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.
Why do people love Netflix so much?
PLUS: RIP Terrace House star Hana Kimura. AND: Back To The Future 2: Uncensored.
On Friday afternoon at 5pm Foxtel unveiled details about Australian streaming service Binge, which officially launches today. Media had been briefed about it on Thursday under embargo.
In lieu of an Always Be Watching update for tomorrow morning (unless any huge news breaks), I’ll post out a deeper look at the new service after it launches today.
In brief, though, know this:
There are three price tiers, in line with similar plans from Netflix and Stan, between $10-18.
It will be powered by content from WarnerMedia (including all the HBO content), BBC, FX, NBC Universal, and Sony.
Subscribers will be able to access it through a number of platforms including Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, and via the web.
My initial thoughts are that Binge looks very promising. Good content, reasonably priced, it’s across most major platforms, and the UI seems clean and straight forward.
One of the reasons why Netflix is so beloved by its users: It just works. There’s rarely glitches or other technical mishaps. If Netflix isn’t working, it is almost certainly because of a problem with your equipment and not the service.
A research study by JD Power had Netflix users reporting 0.07 technical problems per hour of content streamed on average
That’s meaningfully lower than problem incidents reported for Amazon Prime Video and Hulu (0.11), Disney Plus (0.12) and YouTube TV (0.13). Technical problem rates were even higher among all other streaming services, at 0.17 per hour streamed.
JD Power also asked participants in the study which SVOD they would continue using if they could pick only one.
Netflix - 54%
Amazon Prime Video - 17%
Hulu - 13%
Disney Plus - 4%
I’d be very interested to see a similar survey a year from now once HBO Max and Peacock are in the US market.
Speaking of Netflix, Back To The Future screenwriter Bob Gale was unhappy when he found a censored version of BTTF Part 2 streaming. Gale made some phone calls and rest assured that once again Marty has found a copy of Ooh La La hidden in the sports almanac dust jacket.
Apparently, this was a foreign version which neither director Robert Zemeckis nor I even knew existed, for some country that had a problem with the Oh La La magazine cover. I asked that the studio destroy this version. FYI, Netflix does not edit films — they only run the versions that are supplied to them. So they're blameless. You can direct your ire at Universal, but I think they will be a lot more careful in the future — and with 'the future.
I really appreciate that new streaming platforms have enabled media companies to be more experimental in terms of what they’re releasing. A good example of this is Pixar’s SparkShorts program which is releasing short films from Pixar on Disney+. We’re used to seeing these appear before their features, but on Disney+ they are given the opportunity to stand alone.
Notably, a new SparkShort started streaming on Friday called Out. Jim is Pixar’s first gay lead character and he is yet to come out to his parents, but his dog helps out when his parents surprise him on moving day.
Hana Kimura was a 22 year-old Japanese wrestler who died. She found fame outside wrestling by appearing in the most recent series of Netflix reality show Terrace House. Based on her social media posts, it is thought that her passing may be related to online bullying.
Episodes 39-44 of “Terrace House: Tokyo” were previously scheduled to debut in Japan starting next Monday. However, Netflix announced that, in the wake of the news, their release has been postponed.
One of the absolute great never-produced TV shows was George Lucas’ original effort to make a live action Star Wars show. It was going to be called Underworld and what makes this such an interesting series is the scale he wanted to produce this at.
Myth and lore suggests that this was a planned 100 episode series. Lucas hired a group of notable TV and film writers to write all of the scripts ahead of the start of production. This was going to be a huge, big budget TV show at a time when TV wasn’t operating on global audience, Netflix-type budgets.
One of the writers involved was Star Trek/Battlestar: Galactica/Outlander writer Ron Moore. He was featured on a video chat with Collider where he gave some insight into the production:
“I was one of several, there was a bunch of international writers they assembled… we would gather up at Skywalker Ranch once every six to eight weeks, something like that. And we would break stories together, and right after we’d go off and write some drafts and bring ‘em back, and George and we would sit down and critique them, and then do another draft and break more stories… It was great! It was a ball, it was a lot of fun. It didn’t happen ultimately, we wrote I’d say somewhere in the 40-something, 48 scripts, something like that… the theory was George wanted to write all the scripts and get ‘em all done and then he was gonna go off and figure out how to produce them, because he wanted to do a lot of cutting edge technological stuff with CG and virtual sets and so on. And so he had a whole new thing he wanted to accomplish. And what happened was, you know, we wrote the scripts and then George said ‘OK, this is enough for now, and then I’ll get back to you. I want to look into all the production things.’ And then time went by and like a year or something after that is when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.”