy Football will exclusively premiere on Paramount+ November 25th in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, and next year in additional international territories where Paramount+ is available.
WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY:
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Adnan Sayed: Overturned (Investigation Discovery)
American Greed Season Premiere (CNBC)
Bachelor In Paradise Season Premiere (ABC)
Bobby's Triple Threat Series Premiere (Food)
11 Minutes (Paramount+)
La Brea Season Two Premiere (NBC)
Murder In The Valleys (Sundance Now)
Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy (Netflix)
Outchef'd Series Premiere (Food)
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Season Premiere (HBO)
Reasonable Doubt Series Premiere (Hulu)
The Munsters (Netflix)
The Rookie: Feds Series Premiere (ABC)
30 for 30: Deerfoot Of The Diamond (ESPN)
Yankees-Dodgers: An Uncivil War (ESPN)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU WEDNESDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.