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.
Nick Frost + Olivia WIlliams + Joss Whedon = HBO. PLUS: The Netflix front page bias. ALSO: Netflix ignores critics.
Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who STILL hasn't watched Tuca & Bertie
Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in. I’d sworn off Joss Whedon TV shows - Dollhouse, while it had its moments, typified every problem I have with Whedon’s TV output and was the last straw for me.
One of the biggest problems I have is that the casting is never quite right on a Whedon production. He nails it with some cast, but then others just fit a type that I can’t describe as anything other than ‘Californian Actor’. It is the sort of actor who when seen on screen, is always a bit too attractive and never feels quite lived-in. You just know they’re in that scene minutes after discussing a juice cleanse.
So, it is not without a touch of irony that it is the cast for his new HBO show The Nevers that has me interested. I’ll admit to not knowing a bunch of these actors. Some, I am sure, are ‘Californian Actor’.
Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ann Skelly, Ben Chaplin, Pip Torrens, Zackary Momoh, Amy Manson, Nick Frost, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Denis O’Hare. They join previously announced cast member Laura Donnelly, who will star as Amalia True.
In a post over at Medium, Julia Alexander raises the point that if a show doesn’t appear on the front page of Netflix, then it is as if the show doesn’t exist at all. Her complaints about the difficulty in finding recently cancelled animated show Tuca and Bertie is a bit overdone (there is a search box - you type in what you are after and it appears… almost like magic), but the thing I keep coming back to is this:
The problem is that Netflix’s recommendation algorithm is flawed — very. Again, based on people’s tweets over the last few days, people who wanted to watch the show had to seek it out. Other people didn’t even know it existed. This isn’t a problem that just plagues subscribers, but creators, many of whom reached out to Netflix on Twitter to air their own grievances with similar experiences.
I wonder how much validity there is to this. There’s one of two things that might be at play here:
The Netflix algorithm, having determined that few people were watching Tuca & Bertie to completion, de-prioritized it and it dropped away from suggested viewing titles.
It was actually appearing in people’s suggested viewing, but people scrolled past it without giving it a second glance.
On a similar note, critic Emily VanDerWerff tweeted this out, which I presume is referring to the absence of screeners for the David Fincher series Mindhunter.
Mindhunter returns on Netflix in 2 weeks, which now has a trailer.
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US streaming service Britbox has been streaming UK shows for a while now. The ITV/BBC co-venture (BBC is only in for about 10% tho) recently announced moves to launch the service in the UK as well. An interesting article from DigiDay cited that more than 60% of subscription-based streaming service BritBox’s 650,000 subscribers are 45 years old and older. It also has a single-digit churn rate.
An interesting stat mentioned in the aryicle from Nielsen’s “Total Audience Report”: The older the viewer, the less time spent searching for something to watch.
Viewers who are 50 years old and older on average take about five minutes to select something to watch while viewers who are between 18 and 34 years old spend 9.4 minutes deciding and viewers who are between 35 and 49 years old spend 8.4 minutes, per Nielsen.
To me, that suggests that older audiences are after a more curated experience than younger viewers who want to have a greater hand in tailoring their experiences.
One of the narratives around AT&T buying Warner Bros has been the lack of cohesion between new management and all of the creatives. It’s the story of a stodgy tech company set in its ways now dealing with free-thinking Hollywood types. Variety’s state of the union article about WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey seems purposefully designed to paint a new picture of the new union.