Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, October 24th, 2022
Can Netflix successfully launch an original traditional TV comedy?
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, October 24th, 2022.
WHAT IS THE COST OF A BIG MEDIA MERGER? IN THE CASE OF WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY, AT LEAST $4 BILLION
In a Form 8-K SEC filing it released today, Warner Bros. Discovery has provided a few more details about the range of its cost-cutting measures, which will likely top $4 billion once they are completed:
The Company estimates it will incur approximately $3.2 – $4.3 billion in pre-tax restructuring charges comprised of:
• Strategic content programming assessments, leading to content impairment and development write-offs, of approximately $2.0 – $2.5 billion;
• Organization restructuring costs, including severance, retention, relocation, and other related costs: $800 million – $1.1 billion; and
• Facility consolidation activities and other contract termination costs: $400 – $700 million.
Of the total amounts above, the estimated cash expenditures from the organization restructuring, facility consolidation activities and other contract termination costs will be in the range of approximately $1.0 – $1.5 billion. The Company incurred $1.0 billion of pre-tax restructuring charges in Q2 2022 and estimates $1.3 – $1.6 billion of additional pretax restructurings charges, primarily attributable to content, in Q3 2022. While the Company’s restructuring efforts are ongoing, including the strategic analysis of content programming which could result in additional impairments above the estimate provided above, the restructuring initiatives are expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2024.
It's worth remembering that these cuts, which include about $2.5 billion in cuts to content spending and licensing, are the direct result of the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery. In fact, the cuts really aren't required to boost the combined company's bottom line. They are necessary because Warner Bros. Discovery took on a large amount of debt to finance the merger and company executives have promised to cut that debt by at least $3 billion in the first year.
MRC WALKS AWAY FROM KANYE WEST DOCUMENTARY
Producer and packager MRC released a statement earlier today stating that it is no longer interested in working with Kanye West on a planned documentary:
CAN NETFLIX SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCH AN ORIGINAL COMEDY SERIES?
While Netflix has had a great deal of success creating original hits in genres ranging from YA to true crime, one genre that has proved problematic for the streamer is the traditional half-hour comedy.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a modest success, but it was also a series that had been originally developed for NBC. The long-running Grace & Frankie is a comedy, but I think it's fair to say it's not what anyone would describe as a "traditional comedy." Ironically, Netflix has had the most success with comedies that were a reboot or a "reimagining" of a traditional broadcast comedy, such as Fuller House or One Day At A Time.
But aside from those successful efforts, Netflix has devoted a lot of resources to creating an original traditional comedy, and doesn't have a lot to show for it. Remember Haters Back Off!, Friends From College, Disjointed, All About The Washingtons, Turn Up Charlie, Mr. Iglesias, Merry Happy Whatever, AJ & The Queen or Gentefied? No, I didn't think so.
Netflix is taking another run at the traditional comedy genre and is soon to premiere both some extensions of familiar broadcast hits (That 90s Show) and concepts that would feel very comfortable if they were airing on a broadcast television network (Blockbuster).
I spoke with Blockbuster's creator Vanessa Ramos earlier today and while the feature and my review of the show are both under embargo until early in November, the thing that struck me about the series is that it could easily be airing during one of ABC's comedy blocks. Ramos formerly worked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Superstore and that experience is in full force on the show.
It is going to be interesting to see whether the show connects with audiences in the way that everyone at the streamer is obviously hoping it will. I've heard some speculation that streaming comedies suffer from not being as bingeable as most dramas and while Hulu has had some success releasing comedies on a weekly basis, that's not really in the DNA of Netflix's audience or corporate philosophy.
SPEAKING OF STRUGGLING TO LAUNCH ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING
Disney+ has had a LOT of success rolling out a steady stream of Marvel and Star Wars-related original programs. But its track record for other original launches is a lot less impressive and one example of that is the YA series The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Season one premiered last year and I just loved it. It has such an original feel and tone, the closest thing I can describe it to as what the Umbrella Academy would look like through a Disney+ lens. Season two premieres on Wednesday and I have a few interviews from cast and crew posting on AllYourScreens tomorrow.
I'm glad the series is back and I hope it finds a bigger audience this time around. But I'm struck by how these Disney+ shows just seem to come and go without creating even a ripple in the pop culture zeitgeist. I honestly am not sure if this is a marketing problem or if people just don't think of Disney+ as the place for this kind of original programming.
One way to test that would have been to move The Mysterious Benedict Society to Hulu for season two and see if it connects differently with the audience on a different platform.
TWEET OF THE DAY
WHAT'S NEW FOR MONDAY:
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
The Chalk Line (Netflix)
The Surreal Life Series Premiere (2022 Reboot) (VH1)
Wild Crime (Hulu)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU TUESDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.