Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, June 1st, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by the aftermath of a three-day weekend.

WHAT WILL BE THE BIGGEST PERMANENT CHANGES COMING OUT OF THE PANDEMIC?
Today is an inflection point for a lot of people when it comes to the pandemic. A number of Fortune 500 companies had set June 1st as the day when they planned to start returning employees to the office and a number of cities (including nearby Minneapolis) made announcements today that they are dropping the mask mandate because at least 70% of residents have received at least one vaccine shot. The U.S. is slowly returning to what passes for normal this summer. And it will be interesting to see what long-term changes in the entertainment industry come out of the past 15 months.

When it comes to the theatrical business, the industry consensus seems to be that audiences will return, although perhaps not quite at their pre=pandemic levels. But honestly, that's just a guess on the part of most people.

What is clear is that the traditional theatrical window has been changed for good. Same day theatrical/streaming releases are going to be the norm for smaller titles, as well as movies in which the studio loses faith about its theatrical viability. Disney's experiment with the same day "premium" streaming release also seems to be a success. And even the most publicly bullish proponents of the theatrical release are hedging their bets, while at the same time proclaiming their belief in the theatrical business. For instance, the comments that came at the end of last week from executives at Lionsgate:

In the fiscal year, Lionsgate released 10 movies, four straight to PVOD (The Secret: Dare to Dream, Antebellum, Fatale, Barb and Star Go Vista Del Mar), one to Netflix (Desperados), and five in theaters and PVOD (Words on Bathroom Walls, Fatale, Pinocchio, Chaos Walking and The Courier).

“We certainly have a lot happening in windows, and we have really taken the approach … to look at each film as its own piece of business and how that is best served,” Drake said.

“I think what you’re going to see, and certainly what we’ve experienced, is that we love the theatrical business, we’re working very close with exhibitors, which have been great partners working with us,” Drake said, adding that Lionsgate is working on finding the right way to collaborate with exhibitors, help support the theatrical market, while maximizing the value of its titles.

As for the streaming business....the pandemic certainly gave an unnatural boost to subscription growth and we're already seeing that return to more normal rates. I'm not expecting to see a massive increase in churn, although it's going to be interesting to see if consumers cut back on the number of subs over the summer. If that happens, I suspect Paramount+ and Peacock are the most vulnerable.

There's also the harder-to-define question of whether the pandemic has changed the audience's tastes for certain types of programming. Fox's Hells Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay returned with a new season last night and at least for me, the last thing I want to see right now is a bunch of people screaming at each other. Especially in a year that has brought so much chaos to the restaurant industry. I'm not arguing that viewers only want to watch "feel-good" television. But I am hearing from more and more people that they don't have any interest in the hyped-up conflict inherent in shows such as Hell's Kitchen.

What do you think? Pass along your thoughts, comments to rick@allyourscreens.com.

HOW 'SPONGEBOB' AND 'TRANSFORMERS' COST U.S. TAXPAYERS MORE THAN $4 BILLION
Large media companies are never more creative than when they are figuring out ways to lower their taxable income. The NY Times has a piece outlining how ViacomCBS used a labyrinthine tax shelter to sell rights to its shows and films overseas:

ViacomCBS — and its predecessor companies — created several subsidiaries in the Netherlands to hold the foreign licensing rights to their TV programs and films, content largely created in the United States. The companies then used the subsidiaries as a springboard to sub-license those rights to other markets. The money from those deals all come back to the Dutch entities, where most of it is not subject to corporate tax.

The study noted that Viacom transferred its intellectual property rights to a subsidiary in Britain in 2015 while keeping the Dutch entities (operating as a subbranch of the British unit) as the jumping-off point for selling foreign rights.

The transfer — essentially a sale from one Viacom subsidiary to another — created a tax benefit, the study said. The transaction was worth $1.8 billion, according to company records cited by the study, a sum it can amortize over many years.

From 2015 to 2019, Viacom’s British unit collected $4.5 billion in revenue and gross profits of $1.25 billion, but “the U.K. corporate income tax on their profits during this period was only about $18 million,” according to the report. Since the amortization is considered an expense, the company was able to reduce the amount of profit it recorded.

ODDS AND SODS

* Former FOX Sports National Networks President, ESPN Vice President of Original Programming and Production, and Executive Vice President of DAZN, Jamie Horowitz joins World Wrestling Entertainment as its Executive Vice President, Development & Digital

Sophie Turner to star in Michael Peterson true story crime drama The Staircase for HBO Max.


TODAY'S PREMIERES 
1) America's Got Talent Season Premiere (NBC)
Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and host Terry Crews return. Variety acts and contestants of all ages audition for the chance to win $1 million.

2) Changing The Game (Hulu)
A look into the lives of three high school athletes--all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives and unique paths as transgender teens.

3) Chopped Season Premiere (Food)
The competing chefs have to cook with foods that were popular in the 1960s; a certain soda and sweet meat are part of the appetizer basket, but the clock seems to be the most difficult aspect of the challenge.

4) Doubling Down With The Derricos Season Premiere (TLC)
Even though the virus has affected Halloween this year, it doesn't stop the Derricos from celebrating with a sizzling dance-off.

5) Lego Masters Season Premiere (Fox)
The teams are tasked with building an eye-catching float in the first-ever LEGO Day Parade.

6) Raining Cats & Dogs (MHz Choice)
Two down-on-their-luck strangers become improbable companions in misfortune.

7) Super Monsters: Once Upon A Rhyme (Netflix)
From Goldilocks to Hansel and Gretel, the Super Monsters reimagine classic fairy tales and favorite nursery rhymes with a musical, magical spin!

8) The Art Of Crime Season Three (MHz Choice)
He’s clueless about art and she’s phobic without him. But together, Captain Verlay and Florence manage to solve high-profile art crimes in the heart of Paris.

9) The Haves And Have Nots Season Premiere (OWN)
The lives and friends of the wealthy Cryer family and the people who serve them.



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.