Netflix has long said that it isn't interested in pursuing sports rights. But it also said it wasn't interested in carrying advertising and they just launched its ad-tier.
As per Deadline and the Wall Street Journal, Netflix has been making quiet enquiries about sports rights in recent months - deals for tennis tours or buying outright the World Surf League. No deals have yet been made.
Sports on Netflix never made a whole lot of sense (I stress that I am not talking about the Huey Lewis and The News album - that would make sense on any service). The rights are hugely expensive and they are all local. Tennis kind of makes sense. As does sports like Formula 1 and surfing. In other words, sports that travel across borders.
Clearly Netflix are looking for sports rights as a way to grow subscriptions in regions like the US where they have reached the ceiling on how many subscribers they can attract with the current service. I'd argue that the sort of money spent on sports rights (again, they're very expensive) would be better spent buying up competitors with strong IP libraries. Paramount Global is just sitting there with its extensive library, diversified streaming options (seriously - imagine what Netflix could do with a Pluto TV...), and rich IP that is just sitting there (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Brady Bunch...no, really).
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever thoughts
The Black Panther sequel debuts in cinemas around the world this week - Australian cinemas will debut it in about 8 hours or so. I caught the film last night. There are plenty of reviews around for it already, but a few non-spoilery thoughts from me:
- The film is far more accomplished and sophisticated in its production design than the first film, even if some fans may not quite love it as much without Chadwick Boseman there as the titular Black Panther.
- The film is at its strongest when it breaks free of the expectations of it as a superhero movie. The Wakanda franchise would be stronger if it leant into being about a warrior culture of technologyically sophisticated people and the global tensions that arise from that. That stuff in the film is great - it becomes far less compelling when it leans into hero origin journey territory as a character finds their way to become the superhero.
- The production of the film feels bigger and better in almost every way. Wakanda as a city/country has more of a lived-in feeling than I felt it had during the first film. As fantastical as it all may be. Also, it seemed like there were a lot more effects using model work than just CGI. Maybe a visual trick, but it all felt more tangible.
- Marvel needs to stop shoehorning in franchise-building elements that aren't organic to the storyline. The run time is 2 hours and 41 minutes. If it cut out the inclusion of a certain non-powered character who contributes nothing to the story at all, the film could easily have hit a more comfortable 2-hour runtime. Also, the addition of a teenage superhero who is there to launchpad a Disney+ show just feels really badly tacked on.
- The villain of the film (is their identity known? I never saw a trailer...) is actually rather compelling. The strength of the first Black Panther film was in having Michael B Jordan stealing the film with a villain the audiences had reason to root for. This film does the same, even if his reason to attack is neuteured by having it tied to one of the MCU shoehorned expansion characters.
- It is weird that there are so many blue water warrior characters in this film just a few months before the launch of the new Avatar film.
Fans of the first film will be very happy to return to the world of Wakanda. People like myself who found that the original was bogged down too much by adhering to the trappings of the Marvel house style will find similar concerns here. But the film is stronger and more individually realised. It feels almost like a movie in itself and not just the latest in the series of Marvel films...
Also, it needs to be noted. Prior to the film starting, a 3D trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water played. Good gosh is the 3D in that film now so much better than it was for the original 2009 film. The trailer plays amazingly well on that big screen in 3D - it'll win back the skeptical.
Disney earnings thrill and disappoint
A bit of good news/bad news for Disney as it reported its earnings to the market for Q3. Disney+ added 12.1 million subscribers, bringing its total up to 164.2 million. But that came at a cost: the direct to consumer division (which includes its streamer) lost $1.5 billion this past quarter.
Disney is telling Wall Street that it needs to look ahead to the additional revenues that the upcoming ad-supported pricing tier will offer. I think it is also always worth noting that Disney isn't like Netflix in that the company lives or dies based on its streaming service - Disney+ may lose some money, but it strengthens the overall brand and drives more money to theme parks, merch sales, and other revenue drivers. Streaming distribution is the cost of doing that business.
- A Shea Serrano-created comedy about friends pursuing a reggaetron career has been given the greenlight by Netflix. Read: thefutoncritic
- Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters has been renewed for season 2. Read: THR
- Peacock Premium Plus subscribers (ie those who pay so much they never need to watch one of those ads) will soon be able to watch their local NBC affiliate station streaming. Read: The Streamable
- The Guardian has a list of the top 50 HBO shows ever made. A lot of shows not making the list that would be on my top 50 - Togetherness, Betty, How To Make It In America, Crashing, Hello Ladies, Mrs Fletcher, Tales From The Crypt, and Irma Vep. Read: The Guardian
- If, like me, you are very happy to read a listicle of the best X-Files seasons from worst to best... Read: Den of Geek
The Lying Life of Adults debuts on Netflix Jan 4.
That's it for today. Lets see if democracy in the US falls off a cliff over the next few hours. Regardless what happens, I'll be back here tomorrow with more TV news and truth-telling about Doctor Who.