Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, November 17th, 2019

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, November 18th, 2019. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is running on hot tea and cold medicine.

IS THERE ANOTHER STREAMING SERVICE IN DISNEY'S FUTURE?
One of the things I learned when I was a financial reporter was that the best way of predicting what moves a company might make in the future is to ask yourself a couple of simple questions. The sweet spot for most companies is the nexis between "what do my customers want?," "what assets do we already have on hand?," & "what product can we launch that best answers those needs?" As a reporter, I look at those data points and ask myself "what product would YOU launch to answer those questions?"

Given that Disney+ hasn't even been live in the United States for a week, it might sound a bit insane to speculate about what their next move might be. Especially since so many hot takes have been cranked out in the past few weeks arguing there might already be too many streaming services in the pipeline. But honestly, this is the best time to think about Disney's future moves, given how so much of the streaming industry remains in a state of flux.

Disney+ is a very targeted product and its catalog can literally be explained by the logline the service uses to promote itself: "the exclusive home for your favorite movies and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic." That's an impressive list of movie and television show favorites. But Disney is now a Death Star-sized media company and it owns plenty of content that isn't included on Disney+.

What about Hulu? That streaming service is also effectively owned by Disney. In mid-March of this year, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, including its 30% stake in Hulu. The following month, Disney purchased AT&T's 9.5% stake in Hulu (which they acquired WarnerMedia). And in May, Disney announced a deal to purchase the remaining Hulu stake it didn't own from Comcast. While the sale doesn't close for five years, Comcast agreed to be a silent partner until then. And beginning in 2020, Comcast will be able to shift its exclusive streaming deal with Hulu to one that allows it to also stream its show elsewhere-just in time for the launch of Comcast's new Peacock streaming service.

So Hulu would seem like an excellent destination for some of Disney's other content and indeed Disney has begun making some recent moves in that direction. Including a recent deal to make Disney-owned FX shows available exclusively on Hulubeginning next April. Along with the decision to pull some upcoming shows from FX and have them premiere directly on Hulu.

But that still leaves a lot of Disney-owned content unaccounted for in the streaming world and over the weekend I kept going back to something I heard in a background-only interview I recently had with someone at Disney. They said several times that Disney+ should be thought of as "at important step for Disney. But it's not the end game." Which got me thinking about what Disney's next streaming move might be.

I remembered reading this piece Matt Zoller Seitz piece in Vulture, "Disney is Quietly Placing Classic Fox Movies Into Its Vault":

A recent Canadian Broadcasting Company story confirmed that even major first-run chains like Cineplex will now lose access to Fox repertory titles. That collection of movies is a gold mine for many commercial theaters — particularly art houses, regional chains, and big-city multiplexes that like to mix things up by sprinkling a few older works into their screening lineups. In addition to films that have already been mentioned, Fox’s holdings include hundreds of notable films in a variety of genres and modes, a layer cake of options which, taken together, give a sense of the richness of American cinema over the last 100 years: everything from Miracle on 34th Street, All About Eve and The Sound of Music to Deadpool, The Revenant, The Simpsons Movie, and Terrence Malick’s version of The Thin Red Line.

While some of the newer titles have been available for streaming at some point, nearly all of the pre-2000 Fox titles have never streamed. So why would Disney make this move now? One possible explanation might be in another advertising tag line the company uses to promote Disney+: "The Vault Is Wide Open." The Disney "vault" concept is also well-explained in his piece:

In some ways, this is just standard operating procedure for Disney. Older Disney movies — particularly traditional animated movies like Fantasia and blockbuster live-action “family films” like The Swiss Family Robinson and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — have generally been unavailable to theaters of all kinds. It’s a vestige of the company’s long-standing “Disney Vault” strategy of artificially creating excitement for a repertory title by keeping film prints out of theaters for years or decades, and periodically manufacturing a limited number of physical media copies (on VHS, then DVD, and eventually Blu-ray). The general absence of older Disney films from first-run theaters always made them feel a wee bit denuded of possibility, but over the decades, cinephiles gradually got used to the idea that Pinocchio or Sleeping Beauty would probably never show at such theaters unless they were part of a coordinated, wide-scale Disney rerelease, timed to a film’s appearance on some new variant of home video, often remastered in a new format to spruce it up.

So imagine a scenario in which Disney keep the Fox repertory titles out of theaters for a couple of years, until HBO Max and Peacock have both launched and the streaming market has settled down. Then Disney brushes all of these Fox titles off, bundles them with a few other things lying around in the company vaults (like the Disney nature movies that aren't on Disney+) and launches a "Classic Disney+." Hundreds of Fox repertory movie titles and some rarely-seen television shows from its now-massive collection of titles. 

Classic Disney+ could be priced at half the cost of Disney+ for an ad-free version, which could also be easily bundled with its bundle of other Disney-owned streaming services. And if Disney wanted to vacuum up every possible advertising dollar, it could also offer a free ad-supported version.

Now I have no real knowledge this is going to happen-it's strictly speculation. But it is something to consider when you think about what the streaming market might look like in five years.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER MEDIA CONFERENCE
Recode's two-day media conference kicks off in L.A. this morning. Recode’s Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher host the event and will likely draw some news out of the interviews they do with various media types. It seems like every digital media site has some sort of conference and while they are done partly to build relationships and strengthen branding, the real reason is that for many media news sites, conferences and special events account for the biggest growth in the year-over-year revenue. This Code Media event has a base cost of $2,250. Although to be fair, that does include meals.

It's a Monday in mid-November, which means there aren't a lot of premieres to wade through.

1) Blind Date Reboot Series Premiere (Bravo)

If you want proof that nearly every show idea has now been rebooted, let me introduce you to Bravo's take on this dating series, which originally aired in syndication from 1999-2006. In the series, people who don't know each other are teamed up and sent out on a blind date. This version is hosted by Nikki Glaser, and Bravo describes its "woke" take on the show this way: "A nod to the original format with a modernized twist to match social media trends, each half-hour episode focuses on two couples of varying ethnicity, sexual orientation and age."

2) Fatal Attraction Season Premiere (TV One)
This is a true crime reality series in which every case centers around someone who has...wait for it....developed a fatal attraction and is willing to kill for it.

3) Hometown Horror Series Premiere (Travel)
Many white picket fence communities across America are gripped with tales of horror, mystery and intrigue that have lingered over these towns for centuries – dark forces haunting unassuming communities with stories of the undead, ghouls, monsters and things that go bump in the night. "Hometown Horror" delves into these quiet communities to examine what is behind these stories and myths, and to shine a light on what may be lurking in the shadows of small-town America – such as the Pigman of Angola in New York, the hauntings of circus town Baraboo, Wisconsin, the blood-stained history of Perryville, Kentucky, and more. My prediction? Lots of dark footage and creepy sounds.

4) Love It Or List It Season Premiere (HGTV)
David and Hilary help fed-up homeowners decide whether to live with renovations or move. If you've seen one episode, you've seen them all.

5) Secrets Season Premiere (Smithsonian)
New investigations of Tutankhamun’s treasures reveal the boy king’s most important mission — his journey through the afterlife and his battle against the forces of darkness to save his beloved Egypt from oblivion.

For a rundown of all the new episodes of television premiering tonight, click here.

TOO MUCH TV REALLY IS A THING
This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

And if you're a glutton for punishment (or just want to know what you've missed), check out this list of all the shows that have premiered so far in 2019.

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