Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, May 27th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and a lack of sleep.
HBO MAX LAUNCHES
The newest general audience streaming service launched at Midnight PT this morning. HBO Max is a combination of everything you'll find on the regular HBO app as well of a collection of stuff that isn't HBO. WarnerMedia ponied up several billion dollars for exclusive North American streaming rights to "Friends," "The Big Bang Theory," the complete Studio Ghibli animated movie catalog, the complete run of "Dr. Who" as well of a lot of other titles.
So is it worth $14.99 a month?
The answer to that question isn't yes or no. Millions of current subscribers to the stand-alone HBO Now app will simply convert over to HBO Max for free. And there will likely be millions of other people who either drop HBO and move to HBO Max or subscribe for the first time.
The question about "worth" really gets back to something I know I harp on constantly - the concept of "perceived value." Whether HBO Max grabs large numbers of new subscribers really gets down to whether these potential customers see the value in what HBO Max refers to in its promotional pitches as "more than 10,000 hours of content."
The truth is that I don't think anyone will have the answer to that question for months, if not several years. WarnerMedia is making a billion-dollar bet on HBO Max and they have shown a willingness to pay top price for content they think will appeal to customers.
I had the opportunity to play around with HBO Max for a couple of days before the launch and I was struck by one thing. WarnerMedia has a massive library of television and movie assets. And while TV fans can watch the complete runs of several iconic shows such as "Friends" and "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air," HBO Max has very little in the way of other television. WarnerMedia owns Warner Brothers Television, which encompasses hundred of programs from nearly two dozen different production companies. It also owns the assets of Lorimar Television, which includes lots of movies as well as TV programs such as "Dallas," "Step By Step" and the animated "ThunderCats." Even working around current streaming deals and other contractual conflicts, there are literally thousands of assets available for HBO Max. And for whatever reason, almost none of them are on the service at launch. And what about all of the content that used to be available on the now-shuttered streaming service Warner Archive?
And that's my hunch about how HBO Max will be received by the average person at launch. They'll notice the high-profile titles that they already knew would be available. But I suspect a lot of subscribers will also notice how much of the world-class Warner Brothers catalog isn't available on the service.
MORE ON HBO MAX
There is a bunch of coverage on HBO Max already live at AllYourScreens, with reviews of individual shows coming throughout the day. I'll link to all of those in tomorrow's newsletter.
First Look: HBO Max
Everything New Coming To HBO Max In June
Studio Ghibli Library Streams For The First Time In U.S. On HBO Max
HBO Max To #ReleaseTheSnyderCut
HBO Max Announces Four New One-Hour Comedy Specials With Tracy Morgan, John Early, Rose Matafeo, And Ahir Shah
HBO Max Grabs Exclusive Streaming Rights To The Current 'Doctor Who' Series
Here is a rundown of the new shows premiering today....
1) American Soul Season Premiere (BET)
Inspired by the personal trials and professional successes of a young, ambitious and troubled impresario Don Cornelius, season two of the period drama picks up two years later in 1975. As Don becomes a rising star, he continues to manage an assortment of spectacular talent that comes to his show, a shaky family life, personal health and perhaps most importantly, his own ego. While Don has found some success in his new show, he still struggles with gaining white America’s respect in viewership and sales.
2) Craftopia Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Craftopia is an epic kids crafting competition show hosted and executive produced by YouTube influencer Lauren Riihimaki aka (LaurDIY). Creating and demonstrating crafts to over 8.9 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, LaurDIY has been deemed the "millennial Martha Stewart" by Forbes. On "Craftopia," 9 to 15-year old contestants put their imaginations to the test and make their crafting dreams come true in a magical studio. After racing to fill up their carts with inspiring materials from the studio “store,” crafters meet larger-than-life challenges, making truly inventive and amazing creations in order to take home the ‘Craftrophia.’
3) Disappeared In The Darkness: An ID Mystery (ID)
This two-hour special follows the aftermath of the disappearance and probable murder of Heather Elvis, a young woman from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, whose case took the national media by storm. After beginning a relationship with an older, married man she meets through work, Heather begins receiving threatening texts. She eventually ends the affair but disappears after a mysterious rendezvous. Her ex-lover and his wife become the primary focus of the investigation, and soon a trail of dirty deeds is revealed: a kidnapping plot, a secret pregnancy, fraud, and ultimately obstruction of justice.
4) Game On Series Premiere (CBS)
Hosted by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning actor, writer and producer Keegan-Michael Key, this is a series that celebrates the entertainment of sports, based on "A League of Their Own," the BAFTA-winning U.K. series. The show pits two teams of three, captained by tennis champion and entrepreneur Venus Williams and Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski, alongside comedians Bobby Lee and Ian Karmel and rotating sports stars, comedians and celebrities, against each other in over-the-top physical challenges, absurd trivia and epic field competitions.
5) I'm No Longer Here (Netflix)
In the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico, a small street gang named “Los Terkos” spend their days listening to slowed down cumbia music and attending dance parties, showing off their outfits, hairstyles and gang alliances. These different bands of disaffected youth refer to themselves as Kolombianos, combining the Cholo culture with Colombian music. Ulises Samperio (17), the leader of Los Terkos, tries to protect his friends from the nefarious elements of a quickly evolving drug/political war, but after a misunderstanding with a local cartel, he is forced to leave for Jackson Heights, Queens, a diverse immigrant community in New York City. Ulises tries to assimilate, but when he learns that his gang and the whole Kolombia culture is under threat, he questions his place in America and longs to return home.
6) Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Netflix)
Leading up to his 2019 arrest, mysterious tycoon Jeffrey Epstein was accused of abusing women and underage girls for decades, assembling a network of enablers to help carry out and cover up his crimes. Epstein came from humble beginnings yet managed to lie and manipulate his way to the top of the financial world. He eventually gained tremendous wealth and power while running an international sex trafficking ring. The serial sex abuser made a secret plea deal with the government in 2008 avoiding a potential life sentence and continued to abuse women. With their frightening firsthand accounts, Epstein’s accusers are the leading voices in director Lisa Bryant’s four-part docuseries.
7) Legendary Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Pulling directly from the underground ballroom community, voguing teams (aka "houses") must compete in unbelievable balls and showcase sickening fashion in order to achieve “legendary” status. The cast includes MC Dashaun Wesley and DJ MikeQ as well as celebrity judges Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado, and Megan Thee Stallion.
8) Looney Tunes Cartoons Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Marquee Looney Tunes characters will be featured in their classic pairings in simple, gag-driven and visually vibrant stories. The new series will include 80 eleven-minute episodes, each comprised of animated shorts that vary in length and include adapted storylines for today’s audience.
9) Love Life Series Premiere (HBO Max)
The first full-length scripted series to star Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick, is about the journey from first love to last love, and how the people we're with along the way make us into who we are when we finally end up with someone forever. This fresh take on a romantic comedy anthology series will follow a different protagonist’s quest for love each season, with each half-hour episode telling the story of one of their relationships. Anna Kendrick stars in the first season along with Zoë Chao, Peter Vack, Sasha Compere, and Lesley Manville.
10) Married At First Sight: Australia Series Premiere (Lifetime)
After ten seasons of "Married at First Sight," Lifetime brings fans more of what they love with twelve new couples, including one same-sex duo, from the other side of the world. The top-rated import features double the drama, passion and romance, in addition to beautiful locales, with two, hour-long episodes airing each week.
11) Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Premiere (ABC)
Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are thrust backward in time and stranded in 1931 New York City. With the all-new Zephyr set to time-jump at any moment, the team must hurry to find out exactly what happened. If they fail, it would mean disaster for the past, present and future of the world.
12) Mysteries Of The Deep Series Premiere (Discovery)
The world’s oceans are a deep source of unsolved mysteries – from ships that disappear without a trace to unexplained underwater anomalies to a super virus showing up along Florida’s coast. In this brand new series, host Jeremy Wade searches for answers behind the world’s most iconic and baffling underwater mysteries known to science.
13) On The Record Series Premiere (HBO Max)
The documentary presents the powerful haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon (collaborator on hit records by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, Estelle and Kanye West, and Whitney Houston) as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color, in the wake of #MeToo, to come forward and publicly accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault.
14) The Not Too Late Show With Elmo Series Premiere (HBO Max)
Elmo is the host of his very own talk show and he's going to bring you some (not-too-late) fun with an all-new, celeb-studded talk show series. This brand-new "primetime" series brings familiar Sesame Street friends like Elmo, Cookie Monster, celebrity guests, and laughs the whole family can enjoy! Elmo will interview guests such as fellow late-night hosts Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver, comedian John Mullaney, New York Times best-selling author Kwame Alexander, actress Blake Lively, and award-winning musical acts Lil Nas X and The Jonas Brothers.
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.
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