Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, August 26th, 2022
Don't expect to learn much more about Netflix's viewing numbers
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, August 26th, 2022.
As an FYI, today’s newsletter is a bit shorter than normal. I’m fighting some sort of bug and I’m hoping the weekend will give me a bit of time to recover.
IS PRIMETIME SET TO SHRINK AT NBC?
According to reporting by Joe Flint in the Wall Street Journal, NBC has had early talks about turning the 10:00 p.m. ET hour back over to affiliates. Nothing is decided yet, as the matter hasn’t come up for formal discussion with its affiliate board:
The talks are preliminary and it is possible that NBC will decide to continue to program the 10 p.m. hour, one of the people said. NBC hasn’t officially discussed the matter with its affiliate board, a group that represents station partners, two people close to that organization said. The earliest such a shift could take place would be the fall of 2023.
If NBC did drop the hour, it would have to decide which shows in its lineup would get cut. The network currently airs mostly scripted dramas in the 10 p.m. hour. Those could be moved to earlier in the evening to replace other content.
If the plan moves forward, the network likely would seek to move up the start time of its late-night programming block including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. from 11:30 p.m., one of the people familiar with the matter said. That would give Mr. Fallon a jump on his chief rivals, Stephen Colbert at CBS and Jimmy Kimmel at ABC.
The 10:00 p.m. hour has been tough for broadcast networks for decades and there have been several previous efforts to replace that hour's scripted schedule with cheaper programming. NBC tried it back in 2009 with the short-lived Jay Leno Show and prior to that was airing multiple nights of its news program Dateline in that time slot. And back in the 90s - when CBS was still struggling to develop new hit dramas - Charlie Rose and Bill Kurtis put together a proposal that would have launched a nightly national news program on that network.
But this is the first time a broadcast network has seriously considered giving that hour back to the affiliates since the 1950s and as might imagine, it's driven by the combination of cost-cutting and declining audiences. But as the WSJ piece notes, there is another reason also at play in the decision:
The move comes as NBC is facing increased costs for sports programming, which network executives see as crucial for drawing in viewers. Last week, NBC struck a deal to carry Big Ten college football for the next seven years at an annual price tag of $350 million.
NBC also has a bigger bill coming for its Sunday Night Football franchise. In 2023, its annual fee to the National Football League will double to about $2 billion, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.
And that has always been my primary criticism of the broadcast network's expensive embrace of sports programming. Yes, it draws an outsized audience and having the programming available keep the affiliates happy and willing to continue to fork over their affiliate fees.
But the networks are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on one-off programming they don't own. And the more they rely on live sports, the faster the rights fees increase and the less money it leaves for other programming.
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DON'T COUNT ON NETFLIX'S AD TIER PROVIDING ALL THAT MUCH MORE TRANSPARENCY
There has been a lot of speculation in the industry press about what impact the new Netflix ad-supported tier will have on the streamer's transparency (or lack their of) when it comes to viewer numbers.
The Wrap's Brandon Katz has a piece speculating what might happen and it's worth reading:
Privately, though, Netflix will be forced to peel back the curtain for its new business partners: advertisers. Just as Nielsen ratings were developed to measure television, radio and newspaper audiences to serve ad sales, Netflix will need to provide clarity into who is watching what in order to secure much-needed ad revenue.
The streamer is projected to earn $1.7 billion from advertising in the U.S. market and $5.5 billion globally by 2027, according to a study from Ampere Analysis provided to TheWrap. That means it will have to deliver some degree of accountability, likely in the form of impressions (or the volume and frequency of when an ad is viewed) around the top 10 titles, monthly active users (MAUs) and more openness regarding starters, stickiness and completions.
"It's one thing for media and customers to wonder how content is performing. When advertisers pay big bucks to run ads, they want to know that it's actually being seen," Entertainment Strategy Guy said. "And they care about who is seeing it and what it's being advertised on. Do advertisers want to support 'How to Build a Sex Room?' Maybe not!"
The biggest takeaway from any discussion about this issue is that we just don't know how the ad stack is going to be set up and what parameters will be governing the ad sales. Microsoft will be serving the ads for Netflix and neither company has publicly discussed any details of the deal or how the ads will be sold.
But from talking with some streaming industry ad executives this week, a few things seem likely. Most FAST services and most of the smaller streamers sell their advertising through what is known as a programmatic marketplace. Advertisers plug in what demos they want to reach, the time of day and sometimes networks or even specific shows. They bid for that audience and it's generally winner take all. The advertiser doesn't know how many people are specifically watching a program, although they could engineer some guesses in some cases based on the size of the ad buy and where it ended up.
But all of the specific viewing numbers are held by the ad tech company and in some cases, the streamer has built their own programmatic marketplace so they can deal directly with advertising reps. That's the approach taken by Philo and Hulu. And in fact, Hulu has a reputation within the industry as having ad tech that is robust and best of class. But Hulu still often delivers a terrible customer experience, because in the end, the service is more concerned with selling ads than it is with customer experience. And anyone who uses the ad-supported tier of Hulu is familiar with what it feels like to see the same ad in every...single...ad....break.
Netflix executives have cited Hulu's customer experience as something they hope to improve on. But it's not clear how they make that happen.
But what is clear is that whatever viewing data it provides to advertisers will be considered proprietary and firms will contractually be unable to share it. It's the same approach Netflix takes in France, where government regulations force the streamer to report viewing numbers to French producers and pay them a fee based on those viewing numbers. But everyone involved agrees to keep the numbers secret and the fact that most people don't even know it happens is a pretty solid indication of how unlikely it is that any advertiser will share whatever data they receive from Netflix.
It's also clear that Netflix intends to share as little customer viewing data as possible and even the initial announcement between Netflix and Microsoft referenced protecting customer data:
Microsoft has the proven ability to support all our advertising needs as we together build a new ad-supported offering. More importantly, Microsoft offered the flexibility to innovate over time on both the technology and sales side, as well as strong privacy protections for our members.
So it's unlikely the public will ever get a sense of viewing numbers from the advertising community. And even if it did, there would be no reason for the advertising community to know things such as completion rates, stickiness, etc. None of that matters to the advertisers. They are concerned with the whether or not the ads were delivered and whether they were delivered to the requested people at the requested time on the requested show.
In general, the advertising side of the streaming business isn't very well understood by journalists and a lot of industry analysts. I've spent a lot of time soaking up information and I still find myself mostly just continuing to realize how little I know.
WHAT'S NEW FOR FRIDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Best Feet Forward Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Delhi Crime (Netflix)
Diary Of An Old Home Series Premiere (Magnolia)
Drive Hard: The Maloof Way (Netflix)
Dying For A Family (LMN)
Great Performances: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert (2022)
Life By Ella Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Loving Adults (Netflix)
Me Time (Netflix)
Partner Track (Netflix)
Rental Reno Series Premiere (Magnolia)
Samaritan (Prime Video)
See Season Three Premiere (Apple TV+)
Seoul Vibe (Netflix)
Untrapped: The Story of Lil' Baby (Prime Video)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU MONDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.