|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Edward Sabin, former Head of International at A+E Networks and former COO of Discovery Channel and TLC, announced a new media venture, Cypher Content. “Even before having to navigate the changes we face now due to COVID-19, as an industry we were already focused on managing production costs,” said Sabin. “It’s part of every conversation I am having with US networks and platforms… We will demonstrate that the dichotomy of a decade ago – choosing between high quality and cost efficiencies – is a false one. We believe that launching this first-of-its-kind venture will revolutionize the way storytelling is brought to life for US viewers.” Under the Cypher banner is Embarcadero Pictures, launched in partnership with Argentinian producer, Gerardo Brandy, and his Latin American-based production company Nippur Media.
Doing Things Media struck a development deal with comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s production company Abso Lutely Productions for a TV series based on Doing Things’ viral internet series, All Gas No Brakes. In the series, host and EP Andrew Callaghan will cross the nation in his old-school RV to attend bizarre and outlandish conferences, parties, expos, conventions and political events.
WarnerMedia announced new companies signed on to distribute HBO Max, arriving Wednesday, May 27. All aboard are Altice USA, Cox Communications, Microsoft, National Cable Television Cooperative, Samsung, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Verizon. They join AT&T, Apple, Charter, Google, Hulu and YouTube TV in offering HBO Max to their customers at launch.
Creative Artists Agency announced Screening Room With The Stars, a weekly series featuring a livestream of a Hollywood blockbuster, hosted by talent from the film. Each movie will premiere on its official Facebook page every Thursday at 4p. Kicking things off today, May 21: Rocky, hosted by Sylvester Stallone.
Gusto TV is launching on Sling TV. The food and lifestyle channel features in-studio cooking series, and reality series about food culture and sustainability.
FilmRise and UK -based All3Media International have entered into an agreement that will expand the visibility of All3Media International’s existing content arrangements on streaming platforms Amazon Prime Video, IMDb TV and The Roku Channel. The deal, which encompasses thousands of hours of programming, is aimed at allowing All3Media International to further tap into revenue streams that have emerged due to the proliferation of digital platforms. “FilmRise’s technical sophistication complements our existing commercial agreements with these platforms – their robust analytics, strong streaming service relationships, and expertise in effectively monetizing content in the digital platform universe will be a great supplement to our ever-expanding distribution and sales activities,” said Gary Woolf, EVP of Strategic Development at All3Media International.
Fox Nation is rolling out a new slate of adventure programming in June. Seasons 1-6 of A&E’s Duck Dynasty drop June 1, with seasons 7-11 arriving June 15. A new outdoor lifestyle series hosted by Fox News Channel contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones, Fox Nation Outdoors, debuts June 8, and season five of What Made America Great lands on June 29.
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The AT&T TV app, missing from the Roku app store since January, is back. “We are delighted that we reached a mutual win-win agreement with AT&T to distribute AT&T Now and AT&T TV Now on the Roku platform,” said a Roku spokesperson.
HBO Max will premiere Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of Warner Bros./DC feature film Justice League in 2021. #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has become a rallying cry on social media since 2017. “I want to thank HBO Max and Warner Brothers for this brave gesture of supporting artists and allowing their true visions to be realized. Also a special thank you to all of those involved in the SnyderCut movement for making this a reality,” said Snyder.
Discovery and Science Channel plan to simulcast the NASA launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on Wednesday, May 27, from the Kennedy Space Center. It’s the first crewed space mission to be launched into orbit from US soil since 2011. Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space is set to air live beginning at 2p, and feature live appearances by singer Katy Perry, TV and Internet personality Adam Savage, former NASA engineer and YouTube star Mark Rober.
On Sundays beginning May 31, MeTV will program themed episodes of The Brady Bunch Brunch from 12p-2p, including sports stars, family vacations, road trips, musical sing-alongs and (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”) more.
TV One celebrates Black Music Month with the debut of its original documentary, The Beat Don’t Stop, airing on Sunday, June 21 at 8p, followed by an encore presentation at 10p. The doc – a year in the making – highlights the history and legacy of Go-go music.
CentroAméricaTV, the network for Central Americans living in the US, has brought back live soccer. The Costa Rican first division league, Liga Promérica, is the first from a Latin American country to resume their season amidst the COVID-19 crisis, albeit with stringent safety measures in place. The Clausura tournament resumed airing on May 19; the network will broadcast the remaining 21 regular season games through June, and will also air all semifinal and final games.
BET is moving forward with The BET Awards 2020, set to air Sunday, June 28 at 8p. The show will go on using an array of innovative techniques and artist-generated content. Nominations will be announced on a later date.
Broadway on Demand is streaming a one-hour special celebrating theater and the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 7 at 6p. The event will serve as a fundraiser for Tony presenters The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Muppets Now arrives Friday, July 31 on Disney+. The six-parter is the The Muppet Studio’s first original series for the streamer.
Iron Chef and Supermarket Stakeout host Alex Guarnaschelli enters Worst Cooks in America boot camp as a mentor for the first time when a new season of the Food Network competition premiere’s Sunday, June 21 at 9p.
The relationships of five couples are put to the test on a new season of WE tv’s Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition, launching Thursday, July 2 at 9p.
Self-shot series Hot Mess House premieres on HGTV on Wednesday, June 24 at 8p and 8:30p. The show features organization expert Cassandra Aarssen helping families identify the organizational style that works for them.
Greatness Code will debut on Apple TV+ on July 10. The short form docu-series, co-produced by LeBron James’ Uninterrupted and Tom Brady’s Religion of Sports, spotlights untold stories from the greatest athletes in the world – like LeBron James and Tom Brady.
Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias returns the streamer on Wednesday, June17. The comedy stars Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias and Sherri Shepherd.
Vice TV picked up I, Sniper, a docu-series looking at the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper case, from UK producer Arrow Pictures. The eight-parter premieres Tuesday, June 2 at 10p.
Facebook and Instagram rolled out a tool enabling businesses suffering during COVID-19 to create Facebook Shops. A business can create a virtual mall for free, by uploading its catalog, selecting products and customizing the Shop with a cover image and accent colors. Wall Street approved – Facebook stock rose 5.5% after the announcement.
With the surge in consumption of ad-supported OTT during coronavirus lockdown,Tru Optik is making its Cross-Screen Audience Validation campaign-measurement service available for free. “In March, across leading AdTech platforms and premium publishers nearly 20 percent of the advertisers using third party data for Connected TV targeting were doing so for the first time,” said Andre Swanston, CEO, Tru Optik. “With the massive increase in OTT consumption, the industry can’t afford for measurement to stand in the way of marketers doing what is best for their brands…. We believe allowing advertisers to validate their campaign delivery against the same truth set most widely used to plan and execute targeted OTT campaigns is a significant step.”
Hulu is redesigning its user interface so viewers can navigate in a pattern that matches Disney+ and ESPN, and moving categories of content like TV, Movies and Sports to the master navigation. “With our growing audience, we’re constantly thinking about creating the best possible experience for our viewers, by getting them to the content they want to watch quickly while also helping them discover their next favorite movie or series to binge,” wrote Jason Wong, Director of Product Management, in a blog post. “We listened to feedback from our viewers and heard they loved how easy it was to continue watching the shows and movies they love, but not as easy to discover new content.” The updates will be available to some Roku and Apple viewers now, and roll out over coming months.
Verizon Media has joined DPAA, the marketing association representing out-of-home advertising and content. “Out-of-home has been one of the fastest-growing media channels, and we think its best days are still ahead,” said Ivan Markman, Chief Business Officer at Verizon Media. “As stay-at-home orders begin to lift, people once again will be out and about, and out-of-home, with its well-placed screens and programmatic capabilities, is in a solid position to help brands extend their share of voice with consumers.”
The BBC is considering restoring BBC Three as a linear channel, according to its annual plan. “Our research evidence shows that there is a big available audience on linear television and the BBC could reach them if we move decisively,” says the report. “So there is potentially a strong case for restoring BBC Three as a linear channel as well as an online destination.” BBC Three moved to online-only in 2016.
Woodcut Media has been commissioned by Sky Crime to produce three-part docu- series The Beverley Allitt Tapes, focused on a young nurse who received 13 life sentences for the murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm of 13 children.
MTV International commissioned a new footballer themed edition of Cribs. MTV Cribs: Footballers Stay Home, produced remotely by Otro Studios, will get up close and personal with a number of top international footballers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Premium Content picked up the global rights to Jane New Generation, a film which looks at the life and legacy of primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall.
Banijay Rights signed a comprehensive package deal for its dramas with France’s CANAL+ Group for its channel POLAR+. The deal will give POLAR+ subscribers access to over 85 hours of Banijay Rights’ scripted shows and TV movies.
BBC Arts and Radio 1 have co-commissioned Inside Games from Little Dot Studios. The six-part series will sit on iPlayer in the UK, and globally across Radio 1’s YouTube channel, and Facebook Watch.
Recently launched distributor Abacus Media Rights announced the acquisition of a new three-part unscripted series, Outback Lockdown, from Essential Media Group, with delivery expected next month.