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.
Get ready to watch ALL THE MUPPETS
ALSO: Paramount+ sets a launch date. AND: Netflix passes 200 million subscribers
Paramount+ sets the date
The ViacomCBS-owned streaming service Paramount+ will ‘launch’ on March 4 in the US and Latin America. It will debut later that month in the Nordics on March 25. Australia will follow with a launch mid-year.
Paramount+ replaces CBS All Access and will feature much the same content as is currently available on the service. More details about the service will be made available during an investor call on Feb 24. At that event there will be an overview highlighting plans for Paramount+, Showtime’s OTT service and the free, ad-supported Pluto TV.
All of that sounds fine, but…
TV fans in Australia are due for a few mildly annoying months. Outside of the US, all of the territories with Paramount+ will have all of the new series debuting on Showtime made available on the new service (along with a library of older Showtime shows). For the past five years, Australian viewers have had day and date launches of Showtime series debuting on local streamer Stan. Because of the gap between the Stan/Showtime deal ending and the new service launching locally, that presumably means a wait on any Showtime series debuting before the local launch.
This will likely include the hugely anticipated Halo series and the Nathan Fielder/Benny Safdie comedy The Curse. Hopefully ‘mid-year’ is earlier than it sounds…
RELATED: Indiewire has a really good in-depth look at the integration of classic Viacom and CBS content into the ViacomCBS-owned streamer Pluto TV. Read: Indiewire
Disney+ will stream ALL of The Muppets. Well… not quite.
Streamer Disney+ has announced that it's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. Starting February 19, all five seasons of The Muppet Show will be available to stream.
In addition to The Muppet Show, Disney+ subscribers can access almost all of The Muppets movies - Muppets Most Wanted, The Muppet Movie, Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Muppets, and The Great Muppet Caper. Sony, however, holdMuppets Take Manhattan and Muppets From Space, so they won’t be on the service.
While it’s great to see all of The Muppet Show streaming, I’m keen to see the 90s revival show Muppets Tonight. Also, five year-old me would like to again see the 80s animated show Muppet Babies.
Muppet baby steps, I guess. This is a good news day.
A show not streaming on Disney+ yet for reasons that remain a mystery to all: VD Attack Plan.
In 1973, Disney produced VD Attack Plan, a short educational film for high school students about the horrors of venereal diseases and how to prevent them. The film was directed by the great Les Clark with music by Disney composer George Bruns and stars famed character actor Keenan Wynn as the Contagion Corps Sergeant.
In today’s Q4 earnings report, Netflix announced that it has beat expectations and added 8.5 million subscribers to the streamer. It now has a global total of 203.7 million. Netflix also announced that it expects to be cash-flow positive in every year beyond 2021 and expects this year to be break-even.
Watch ALL of the Parler videos of the US Capitol attack
An interesting video project has emerged. Due to the relaxed security measures taken protecting users of the ‘free speech’ social media platform favored by the US right, all of Parler’s content was harvested by a lot of different people before it went offline.
This included all of the videos that were filmed by Parler users as they raided the Capitol Building on Jan 6. Pro Publica has made all of the videos available to watch, creating a searchable timeline of events.
Filled with racy scenes, Bridgerton isn’t just doing well on Netflix and traditional piracy sites. It’s also doing great business on porn sites where scenes from the show are clocking up a whole bunch of views. Obviously, Netflix aren’t happy about this misuse of its intellectual property.
It’s also a burden on the series cast who signed up to star in a prestigious TV show and have now found their work to be used for reasons that are, well, not quite what they signed up for.
“It’s been particularly distressing for Phoebe and Regé-Jean, two young actors who signed on for the role of a lifetime and did not consent to being exploited in this way.
Freaks and Geeks will stream on Hulu from next week with its original music soundtrack intact. Read: The AV Club
At Home with Amy Sedaris has been cancelled after three seasons. Read: Deadline
Globoplay is a Brazillian streaming service that has launched in the US. It streams Brazillian TV shows, as you may have guessed. It also has plans to extend its service to other international territories later in the year. Read: Deadline
Saved By The Bell will return for a second 10-episode season on Peacock. Read: TV Insider
Older Irish guy swears on right-way-up bible
Between now and the release of the next Always Be Watching email (24 hours from now), there will be a new US President inaugurated. As far as I’m aware, there won’t be any real innovation in recording the event. I’m sure it’ll be captured in 8k by cameras on the ground, but beyond that there’s nothing especially new in the broadcast of the historical moment. As a point of contrast, Trump’s inauguration was additionally recorded in 360 degree video and streamed via YouTube.
The day also marks the 60th anniversary of John F Kennedy being sworn in. It was the first inauguration broadcast to be seen in color. You can watch video of it via CBS.
As for Joseph Biden, the event will be live-streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch. And of course it will be across all of the news and broadcast TV networks.
Lupin a smash hit?
I don’t like reporting on the supposed huge successes on Netflix - the statistics are released by Netflix without third party verification. And the service indicates that a person has watched a show or movie on the platform if they watch for at least 2 mins. (It isn’t as though TV ratings reflect that people have watched an entire episode of a TV show either - but those figures aren’t self-reported and used for marketing purposes in the same way).
Apparently the fun French heist series Lupin is a huge smash hit. I was interested to see that Netflix report that it is the streamers second biggest launch ever.
If we are to consider these stats as meaningful, it is worth considering that just because a show isn’t being widely talked about, it doesn’t mean people aren’t watching it. I am wary of reports from companies like Parrot Analytics which try and gain meaning out of the volume of conversation about a show online. Some shows just lend themselves more to online chatter and hype.
I guess the big question I have today is: Just how many people are actually watching The Mandalorian?
Estimates are that the series, which launched on January 8th, is on track to be watched by 70 million households in its first 28 days. That would make it Netflix’s second-biggest new series launch ever, behind only “The Witcher” and ahead of recent hits like “Bridgerton” (63 million) and “The Queen’s Gambit” (62 million).
The collection of 10 mini shorts features characters from Pixar favorites like "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "Cars" and "The Incredibles" in all-new, bite-size stories created by Pixar Animation Studios' talented animators.
Nadiya Bakes debuts on Netflix on Feb 12.
Delightful cakes and heavenly breads pop from the oven as Nadiya Hussain returns to baking, her happy place, and spotlights creative kindred spirits.
Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready streams on Netflix from Feb 2.
Tiffany Haddish returns to share the spotlight with a new batch of comedians who bring wildly funny and authentic takes on life in this stand-up series.
The Luminaries debuts on Starz on Feb 14.
Adventure mystery set in the 1860's in New Zealand, where all the aspects that make a good drama come together. Follow the love and revenge as men and women travel the world making their fortunes.
Sky Rojo debuts on Netflix on March 19.
Staying alive for five more minutes. That is the plan. From the creators of Money Heist.
Fate: The Winx Saga debuts on Netflix Jan 22.
Fate: The Winx Saga follows the coming-of-age journey of five fairies attending Alfea, a magical boarding school in the Otherworld where they must learn to master their magical powers while navigating love, rivalries, and the monsters that threaten their very existence.
Space Sweepers starts Feb 5 on Netflix.
Chasing after space debris and faraway dreams in year 2092, four misfits unearth explosive secrets during the attempted trade of a wide-eyed humanoid.
Mighty Express returns to Netflix for season 2 on Feb 2.
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