Season 2 of Succession begins on Sunday night!
Season 3 of GLOW is now streaming on Netflix.
So is season 1 of The inBESTigators. “Four clever school kids start their own detective agency and vlog about their adventures, becoming fast friends in the process.”
Season 1 of Amazon’s Free Meek is available to stream. “Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s 2017 arrest for probation violations sparked national outrage. A re-investigation of his original case explores allegations of police corruption as Meek becomes the face of a justice reform movement.”
The season finale of Love After Lockup airs tonight.
The season 1 finale of The Loudest Voice airs on Sunday.
Netflix has ordered a 2nd season of Mr. Iglesias. Oddly, I watched and very much enjoyed season 1.
What changes lie ahead for season 2 of The Masked Singer, for those who care.
Netflix has given Leslie Jones her own stand-up special.
“BH90210 scored a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic, topping CBS' Big Brother (1.1) by a 36 percent margin. The 1.5 is the best premiere rating for any new network series this summer and more than doubles the best performance by any other broadcast scripted series in the summer. It's also the best summer rating for a Fox show (excluding sports) since September 2016.” Let’s see what the numbers look like next week.
“Money can’t buy you class, but it can get you a ticket to Bravo’s first-ever BravoCon. The three-day event, taking place in New York from Friday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 17, will feature appearances from more than 70 Bravo stars, the network announced Thursday, in addition to over 30 live events encompassing several franchises, including the Real Housewives, Below Deck, Shahs of Sunset, Southern Charm and Vanderpump Rules. The extravaganza will kick off Friday with a live taping of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen at Hammerstein Ballroom. Live podcasts and exclusive sneak-peek screenings are also on the agenda, as well as panels from the network’s shows. Bravo fans will also get the chance to check out Luann de Lesseps’ Countess and Friends cabaret show, as well as taking a stroll through what organizers are calling a Real Housewives museum. Southern Charm brunches, Top Chef culinary experiences and a Vanderpump Rules after-hours party are also in the mix. Tickets for BravoCon will be available on the event’s website beginning Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m. ET, and start at $299.”
Why is this a real thing??? “This season, four of the most watched Reality Stars in the world along with their kin, are headed to Family Boot Camp! But, will the walls come crumbling down when the most explosive and dysfunctional relationships are together under one roof? For Teen Mom OG star, Amber Portwood, her fiancé Matt Baier and mother Tonya, Boot Camp is their last resort. Stuck in a vicious cycle of anger and tabloid scandals, this family is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode… Rapper Jim Jones arrives, stuck in between his Mama, Nancy and fiancé of 7 years, Chrissy Lampkin. Real House Wives of Beverly Hills' wild child, Brandi Glanville, uncorks her rosé and unleashes her vices to get attention and acceptance from her embarrassed father, Guy. The mob is coming to blow the house down when Boot Camp veteran, Renee Graziano, and her sisters Jenn and Lana, descend upon the compound grounds with years of resentment and pent-up rage! As the families embark on an 8-day journey of extreme relationship therapy to salvage their toxic relationships, Dr. Venus Nicolino and Dr. Ish Major will push them through high octane drills and exercises to break them down to build them back up! Before they unpack their baggage, things quickly launch into chaos when the doctors bring the Boot Campers back to school with a surprise show-and-tell. When issues are cracked wide open, a class room fight breaks out and security comes running!”
“Quavo is making his foray into the television space with a new animated franchise. The Migos star is set to develop an animated series for kids aged 8-12, alongside Marginal Mediaworks and record labels Quality Control Music and Motown. The imagined world will be set in Atlanta’s hip hop music and culture scene.”
Per Decider, “‘I haven’t done this in so long,’ Luis D. Ortiz admitted when he sat down at the Decider offices to talk about his big return to Million Dollar Listing New York, after nearly two years had passed. And in that time? Well, as Luis said, ‘There’s a lot of crazy things that happened in the past two years that even I wouldn’t expect, but they happened and it changed everything for me.’
“We got our first glimpse at the 32-year-old real estate broker’s return — to New York, to his career, to the TV show — during last week’s Season 8 premiere episode, but popping by to celebrate the first birthday of Fredrik Eklund’s twins is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we’re going to see, and learn, about Luis this season. For starters: where the heck has he been? The answer to that, Luis promises will be revealed soon enough. But he wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for his friend Fredrik. ‘I think he would agree that I’ve been very instrumental in getting him back,’ Fredrik told Decider last month. ‘That was a hard time for him to travel, although it was important that he did that to find himself. There was a lot of darkness there and he’ll share that on the show this season. He is one of the most beautiful hearts and kindest souls I’ve encountered. I love him dearly and so for me, it’s super important that he’s back just to have him in my life and to watch him again. He belongs in New York and in real estate and on TV, so I’m really happy.’
“When asked if that was true, that Fredrik was instrumental in bringing him back to New York, Luis let out a big laugh through his bright smile. ‘Yes, yes, yes. He did. I was going through a very tough time last year, a very tough time, and he was one of the few people that was there to listen to me. But just listen to me without actually having to give me an opinion if I didn’t ask for it. I think that that’s very important. Sometimes people just want to be listened to and he was actually there.’
“Oh, and the listening was happening from literally the other side of the world. ‘I went to Indonesia because I wanted to be as far as I could from the world,’ Luis said. But that didn’t stop Fredrik, who was ready to literally put his money where his mouth was and insisted Luis return to New York. ‘He said, “Listen, you need to come back to New York, man. You need to come back where people love you,”’ Luis recalled. And even though Luis insisted he wasn’t coming back, anyone who has watched the Bravo series knows that ‘No’ isn’t a word Fredrik responds to, so he told Luis, ‘I don’t care. I’m buying you a ticket.’
“‘He ended up buying a ticket for me, a first class ticket to New York,’ Luis said, and even when he told him no, Fredrik still responded, ‘I don’t care. I’m going to keep on buying tickets until you get in.’
“While a first class ticket is convincing enough, it was his friend, and ultimately his heart, that led Luis back to the Big Apple, but it was still some time before they reunited IRL. ‘I didn’t seem him for another two weeks,” Luis said of Fredrik. “And that’s what’s beautiful about him. He gave me my time.’
“And when it was time, Luis jumped right back into city life, into real estate, and into the TV show he’s called home since he joined in Season 2. 'It actually felt more at ease than before,’ he confessed. ‘I think it had to do a lot with travels and changes in perspective. It was very comfortable. Also, it was the same people, same crew, same everyone, same business, same city. I just had to live my life organically and then it would be told.’
“Of course, New York is the kind of place that has a way of guiding you, and rather quickly at that, right back into your groove, and Luis also credits being surrounded by his ‘family’ at MDLNY. ‘[They’ve been] there to capture everything. They’ve been through all of it and it was nice to come back to that family. And then I wanted to tell the story as to what had happened to me in the whole two years on the show.’
“‘I’m super excited to have him back,’ Steve Gold told Decider. ‘He brings a vivacious and infectious energy and I’m happy to have him back in New York City and working. I’m actually excited to see how he comes back after a hiatus because the market is difficult and quite frankly, in this kind of business, when you stop doing it your clients are forced to start a relationship with someone else. I’m rooting for him, to be honest.’
“It’s nearly impossible to not root for Luis, who professes, ‘I am in the best place I’ve ever been in my life,’ now, but viewers will still get a glimpse into his transition back to NYC life. ‘Every time I’m going through a transition, I do something crazy. When I was 20 and I wanted to be a film director — I still want to, actually —I transitioned to real estate and I had a dark period where I shaved my head and my eyebrows.’
“This time, Luis experimented a pierced ear and with painting his nails, which you can spot on the show. ‘I did everything: I did blue. I did yellow. I did green. I did white. I did a shade of pink.’ While Luis said he liked it and that ‘it represented what I was feeling at the time’ that doesn’t mean it didn’t have people talking. He had to assure his parents, ‘This does not change who I am. It’s just nail polish that I can take away today. Relax.’ A simple manicure even had people also speculating about his sexuality and Bravo execs wondering what was going on. But ultimately, Luis said, ‘I got bored and I stopped doing it. And now my nails are actually nicer. I used to bite them sometimes and with the nail polish you don’t bite them, so when I took it off I was like, wow, hands can be nice.’
“Oh, and that’s not the only change viewers will notice about Luis this time around. ‘I am more relaxed,’ he said with that signature smile, which projects joy but also a hint of child-like mischievousness behind it. ‘I think a lot of those experiences gave me that perspective and it’s worked on everything, business, personal, and I’m in a great place. I’m in no rush. I’m patient. Now I understand that things actually take time and you should be able to enjoy that process and therefore things will be even better.’
“And even though he might have this newfound patience, his longtime colleague Ronita Kalra is still adjusting to that quality. ‘She’s driving herself crazy,’ Luis laughed, explaining that their new work dynamic finds her having to remind him to read his emails. Part of that is due to the reduced amount of time Luis spends looking at his phone, especially since he’s been social media-free for about seven months now (he kept his Twitter account, but deleted Instagram).
“‘You start to realize it’s influencing your current day, your current sense of fashion, your current sense of music. And you were driven by what you saw, but really the world is composed of so many things that are outside of what you’re seeing, which is only what you’re following, and I forgot to do that. That played a role in part of that darkness, and part of getting better was actually getting away from that. Because the world is not composed by the things that you’re seeing [on social media]. None of that is actually real. I’m glad and fortunate that I was able to see that in order to take a step back.’
“‘My life became very public and I got very used to Instagram,’ Luis continued. ‘I used to post everything. Sometimes I would take pictures and I would look back at those pictures I posted and I don’t remember what happened,’ he said, pointing to feeling disconnected with the moments he was living and not present, while focusing on what he was uploading instead of actually savoring and enjoying where he was.
“Today, he’s doing his best to focus on the good and bad moments life hands him, even appreciating that a show like Million Dollar Listing New York isn’t afraid to show both the ups and downs. In early seasons, Luis remembers hustling to close deals not just because he wanted to close, or to please, a client, but rather because, ‘Oh, it’s being filmed.’
“Now his new perspective on life has him understanding that without the bumps in the road, he ‘would not have memories to talk about. It would not give you the same skin if you never lost.’ This is especially handy for the upcoming season because the guys are experiencing a down market. ‘Things are not selling the way they used to,’ Luis said. ‘There’s the market. There’s politics. There’s the world. There’s technology. There’s a lot of changes in how people live in today’s world as opposed to before. And so we are here just trying to make it happen and doing our best.’
“Luckily for Luis, he’s aware that he’s got a lot of love behind him right now. ‘I am very, very grateful for just the people. They have been so supportive. They have been so amazing. They have been very engaged with my story. When I did post something about my dark times and people reached out to me, you could tell that everyone took the time to have their own, specific support. It was nice to see that people that don’t know you are actually there. You’re like, wow, I never thought that I could cause so much inspiration and have positive effects on people’s lives, and that all came from the show, so I’m grateful to that.’”
From Vulture: “Hollywood loves to jump on a bandwagon, whether it’s rebooting shows from 20 years ago, getting cast in a Marvel movie, or buying whatever Gwyneth is pitching on Goop. In 2019, Tinseltown types seem to have found a new obsession: signing up to do a project for Quibi, the mobile-centric, short-form streaming-video platform, founded by former Disney and DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, set to launch next spring.
“Every few days brings news of another big-name talent (or brand) partnering with the service: Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg are doing horror projects; Kevin Hart has a comedic-action series; Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba, Tyra Banks, and Jennifer Lopez are starring in unscripted shows; Naomi Watts is doing a Blumhouse thriller. There are, of course, plenty of reboots, too: MTV is reviving Punk’d and Singled Out for Quibi, while new takes on The Fugitive, Varsity Blues, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days are all in development. And this just in: Quibi tells Vulture it is working with Vikings writer-producer Michael Hirst on Charlemagne, a biopic about the historical icon Charles the Great.
“Quibi has confirmed more than 30 different projects and partnerships so far, and with plans to spend just over $1 billion for content during its first year, the steady stream of announcements from Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman should continue for quite some time. The company seems to be on solid financial footing: It has already raised more than $1 billion from a slew of big-name partners, while sponsors have prepurchased $100 million (and counting) in advertising time. But you might still be wondering exactly what Quibi will be, how it will work, and why its investors think people are going to pay at least $5 per month for shows they can only watch on their phones. With help from Katzenberg himself, Vulture got answers to some basic questions about the latest entrant in the war for your screen time:
What is Quibi?
It’s a subscription-based streaming platform designed to deliver short-form scripted and unscripted content to your cell phone. The name is a mash-up of the words “quick” and “bites,” a nod to the fact that episodes of Quibi shows will run roughly seven to ten minutes in length.
Who’s behind it?
Katzenberg is the project’s founder, while former eBay and Hewlett-Packard boss Meg Whitman serves as Quibi’s chief executive officer. The content team includes ex–DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, former CAA exec Jim Toth, former THR co-president Janice Min (who’s focusing on news and information programs), and former Viacom/MTV exec Doug Herzog. A slew of big-media conglomerates are also putting their financial heft behind Quibi: Investors include Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, BBC Studios, Lionsgate, and MGM, according to media reports.
What kinds of shows will be on it?
Quibi plans to tackle just about every major scripted and unscripted format: comedy, drama, reality shows, documentaries, news. Katzenberg tells Vulture he and his team have even started thinking about ways to reinvent soap operas and late-night talk, evolving those classic genres for a shorter format and a younger audience. “The variety and diversity of the programming that we’re doing cuts across pretty much everything that you could imagine,” Katzenberg says. “We’re trying things in a lot of different spaces.”
How will shows be organized and how often will episodes be released?
Right now, Quibi is dividing its content into three major buckets. Marquee scripted titles, such as Mapleworth Murders (a comedy from SNL writing vet and Wine Country star Paula Pell) are being referred to internally as “lighthouses.” Such projects will run somewhere between two and two-and-a-half hours each season, divided into 12 to 14 daily episodes (or “chapters,” as Quibi calls them.) A new lighthouse will be released, on average, every two weeks.
Quibi’s biggest unscripted titles (reality shows, docs, competition shows) will be part of a section of programming the service is currently calling “quick bites.” Thanks a Million, where Jennifer Lopez helps hand out $100,000 to ten deserving folks over the course of ten Quibi-sized episodes, would fall into this category. While episodes will mostly be self-contained (like an hour of Shark Tank), these shows will all have a recurring format and host.
Finally, there will also be about a dozen so-called “daily essentials,” short bursts of news, entertainment, and lifestyle content that’s overseen by Min and her team. NBC News recently signed up to produce two daily reports that will fall under the daily essentials banner, while the BBC is also set to assemble its own Quibi-fied news program.
Are Quibi shows basically just movies, but told in shorter chunks?
Given most of the serialized Quibi scripted shows will run about two hours, it’s not a stretch to use movies as a frame of reference. But Katzenberg prefers to think of Quibi as something in the middle between film and TV.
“I don’t think of this as revolutionary as much as it’s evolutionary, in that you’re combining together these two tested forms of filmed narrative,” he says. “The first generation was two-hour movies that were created and designed to be watched in a single sitting in a movie theater. And the next generation was these very long, episodic and serialized stories that had either 13 or 26 chapters to them, and they were designed to be watched an hour or half-hour at a time in front of the TV set. What Quibi is setting out to do is the next form of film narrative — the convergence of those two ideas together. What we’re doing is telling stories that are two to two and a half hours long in chapters that are seven to ten minutes, with great talent, and designed to be watched on your phone.”
Will Quibi shows have multiple seasons? Or will they be self-contained pieces of entertainment, like feature films?
Yes. “Some of them are closed-in stories that have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and you’re done,” Katzenberg says, without offering specific examples. “And others have the opportunity to have ongoing, continuing seasons [or] … a sequel.”
How much Quibi programming will there be?
During its first year, Quibi has said it plans to roll out about 7,000 pieces of content. That sounds like a lot, but it’s also not the same as Netflix saying it has thousands of shows and movies (including library titles it licenses from outside studios). If, for example, Quibi ends up releasing a dozen daily essentials segments each day — the NBC newscasts, maybe an Entertainment Tonight–style showbiz report — those segments alone will add up to about 4,400 pieces of content over the course of a year. Still, as evidenced by the steady drumbeat of development news, Quibi is clearly scaling up quickly with the goal of making sure subscribers feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
How much will it cost?
Right now, the plan is to offer two tiers of service, similar to how Hulu operates. Pay $5 per month and you’ll see some advertising (likely one or two spots per episode, with some ads as brief as six seconds). Don’t want any ads at all? It’ll cost you $8 per month.
Why does Quibi think people will pay for stuff they already get for free on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube?
Katzenberg has heard this question many times as he’s been pitching his vision to investors, producers, and, yes, reporters, over the last few years. His response boils down to two main points: Audiences have a history of paying for stuff they can get for free, and Quibi will offer a premium version of short-form video content, both in terms of execution and presentation. “Six or seven years ago, all music was free and available,” Katzenberg says. “You could type any title into your device and without any friction at all, you could pull up any one of 35 million titles. Yet there are now 187 million people who pay $10 a month for either Apple Music or Spotify. It’s not different music. It’s not music that was not available to you before. It’s not at a higher fidelity. What is it? Well, it’s playlists. It’s recommendations. It’s a set of features that actually make the consumption of music very, very easy for us.”
Katzenberg believes the short-form programming that Quibi will offer, particularly on the news and information side, is at a similar place. There’s plenty of it available, he says, but it’s either hard to get or doesn’t feature the same level of talent found with long-form programs on cable and streaming.
He is quick to note that he’s not disparaging the short-form programming already offered by other outlets. “We love that content. We think it’s great,” he says. But he points out that for decades, Americans were perfectly happy watching free broadcast TV — until HBO, in the 1990s, decided to morph from a movie channel into a place for premium TV shows presented in an upscale format. “What did [HBO] do?” Katzenberg asks, not expecting an answer from his interviewer. “They eliminate commercials. They free the form and format, so they were not confined at 30 or 60 minutes. They’re no longer beholden to standards and practices, so they could make things like Sex and the City or Sopranos or The Wire, which you could not put on broadcast TV. There was nothing wrong with broadcast TV. People loved it. But HBO did something that was highly differentiated, enough so that people felt it was worth paying a premium for. And that’s frankly what we are doing to the world of short form today. In the same way that they [said], ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO,’ I would say, it’s not YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — it’s Quibi.”
Can I get Quibi without paying for it?
Quibi is planning to give all first-time users a free-trial period (previous media reports have suggested it’ll be two weeks, but so far, nothing official has been confirmed in terms of length). And in his interview with Vulture, Katzenberg left open the possibility that Quibi could end up being packaged with other mobile entertainment offerings. “We will be bundled,” the exec told us, declining to offer more details other than to say there could be news on that front “soon.”
There’s a history of mobile carriers offering premium video services to attract and retain customers. AT&T, for example, gives customers on its Unlimited and More Premium plan the ability to stream one of six major cable networks (such as HBO, Starz, and Showtime) at no extra cost; T-Mobile has plans which bundle in Netflix. Whether Katzenberg has something similar planned for Quibi is unclear, but the fact that he says he’s working on bundling the service suggests there will be other ways to get Quibi beyond directly paying the company $5 per month.
How will watching a show on Quibi be different than seeing something on YouTube or Snapchat?
Netflix execs never miss the chance to argue that their success has been driven as much by technological advances as programming. Similarly, Katzenberg says Whitman and her “team of 50 product and engineering people” have been busy figuring out ways to make viewing shows on Quibi a superior experience than standard video players. The Silicon Valley side of the service has “created a new way to watch on the phone,” he says.
“This is one of those things you have to see to understand it, but in effect, what they’ve done is, they’ve created an ability to watch content that is as beautiful whether you’re watching it in landscape or in portrait [modes],” he says. “You can toggle back and forth to either of those literally instantly. Nobody’s been able to do that yet, and this group of engineers and designers has actually done this in a pretty seamless way.” (It won’t be effortless for producers, however, since they’ll often have to shoot different versions of a show to make sure the effect works properly.)
Will any of the programs be interactive, like Netflix’s Bandersnatch?
Yes. Mobile streaming is a more personal and up-close way of watching video content, and Katzenberg says his platform is exploring ways of using interactive series to take advantage of those unique attributes.
“There will be a modest amount of it on Quibi 1.0, but there’s a very ambitious road map over the first two years,” he says. “Interactivity — the things that you can uniquely do on a device, on a phone, which is a two-way device — is very exciting. We have things that are on both our technology and product road map, but also that we’ve been talking about with storytellers and creators.”
One tech tool that’s already generated a bit of buzz: Steven Spielberg’s planned horror series will only be available to stream after sunset, specifically wherever the user is watching.
What if I want to watch Quibi on my computer or my big-screen TV?
You’re out of luck — at least if you want to do so via an official Quibi app. While anyone with the right setup can cast what’s on her phone to a smart TV, Katzenberg and Whitman have made it clear they won’t release a version of the service optimized for non-mobile screens.
“Nobody has made [premium] content that was native to, and only for, the phone,” Katzenberg says. “We want to do one thing which no one else is doing and see if we can do it really great.” Plus, he adds, making shows fit big screens would be a waste of limited resources at this point in Quibi’s existence. “We’re a start-up,” Katzenberg explains. “As soon as you go out and try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing to anybody.”
Who is Quibi’s target audience?
The service will be aimed at millennial and Generation Z viewers, as well as some younger members of Gen X. “Our platform is for 18-to-44-year-olds, and very, very targeted at the 25-to-35-year-old millennial,” Katzenberg says. In other words: Don’t expect to see the Quibi version of Peppa Pig or Andi Mack. “We are not kids, we are not family,” he says. “Some day, maybe we will be that, but we’re not tackling that going in, because it’s just a whole other audience and a whole completely different type of content and programming, and we frankly don’t have the bandwidth to try and be all things to all people. Our bull’s-eye is a 25-to-35-year-old, multicultural, diverse millennial audience.”
How much is Quibi spending to get off the ground?
“Our content budget from now through the first year from launch is $1.1 billion,” Katzenberg tells Vulture. Not every show will cost the same, of course. Katzenberg says the most expensive shows on the service will cost $100,000 per minute. “So, $6 million an hour is the top end of what we are investing in content,” he says. Beyond program costs, he says Quibi will shell out roughly $470 million to market both the platform and individual shows.
How is Quibi getting major studios, writers, and directors to make shows for them?
We live in the age of Too Much TV, so most Hollywood talent has become platform-agnostic — as long as the check clears, nobody’s really stressing too hard about where their show will be seen. In the case of Quibi, having Katzenberg at the helm is also a big advantage: He’s been a Hollywood icon for over a quarter century, and there’s a comfort level between him and most major studio bosses and many artists. Quibi has also allowed studios to become financial investors in the company, giving them an incentive to bring it projects.
But Katzenberg is also offering creators and studios another very seductive proposition: Make a show for Quibi, and after a two-year period of exclusivity, you can repackage the project and sell it to another platform (or directly to consumers). So something like Frat Boy Genius, a drama about the beginnings of Snapchat which originally was a Black List feature script, could premiere on Quibi as a multipart series and then be repackaged by the creators and released as a movie two years later. (Quibi will continue to stream its version of programming even after it loses exclusivity.)
This deal structure is far different from how most big platforms operate today. Most linear and streaming networks either demand an ownership stake in projects (thus controlling all the profits) or put all sorts of restrictions on how and when owners can sell shows to other outlets. “Allowing [intellectual property] owners and creators to own their IP is an invaluable part of our business model, and [it’s] how we have been able to attract the top talent across the board, and why the studios have been supportive of us,” Katzenberg says.
When can I actually check out Quibi?
Not for a while. The platform is slated to roll out next spring, with April 6 set as the official launch date. Katzenberg, ever the Hollywood showman, says he’ll make Quibi’s kickoff a pop-culture spectacle.
“Creating a Zeitgeist event is an essential part of our launch plans for this,” he says. “I am confident that the launch of Quibi will be a must-see event for a huge, huge part of our target audience, and that we will have so much that will be of interest to them. We’ll give them a free trial and there will be no reason not to come check us out. I think we will get them in the tent. I think they’ll be interested. And if we deliver the goods, they’ll stay.””
Per Variety, “At a time when TV viewers have more power than ever to skip past commercials, Madison Avenue is acting like it’s the heyday of the Pillsbury Doughboy, Toucan Sam and Mr. Whipple.
“TV ads, those 30-second sales pitches that prognosticators like to say are on the way out and about which consumers complain incessantly, are suddenly popular again – at least among the people who buy them. How else to explain why big advertisers, with a dizzying array of new ways to reach customers with social media and digital video before them, keep raising the amount of money they intend to spend on primetime TV?
“To be sure, TV ratings continue to erode. But the nation’s five English-language broadcast networks prevailed against disruptive trends brought on by new streaming-video technology and managed to snare a gain of between 5.5% and 7.4% in the volume of advance advertising commitments they secured for their next cycle of primetime programming, according to Variety estimates, part of the annual haggling of TV’s ‘upfront’ ad-sales marketplace. The networks secured between $9.6 billion and $10.8 billion for primetime, according to Variety estimates, compared with $9.1 billion and $10.06 billion in last year’s haggle. It is the fourth consecutive year that the networks have seen increasing volume for their primetime schedules.
“The numbers are little more than fuzzy math and rarely have any correlation to the ad money big media owners like CBS, Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, Fox Corporation and WarnerMedia collect by the end of the year. But they do lend ballast to the notion that, despite a frenzy of calls predicting Big TV’s rapid demise, advertisers do not share that view.
“‘This year’s advertising upfront was one of the strongest we have seen in many years,’ said Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation, during a call with investors on Wednesday.
“Why are advertisers relying even more on top-priced TV than they have in the past? Part of it appears to be disillusionment with aspects of digital media. Procter & Gamble, Unilever and AT&T have over the space of the past year put a spotlight on unsavory aspects of some of the new ways marketers reach their target base. They are concerned about having their commercials show up alongside offensive video content that some of the social-media giants appear to have problems vetting. And they are less than satisfied with measurement of how commercials are reaching and being recalled by digital users.
“‘I think there is a move back’ to TV from digital, said David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Inc. Wednesday, speaking with investors. ‘There is a feeling of safety. What are you next to? What are you buying? Who is the talent that you’re buying? What’s the environment that you are buying? You can do that on television and in digital, there is a fear of that.’
“Even advertisers who have thrived in the digital realm are moving more directly into TV. One of the big factors buoying the 2019 upfront was a rush by upstart companies that have primarily used digital to reach consumers in more direct fashion into a medium that is known to reach bigger, broader audiences. Online retailers like Wayfair and Warby Parker, digital-service companies like Peloton and a growing phalanx of streaming-video companies like Amazon and Netflix are increasingly using TV ads to spark the biggest conversation they can have with the widest audience possible. Little wonder that the last few Super Bowls have been inundated with commercials from streaming-video giants eager to get consumers to subscribe for a chance to view Hanna, The Irishman or Game of Thrones.
“What’s more, the traditional media companies are now selling the digital media Madison Avenue craves. Across the board, TV’s mainstays experienced massive spikes in the sale of digital inventory. Walt Disney saw digital spending across its portfolio rise 50%, according to a person familiar with the matter. WarnerMedia saw double-digit percentage increases in spending on broadband video and video on demand. NBCUniversal saw volume committed to digital advertising rise 50% to ‘nearly $1.3 billion.’
“The momentum may not last. Paying higher rates for fewer viewers isn’t a model that can sustain itself over the long haul. And the networks may face other challenges. The new wave of digital advertisers are severe scrutinizers of consumer response. On the web, they can track what types of ads generate reaction, site visits, requests for information, and, ultimately sales. Can they tie TV commercials to that same level of granular detail?
“Not everyone benefited in the same way. TV ad rates soared, spurred by high demand for ad time and a dwindling supply of viewers. With costs on the rise, big advertisers parked their money first at broadcast, leaving less money to spend on cable networks. Viacom’s volume in this year’s market was flat, according to people familiar with the matter, and chunk of its intake was for new kinds of ads – tied to data and digital. WarnerMedia’s market was driven by digital demand; its ad commitments for linear TV were flat with last year.
“For 2019, at least, the TV networks can content themselves with surges in volume and pricing. Demand appeared to be up for everything from the various late-night shows to ESPN’s Monday Night Football to the final season of Modern Family on ABC.
“In an era of great uncertainty about where TV viewers are going and how to get an ad in front of them, Madison Avenue added to an already substantial bet on primetime.
“At NBC, volume of advance ad commitments increased 8% in primetime, up to around $3.15 billion compared to around $2.92 billion in 2018. Last year, NBC’s primetime volume rose about 7%. The company pushed for greater pricing as well, seeking between 13% and 14% increases in the rate of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is central to these annual discussions between Madison Avenue and TV networks. In 2018, NBC sought CPM increases of more than 11%.
“CBS saw its volume of primetime ad commitments rise 5% to 6%, according to people familiar with the matter, meaning the network could have secured between $2.39 billion and $2.79 billion, according to Variety estimates. Last year, CBS made deals for between $2.28 billion and $2.63 billion, representing a 1% increase over 2017. The network pressed for CPM increases of between 14% and 16%, compared with between 9% and 10% last year.
“ABC saw its volume of primetime ad commitments rise between 5% and 10%, meaning the network may have secured between $1.95 billion and $2.42 billion, according to Variety estimates, compared with the $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion it signed up in 2018. The network sought rate increases of 14% this year, compared with the 10% to 11% it sought in 2017.
“Fox secured primetime ad commitments valued at between $1.6 billion and $1.82 billion, according to Variety estimates, marking a volume increase of between 8% and 9%. Last year, Fox was able to drive just a 1% to 2% increase in volume, landing between $1.48 billion and $1.67 billion in advance commitments. Fox pressed for CPM increases of between 12% and 13% this year, compared to hikes of between 9% and 10% in the 2018 haggle.
“And the CW secured primetime ad commitments valued at between $592.7 million and $663.4 million, representing an increase in volume of around 5%. In 2017, the CW notched volume of between $564.5 million and $631.8, a 15% rise over 2017 that was driven by adding programming on Sunday nights. The CW pressed this year for CPM hikes of between 14% and 15%, compared with between 10% and 11% in the 2018 market.
“The numbers should be taken as directional indicators, not bank receipts. In the upfront, advertisers agree to spend a certain amount of money in the coming season. But they can cancel a portion of their upfront commitments each quarter, and can even pull their money if a show they agreed to support is canceled and the two sides can’t come up with a different schedule of commercials. Some people make the specious assumption that upfront figures are automatically deposited in the coffers of media conglomerates like 21st Century Fox, Time Warner CBS Corp., Comcast Corp., Viacom and Walt Disney Co. That’s not the case.
“Even with that caveat, it’s clear advertisers have yet to abandon TV, even as concerns about viewers remain. Like Bounty, the paper towel with the famous advertising that came of age starting in the 1960s, TV is seen as ‘the quicker picker upper,’ even in an era of Netflixes, Hulus and binge-watching. Whether advertisers can continue to reach modern viewers through methods that had more traction in a much different generation remains to be seen.”
Per TVLine, “[y]et another Big Brother houseguest returned to the outside world on Thursday — but he didn’t exactly get a warm welcome.
“Jack Matthews was booted from the BB house during Thursday’s live eviction show, becoming the first member of the Season 21 jury. But upon getting evicted, Matthews was forced to confront several derogatory and/or racist remarks he had made about his fellow houseguests, several of which prompted backlash on social media after they were broadcast on the 24/7 live feeds in recent weeks.
“Many of Matthews’ comments were directed at Kemi Fakunle, a black contestant who was the summer’s third evictee. During her post-eviction interview with Matthews, host Julie Chen Moonves played several clips of his remarks, including statements that referred to Fakunle as a ‘bitch’ and ‘dogs—t.’
“‘I don’t think there was any personal vendetta behind saying that. My statements were playful in a group of people,’ Matthews began. ‘I do apologize for what I said, and that’s very sincere. I think Kemi was, and is, a great person. This game, being in a 24-hour view of people, you say things. I wouldn’t say that I fully support the things that I said in the way that I said them. If I could take them back, I would.’
“Matthews also addressed a separate comment he had made about Isabella Wang, an Asian-American contestant who was evicted fourth this summer. When fellow houseguest Tommy Bracco had said ‘the proof is in the pudding’ regarding Wang’s gameplay, Matthews had responded with, ‘Rice pudding,’ though he insisted to Moonves that the remark was taken out of context.
“‘It had nothing to do with her ethnicity whatsoever,’ he said. ‘I appreciate that I get to voice me saying that.’
“During his time in the Big Brother house, Matthews had allegedly been warned by producers about his derogatory comments, and Fakunle addressed his behavior (as well as other houseguests’ behavior) in a Twitter post after her eviction.
“‘I am extremely disappointed and disgusted by the behavior I am being made aware of that occurred thus far in the Big Brother house,’ Fakunle wrote. ‘The degrading and threatening comments made by some houseguests and laughed at by others are outrageous and hard to see. I am saddened to be associated with such a negative display of human character and am horrified that this is now a part of my life story.’
“CBS and the Big Brother producers also released a joint statement to People in July, affirming that ‘we do not condone’ the houseguests’ remarks.
“‘We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the Houseguests involved,’ the statement read. ‘However, there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the Houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way.’”
I like Jack and was disappointed to see him go. It’s a 24/7 game with no contact with the outside world. Emotions run high and deep and sometimes words are said without forethought. I don’t think Jack is a racist by any stretch of the imagination. Onward.