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.
"Hey Google... open Netflix"
ALSO: Spotify announces video podcasts. AND: A new Happy Endings
Starting today, users will be able to watch Netflix on Google Nest Hub devices. Once users link Netflix to their Google Home account, they can tell the Nest Hub: “Hey Google open Netflix” and then navigate on screen to what they want to watch.
As of 8:57am this morning my own Nest Hub told me that the feature wasn’t available yet, but that should change in the next few hours.
Spotify has officially announced plans to deliver video podcasts via its platform. Recent tests conducted by Spotify (and it’s deal with Joe Rogan) indicated that this would be coming soon.
Shows with video available will include: Book of Basketball 2.0, Fantasy Footballers, The Misfits Podcast, H3 Podcast, The Morning Toast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan & Rachel Lindsay, and The Rooster Teeth Podcast.
Video will start automatically on the podcasts, but as soon as a user turns off their screen or opens another app, the podcast will revert to audio only.
As a user, I’m a huge fan of this. I enjoy talk-format TV and this is really no different. It will be interesting to see whether this impacts on storytelling podcasts and how long it will take Spotify to open this up to all third party podcasters. It’s worth noting that video hosting is considerably more expensive than audio. Will the Spotify podcast hosting platform Anchor continue to offer its service for free?
Also… will I be able to watch my Spotify shows via my Google Next Hub?
What is the future of cable TV in the US? Will customers just be paying for “Barker Channels” that do little more than promote content streaming elsewhere?
Michael Schneider and Kate Aurthur at Variety have a long read on how much life cable TV has in it and whether content owners are now strangling it as they see more profitable opportunities elsewhere.
The one thing that will sustain cable is sports, but for how long?
There’s a sizable portion of the audience (albeit, aging) that will hold on to cable because they still see it as a utility. Some pundits believe that cable penetration will bottom out at around 30 million households — still a business, but no longer one with enough reach to justify pricey expenditures like sports.
Eventually, the conglomerates with sports rights will either have to include a streaming component (adding NBA to HBO Max or NFL to Disney Plus, for example), or risk losing exclusivity as major leagues look to sell those streaming rights to a third party such as Google or Facebook.
Netflix has scrapped production on a Turkish TV series after authorities refused to issue a filming license when it was discovered the show would feature a gay character. Homosexuality is legal in Turkey, but it also has laws prohibiting ‘offences against public morality’ which enables persecution against the LGBTQ community.
The streamer is walking a tightrope on this issue. While it pulled production on this, it won’t stop production in Turkey generally.
In an official statement, Netflix said it remained committed to producing shows in Turkey, one of the fastest-growing international markets for the streaming giant. "Netflix remains deeply committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey," the company said. "We are proud of the incredible talent we work with. We currently have several Turkish originals in production - with more to come- and look forward to sharing these stories with our members all around the world."
Happy Endings, one of the great under-seen sitcoms, came back for one episode yesterday. Shot via Zoom, the results were… look, it was less technically ambitious than the pandemic-filmed 30 Rock revival last week, but certainly better than the laugh-free 30 Rock special.
Due to a potential cyber-attack at the Nielsen data centre yesterday, OzTAM are not going to publish overnight TV ratings for Australia this morning.
Always Be Watching prides itself on being the #1 source of all Paul Lynde news. TV funny guy Billy Eichner (Billy On The Street, Parks & Recreation) is in development on a biopic about Lynde (best remembered for his time on Bewitched and Hollywood Squares). The film will be called Man in The Box and the plan is for Eichner to star. What’s unique about this is the rarity of a gay actor being able to portray a gay icon on screen.
Eichner has a great interview with Deadline about the project:
One of the main reasons I want to do this is…because gay actors are never, hardly ever, I should say, allowed to play our own gay icons. Harvey Milk, Freddie Mercury, Elton John. Where are the gay actors? And it’s not to take anything away from those performances, which were all excellent. But why don’t we get to tell our own stories? I have a lot of friends who are openly gay actors in Hollywood. Many of us are successful, and have carved out lovely careers, to varying degrees. But when it really comes to some big project about a gay icon, the one everyone’s throwing awards at…we love the spectacle of rewarding a straight actor, for quote unquote, transforming himself into a gay person.
I don’t think there needs to be a rule, like straight actors can never play gay, but it is so lopsided. It never works in the other direction. And we’re not even allowed to play our own heroes. I can tell you right now, that a gay actor, a gay person in general, understands the nuances, the idiosyncrasies, and the emotional complexity of playing another gay person, especially a famous gay person, playing another famous gay person, than a straight person does. And we are never granted the opportunity to bring all of our life experience, as gay people, to the screen, and it has become a little bit frustrating to watch that happen over and over and over again.