Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, October 30th, 2019. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is running on coffee....and not much sleep.
PLAYSTATION VUE IS NO MORE
The Playstation Blog posted on Tuesday that Sony's virtual cable television streaming service Playstation Vue is shutting down on January 30th, 2020. It's not a big surprise to anyone who follows the service, since it has struggled since it launched in 2015. In the post, Sony blamed the market conditions for the shutdown:
Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.
It's true that Vue has struggled to find its spot in the market. It reportedly has only about 500,000 subscribers and Sony has said in the past that it remains in the red despite a $5 across-the-board rate increase in July. But the biggest problem for Vue might have been Sony management. The company never seemed to make an effort to build Vue name recognition and operated it as part of the overall Playstation brand. Playstation Vue never even had its own Twitter account, which tells you all you need to know about Sony's efforts.
AND THEN THERE'S HBO MAX
Warner Media gave a presentation on Tuesday where it outlined what to expect when its HBO Max streaming service debuts in May of 2020. I won't recount all of the programming deals here, most of them are pretty vague at this point. What's interesting is the price point and what most people will actually pay for it. HBO Max will cost $14.99 a month and so far there aren't any details about a discount or an annual rate. If you a subscriber of an AT&T-owned satellite TV or cable service and you currently subscribe to HBO, you'll get HBO Max for free. It'll also be free for anyone who subscribes to the standalone HBO app. If you currently pay for HBO through another cable service or through third party services like Amazon Channels, Warner Media says they hope to have deals in place with as many other services as possible by the time HBO Max launches.
Aside from the possible confusion for customers, Warner Media is in a strong position when it comes to cutting deals with non-AT&T owned television service providers. If - for instance - Comcast refuses whatever deal it's offered, the net result will be that some percentage of HBO subscribers will cancel their service through Comcast and pay directly for HBO GO, which also gives them HBO Max for free. While there might be some grumbling from HBO subscribers about the confusion, the upside for Warner Media is that the online HBO subscribers are paying the entire $14.99 to AT&T. And since Comcast takes a cut off the top for their HBO subscriptions, Comcast loses a few dollars per subscriber who switches and AT&T doesn't have to split the monthly subscription fee.
APPLETV+ DEBUTS ON FRIDAY
Apple streaming service AppleTV+ launches on Friday with about a dozen original shows and not much else. Unlike potential rivals such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or the upcoming Disney+, Apple opted not to try and license existing movies and television shows. Instead, it's creating its own and while I've only see a handful of them so far, my overall impression is that they are flashy and expensive cannon fodder. None of the shows are terrible but they are all filled with enough stars to tempt potential viewers. Here is my review of the high-profile morning TV show series "The Morning Show."
While AppleTV+ will cost $4.99 per month, it's likely most people will initially watch it for free. That's because Apple is offering a free year of the streaming service to anyone who bought one of a wide range of Apple products after September 30th. That's something to keep in mind when you read the predictable breathless headlines about the impressive-sounding number of subscribers AppleTV+ has after only a few weeks or months.
Here's a rundown of the television and streaming stuff premiering today:
1) Baroness Von Sketch Show Season Premiere (IFC)
Fast-paced and irreverent, Baroness von Sketch Show and its all-female cast draws upon 15 years of comedy experience and multiple collaborations to present an insightful, emotionally grounded series that captures the banalities and humor that comes from just trying to get along in the world. Offering a witty take on everyday concerns from the pretentiousness of ordering a fancy coffee to office and sexual politics, this satirical sketch comedy satirizes daily modern life.
2) Bring It On Ghost Series Premiere (Netflix)
A college student with psychic abilities takes in an amnesiac ghost as his roommate--who ends up helping him hunt down spooky spirits.
3) Flavorful Origins: Yunnan Cuisine Series Premiere (Netflix)
Long ago, migrants from the north brought soybeans to Chaoshan, now home to a unique bean paste featured in many dishes, from spinach to steamed fish.
4) Grego Rossello: Disculpe Las Molestias (Netflix)
Argentine comedian Grego Rossello takes the stage in Buenos Aries to share his takes on modern stardom, airline dining, brotherly love and more.
5) Mehandi Circus (Netflix)
In the early 1990s, the love between a cassette shop owner and a traveling circus performer challenges caste barriers and disapproving parents.
6) Sleepless Society: Bedtime Wishes Season One Premiere (Netflix)
Following the death of her child, a grief-stricken woman struggles to find peace until a mysterious boy appears, claiming to be her reincarnated son.
7) The Bronx, USA (HBO)
This documentary follows producer George Shapiro, who returns to his hometown of the Bronx after the death of his closest friend, Howard West. Revisiting the streets, stores and memories of his childhood, Shapiro reflects on the singularity of the borough he grew up in and the close friendships he made there that have stood the test of time. Along with George, the film features notable Bronx-ites like General Colin Powell, Alan Alda, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner and Chazz Palminteri, who share their experiences and what the Bronx means to them. The 83-minute documentary also introduces the next generation of Bronx-ites – the 2017 graduating class of DeWitt Clinton High School, who come from different backgrounds from Shapiro’s class of 1949, but whose passion, drive and emphasis on the power of friendship connects them with those who came before them nearly seventy years ago. A love letter to a special part of New York City and its distinctive residents.
8) The World's Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum (A&E)
This two-hour special is the longest continuously filmed paranormal investigation in television history, where five paranormal investigators are locked inside the legendary Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania for two weeks to document unexplained recent reports of paranormal activity. From 1908 to 1987, the 110-acre hospital had more than 10,000 residents, mostly children, confined in the most brutal conditions. Pennhurst is known as one of the most haunted locations in the United States, but recently, workers at the site have reported a sharp uptick in paranormal activity including mysterious noises and voices while others claim they were being physically attacked by spirits. Determined to get to the bottom of these claims, the owner has granted the team of investigators unprecedented access to the entire property including areas of the asylum that are closed to the public. The team will hunt the sprawling, spine-tingling property using their formidable skills and a wide array of top-notch tech gear to capture paranormal activity working to uncover the Asylum’s darkest secrets and help determine why the paranormal activity is spiking.
9) Tomorrow, With You (Netflix)
The head of a real estate firm with the ability to travel through time by taking a subway marries a photographer to try and change his future.
For a rundown of all the new episodes of television premiering tonight, click here.
TOO MUCH TV REALLY IS A THING
This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.
And if you're a glutton for punishment (or just want to know what you've missed), check out this list of all the shows that have premiered so far in 2019.
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.