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.
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek dies at age of 80
ALSO: What is Stan Sports? AND: Netflix goes linear.
Alex Trebek: 22 July 1940 - 8 November 2020
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. The TV legend was 80 years old.
I really love Jeopardy! and a big reason why is Alex Trebek. He’s a straight man with a wry wit about him. Watch the show regularly and you’ll see him rib contestants for being massive dorks, but also celebrate their intellectual curiosity and achievements. Trebek has been hosting game shows since 1966, just a few years into his TV career. But he’s best known as host of Jeopardy! which he has hosted since its 1984 revival.
Trebek has been very open about his battle with cancer, which has led to a lot of speculation about his replacement. All eyes are on Ken Jennings, the official greatest player of all time. He’s been participating in the show recently, asking category questions. The show, however, has said that they will not be making any announcement about a replacement for Trebek. One would assume that they will wait until early in the new year to make that announcement.
Alex Trebek made a career out of curiosity about the world. He taught me that even the answer to the biggest questions in life can only be answered with another question.
Aussie streamer Stan is today expected to announce that it is bringing sport to the platform. Whether it will involve an additional fee or not remains to be revealed.
Following a deal with Rugby Australia, it is expected that broadcaster Nine (owner of Stan) will screen Wallabies Tests, the Rugby Championship and one game a week of Super Rugby, while all other Super Rugby games, the Shute Shield, and the Hospital Cup will sit behind a paywall on Stan.
With this news reported by the Nine-owned SMH, assume that this is exactly what is happening.
This is a smart move for the longterm prospects of Stan. With available content deals drying up thanks to the globalisation of streaming platforms, local Australian sports represents a great opportunity for Stan to continue to play a role in Nine’s streaming portfolio. (How long is it until Stan and 9Now are merged into the one platform?)
One of the core complaints about Netflix that I used to hear when it launched was that users couldn’t browse the service easily to see everything that is on the platform. That conversation seems to have dried up with viewers getting used to the algorithm pushing shows of interest. One of the metrics Netflix is concerned about is the amount of time users spend deciding what to watch next. It is seen as success for them if a user immediately finds something they want to watch as soon as the app loads.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Netflix viewer isn’t still spending some time trawling about trying to find something they can watch.
The streamer is trialing a new way of presenting its content: linear television.
In a trial currently underway in France, Netflix viewers are being presented with a linear stream that presents Netflix in traditional viewing blocks as you’d find on regular TV. One presumes this is similar to the linear streams provided on on-demand horror service Shudder.
Presumably, if successful, the service will roll-out in other global territories.
Disney has pushed back upcoming films Death on The Nile and Free Guy. Both films remain without a rescheduled date. COVID strikes again.
It seems to me that Death on The Nile would be an expensive, but eye-popping premium title that Disney could use when it rolls out its Star streaming service internationally in 2021.
(As a reminder - Disney plan to take Hulu global, but are instead branding it as Star. It’ll be a bit different to Hulu, but similar in that it will be the adult streaming service that sits alongside Disney+ and ESPN)
Gather around kids and let me tell you a story. Back in the days before The Wire there was a special type of wanker that you would meet in your travels. They would proclaim loudly statements like “I don’t watch TV”. Or “I only watch the news and Four Corners on a Monday night”. These people were the worst.
Catering to a similar audience of people is the latest trend in televisions, which is to turn the screen into an art gallery when it isn’t being used.
And quietly, I actually really like this idea. What sort of person have I become?
Samsung have a handsome screen branded The Frame which does this. It also requires an AU$59.90 annual subscription which seems a little high to me, but perhaps it presents value when running in your home. I’ll admit to being curious, but skeptical.
More interesting, perhaps, is Loupe - an app available for Apple TV, Fire TV, and other connected devices. Loupe allows users to curate a playlist of artwork, including paintings, photography, and motion art. Prints of the artwork are also available to buy from Loupe.
A couple of months ago Loupe launched on US linear streaming service Pluto TV and quickly found an audience of half a million people tuning in to the channel. It’s on track to service two million people by the end of the year.
Video game publisher Square Enix has posted a £36m loss for its game Marvel’s Avengers. Reviews weren’t exactly stellar and sales clearly matched. Just quietly, until I read this article, I didn’t actually realise this video game, featuring the world’s biggest entertainment property, actually existed. If these huge budget games aren’t being marketed effectively to anyone beyond dedicated gamers, I’m not entirely surprised that these games are posting such large losses.
Writer Nadria Tucker has tweeted about being let go from the upcoming Superman & Lois for being critical of elements of the show.
I can only assume that she also pointed out that a melodrama about Superman raising teenage kids in his hometown of Smallville sounds like the least interesting take one could have on the iconic character.
Saunders & French Productions is being wound down after 28 years. The production house was responsible for the hit series Absolutely Fabulous. SourceL Deadline
Sky News may have weak broadcast figures in Australia, but its digital service is Australia’s biggest in news, reports Cam Wilson. Read: SMH
Aussie TV producing legend Gerald Stone has died at the age of 87. Read: TV Tonight
Aussie TV performing legend Jeannie Little has died at the age of 82. Read: TV Tonight
William Jackson Harper (he’s Chidi in The Good Place) will lead the second season of HBO Max’s weak-sauce series Love Life. Read: EW
TV Guide cover star Al Roker has revealed that he has prostate cancer. He will leave the Today Show temporarily while he seeks treatment. Read: NYT
The BBC are reimagining Brideshead Revisited with Luca Guadagnino directing. Read: Deadline
A reunion for the cast of Family Ties takes place this week. Sorry Justine Bateman fans, it appears she isn’t participating. But good news Tina Yothers lovers (or Lothers, as they choose to be termed), she’s on board. Oh, and Michael J Fox. Read: Deadline
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.