Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is wondering why he's up writing this at 5:00 a.m. on his 20th wedding anniversary.
LOTS OF NEWS TO UNBUNDLE FROM NETFLIX
Streaming giant Netflix released its Q4 numbers late yesterday and overall, the company beat on both top and bottom lines, but had worse-than-expected subscriber growth numbers. Revenues in the quarter of $5.47 billion outpaced the estimated $5.44 billion, which itself was up 30% year over year. Even better on the financial side, reported earnings of $1.30 per share was way ahead of the 51 cents in the Zacks consensus. But when you dig a bit deeper, much of this is attributed to a one-time windfall associated with a tax accrual.
The subscriber numbers are a bit more of a mixed bag. Netflix added 423,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers in the fourth quarter, compared with its forecast of 600,000 additions. But overseas, the company added 8.3 million subscribers, more than the seven million the company had previously forecast. It now has 167 million subscribers world-wide, including 60.4 million in the U.S.
Company executives seem to point to an increase in streaming competition in the U.S. as part of the reason for domestic subscriber growth shortfall. It's impossible from the outside to know how accurate that claim might be, since there's no way to compare any changes in subscriber acquisition costs or subscriber churn rates. My gut feeling is that it's a mix of issues. A high profile Disney+ roll-out (with severely discounted subscriber fees), the continuing loss of content from rival studios and an overall market that is maturing. There is a finite number of people in North America and all of the easy subscriber acquisitions have already happened.
Globally, it's a different story and that is really where the future of Netflix lies. Outside of North America, Netflix still has rights to a lot of the high-profile shows that have been clawed back domestically for new streaming services. And since there still is no one would can compete across the globe, Netflix has also become a convienent market for studios wanting to sell global rights outside of North America. It's why Netflix was able to acquire streaming rights for "Star Trek: Discovery" (airing domestically on CBS All-Access) and the entire Studio Ghibli film catalog (which will be streaming domestically on the upcoming HBO Max). One of the biggest challenges in the short term is that in many of those markets, the subscriber price point is much lower than it is in the United States. Which is one reason why Netflix also reported that its Average revenue per user (ARPU) also came in on the low side.
For some thoughts on Netflix and its global challenges, read this piece from one of last week's newsletters.
SPEAKING OF GLOBAL AUDIENCES
It didn't get a ton of notice yesterday, but Netflix also launched its newest Twitter "character," this one aimed at the U.S. Latinx audience. Con Todo Netflix is interesting for a couple of reasons. Netflix appears to have a big lead over other streamers when it comes to Latinx subscribers and it's helped domestically by the fact the company has strong production deals with an increasing stream of new Spanish-language content from Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Spain and Portugal. The challenge for Netflix is that not all Latinx viewers are created equal. For instance, one of the reasons why Netflix eventually cancelled the critically-acclaimed "One Day At A Time" is that the show turned out to be a lot more popular with English-speaking audiences than those with a Latinx background. I've been told the show was surprisingly ignored by Latinx audiences in places like Los Angeles and Miami. And it was also not especially well received in markets such as Spain. So this new Latinx-oriented Twitter account is the first small step in an effort to build a Latinx community within Netflix.
Here's a rundown of the modest number of shows premiering tonight. But tomorrow is a very full premiere day, so consider yourself warned.
1) Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens Series Premiere (Comedy Central)
Golden Globe-nominated Awkwafina (The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians) stars in the half-hour scripted comedy inspired by her real-life growing up in Flushing, Queens. Raised by her Dad (BD Wong) and Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn) alongside her cousin (Bowen Yang), Nora Lin leans on her family as she navigates life and young adulthood in outer borough-NYC. The show has already been renewed by Comedy Central for a second season.
2) Pandemic: How to Prevent An Outbreak (Netflix)
In this docuseries, meet the heroes on the front lines of the battle against influenza and learn about their efforts to stop the next global outbreak.
3) Riverdale Spring Premiere (The CW)
As Riverdale High prepares for the championship football game against Stonewall Prep, Betty (Lili Reinhart) gets to work on a story about the rivalry between the schools. Archie (KJ Apa) is conflicted when Mary (guest star Molly Ringwald) tells him about Uncle Frank’s (guest star Ryan Robbins) troubled past. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) goes head to head with Ms. Appleyard (guest star Emily Tennant), the school’s new cheerleading coach, and Veronica (Camila Mendes) hits a road block with her latest Luna Rum recipe. Finally, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is forced to pick a side after the perks of attending Stonewall Prep begin to interfere with his personal life.
4) The Hidden Kingdoms Of China (Nat Geo)
Exploring the secrets of China to reveal the beauty of its hidden kingdoms, with unique access to locations across the country. Five different biomes are explored, from high mountains and tropical jungles to bamboo forests, great plains, and forests.
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.
If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.