A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Game of Thrones breaks records! Also: The Party of Five reboot trailer! And RIP Simpsons World
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who has just one more week of GoT stories left in him.
This week’s episode of Game of Thrones received not only the biggest audience that the show has received, but it is the biggest audience ever for a show on HBO. 12.5 million watched the show via HBO. Just as a point of comparison, 11.9 million watched The Sopranos finale.
And that’s just linear. Include viewers watching via on demand platforms HBO Now and HBO Go and there were 18.4 million watching. I’m not sure if that figure includes the various OTT linear channel replacement platforms like Hulu, Direct TV Now, etc.
Huge viewership. Though, I’m assuming the finale of The Big Bang Theory will be higher.
Here’s the first trailer of the new Party of Five reboot.
Netflix and Disney+ are the future of television!
But, is it?
The trend for a number of traditional media companies late to the streaming space is to go where Netflix has not: into ad-supported streaming. The service to really pay attention to (right now - my attention is fickle and may soon switch to the soon-to-launch NBC streaming service) is Pluto TV. Owned by Viacom, the service replicates the experience of flipping between cable TV channels from an EPG. It’s mostly linear with the opportunity to watch many of the shows on demand too. Viacom bought the platform for $340 million in January and it is said to be drawing in $150 million in advertising revenue already.
At the beginning of May, Viacom channels BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, and Spike launched co-branded channels on Pluto TV. The channels will feature content from the sister TV channels. For example, Comedy Central on Pluto will have specials from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and library episodes of Tosh.0, Another Period,and Ugly Americans.
Also, Pluto TV will launch signature and pop-up channels using Viacom content and branding. Signature channels will include Paramount Movie Channel and CMT Westerns. Pop-up channels will provide marathons of popular TV series. For example, a channel for The Hills will appear leading up to the launch of The Hills: New Beginnings on MTV on June 24th.
But maybe Disney+/Hulu are the future of television.
Disney has closed a deal to take full-ownership of Hulu… five years from now. Disney has bought out NBCUniversal’s 33% stake in the company. That ownership comes into effect in 2024, but from today it will have full operational control of the service. It is believed that NBCU sold their stake in an effort to reduce the company’s debt-load.
US cable subscribers to the FX channels also get access to online service Simpsons World, which offers every Simpsons episode ever. With The Simpsons moving to Disney+, Simpsons World will be shut down.
The Netflix series comes to an end with the third season of Easy, which drops this week. Creator/writer/director/showrunner Joe Swanberg says that he would like to keep doing the show, but Netflix has determined that anthology series aren’t a good fit for the binge-model of watching TV. I get that and, frankly, I’m actually getting pretty tired of the anthology format. There’s just too many of those sorts of shows.