Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, July 27th, 2022
A branding exercise with Hulu & PBS at the TCAs.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday July 27th, 2022.
PBS AT THE TCAS
PBS kicked off the first of two days of the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer gathering on Wednesday and there were a bunch of announcements:
* PBS and The Kennedy Center announce multi-year partnership on the new series Next At The Kennedy Center.
* PBS has a new four-part documentary series that will explore the four decades of hip hop music. Hosted by Chuck D, Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World will premiere on January 31st, 2023.
* Nova is producing a second hour focusing on the new James Webb Space Telescope, which will premiere in 2023. The first hour, entitled Ultimate Space Telescope, premiered earlier this month.
* PBS announced that the final performance of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will be filmed for broadcast. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, gathered by the Met and the Polish National Opera, is comprised of recent Ukrainian refugees and other artists in a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the war in Ukraine. The orchestra will embark on a European and American tour on July 28th that culminates with a performance at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Saturday, August 20th, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
* PBS announced a new three-part documentary series called Southern Storytellers, which will premiere in 2023. The series "follows some of the region’s most compelling and influential contemporary creators to the places they call home — the communities that fertilize the stories they tell in books, songs, poems, plays and on screens large and small."
* The PBS anthology series Independent Lens returns for a new season September 12th, starting with three documentaries making their television debuts. The season kicks off with award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt’s Hazing, which takes a close look at the hazing culture that engulfs educational institutions across the U.S. Then comes TikTok, Boom. from Coded Bias filmmaker Shalini Kantayya, which examines the power and complexity of technology through the lens of one of the most influential platforms of the contemporary social media landscape, TikTok. Closing out the fall season is Move Me, which follows filmmaker Kelsey Peterson along her recovery journey after a diving incident leaves her paralyzed and strips her of her former identity as a dancer and athlete.
* American Masters: Tony – A Year in the Life of Dr. Anthony Fauci is coming to PBS in Spring 2023.
* Production has begun on season two of Native America, with four new hour-long episodes slated to premiere in 2023.
* American Masters: Roberta Flack will premiere January 24th, 2023. With exclusive access to Flack’s archives of film, performances, interviews, home movies, photos, hit songs and unreleased music, the film documents how Flack’s musical virtuosity was inseparable from her lifelong commitment to civil rights.
* The new PBS Kids series Work It Out Wombats! will premiere on February 6th, 2023. The animated series stars a playful trio of marsupial siblings — Malik, Zadie and Zeke — who live with their grandmother, Super, in their treehouse apartment complex.
The TCAs switched back to a virtual format at the last minute and while there are some presentations over the next several weeks - Disney is doing three days next week - some networks have opted out completely while others have pushed back their panel until September or even October. It's going to be interesting to see what the TCAs look like post-pandemic.
That being said, on the days the TCA is taking place, this newsletter will be running a bit later. Today being a perfect example of that trend. I can multi-task, but there are limits. Besides, I want to give the panelists and the shows the attention they deserve.
A BRANDING EXERCISE WITH HULU
I'm a big fan of Hulu. I don't think it needs to be rolled into Disney+ and while I wish Disney would have rolled it out internationally when it had a chance, I'm fine with it being a U.S.-only streaming service.
Despite a lot of challenges, Hulu has produced some really extraordinary original content over the past several years, but for a variety of reasons, the shows generally haven't broken into the cultural zeitgeist and from what we can tell from the outside, they generally haven't attracted sizeable audiences. Especially if you consider that many of the shows feature well-known actors.
Now it could be that all of these shows just aren't any good and that is why they are underperforming. Aside from the fact that I am pretty sure that isn't the case, the star power alone would almost ensure the shows would grab some reasonable level of viewing.
There are a number of reasons for this problem, but I think one issue is branding. Subscribers just don't think of Hulu as the place to go for originals - at least, it's not their first stop. And Hulu executives seem to be cognizant of the problem, given the series of cute animated branding bumpers Hulu is running right now.
The problem is that while the clips are cute, they seem to be designed to be very general branding efforts, rather than spots that drill in on why viewers should be tuning in and what they should be watching. I was mentioning this to someone in the branding side of the streaming business recently and was essentially asked "Okay, smart guy, what would you do to change things?"
I'll preface this by saying that I am well aware of how difficult it can be sometimes to get ideas approved at Hulu. There are a lot of stakeholder (or people who think they should be stakeholders) inside Hulu and the mother companies. But I'm going to ignore those issues and just write about what I would do to brand Hulu if I could just wave a magic wand and make it happen.
You know who is good at branding? Consumer-facing insurance companies that cover homes and vehicles. Companies such as State Farm, Geico, Progressive and others are some of the biggest spenders in the advertising world. And while their commercials can be dumb and repetitive, they are also effective at branding. You know State Farm agents wear Khakis or that Western Mutual lets you customize your policy so you "just pay for what you need?" If that type of campaign can make insurance somewhat interesting, think what a similar campaign could do for a streaming service.
So what kind of branding campaign would I greenlight? Something memorable, borderline stupid. Something that would get people talking on social media but would also drive the marketing points that are important.
For instance, hire a middle-aged actor with a slightly German-ish accent. "Hi, I'm Eric Von Hulu and I'm here to talk to you about my streaming service service Hulu." Yes, nearly everyone knows it's owned by Disney (and for a little longer, Comcast), that's part of the joke. No one watching those KFC commercials actually thinks the series of actors claiming to be "The Colonel" are actually Colonel Sanders.
Have Von Hulu talk a bit about how at Hulu, they only produce the best original shows and maybe show slides of some of the rejected ideas. Or a rundown of some of the previous marketing efforts for Hulu that didn't work.
Then make the pitch for the quality of the Hulu originals and the stars and end with a slide with one of a series of catchy, almost snarky closers:
Hulu Originals: The best shows you haven't watched (yet)
Hulu Originals: The Handmaid's Tale & other stuff we know you'll like
Hulu Originals: We're like Netflix, but with fewer disappointments
Yes, it's dumb and it's not at all on-brand for Disney. Which is one of the many reasons I don't have a marketing job at Hulu. But I truly believe that Hulu - or for that matter, any of the major streamers - should try a more aggressive with their branding.
Because as I've written many times before, it's not enough to create great programming. You have to convince people to watch it.
FACEBOOK AD OF THE DAY
ODDS AND SODS
* Paramount+ has renewed iCarly for a third season.
* NBC has pulled the plug on the new competition show Million Dollar Island. Ironically, because it was too expensive.
* Actor Tony Dow is really dead this time.
* MSNBC's Chris Hayes says that the live episodes of his primetime series All In With Chris Hayes will probably return this fall. I can't wait, it's a very distinctive format for cable news and live shows are something Hayes does very well.
WHAT'S NEW FOR WEDNESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Car Masters: Rust To Riches Season Four Premiere (Netflix)
Dream Home Makeover Season Three Premiere (Netflix)
Great White Comeback (Discovery)
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season Premiere (Disney+)
Island Of Walking Sharks (Discovery)
Light & Magic Season Premiere (Disney+)
Mechashark Love Down Under (Discovery)
Mission Shark Dome (Discovery)
Rebelde Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
The Most Hated Man On The Internet (Netflix)
We Met In Virtual Reality (HBO Max)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU THURSDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.
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