Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, October 14th 2022
It's been another bad week for Warner Bros. Discovery
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, October 14th, 2022.
I'm still moving pretty slow, so this is another shorter, straight-forward newsletter. But I am recovering and I should hopefully be close to 100 percent on Monday. And thank you for all of the kind notes and well wishes.
NETFLIX'S AD-SUPPORTED VERSION AND KIDS PROGRAMMING
I mentioned in yesterday's newsletter that I was trying to get an answer about whether or not there would be ads running in kids programming in Netflix's new ad-supported plan.
Kidscreen's Ryan Tuchow was able to get an answer from Netflix and it's a good one for parents:
But as the launch of the new tier approaches, the streamer has confirmed to Kidscreen that it will not display ads in kids’ profiles, or in any content aimed at viewers ages 13 and under, even when it’s accessed from an adult’s profile.
On the new Basic With Ads tier, an average of four or five pre- and mid-roll ads (15 to 30 seconds each) will play per hour, and users won’t be able to download titles.
It's still not clear to me why Netflix executives didn't highlight this feature during their announcement yesterday, given that it's going to be one of the first questions that will pop into the mind of any parent or caregiver who has kids watching Netflix.
But while the lack of advertising inside kids programming is a plus, the inability to download shows will likely make ad-supported plan a non-starter for most parents, since I suspect a lot of viewing by kids is on tablets and mobile, especially in cars and other travels.
WARNER BROTHERS DISCOVERY SHOOTS ITSELF IN THE HEAD, THE ARGUES IT ACTUALLY MEANT TO SHOOT FOOT INSTEAD
I have not been shy with my criticism of the current Warner Bros. Discovery strategy of cutting expenses, staffing and streaming content in order to pay down some of the massive debt that resulted from the merger of the two companies.
Still, if you're going to slash spending, you should at least do it as efficiently as possible. It also helps to not target relatively inexpensive programs that are well-liked and have a high-profile inside the industry.
On Tuesday, the company announced that it was shutting down its writer and director's workshops. Both programs had been lauded for their inclusion of diverse voices into the television industry and had been the initial entry point for numerous now veteran writers and directors.
Today, the company reversed course (at least somewhat) and said that the workshops will now be housed within WBD’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit, in partnership with WBTV. They will be led by Warner Bros. Discovery DEI Vice President Grace Moss and overseen by recently elevated Warner Bros. Discovery DEI U.S. Lead Karen Horne:
Both workshops have been a popular and sought-after avenue for training emerging writing and directing talent, with Regina King (directing), LOTR: The Rings of Power executive producer Justin Doble, Lovecraft Country co-exec producers Jonathan I. Kidd & Sonya Winton-Odamtten, Animal Kingdom exec producer Etan Frankel and House of the Dragon writer and co-exec producer Charmaine DeGraté among the alumni.
Doble had called the earlier move “absolutely gutting” and a “loss,” while Star Trek: Discovery exec producer Michelle Paradise called it “really disappointing” and M3gan and Malignant writer Akela Cooper said, “To see it scrapped in the name of capitalism is infuriating and heartbreaking.”
The entire series of moves is just beyond perplexing. While I haven't been able to get an official number from Warner Bros. Discovery, it's hard to imagine either program was especially expensive. And both programs had provided important stepping stones for the industry to develop new talent.
And from simply an optics standpoint, it's difficult to find a company which has suffered through more bad press in recent months than Warner Bros. Discovery. It feels like there wasn't anyone in the company's upper executive ranks with enough self-awareness to say "hmm...maybe there are less high-profile ways to save $5-$10 million."
Even worse, the company was forced to bring back the director's training program because Warner Brothers (like all major studios) has a mandated directors pipeline program included in its collective bargaining agreement with the DGA. And once it became clear they had to bring back the directors program, they pretty much had to do the same with the writers training pipeline.
While the details are still pretty sparse, one change in the writers program is going to have a big impact on the usefulness of that pipeline. Currently, graduates of the writing programming receive an incredibly useful benefit. Warner Brothers picks up their salary for their first year, which means a TV showrunner can hire these writers at essentially no cost to the show's budget. In an environment where many writer's rooms are so competitive they are only hiring experienced upper-level writers, making these rookies essentially free for a year provides an opportunity that likely wouldn't otherwise be available and allows them to get the experience which hopefully will allow them to be hired moving forward.
I honestly don't understand the strategy behind these moves. Warner Bros. Discovery has had three days of bad press due to a wound it inflicted on itself. Even worse, there doesn't appear as if there will be much a savings once everything is moved around.
TWEET OF THE DAY
WHAT'S NEW FOR FRIDAY:
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Black Butterflies Series Premiere (Netflix)
CMT Artists Of The Year (CMT)
Everything Calls For Salvation Series Premiere (Netflix)
Fixer Upper: The Castle Series Premiere (Magnolia)
Halloween Ends (Peacock)
High School Series Premiere (Freevee)
Holy Family Series Premiere (Netflix)
Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Season One Finale (Prime Video)
Martha Gardens Series Premiere (The Roku Channel)
Mismatched Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
Penn & Teller: Fool Us Season Premiere (The CW)
Shantaram Series Premiere (Apple TV+)
Take 1 Series Premiere (Netflix)
The Curse Of Bridge Hollow (Netflix)
The Shoplifting Pact (LMN)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Season Premiere (The CW)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU MONDAY!
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