Tag Archives: Future TV

The Showrunner Role in Transition

Thinking of Monday’s post regarding Rod Serling, I’m continuing to read up about showrunners and industry trends in the wake of COVID. And if you’re wondering what a ‘showrunner’ of a TV show actually is, well, that’s changing too — as covered in this very long form article for Vice by Katharine Trendacosta.

Perhaps from my time studying anthropology and perhaps my dayjob role of analyzing business processes, but I love detailed articles like these that delve into the art and craft of running a show (and yes, I’ve got some self-interest there too). Trendacosta intereviews a wide gamut of writer-producers to give you multiple perspectives on the industry… and one thing I note that is quite common in so many industries I read about: there are massive changes in how they are doing business and many people aren’t trying to figure out what is good and bad about it until the reality hits them in the face.

Add to that, the rise of streaming, the business practices adopted with COVID, and you have a lot to chew on. I really hope they find ways to add that mentoring and production experience “scaffolding” to the newer models, because I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting back to 22-episode seasons anytime soon.

The New Streaming Squid Game & the Contraction of Creativity

So based on last week’s post about the schadenfreude over the disruptor Netflix being disrupted, here’s a piece by Joy Press for Vanity Fair about the changing landscape of streaming TV.

Illustration by Derek Abella

Now, once you read the article, you may find the title above a tad click-baity, but the article is predicting possible directions for the industry to go. Many of those directions look to be safe, one might even say traditional, avenues in terms of greenlighting programming. One of the more interesting aspects is that the broadcast vs. streaming are, while obviously different distribution channels, not zero sum distribution channels. As the CEO of CBS points out, “the average age of people watching Survivor on CBS is 60—and 37 for those streaming it on Paramount+.”

So, give it a read and consider how your selection of streamers might be changing their strategy –or not– in the year ahead.

Ted Lasso and the Turn, Turn, Turns of TV Seasons

Note: This post and the related links abound in spoilers for Ted Lasso, season 2.

This past weekend, my wife and I finally finished the second season of Ted Lasso, the comfort-food comedy-drama that is nominally about soccer, but really seems to be a backdoor effort to assemble a Gen X mixtape playlist whilst making equal numbers of jokes and pop culture references every single minute.

The gentle yet foul-mouthed comedy of season one remains, but makes room for not only elements of fantasy (hello, Santa), but several storylines about mental health and, in some cases, the inability to accept the need for therapy (hello Gray Nate and your unresolved issues with your father).

It’s hard in this day and age to avoid spoilers, especially for buzz-worthy shows and films, so I knew that some people who adored season one of Ted Lasso were rather negative about season two. Now finally I can check out all the digital ink spilled about the season.

via Apple TV+

Once again, the always insightful Emily St. James over at Vox has a great piece looking at Ted Lasso, the season two backlash, and my favorite part: some musing on how series evolve over time both on their own and in the estimation of audiences. Give it a read (after finished season two, of course).

Schadenfreude, thy name is Netflix

So, the news that Netflix lost subscribers last week has generated more online articles this week than… well, new shows dropping on Netflix any given week (spoiler: it’s a lot). It seems many people are delighting in the fact that the streaming disruptor is now finding its plans disrupted. Now, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber going back to when they were only DVDs by mail. In fact, I still get DVDs by mail in addition to their streaming (as some titles aren’t streaming anywhere). So as I value the service, I want to see how it gets through this.

And we’re going to get the next season of The Dragon Prince, right? Right??

One of the more in-depth ones is a long-form article by Josef Adalian for Vulture, which I found a worthwhile read.

Netflix Says “Game On”

Evidently, this month had gotten away from me –at least in term of blog updates– so this is most definitely old news, but remember how I noted that Netflix was getting into podcasts?

Well, apparently they’re getting into video games as well.

Shall we play a Netflix game? (Photo: the 1983 film WarGames)

Per the Vox/Recode article, they’re looking to start with games based on their existing properties (e.g. Stranger Things) and their hire of a former Oculus executive may bode a move towards virtual reality and interactive media (mainly my non-groundbreaking speculation, not the article’s assertion).

Meanwhile, not just a few people are wondering about this move into video games. This is an area where I’m not ready to speculate, but I am very interested in what happens next.

Do You Hear What Netflix Hears?

The podcast hills may soon be alive with the sound of Netflix. That’s what I’m gleaning from this Bloomberg article about the new Netflix executive in charge of podcasts.

N’Jeri Eaton (photo via Netflix)

N’Jeri Eaton comes to Netflix by way of Apple and NPR. An award-winning storyteller, she has roots in documentary filmmaking, something near and dear to many a DC filmmaker.

While that’s all cool, the big surprise from the article for me was that not only that Netflix has a number of podcasts already –many being deeper dives into their TV shows and films– but that they are building up publishing and social media presences. That growth as an overall media company is, I suppose, something one might expect, but I confess to still thinking of Netflix as the streaming enfant terrible vs. “another media conglomerate.”

I’m also, for obvious reasons, wondering if they’re going to start making moves into original audio fiction.

James Bond Will Return… With Free Shipping

Last week, I mentioned the big news that was AT&T’s retreat from WarnerMedia (still to be approved). And, as many people have noticed, media consolidation continues apace.

This week’s revelation? Amazon is looking to buy MGM.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to increase our market share!”

Now, since MGM has been trying to sell itself for a while, this may not come as a surprise, but what this means for consolidation… well, who knows?

Media Mashup as Discovery to Acquire WarnerMedia

I first learned of this over the weekend in an LA Times piece, but AT&T, who only a few years ago, bought Time Warner in a bid to become a new powerhouse entertainment ecosystem, is planning to sell its media goodies to Discovery Communications.

The resulting combination of scripted and unscripted shows, films, and assorted media could be peanut butter & chocolate or cookies & okra. I honestly don’t know and don’t particularly have a battlebot in this fight.

Photo via Getty Images/Bloomberg from Ars Technica article

But from both the LA Times above, a piece in Ars Technica, and one from the New York Times that the various Conventional Wisdom is abuzz amongst the factions that are wont to have Opinions and Conventional Wisdom: other media companies, telecoms, Wall Street — and the people who follow media companies, telecoms, and Wall Street.

Now, all of this is dependent on shareholders and regulators agreeing to the sale, but there’s sure to be ripples from this.

Warner Bros. Decides to Upend Theatrical Releases

Just shy of two weeks ago, Warner Brothers decided to drop a bombshell by saying that all their 2021 films would simultaneously go onto their streaming service, HBO Max, along with theaters, as reported in industry publications, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

Some of the 2021 film slate (photos courtesy of Macall Polay/Warner Bros.)

This announcement broke a certain segment of the Internet the Thursday it dropped because –shockingly– Warner Bros. evidently didn’t let any of their producing partners know.

And that’s a big deal, not simply from being courteous to your business partners, but there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake since a big way production companies and above-the-line people get money is through profit participation in the theatrical ticket sales.

Now, Warners evidently wants to mitigate this by generously estimating what the ticket sales might have been and paying the profit participants thusly as they’ve done for the director and star of Wonder Woman 1984.

Of course, this may mean money is left on the table as far as directors, stars, and producing partners are concerned –to say nothing of potential problems with existing contracts. Director and lover of the big, big screen, Christopher Nolan is reportedly furious. And the director of the new version of Frank Herbert’s epic saga is absolutely incensed — in part, fearing that this move might tank the possibility of this kicking off a proper Dune franchise (a lot of books have been written in this series).

If you know The Business, a weekly news show about the entertainment industry led by veteran report Kim Masters, you might expect they have something to say about it and they do.

The week of the announcement, they devote much of the opening segment to it (where it really drives home how much Warner Bros. did not tell anyone this was coming). And the episode this past weekend is all about it.

We knew there would be more and more of shift to streaming in the next few years, but what falls out from this attempted unilateral shift by the Bros remains to be seen.

A Great Disturbance in the Mouse

2020 continues to be decade of twists and turns stuffed into one unrepentant year.

Now, the whole future of filmed entertainment might be changing course because a certain large House of Mouse has recently said it’s focusing on streaming.

Make no mistake. This is big.