Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Good TVeets

Merger Scale

Bruce Tuchman explains the logic of scale behind recent merger deals like Disney-Fox, AT&T-Time Warner, and Discovery-Scripps, the latter of which just received Department of Justice clearance.

Casting Diversity in 2018 Pilots

Joe Otterson says casting for this season's pilots could be as diverse as ever before.

ACR Data & Measurement's Future

Alan Wolk explains why ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) data offers a potentially revolutionary future direction for TV measurement.

New Flow Issues

Posts from the last two issues of Flow: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture:

Issue 24.5:

Issue 24.4

Szechuan Sauce is Back

McDoanld's is back with more Szechuan sauce for Rick & Morty fans, plus a podcast as a creative way to address the previous release gone awry.

Auditioning for MasterChef

Offering revealing reality TV details, Jessie Glenn details his experience of auditioning for MasterChef.

Starz's Strategy

Curt Wagner covers the executive and programming strategies Starz has used to accrue the second-highest number of premium channel subscribers: "Starz is securing its insurgency by putting even more women and people of color in charge, with new lanes of programming aimed at Latino, millennial and LGBTQ viewers."

Engaging With The Bachelor

Hannah Jewell explores the question of if watching The Bachelor makes you dumb, both from the perspective of science (an MRI!) and in terms of cultural judgments. And Kate Aurthur considers reasons why ratings are down for the current season.

M*A*S*H* Finale Oral History

Marc Freeman offers an oral history of the legendary M*A*S*H* series finale.

Facebook Problems

Mathew Ingram delves into Facebook's threat to journalism, while Wired's Antonio García Martínez uncovers how Trump's election campaign was able to take advantage of Facebook's ad system to buy many more ads at cheaper prices than Clinton's campaign.


The New York Times is reportedly developing a TV news program.

CBS Sports News Streamer

CBS has launched a streaming service for sports news called CBS Sports HQ. Peter Kafka has analysis.

Net Neutrality Update

The FCC officially published the repeal of net neutrality rules last week, opening the way for legal challenges. Senate Democrats insist they have a viable plan to rescue net neutrality.

 Meanwhile, a federal appeals court has ruled that the FTC can regulate ISPs, a win for Ajit Pai, who  was in Barcelona yesterday defending net neutrality repeal.

Comcast Bids for Sky

Comcast has thrown a monkey wrench into Rupert Murdoch's full takeover bid of Sky by making a bigger offer for the satellite service. Mark Sweney considers what this offer might mean for Murdoch and for Disney, and Bloomberg has analysis. Fox, Disney, and Comcast shares dropped on the news, while Sky's soared. Brian Stelter analyzes the CEO thinking behind Comcast's bid.

Monday, February 26, 2018

American Idol Sponsors

Brian Steinberg reports on Macy's and Johnson & Johnson getting on board as the major sponsors of ABC's American Idol.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations

A personal stylist that Ryan Seacrest employed at E! is speaking out with sexual abuse allegations against him, while the assistant whose claims of harassment and abuse helped to usher Jeffrey Tambor out of Transparent is also talking publicly. E! and ABC are standing by Seacrest.

Also this past week, USA Today released results of a survey of women in the entertainment industry and found an overwhelming volume of experiences of assault and harassment. Late Night writer Nell Scovell discusses her experiences of sexual discrimination in the workplace. The Television Academy has announced a new code of conduct pledging zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment.

Olympics Ratings

Guess the Olympics ratings for NBC are all in how you look at it, per these headlines:

Olympic Ratings, Boosted by Streaming, Barely Stumbled in Pyeongchang

Winter Olympics Ratings Were Down From 2014, but NBC Still Dominated Its Network Competition

2018 Winter Olympics Close Out as Least-Watched on Record, Down 7% From Sochi Games

NBC's $12 billion investment in the Olympics is looking riskier

Oliver Wins

John Oliver has emerged victorious from a defamation suit brought by a coal baron, though an appeal is coming.

Reboot Economics & Pressures

Michael O'Connell outlines the economic incentives driving TV's reboot craze, while creators try to focus on making good shows. Robert Lloyd also assesses the trend.

Deals Updates

AT&T has had a setback in the legal case over its Time Warner merger review, while Wall Street apparently isn't high on the idea of CBS-Viacom getting back together.

Over in the Disney-Fox deal world, 21st Century Fox's TV outlets say they'll carry on as usual through upfronts, given how far away closure of any deal will be. But we're free to carry forth with speculation, and Jason Lynch considers how edgy FX and its CEO John Landgraf could operate under the Disney umbrella. Meanwhile, over in the UK, Rupert Murdoch is trying to shore up his Sky takeover bid by promising guaranteed support for Sky News. And then back over here in US broadcasting land, 21st plans to buy six Sinclair stations, as Sinclair tries to complete its Tribune deal. Sinclair is also looking to unload WGN.

Finally, two new deals: Imagine Entertainment has made a controlling investment in Jax Media, the company behind such shows as Broad City, Full Frontal, and Roseanne. And AMC Networks is acquiring majority control of Robert Johnson's RLJ Entertainment, which owns Acorn TV.

Fox Nation Going OTT

Fox News has announced plans for an ad-free OTT subscription streaming service called Fox Nation. Will Richmond has analysis.

Streaming Battles

Tim Goodman assesses the streaming wars between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. John Koblin looks at Hulu's efforts to challenge the others. Scott Porch considers what Apple could bring to the table when it launches a TV slate. And Koblin covers NBC's argument that it should be part of conversations about success in the streaming universe too.

Netflix News

Netflix has announced three new Indian originals, part of big hopes for subscriber growth in that country, but Colin Dixon is skeptical of Netflix's prediction of 100 million new subscribers in India. Netflix has also signed a Middle East pay TV partnership.

Daniel Holloway considers how Netflix's Ryan Murphy deal challenges traditional TV to keep up.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Drag Race's Race Problem

Garrett Schlichte is critical of RuPaul's Drag Race and its favoring of whiteness.


Hadas Gold reports on the Justice Department's insistence that its lawsuit against AT&T-Time Warner merger is not related to Donald Trump's CNN animus.

What is John Oliver?

Brian Steinberg contends with the question: Is John Oliver a journalist?

Tambor Fired

Jeffrey Tambor is officially out of Transparent, and he's not happy about it. Indiewire critics talked about what could happen to the show without Tambor.

Ellen's Successful Shows

Michael Schneider covers Ellen Degeneres' big success as reality TV producer with Ellen's Game of Games and Little Big Shots.

Fox's Thursday Night Football Deal

John Ourand explores why Fox was willing to pay so much to snag Thursday Night Football rights.

Carpool Karaoke Renewed

Apple wants a second season of Carpool Karaoke.

Olympics Coverage

Olympics ratings started strong for NBC, indicating makegoods won't be necessary, but viewership has declined in the last few nights. Streaming is going strong, though, especially among youth audiences.

Choe Sang-hun points out that most North Koreans aren't able to watch the Olympics on TV.

Adam Rippon has become a breakout start of the Games, and Richard Lawson shares what Rippon's outspokenness as an openly gay figure skater has meant to him personally.  Chris Schleicher sees in the skating of Rippon and Canadian Eric Radford a fierce rebuttal to homophobia. Spencer Kornhaber also sees in this Olympics the power of gay visibility. Daniel Fienberg sees challenges for NBC's preferred coverage in figures like Rippon and Shaun White.

CBS Earnings Call

Les Moonves relayed good news for CBS in its latest quarterly earnings report, as well as positive OTT streaming subscription figures for both CBS All Access and Showtime.

In other CBS news, the CBS All Access comedy No Activity has been renewed for a second season.

NBC Scripted Heads

NBC has replaced Jennifer Salke, who recently departed for Amazon Studios, with Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta as co-presidents of scripted programming.

ER's Lesson

Oriana Schwindt has rediscovered the greatness of ER and explains what new shows could learn from it: "The real reason we don't see broadcast shows like ER anymore is that creative teams think the word 'gritty' applies to 'edgy' characters and plotlines, rather than describing the depth of the world they've built."

Hulu's Success & Losses

Jill Disis covers Hulu's success but also its concurrent financial losses.

Questions About the FCC & Sinclair

An FCC watchdog group is investigating Ajit Pai's moves to grease the wheels for Sinclair Broadcasting's expansion.

Netflix News

In the wake of the Ryan Murphy deal, Lesley Goldberg wonders who could be the next mega-producer to move over to Netflix, and James Ponewozik hopes Netflix strives for creativity, not just money.

Wayne Friedman reports on estimates of what Netflix viewership has cost networks in lost ad revenue: $3-6 billion. That is also a topic on the weekly Richmond-Dixon podcast. Lacey Rose talked with Netflix's VP of content Bela Bajaria about developing unscripted content for the service. And Netflix has actually launched a dating app featured in Black Mirror's "Hang the DJ."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Good TVeets

Making This Close

Todd VanDerWerff talked with Josh Feldman and Shoshannah Stern, showrunners and stars of This Close, a show about deafness.

Tallying Olympics Ratings

Kevin Draper and Sapna Maheshwari detail how NBC is determining Olympics viewership given streaming options.

Guiding Amazon

Tatiana Siegel and Lesley Goldberg speculate upon Amazon Studios' future strategies now that Jennifer Salke is in charge.

YouTube TV Changes

YouTube TV is now offering Turner channels like TNT, TBS, CNN and Cartoon Network, but the subscription fee is going up too.

Talent Agencies & Conflicts of Interest

Cynthia Littleton delves into the complexities of talent agency involvement in television production, where conflicts of interest potentially lurk.

Creating Meaningful Change

Maureen Ryan talked with showrunner Glen Mazzara about creating change in Hollywood in terms of gender and racial equality and inclusion.

CW Adds Sunday

The CW will program Sunday nights starting in the fall.

Netflix News

Cynthia Littleton has new details on and industry reaction to Ryan Murphy's big Netflix deal, and Lesley Goldberg shares FX's reaction

Even as Netflix is luring away traditional TV resources, Jason Lynch reports that Netflix runs are helping to boost linear ratings of shows like Riverdale and Shameless.

In other Netflix news, Disjointed is done, while Grace and Frankie will get a fifth season.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ryan Murphy Signs With Netflix

John Koblin reports that Ryan Murphy has signed a five-year, $300 million deal with Netflix.

ESPN's Reach Campaign

Brian Steinberg covers ESPN's launch of an ad campaign touting its reach as a platform that reaches consumers across media and not just a TV outlet.

Fallon's Fall

Alison Herman watched a week of Jimmy Fallon's show and describes it as "an exercise in watching an entertainer stick to what they do best, even as 'what they do best' no longer aligns with what the broadest possible audience wants."

Gay For Pay

Julia Himberg talked to The Advocate about her new book, The New Gay for Pay: The Sexual Politics of American Television Production, which looks at how TV both supports and exploits LGBT audiences.

Watching Old TV

Alan Sepinwall endorses rewatching older shows like ER.

Network Chiefs on This Season

Jason Lynch queried the five broadcast network chiefs about this season.

NBC Ratings & Olympics

Like a short-track speedskater in the final lap, NBC has narrowly overtaken the season lead in total viewer over CBS. Speaking of speedskaters and that lead, NBC is enjoying strong Olympics ratings early on, while This is Us benefited from delayed viewing of its post-Super Bowl episode. Meredith Blake covers the political angle of NBC's Olympics coverage.

Public Broadcasting Under Threat Again

Donald Trump would like to eliminate federal funding for public broadcasting and arts funding, but Congress likely won't move it forward. PBS's CEO has released a statement of protest.


Amol Sharma and Shalini Ramachandran report on the possibility that Comcast could resurrect its attempt to acquire 21st Century Fox assets and outbid Disney. Comcast has no comment for now. Fox Networks Group chief Peter Rice is talking.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Politics & Reality TV

An episode of a Netflix documentary series details the creation of myth of Trump as a successful businessman via The Apprentice. Former Apprentice contestant and White House employee Omarosa Manigault is now on Celebrity Big Brother and talking about Trump, which James Poniewozik says is the reality-TV politics we deserve. Meanwhile, Oliver Darcy took note of Fox News spreading a false story in Trump's favor without correction after it was debunked.

Altered Carbon, Global Hit

Tim Goodman proposes that Altered Carbon could be Netflix's first international blockbuster.

Olympics Strategies

Angela Watercutter covers NBC's social media strategy for the Winter Olympics. Tim Goodman wonders how anyone will have time to watch the Olympics with so much other content vying for our attention. The Opening Ceremony ratings were down compared to 2014 but up compared to 2016.

ESPN Streaming Service

Disney's Bob Iger shared info about the upcoming ESPN standalone streaming service. Peter Kafka thinks it will be a tough sell, while Will Richmond believes sports super-fans will be attracted.

New Amazon Chief

Amazon Studios has hired NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke to replace Roy Price. Last week, Michael Schneider detailed the questions a potential hire should be asking about the job. In other Amazon news, the company is launching a delivery service that will compete with UPS and FedEx.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Good TVeets

Friday, February 2, 2018

Merger News

CBS and Viacom are officially talking about a merger again, while Lionsgate is once again looking like a takeover target. In regard to a merger already underway, Cynthia Littleton explores questions facing Bob Iger at Disney as Fox assets come into the fold.

Pilot Trends

Lesley Goldberg is tracking pilot season trends, and with the recent announcement of Cagney and Lacey and Magnum PI returns, reboots are certainly a major trend. Josef Adalian says this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and Brian Lowry pinpoints peak TV marketing challenges as the logic behind this.

Fox Buys Thursday Night Football Rights

Fox has purchased the rights for five years of Thursday Night Football. The $3.3 billion price tag shocked analyst Michael Nathanson. Will Richmond has analysis in text form and in podcast form. As far as NFL ratings declines, Derek Thompson says the two culprits are broader TV viewership declines and the football itself.