Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, June 8th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Raspberry-infused water and Cashews.
HOW MUCH ROOM IS THERE FOR NEW NICHE STREAMERS?
I will be the first to admit that I am frequently surprised by the ability of small streamers to stay in business. By my count, there are at least a dozen smaller streaming services that offer some mix of international shows, English-language documentaries and other random bits of independent programming.
One of the new entries is Topic, from First Look Media. It's not an insane idea on the face of it. First Look also runs the impressive journalism site The Intercept, the independent documentary unit Field Of Vision as well as the Press Freedom Defense Fund. So clearly the company knows how to run a media business. And Topic does have some compelling international programming and documentaries. As well as a few original shows such as a talker from comedian Maria Bamford. And yet, I find myself wondering what the value proposition is for this service. Does First Look really expect there to be a hundred thousand people willing to fork over $5.99 a month for content that is not all that different than what is already available on other services? Personally, I'm stumped.
WHY BROADCAST TV WILL LOOK A LOT LIKE A STREAMER THIS FALL
On Friday, the EntertainmentStrategyGuy posted a piece on how the shutdown of television production will impact the fall schedules of the broadcast networks, along with a look at the specific challenges facing each one. He has worked as a content planning for a streamer, so his timeline is worth repeating:
X Weeks – Writing
6 Weeks – Pre-production
1-2 Weeks – Shooting (5 biz days for half hour; 10 days with a weekend for dramas. Single cam)
4 Weeks – Editing (sometimes up to six)
4 Weeks – Post Production
He makes the point that this timeline is the same whether you're a broadcast network or a streamer. But I think there are a couple of caveats that didn't get enough attention. First, the production shutdown came at the absolute worst time for the broadcast networks. Yes, it cut short their 2019-2020 season by several weeks. But because it also hit just as the networks were starting their pilot season, they ended up with a lack of new stuff in the pipeline. The streamers are cranking out stuff 12 months a year, so while their disruption isn't any shorter, they do have some flexibility. He's right the networks will have a content mix this fall that looks a lot like a streamer. The problem is that they don't have a streamer's content flexibility.
Netflix is by far the largest source of original content in the streaming world and it's been interesting to see how it's dealing with the issue. Based on the updated release info they've been providing, they are pushing some completed scripted content out several months. And since they generally have multiple original shows and movies premiering on Fridays, they can get away with moving some shows around without customers noticing. They also appear to be pushing the release of completed unscripted shows and documentaries forward, betting those genres of programming will be quicker to produce and release once television production gets back to normal.
SPEAKING OF NETFLIX...
ANOTHER WAY LINEAR TV NETWORKS ARE BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE STREAMERS
Discovery Communications has an extensive portfolio of international channels and here in the United States, the current production shutdown has encouraged the company to repurpose some of its global assets for domestic audiences. Australian shows such as "Aussie Gold Hunters" are airing on Discovery and the Nordic fishing series "Polar Waters" is on the Discovery App.
But Discovery is taking it to another level with "Naked & Afraid: Foreign Exchange," which premiered Sunday night. "Naked & Afraid" is a cornerstone of Discovery's Sunday primetime lineup. And "Foreign Exchange" is simply dubbed episodes of its "Naked & Afraid" franchise that have been produced in other markets. In the case of the premiere, the episode was originally produced in French and then dubbed into English for the U.S. market. That's a common move on Netflix and some of the other streamers. But it's still a relatively rare occurrence on linear television.
SPORTS RADIO MUST ADDRESS ITS OWN MINORITY ISSUES
While this is a bit off-topic, the Jason Barrett's Barrett Sports Media site has a really interesting take on what he says is the hypocrisy in sports radio when it comes to minority representation in programming:
It’s disappointing and hypocritical that a business as big as ours, which currently has personalities flooding the airwaves and social media with opinion after opinion over protests, injustice, inequality, and politics, continues to ignore what exists inside of its own closet. Countless hosts are speaking about these issues, expressing their emotions, and challenging others to rise up and seek a new direction yet they fail to acknowledge that the same disparity exists inside their own place of employment.
As an example, he notes that radio powerhouse Bonneville has a total of 30 local sports radio hosts working for the company in the Phoenix, Sacramento, Denver and Seattle markets, And a total of 3 of those hosts are minorities.
Here is a rundown of the new shows premiering today....
1) Big Time Bake With Buddy Valastro Series Premiere (Food)
Saying celebrity baker Buddy Valastro is an acquired taste is a lot like saying not everyone loves liver and onions. Hot on the heels of the season two finale of "Buddy Vs. Duff," Valastro is back with a new series. In this show, Buddy and two of a group of rotating guest judges watch four bakers create cookies, cupcakes and a showpiece cake in six hours of nonstop competition. So...it's pretty much like a dozen other shows already on the Food Network.
2) Buried Worlds With Don Wildman Series Premiere (Travel)
In the premiere episode, Wildman travels to Eastern Europe to "discover the truth behind the haunting stories of vampires that still linger and torment rural Bulgarian towns. He joins a group of active vampire hunters as they investigate an abandoned village terrorized by vampires and uncover what looks to be the tomb of one of them. He continues his journey by diving into the history of these beings, not only in Bulgaria, but in Hungary as well. As Wildman discovers the dark past of vampires and witches, he is given the opportunity to contact the spirits of those who have passed, with the help of a modern-day witch. To bring his adventure full circle, he explores the dark truth of the infamous Count Dracula." I'm guessing the "truth" is that the novel was based on real events?
3) Duff Takes The Cake Season Premiere (Food)
The other half of "Buddy Vs. Duff" is back with a second season of his show. In each episode, Duff & his crew create over-the-top cakes for deserving people. In tonight's episode, Duff teams up with the non-profit Magic Wheelchair to create a prehistoric Jurassic World-themed cake, complete with oozing lava and smoke, for two deserving kids and their families at Universal Studios.
4) LA's Finest Season Two Premiere (Spectrum)
It's a sign of how few people watched season one of this show that Fox has picked up rights to the premiere season to air this Fall. Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union star in this cop series that is a spin-off of the "Bad Boys" movie franchise. Given the show was originally developed for NBC, it's a broad & often predictable show. But both leads are great and it's not a bad way to spend an hour.
5) The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever! (ABC)
What do you when a pandemic keeps you from shooting a new season of "The Bachelor?" Put together a well-made clip show and in this series, ABC will look back on the highlights of "The Bachelor" experience. Tonight's episode recounts the story of "Sean Lowe" and his quest for love seven seasons ago.
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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