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Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, April 27th, 2023
Someone has launched the perfect Deadline/AMPTP mash-up parody
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, April 27th, 2023.
COMCAST'S NOT-SO-GOOD QUARTER
Comcast released their Q1 2023 earnings this morning and while it wasn't a bloodbath, there wasn't a lot of good news.
The company lost 614,000 pay TV customers in Q1, more than in any previous quarter. That compares to 512,000 subscribers lost during the same quarter a year ago.
Comcast lost 2.034 million pay TV customers in 2022, a 12% loss of its subscriber base. With rival Charter Communications (currently #2 in the industry) losing subscribers at a lower rate, Comcast is looking at a scenario where it would drop to the number two pay TV company by the end of 2023.
Ironically, Comcast is making more revenue from a smaller subscriber base. But that is primarily due to regular price increases and forcing various random fees onto current subscribers. An approach which ironically costs the company more subscribers in the medium term.
PEACOCK CONTINUES LOSSES, ADDS SUBSCRIBERS
Comcast's streaming service Peacock continues to be one of the company's good news/bad news stories.
On the upside, Peacock added two million subscribers in Q1 and now has more than 22 million paid subscriptions. As a reference point, Peacock added three million subscribers in Q4 of 2022.
Another positive is revenue, which is up 45% vs. a year ago. $685 million in revenue for the quarter certainly sounds impressive.
The downside is that Peacock lost $704 million in Q1 and is expecting losses for 2023 to be around $3 billion.
Even worse, it's not clear what the path might be for improving the streamer's bottom line. Executives are arguing that 2023 will mark the high water mark for losses, but that seems to be based more on wishful thinking than any sort of improving strategic plan.
Of course, all of these losses only increase the conventional wisdom drumbeat that Comcast and Warner Bros. Discovery will OF COURSE merge and it is not just good business but INEVITABLE. Take this recent take from The Puck's Bill Cohan:
There are plenty of reasons to believe that merging NBCU and WBD is not just logical, but inevitable, as I have been writing for months. Nothing official can happen on this front until at least April 2024, when the Reverse Morris Trust tax-advantaged rules that governed the original deal between AT&T and Discovery for Warner Media expire. But there’s little doubt that lawyers and bankers for both companies are already contemplating the contours of a potential deal. By combining NBCU and WBD, Roberts and Zaz would form a media behemoth that has it all—profitable theme parks, a formidable movie studio, a powerful sports franchise, a massive newsgathering operation, and a world-class streamer with the scale to rival Disney, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, et al.
In this scenario, as envisioned by me and other smart people I talk to, Zaz would become the C.E.O. of the combined entity, while Comcast would control the board of the company and the majority of its economics. This was essentially how Roberts structured the acquisition of NBCU in the first place, back in December 2009, when the then-C.E.O. of GE, Jeff Immelt, came under severe pressure (at least in his own mind) to sell the business in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Comcast bought the first 51 percent of NBCU in January 2011 and then bought the remainder of the company a few years later, in March 2013, for a total consideration of around $30 billion. It was, as I wrote last year, one of the worst media deals in history for GE: At one point pre-pandemic, NBCU was worth around $100 billion, making it a huge success for Comcast, although it’s not worth quite that much these days, amid the decline of linear TV and mounting losses at Peacock.
Let me just say that I don't care how many otherwise smart people argue that a merger will happen (and it may be attempted), a Comcast-Warner Bros. Discovery merger would make the Time Warner-AOL merger look like successful 3-D chess in comparison.
A merger doesn't solve any problems. It doesn't make the strategy any smarter. It's almost certain to meet massive pushback from American regulators as well as those in Europe and I would be shocked if the deal managed to get through that process.
But on a more fundamental level it's bad business and an absolute near-extinction-level event for the television and movie industries. Consolidation never improves the decisionmaking of the companies involved. Mergers only make sense to the bankers and the executives who walk away with tens of millions of dollars. A merger at that level will create semi-monopolies that will have to raise prices in order to pay for the merger. Your cable (or virtual cable bill) will skyrocket, thousands of people will lose their jobs, more TV channels will become zombie networks and we'll be stuck with one large consolidated Comcast/WBD streamer which will believe it's size allows it to not be as concerned with competing in the marketplace. Because the marketplace will offer up few competitors. And that movie pipeline everyone agrees the theatrical business needs to survive? Do you the merged company would make more movies than the two separate media companies? Or fewer?
A major media merger that involves some combination of Comcast or Warner Bros. Discovery or Paramount Global just makes industry analysts giddy. But it would be disaster for everyone in the industry. And if Wall Street worked in a rational way, it would punish Comcast and Warner Bros. Discovery for planning for a merger that probably can't happen instead of aggressively striving to fix their companies and build a successful and profitable future.
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THE FUNNIEST THING YOU'LL READ TODAY
If you're a member of the WGA who is stressing about the possibility of an upcoming strike, you probably are looking for ways to amuse and distract yourself. And in one case, the best distraction turned out to be a parody Twitter account:
"Deadline Hollywood" borrows the logo and motto of the Penske-owned trade publication Deadline, but the Twitter account mostly parodies the life of a Hollywood writer. Although shots at the real Deadline manage to sneak into the tweets on occasion:
To be honest, I would follow the account just for its slams of Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav:
ODDS AND SODS
* It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns for season 16 on Wednesday, June 7th on FXX.
* Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania will begin streaming May 17th on Disney+
* C-SPAN will have live, uninterrupted coverage of the 2023 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on Saturday, April 29th beginning at 8pm ET.
* Season three of the Max Original drama series Warrior, based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, premieres June 29th.
WHAT'S NEW FOR THURSDAY:
* Firefly Lane Season Premiere (Netflix)
* Grand Knighthawk: Infiltrating The KKK (Hulu)
* Love & Death Series Premiere (HBO Max)
* Hidden Murder Island (Lifetime)
* 100 Days To Indy Series Premiere (The CW)
* Ranking Of Kings: The Treasure Chest Of Courage (Crunchyroll)
* Sharkdog (Netflix)
* Sweet Tooth Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
* Temple Season Two Premiere (Topic)
* The Dog House UK Season Premiere (HBO Max)
* The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning Series Premiere (Peacock)
* The Last Last Late Late Show With James Corden Series Finale (CBS)
* The Matchmaker (Netflix)
* The Nurse (Netflix)
* 2023 NFL Draft (ABC)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU FRIDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.