Inside the exit of Piers Morgan

There’s quite a bit of reporting around regarding the exit of Piers Morgan from the UK’s Good Morning Britain (following his flame-out over the Oprah interview with the refugee royals). Almost all of it leads to this as the big question as framed by UK media commentator Amol Rajan:

If only there were an opinion and personality led news network launching in the UK soon, which shared his antipathy towards "woke" culture, and was chaired by a friend of his. Or a video-on-demand service from News UK, where the boss is his old friend and colleague, and her boss - Rupert Murdoch - is a huge admirer of his.

GB News is the more likely. The question is whether GB News needs Piers Morgan more than Piers Morgan needs GB News: That is, how much would they pay? He would be an asset to this station's launch. But he may fancy a long stay on a Caribbean hilltop.

Read: BBC

Oh, and related to the further mopping up of stories surrounding the Oprah/Harry/Meghan special, there’s more details on why the special wasn’t made available to streaming services.

Ms. Winfrey’s company also did not approach cable networks when seeking the right venue for the special, the people said. Hoping for the greatest possible reach, she sought a deal with one of the major broadcast networks, which do not require a subscription and consistently draw the largest audiences for live viewing. Harpo also liked the idea of appearing in the Sunday night slot after “60 Minutes,” the highly rated CBS News show where Ms. Winfrey was a special correspondent in 2017 and 2018, the people said.

Read: NYT

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, cut a deal with Ms. Winfrey in 2019 to produce a series on mental health. 

Get on your bikes and ride

Every day across the world there are hundreds of thousands of people watching fitness videos via apps with trainers doing Hiit workouts, yoga, cycling workouts, and more. It’s strange to me that none of these highly-viewed trainers have crossed-over into becoming mainstream celebs. Instead, the only time you’ll hear from Jamie, Kym, or Bakari is when you load up the Apple Fitness+ app (or are following them on Instagram). Is it that people view their time with these trainers as a mere transaction and don’t want to hear from them beyond the confines of the workout? Or is there an HQ-like embargo on the talent doing external interviews?

Regardless, Australia, keep that in mind in the coming months as you meet a whole new crew of trainers with Peloton launching its fancy pants exercise equipment and video app locally.

The Peloton Bike and Bike+ will cost A$2,895 and A$3,695 respectively (including GST). The All-Access Membership, which enables Members to access Peloton content using the Peloton Bike or Peloton Bike+ and create accounts for the entire household, will be A$59 per month.

The Peloton App, which hosts an expansive library of content that requires no Peloton equipment, is included with the All-Access Membership.

Read: TechAU

Behind the scenes of Mad Men

It’s Jon Hamm’s 50th birthday today. Marking the occasion, Mad Men actor Michael Gladis posted a few pictures of Hamm on the set of the show. The picture that caught my attention was this behind the scenes shot from the pilot episode:

Gosh - talk about movie magic!

TeeVee Snacks

  • Annie Murphy from Schitt’s Creek will star in season 2 of Russian Doll. Read: Deadline
  • The BBC Children’s production arm of the organisation is being moved into its commercial operation BBC Studios, which enables the unit to be able to produce content for competing services like Netflix. Read: The Guardian
  • LA can open theme parks and movie cinemas again from this Thursday. Read: Deadline
  • George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series is moving from Hulu to Peacock. Just a thought for local Aussie ABW readers - this has been a great week for local streamer Stan who has the local Peacock output deal. Yesterday there was the new Da Vinci Code spin-off series Langdon moving to Peacock and now a new George RR Martin series. Read: Variety
  • America Ferrera will return to Superstore for its final episode. Read: Deadline
  • Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong’o will star in an adaptation of the Laura Lippman book Lady in The Lake for Apple TV+. Read: Indiewire
  • Disney is holding firm to its May 7 release date for Black Widow. Read: Deadline
Black Widow

The state of Fox News

Something you may have heard a bit about lately is that Fox News has been sliding in the ratings, with CNN and MSNBC both posting significant wins over Rupert’s opinion and occasionally-news channel.

That appears to have just been a (not uncommon) ratings dip following an election loss for their guy. In Feb, it’s worth noting that the Fox primetime schedule is out-rating its competitors in total people (CNN wins out on the 25-54’s). In seeking to regain footing, Fox News have juggled the schedule a bit, trimmed some fat, and came out ahead in February.

One of the fat portions was its 11pm timeslot, which Fox News will fill with a nightly comedy panel show. Gutfeld! hosted by watchable weasel Greg Gutfeld now has a date - it’ll launch on April 5. The Fox News @ Night show will instead move to midnight.

In recent months, Fox News @ Night has lost a hold on No. 1 in the 11 p.m. hour in any measurement. MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams has established itself as No. 1 in total viewers at 11 p.m., while CNN Tonight with Don Lemon has often rated No. 1 among adults 25-54.

Read: TV Newser (Ad Week)

In a related-ish article, The Guardian asks “Rupert at 90: What now for the media mogul?”. The article raises two interesting points that are worth keeping front of mind:

  • When Murdoch sold the Fox assets to Disney, there had been a clause that prevented him from selling any more assets. That comes to an end this month. So, if Rupert Murdoch has plans, you might start seeing the wheels in motion soon.
  • I’ll occasionally see folk on Twitter suggest that everyone contacts their cable provider and demands that they stop carrying Fox News. That’s never going to happen for several reasons - the biggest being that to have Fox News also means having the NFL.
“I don’t think it is possible to have a cable subscription of any substance [in the US] without Fox News or Fox broadcast – as long as it has the NFL,” says Richard Greenfield, a partner and media and technology analyst at LightShed Partners.

Read: The Guardian

Saving Australia’s screen culture

I missed this article a few days ago from Aussie screen culture writer Craig Mathieson. He examines the issue of the gap that exists with the availability of Australian cinema and the commercial considerations of streaming services who have little incentive to spend the money to make these films streamable.

There is no smoking gun answer to the scarcity of Australian movies on the major streaming services. For a start, they’re commercial operation, as distinct from public broadcast offshoots such as SBS on Demand, and the market has established it’s high profile new content that drives buzz and monthly subscriptions. In some cases that can be new Australian works, as with Stan’s recent debut of the elegiac horror film Relic, but back catalogue is a low priority no matter how many accolades the titles collected back in the day.

It’s one thing to say that streamers should just add these films onto their platforms, but there’s a lot of money that needs to be spent first in digitising the films. This is enough of an issue in places like the US where there’s commercial value, but it’s a more difficult case to be made restoring Aussie classics where the potential audience is so small.

Crocodile Dundee will always be available, whereas, say a small indie like Love and Other Catastrophes likely never will.

High-profile Australian films such as Crocodile Dundee are bought by streaming services, while lesser-known films struggle.

Australia needs to have a deep re-think about how we engage with our screen culture, from making libraries available through to what we want to see happen moving forward as we create new cinema and television. We can’t be looking to international streaming giants as our saviors. There’s just no money in it.

Read: SMH

Trailer Park

Oxygen debuts on Netflix May 12.

A woman wakes up in a cryogenic unit with no memory. Quickly running out of oxygen, she must find a way to remember who she is in order to survive.

Snabba Cash debuts on Netflix on April 7.

Dreams come at a cost. When the entrepreneurial start up scene and the criminal worlds of Stockholm collide, loyalty, friendships and business partners will all be tested in the never-ending quest for easy money.

Them debuts April 9 on Amazon Prime Video.

The first season, 1950s-set COVENANT centers around a Black family who move from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as The Great Migration. The family’s idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces, next door and otherworldly, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.

Q: Into The Storm debuts March 21 on HBO.

Tina debuts March 27 on HBO.

Kung Fu premieres on The CW on April 7.

The Power debuts April 8 on Shudder.

The final season of Attack On Titan debuts on Crunchy Roll on March 28.

What’s next? Tomorrow.