Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, July 21st, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, July 22nd, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and peanut butter candy.

It sounds as if the winter 2021 roll-out of HBO Max into the European markets might not happen now until 2022:

The media giant on Thursday said it may delay its launch of a localized version of HBO Max in Europe in some territories to early 2022 as it “leans into” generating more subscriber growth in Latin America. AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches told analysts during a morning call that the bulk of HBO Max subscriber growth in 2021 will come from lower-revenue subscribers, mainly from a localized version in Latin America.

As WarnerMedia focuses on Latin America near-term to exploit that growth opportunity, Desroches warned WarnerMedia may delay its HBO Max launch in some areas of Europe until early 2022. A European launch for HBO Max had earlier been set for the second half of 2021.

There was a bit of a perplexing comment from Andy Forssell, executive vp and general manager, WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer. This "different languages" issue feels like the kind of thing you should expect when you're going into multiple international markets at the same time:

Importantly, he said, “we are learning. And what you learn is the complexity of doing this right. The team executed really well, but as you add languages and new sets of subtitles and audio, it is all built on one platform, it is working very well, but we want to do it right.” Concluded Forssell: “And so you adjust your schedules as you go along. It is about executing really crisply and making sure that we launch well and get the right kind of returns out of Europe and the countries beyond that.”

While Apple has gotten rid of its "buy an Apple product and get a free year of Apple TV+" promotion, not all of the discounts have gone away.

If you are a target shopper, you are likely familiar their loyalty program called "Target Circle." Membership is free and if you are a Circle member, you are eligible for an offer that gives you four free months of Apple TV+ (new subscribers only):

If you have the Target app, you can find the deal by clinking into the Target Circle tab and then searching for Apple under the Circle deals. 

I generally don't spend a ton of time highlighting pieces I don't agree with for two reasons. First, it really serves no useful purpose to bring attention to pieces that I believe are fundamentally misguided. Also, I have certainly put forward some boneheaded ideas of my mine over the years. And I appreciate that all of you haven't brought attention to this more often.

Still, I do want to take a look at this piece from TV [R]EV's Alan Wolk. In part because I tend to find myself on the opposite side of every piece he writes. And because I am seeing a lot of pieces this week arguing that an overseas combination of Peacock and Paramount+ would be a great idea. And I humbly disagree.

First, Wolk notes that it is unlikely that NBCU and Viacom/CBS could merge in the U.S.:

They’re looking at the Disney-Hulu-ESPN empire and the upcoming Discovery-Warner-CNN one and realizing that yes, scale really does matter.

Many observers have noted that ViacomCBS and NBCU would make a good combination, were it not for the fact that largely outdated regulations around broadcast TV ownership plus Comcast’s role as a distributor would seem to make a U.S. merger unlikely.

First, I don't think that laws that would prohibit two of the big 3 1/2 broadcast networks from merging is an "outdated" concept. If anything, I think there are good reasons for the government to look closely at both the Discovery/WarnerMedia and Amazon/MGM deals. They both have the potential to have negative impacts on consumers, which is really the role of government oversight.  An NBCU/ViacomCBS merger would be great for bankers and for the executives of both companies that would walk away with tens if not hundreds of millions in bonuses and fees. But it would be a terrible development for consumers.

Like many analysts, Wolk argues that if the company's combined their streaming efforts internationally, it would become a mega player in the space:

While there are differences between the two, there’s also a shared aesthetic based on their background as broadcast and cable networks.

It’s a more mainstream aesthetic that’s also more family friendly, though broad enough to encompass everything from Comedy Central to Bravo.

Which is the other strength the two network groups have: a really deep library of well-known programming. 

There’s much focus on originals as a way of keeping track of who is winning the so-called “streaming wars” but the reality is that one way to keep viewers subscribing is to have a really deep and broad library of well known series and movies that they can turn to during the 23 hours when they’re not watching your hit show.

While it would nice to have all of these titles under one banner, does anyone really believe that the lack of catalog is the primary problem for either Peacock or Paramount+? Like all bad mergers, combining the two efforts won't solve their core problems. It will just mean that instead of two struggling streaming services, we would have one larger one.

Despite what some people industry believe, size doesn't always matter.

I spoke this morning with Ryan Chanatry, the General Manager of Topic, First Look Media's streaming service. The interview will run on next week. It's a really good look at the challenges and upsides of running a small, niche streamer in 2021. One of the things he mentioned was that Topic is finding a lot of success licensing titles that are co-produced by multiple international networks. That more complicated structure means the shows aren't available for licensing globally and/or in many of the bigger international markets. Which means they are generally not of interest to the bigger, global streamers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

More next week....

* The Food Network is premiering the new competition series Raid The Fridge on September 1st, and it sounds as if it is essentially the same premise as three other shows that have recently been on the network.

* HBO Max has renewed That Damn Michael Che for a second season.

* Hulu has announces that a special animated episode of Pen15 will premiere on August 27th.

1) A Second Chance: Rivals! (Netflix)
"In this sequel, after a grown-up Maddy gets injured and can’t qualify for the Olympics, she starts coaching a team of elite junior gymnasts as they go up against rival team."

2) Bankrolled (Netflix)
"Two directionless millennial bros get high and pitch a bold new social justice app that raises millions. Then they have to come up with the app."

3) Blood Red Sky (Netflix)
"Flying with her young son, a mysteriously ill woman is forced to unleash a dark secret when terrorists attempt to hijack their transatlantic flight."

4) Chip N Dale: Park Life Series Premiere (Disney+)
"This new animated series follows two tiny troublemakers, Chip and Dale, trying to live the good life in a big city park while having giant-sized, sky-high adventures. Nervous worrier Chip and laid-back dreamer Dale make the perfect odd couple: they’re best buddies and they drive each other nuts. In their perpetual pursuit of acorns, these ultimate underdogs are joined by Pluto, Butch and other iconic Disney characters as they face down bullies great and small."

5) Darcey & Stacey Season Premiere (TLC)
"As Darcey and Georgi’s engagement faces unprecedented hurdles, Stacey and Florian are exploring ways to expand their family, despite opposing opinions on how to make it happen."

6) Jolt (Amazon)
"Lindy is a beautiful, sardonically-funny woman with a painful secret: Due to a lifelong, rare neurological disorder, she experiences sporadic rage-filled, murderous impulses that can only be stopped when she shocks herself with a special electrode device. Unable to find love and connection in a world that fears her bizarre condition, she finally trusts a man long enough to fall in love, only to find him murdered the next day. Heartbroken and enraged, she embarks on a revenge-filled mission to find his killer, while also being pursued by the police as the crime’s prime suspect."

7) Kingdom: Ashin of the North (Netflix)
"Tragedy, betrayal and a mysterious discovery fuel a woman's vengeance for the loss of her tribe and family in this special episode of "Kingdom."

8) Masters Of The Universe: Revelation Series Premiere (Netflix)
"The war for Eternia begins again in what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor. A new animated series from writer-director Kevin Smith."

9) Mind For Design Series Premiere (Discovery+)
"Brian tackles the design of three kids rooms at his sister’s house, including a nursery for his twin nieces and his toddler nephew’s bedroom and shared bathroom, by creating fun and functional spaces without any major construction."

10) Playing With Sharks (Disney+)
"A true pioneer in both underwater filmmaking and shark research, Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the underwater world whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today. Through remarkable underwater archival footage, along with interviews with Valerie herself, "Playing with Sharks," from twice Emmy®-nominated director Sally Aitken, follows this daring ocean explorer’s trajectory from champion spearfisher to passionate shark protector. From the birth of cage diving to “Jaws” hysteria to the dawn of cageless shark diving, Valerie became a trailblazing advocate for the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures."

11) Sky Rojo (Netflix)
"Adrenaline and action are back in the driver’s seat in the second season of "Sky Rojo," from the creators of "Money Heist."

12) Stuntman (Disney+)
"Millions have seen his work, but nobody has seen his face. From Director Kurt Mattila comes the visceral and inspirational film “Stuntman.” It follows professional Hollywood Stuntman Eddie Braun as he prepares and attempts the most dangerous stunt of his career. Contemplating retirement and having survived over three decades of hellacious car crashes, explosions, high falls, and death-defying leaps, Eddie Braun decides to finish out his career by recreating the infamous Snake River Canyon rocket jump, an audacious televised event that almost killed the man who inspired Eddie to become a professional stuntman: Evel Knievel. "

13) Ted Lasso Season Two Premiere (Apple TV+)
"Jason Sudeikis is Ted Lasso, an American football coach hired to manage a British soccer team—despite having no experience. But what he lacks in knowledge, he makes up for with optimism, underdog determination...and biscuits. The widely acclaimed series also stars Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Nick Mohammed. Sarah Niles joins the cast this season as ‘Sharon,’ a sports psychologist who has been brought in to work with AFC Richmond."

14) The Last Letter From Your Lover (Netflix)
"After finding a trove of love letters from the 1960s, a journalist sets out to solve the mystery of a secret affair. Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes."

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