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.
Peacock ready to launch. NBC stations not happy.
ALSO: A Dirty Dancing sequel is on its way. AND: RIP Grant Imahara
The big TV event this week is the launch of NBC’s Peacock in the US. It is the last of the big streaming platform launches expected (tho, CBS will be relaunching CBS All Access in early 2021), but also maybe the most interesting.
The concept behind Peacock is that it is reconceptualising what broadcast TV would look like as a streaming service. It isn’t NBC chasing after Netflix, but rather the position they’re coming from is what would a digital-first NBC look like? With big tent shows, a strong mix of scripted, reality, news, and general entertainment, and NBC legacy brands (it’s a brand with a history dating back to the earliest years of TV), Peacock is a potential game changer.
But it has two big problems:
NBC Universal are in a unique position where it needs to launch a streamer to future-proof its business, but it also doesn’t want to create yet another incentive to cut a cable TV subscription as it owns the cable giant Comcast.
NBC doesn’t own all of the TV stations that broadcast NBC shows. Over fifty percent of them are owned by independent companies. NBC want to stream the late night shows earlier in the evening on Peacock - that has pissed off these affiliate stations. NBC are launching a 24/7 streaming linear channel built around the Today show. That’s pissed off affiliates.
It is this relationship with affiliates that has impacted NBC’s big 30 Rock special airing this week. Most of the affiliates are refusing to air it, which means over half of the US won’t get to see it. Why aren’t the affiliates keen on it? They see it as a huge ad for Peacock. The irony is that 30 Rock fans who won’t be able to watch it on TV will be able to watch it online… they can just sign up for Peacock.
Because there is a big launch, part of the promotional cycle of Peacock involves the prerequisite feature story in the New York Times.
The focus is on how it is the digital version of broadcast TV and that there will be a free ad-supported version of it.
“People are looking for more affordable options,” said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. “That was true before the pandemic and now that we are in the middle of it, arguably heading toward a recession, affordability is even more relevant than when we first laid out our strategy seven months ago.”
And just an FYI - this has three tiers available to subscribers:
Free - 13,000 hours of programming.
Premium - 20,000 hours of programming. $4.99 per month, or $49.99 per year.
Premium ad-free - 20,000 hours of programming. $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year.
The hot rumour is that It’s Like Y’know star Jennifer Grey is set to return to the Dirty Dancing universe with a sequel set in the 90s. Details are scant, but if Deadline are reporting on a rumour like this, expect an official announcement shortly.
Ted Lasso is a comedy about a college football coach starring Jason Sudeikis. It debuts on Apple TV+ Aug 14.
Yesterday Jimmy Fallon became the first of the US late night hosts to return to a TV studio (and no Conan doesn’t count - he’s recording out of a comedy club). It was fitting that Fallon returned back first. He’s recording out of 30 Rock, the building that was home to the earliest shows in the format.
I don’t much care for Fallon’s show, but I thought this intro was really nicely done:
Speaking of late night hosts, The Daily Show’sTrevor Noah will host a show for Quibi that will showcase his ability to play video games. Rightio. It’ll be called Player Vs. Player With Trevor Noah. Source: Variety
It felt like a gut punch yesterday learning that former Mythbusters presenter Grant Imahara had died at the age of 49. The cause of death is believed to have been a brain aneurysm.
In addition to presenting on the show, he was a Hollywood effects professional whose specialty was robotics. Some of his work included puppeteering R2D2 in the Star Wars prequels and he created robot sidekick Geoff Peterson for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Will Apple TV+ face a mass exodus of subscribers in November when their one-year subscription comes to an end? It was reported that in January that 34 million Americans have a sub, with the majority signing up after buying a new Apple device. Of course, this question exists in a bubble that suggests that people won’t be buying/upgrading Apple devices again this coming November-January.