Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, July 13th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by hot tea.
THIS IS WHY THOSE VIRTUAL CABLE PACKAGES REMAIN POPULAR
Every time YouTubeTV or Hulu Live TV boosts its price, you see a flood of hot takes along the lines of "they're now getting as expensive as traditional cable or satellite television." And those takes are wrong, because those traditional services have lots of add-on fees that you won't find on vMVPD's.
One example of that is the "broadcast TV fee," which is the added-on fee traditional cable and satellite TV services charge for the local television channels. This fee is above what customers pay for their base monthly fee and in many cases, customers are charged the fee even if they've signed up for a limited time promotional package.
Charter has just announced that it is increasing its monthly broadcast TV fee $2.95 per month on August 1st. That new $16.45 surcharge is nearly twice the amount the company was charging two years ago. If you subscribe to Spectrum’s streaming TV packages like TV Choice, the Broadcast TV Fee will also increase $2.95 a month, raising that surcharge to $8.95 per month.
Rival Comcast hiked its rate to $14.95 last November and other cable and satellite TV services have similar fees.
There are a couple of takeaways from this. Cable systems break this broadcast fee out separately, in hopes that customers will realize its not their fault their overall monthly charges are rising. And I'm not convinced customers make that distinction. Secondly, how long is this continuing increase in broadcast fees and retransmission hikes sustainable? Given that ratings for all of the broadcast networks continue to drop, there is a limit to the amount of time major media companies can hold off the inevitable. Right now, they're bundling affiliate fees into overall carriage deals and forcing vMVPD's to take the local affiliate signals if they want all of the media company's other networks.
The industry believes that customers have a high tolerance for continual modest increases and love their television networks enough to suck up the financial pain. But in a time when nearly 1/3 of Americans missed paying their July rent or mortgage payment on time, how many people can afford to just pay for another increase without complaint?
BTW, while it's pretty much impossible to put together a TV bundle that includes sports for under $50, I have a piece posting tomorrow which offers up some non-sports bundles ranging from $35-$45 that are a great alternative for TV fans trying to cut back. I'll link to the piece in tomorrow's newsletter.
MORE ADVENTURES IN BAD PR
E! has a new Nick Cannon-produced series premiering tonight. Although you would never know it from E!'s media site. There is literally nothing on the network's press site about the show, other than some key art. And if you go to E!'s wen site, there is nothing about the show on the front page. Although to be fair, E!s site is so consistently terrible that this lack of promotion is more a feature of the web site than a bug.
ODDS & SODS
ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski has been suspended by the network after replying to a press release from Sen. Josh Hawley that criticized the NBA's support for social justice and its willingness to do business with China. His response: "F--- you."
Disney+ has ordered a new Lucasfilm animated series titled "Star Wars: The Bad Batch." The series will premiere in 2021 and will take place after the finale of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
"Women Make Film," Mark Cousins’ mega-documentary exploring women’s impact on cinema, is coming to the U.S. on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Two years after an early version first premiered at Venice Film Fest, the 14-part series premieres on September 1st.
HBO Max has acquired the CNN Original Series "Ravi Patel’s Pursuit Of Happiness," premiering Thursday, August 27th. The four-part buddy comedy docuseries follows actor/documentarian/philanthropist Ravi Patel ("Meet the Patels") as he travels the world seeking answers surrounding life’s universal questions.
Here is a rundown of the new television programs premiering today:
1) Celebrity Call Center Series Premiere (E!)
Nick Cannon leads a group of celebrities giving advice to everyday people.
2) CMA Best Of Fest (ABC)
This three-hour concert experience is hosted by country music superstar Luke Bryan and features a brand-new, not-to-be-missed performance with Bryan and special guest Darius Rucker. Artists also appearing in the special include Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan + Shay, Lzzy Hale, Sam Hunt, Joan Jett, Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dwight Yoakam and Zac Brown Band, with special appearances by Bobby Bones, Jim Gaffigan, Kirk Herbstreit, Peyton Manning, Lionel Richie, Rob Riggle, Gwen Stefani, Michael Strahan and Rita Wilson.
3) Foodie Love Series Premiere (HBO)
"An eight-part drama series produced by HBO Europe in Spain, follows two thirty-somethings after they meet on a foodie mobile dating app. They embark on a gastronomic journey, learning about each other through the mediums of jamón, ramen and fine dining from around the world. Yet while they bond over a shared devotion to Japanese yuzu and a distaste for foodie pretension, their insecurities and doubts fueled by the scars of their previous relationships may prevent them from tasting true love."
4) The Nest Series Premiere (Acorn)
"This acclaimed, twisty psychological thriller centers on a wealthy Glasgow couple who is deeply in love and would do anything to have a baby. When wife Emily has a chance encounter with a down-on-her-luck 18-year-old (Kaya, played by newcomer Mirren Mack), the two make an instant connection. After learning about her desperate situation, Kaya offers to carry Emily’s last embryo as a surrogate for several reasons. The husband, Dan warns about the legal and moral implications of such an agreement, but the women are adamant. As buried secrets emerge about Kaya’s past, Dan and Emily start to wonder if they’re being used. Can the dreams of the couple and Kaya be fulfilled, or have all three embarked on a relationship of mutually assured destruction? What is the real cost of getting what they want?"
5) The Now Series Premiere (Quibi)
What's this all about? I seriously have no idea. Quibi PR remains incommunicado and I couldn't find anything about the show anywhere else. Is it a show about a band called "The Now?" A look at news that is happening right now? A wrestler named "The Now?"
For a rundown of all the new episodes of television premiering tonight, click here.
TOO MUCH TV REALLY IS A THING
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