Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, August 9th, 2022
Finally, a David Zaslav-free edition of the newsletter.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, August 9th, 2022.
WALMART EXPLORES BUNDLING STREAMING SERVICES WITH WALMART+
According the NY Times reporters Benjamin Mullin and Brook Barnes, Walmart has held discussions with major media companies about including streaming entertainment in its membership service:
In recent weeks, executives from Paramount, Disney and Comcast have spoken with Walmart, the people said, as the retailer ponders which movies and TV shows would add the most value to its membership bundle, called Walmart+. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
It is unclear whether any of the streaming companies are inclined to reach a deal with Walmart. Disney operates the Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu streaming services; Comcast owns the Peacock streaming service; and Paramount runs the Paramount+ and Showtime services.
As the streaming field gets more crowded, the biggest media companies have turned to giants in other industries to find new subscribers. Wireless providers like Verizon and T-Mobile have struck deals to offer their customers free or discounted subscriptions to streaming services like Disney+ or Paramount+ as an extra incentive to sign up. Media companies, in turn, receive an influx of new customers whose subscriptions are subsidized by their wireless partner.
There aren't any other details in the piece, but this makes sense strategically, although obviously the details matter a lot. Assuming that Walmart would essentially pay the subscription fee of the customer (or some discounted amount tied to the streamer's ARPU), this type of tie-in can provide a new influx of streaming subscribers at a very low acquisition cost for the streamers. But one big question would be whether the streamer would obtain any granular-level customer data as a result of the deal. And whether a deal with Walmart would encourage some percentage of the streamer's current membership to simply switch from their current paid plan to a "free" one they would receive with Walmart+.
One upside is that this type of bundling tends to make all of the bundled services much more "sticky." A customer might end up being ambivalent about Walmart+, but the bundled streaming subscription is the tipping point. Or a subscriber might be tempted to cancel a stand-alone streaming subscription, but will continue watching since that subscription is bundled in with their Walmart+ account.
Peacock is obviously a likely streamer for this deal, since a large percentage of current Peacock Premium subscribers already receive their service thanks to a bundled offer from Comcast as part of their TV/broadband package. While it's not a fit for Apple's apparent marketing philosophy, bundling Apple TV+ would be a huge boost to that streamer's subscriber base. And given that Apple isn't shy about subsidizing subscriber costs, it could be a big win for both sides. Especially given that Walmart is likely to push a lot of marketing bandwidth into any type of streaming partnership.
I expect that we'll see a lot more of these attempts to offer a streaming service subscription in some value-added way. It's a natural way to expand subscriber numbers in an otherwise mature market.
THE LONG FALL OF FRED SAVAGE
In yesterday's newsletter I wrote quite a bit about former Nickelodeon teen producer Dan Schneider and one of the things I heard from former co-workers was that one of the consequences of his behavior being tolerated by management for such a long period was that it enabled and encouraged it to continue. "I can't help wondering if he could have gotten help and turned things around if the network had stepped in when things began to escalate during The Amanda Show?," one former actor asked me.
That quote was at the top of my mind today while I was reading the impressive Kim Masters reporting in The Hollywood Reporter on the fall of Fred Savage:
It was as Fred Savage was preparing to direct his ninth episode of ABC’s reboot of The Wonder Years that a group of six women on the crew united to take action. Despite their fears about possible repercussions, in February they sent a complaint to Disney and subsequently spoke to an HR executive regarding their concerns about the former child star’s conduct toward several women on the production.
“To their credit, I was contacted within hours,” one of the group says. “An investigation started immediately and he was barred from set.” On May 6, news broke that Savage had been fired as executive producer and director of the well-reviewed series, which has been renewed for a second season. A spokesman for Disney’s 20th Television cited “allegations of inappropriate conduct” but did not elaborate.
As Masters recounts, this was not the first time Savage had been accused of inappropriate behavior. And like with Schneider, the studios and networks opted to give Savage a second, third and fourth chance:
In 1993, a costumer on the original The Wonder Years sued Savage, then 16, for sexual harassment. The case was settled. A female crewmember on the set of Fox’s The Grinder, which ran from 2015-18, sued claiming that Savage “constantly hurled profanities” at women employees and had shouted at and struck her during a costume fitting. Fox found no evidence of wrongdoing and the lawsuit was settled. In both cases, Savage denied wrongdoing. Despite those allegations, Savage has had a prolific career, not only acting but directing episodes of Boy Meets World, Black-ish, The Connors, Modern Family and 2 Broke Girls, among other shows.
The women who worked on the Wonder Years reboot say they saw two very different sides of Savage: a charismatic, seemingly supportive colleague and a far darker, angrier alter ego. They say he could flip to the latter persona in an instant, and in such moments, one says, “His eyes would go dead.” One says Savage never engaged in such behavior in front of actors or executives. “They all see his absolute perfect, best face,” she says, but he sometimes showed a different side to “below-the-line employees who don’t have power.”
And as was the case with Schneider, there was some behavior that struck people who worked with as inappropriate, to say the least:
In the media, the narrative focused on Savage’s alleged anger issues. But this crewmember acknowledges she had been uneasy about the “strangeness” of Savage’s relationship with one much younger woman working on the crew. (Savage is 46 years old and married with three children.)
This source wasn’t the only one who had become concerned. Others say at one point the young woman moved into the house Savage occupied in the artsy Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta, where The Wonder Years was filming. An associate says she shared that he was buying her gifts and talking about what they would do together in the future.
It was primarily concern about the hold that Savage seemed to have on this far younger person that ultimately prompted several women to report him to Disney HR. But she wasn’t the only one on the crew who attracted Savage’s attention to the point that others noticed. One of the women who reported Savage says she saw his “very blatant favoritism” toward another crewmember, a woman in her early 30s, and found it unsettling. “I’ve been in the industry a long time. I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and I’ve seen a lot,” she says.
And predictably, there was at least one instance of reported behavior by Savage that could have come from a page ripped out of the book "Unwanted Sexual Advances From Your Boss:"
Though she was no longer working on the show, one night in early December 2021 she was invited to join the group at 97 Estoria, a bar near Savage’s house with an outdoor space where the crew often gathered. “He was buying shots for everyone,” she says. At one point, she went to the restroom. As she was walking out of the stall, Savage entered. “I started laughing, like, ‘What are you doing? This is a women’s bathroom,’” she says. She says he approached her with “just like, dead eyes” and pushed her against a wall. “I said, ‘Please, don’t do this.’ I meant ruining the friendship. I was pleading, not from fear so much, but this was no going back.”
At that point, she says, “He put his mouth on mine very forcefully. He went for the top of my pants. I brushed him away. Then he put his mouth on mine again, grabbed my hand and pulled it on his groin area. I was pulling back. He stopped very angrily. I shoulder-checked him so I could get out.”
They both returned to the outdoor area and Savage quickly left with the younger crewmember who had also absorbed so much of his attention. But she says he texted her that night asking her to come to his house right away. “To remain neutral I laughed it off like,’Ha ha, no, have a good night,’ because I was honestly scared of him for the first time,” she says.
This piece is both infuriating and depressing. While the networks have improved their response to this type of behavior, too often the default answer has been to spread around some money, have everyone involved sign NDAs and move on. The industry as a whole has made big improvements. But given that the baseline response has been so bad for so long, it's going to take a lot of work to get to where we need to be to provide a safe work environment for not just the actors, but every member of the crew.
PHILO'S MOST-WATCHED PROGRAMMING OF THE WEEK
This is a set of data points that are fun, although it's always worth noting that Philo is an entertainment-centric vMVPD that doesn't carry any sports or news networks. It's also missing Disney and Comcast-owned entertainment networks.
Philo's Top Ten TV Shows For The Week Ending August 7th:
Tyler Perry’s Sistas (BET)
Basketball Wives (VH1)
Caught in the Act: Unfaithful (VH1)
Love After Lockup (WEtv)
90 Day Fiance (TLC)
All the Queen’s Men (BET)
The First 48 (A&E)
Married at First Sight (Lifetime)
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta (VH1)
Philo's Top Five Movies Of The Week:
Love in the Limelight (Hallmark Channel)
Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail (BET and VH1)
Friday (Paramount and MTV)
Diary of a Mad Black Woman (BET)
A Splash of Love (Hallmark Channel)
ODDS AND SODS
* Shout! Factory has signed a deal with The Jim Henson Company for worldwide distribution of 16 of its library titles. A number of titles are included in the deal: Farscape, The Storyteller, The Storyteller: Greek Myths, Jim Henson’s World of Puppetry, Monster Maker, Lighthouse Island, Living with Dinosaurs, Dog City, Ghost of Faffner Hall, The Fearing Mind, Mopatop’s Shop and Brats of the Lost Nebula. Presumably, at least some of the titles will end up on Shout Factory TV! and I would expect the rollout of some new themed FAST channels.
* Philo TV has added three additional Weigel Broadcasting diginets to its basic package at no additional cost. MeTV, Heroes & Icons, and Story Television are available beginning today. Philo had previously added Decades and Start TV in June.
* Strange Adventures, an anthology series from executive producer Greg Berlanti that was to feature some lesser-known characters from the DC universe, isn’t moving forward at the streamer.
* Lionsgate’s Fall used Deepfake-Style Tech to change 30-plus F-Bombs, bringing movie from R to PG-13 rating.
TWEET OF THE DAY
WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Big Bad Budget Battle Series Premiere (Food)
Black Ink Crew Chicago Season Premiere (VH1)
Fractures Series Premiere (MHz Chocie)
Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Detroit Lions (HBO)
I Just Killed My Dad (Netflix)
Iron Chef Brazil Series Premiere (Netflix)
My Big Fat Fabulous Life Season Premiere (TLC)
Password Series Premiere (NBC)
Reasonable Doubt Season Five Premiere (Investigation Discovery)
School Tales: The Series (Netflix)
Tales Season Premiere (BET)
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.