|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment and Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud struck a co-production deal to develop, produce and distribute a slate of unscripted programming that will showcase fresh comedic stories and new voices. As part of the deal, the two companies will also partner with brands to co-fund and co-produce a slate of original content. All content will be co-produced and co-owned by LOL and Wheelhouse.
An anthology show based on Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling “Outliers” is in development at HBO Max, with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Samie Kim Flavey executive producing for Imagine Television Studios, along with Gladwell and showrunner and writer Greg Walker The first subject, should the project go through, would be Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Production on season two of The Witcher resumes August 17, announced Netflix. The fantasy drama shut down production in March while filming in the UK, after new cast member Kristofer Hivju was diagnosed with coronavirus; soon after, all productions went dark. Season two is expected to drop in mid-2021.
Animated series The Great North landed an early season 2 renewal by Fox. The show “embodies our animation brand so strongly, they left us no choice but to give this stellar series an early renewal ahead of its midseason debut,” said Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment of Fox Entertainment.
Actor Nicholas Pinnock (For Life) announced the launch of Silver Milk, a production company in partnership with his talent agent, Oliver Slinger at Independent Talent Group, his manager Jeff Golenberg at Silver Lining Entertainment and his publicist, Teal Cannaday at Bespoke Publicity. The London/L.A.-based company will focus on TV, film and documentary projects.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
The first half of season five of Lucifer debuts on Netflix on Friday, August 21. The fantasy drama started life on Fox, and moved to Netflix for season four.
Season four of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which was scheduled to premiere this fall, will now debut in 2021. The postponement, due to the production shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, was announced during Hulu’s virtual NewFront presentation on Monday.
Showtime’s The Circus is back in town Sunday, August 16 at 8p, with new episodes continuing through the election. The political docu-series launched the first part of season five this past winter and averaged over 1 million viewers weekly.
Unfiltered: Paris Jackson and Gabriel Glenn, a show from Jeff Jenkins Productions that follows the launch of a band by Michael Jackson’s daughter and her boyfriend, debuts on Facebook Watch on Tuesday, June 30 at 6a. New episodes drop weekly.
The Manscapers are back with the season two debut of Bravo’s Backyard Envy on Tuesday, August 4 at 10p. This year’s challenges include designing a Tuscan-themed backyard in New Jersey and landscaping an upside-down house on Fire Island.
Epix’s Helter-Skelter: An American Myth will premiere Sunday, July 26 at 10p. The docu-series was originally slated to debut June 14.
NBC will air a special telecast of Cannonball on Monday, June 29 at 10p. As previously announced, the water sports competition will premiere Thursday, July 9 at 8p on USA Network.
Foodie Love, a series produced by HBO Europe in Spain that follows two thirty-somethings after they meet on a foodie mobile dating app, premieres Monday, July 13 on HBO Go, HBO Now and on HBO via HBO Max.
Crackle Plus, operator of AVODs Crackle and Popcornflix, announced a viewer-first strategy focused on serving the most relevant content and creating the best advertising experience for its audience. “Through our original and exclusive programming, a viewer-friendly ad experience, and the use of proprietary data and insights, Crackle Plus provides an unmatched opportunity for marketers to engage with a hard-to-reach audience in a premium content environment,” said Philippe Guelton, President of Crackle Plus, which unveiled two new ad products. A new interactive ad unit running at the beginning of a video stream, “FreeView”, allows for the elimination of mid-roll commercials throughout a Crackle original or exclusive series. And the “Jumbotron” on Crackle’s home page offers marketers a chance share a short form of branded entertainment or a full episode of a sponsored show.
Crackle Plus also unveiled close to 200 hours of new Crackle original and exclusive programming. “Since introducing Crackle Plus one year ago, we have made incredible strides to become a leading AVOD platform when it comes to original programming,” said Guelton. “Our unprecedented growth is driven by programming that engages audiences and provides exciting opportunities for advertising partners.” For more on Crackle Plus, go to the Cynopsis NewFronts portal, or sign up for the free Cynopsis webinar, “How AVODS Can Get a Competitive Edge.”
Roku introduced its “Agile Investment Plan,” offering marketers both TV and streaming ads to allow them to adapt their buys, and a new product called “Roku Reserve,” letting advertisers place ads on the top 1% of channels. The company’s “OneView” platform gives incremental reach guarantees, so marketers only pay for unduplicated reach to linear TV viewers. “We have three clear focus areas for our first ever Newfront. First is agility—empowering marketers with the freedom to adjust while being flexible to individual buyer and brand needs. The second is control—the need to deliver the message a marketer wants to send today, not months ago. And the third is value—the need to measure results when every dollar counts,” Dan Robbins, Roku VP of Ad Marketing and Partner Solutions, told Cynopsis. For more, go here.
In a virtual presentation opened by Ken Jeong (The Masked Singer), Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, announced it will be launching new advertising solutions, partnerships with key Demand Side Platforms, and new programming. “This is a pivotal time for Tubi, and for the broader AVOD space, as our relationship with FOX paves the way for a massive opportunity,” said Farhad Massoudi, CEO of Tubi. “Tubi and FOX proudly share a core ad-supported business model, with each complementing the other and seeking to provide our partners the best possible ad experience.”
Ad offerings for Tubi include an advanced frequency tool that caps exposure at the campaign level, regardless of supply source, and its proprietary ad server, which brings buyers closer to supply through direct integrations with leading demand-side platforms. Forthcoming content comes from deals with LEGO, Mattel and 9 Story Media Group for Garfield, as well as Spanish-language Tubi en Espanol. For details, go to the Cynopsis NewFronts portal.
Hulu outlined new format and measurement tools for advertisers, and a unified platform across Disney. “Streaming is leading one of the most profound consumer behavior shifts in history. For advertisers, streaming TV is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ or ‘a place to test and learn.’ It’s a must have, and it will redefine advertising in the same way that search did twenty years ago,” said Hulu President Kelly Campbell. “Hulu is proven in this space and was made for this very moment: we have the experience, the storytelling, the data and the scale to put television budgets to work, help brands connect authentically with audiences and drive results.”
A new Hulu ad format, GatewayGo, combines traditional TV ads with new prompts, to increase engagement between viewers and brands. To improve transparency, Hulu is integrating Nielsen Media Impact into its offerings. As far as content, upcoming originals include a Steve Martin and Martin Shot project from Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) called Only Murders In The Building, along with Nicole Kidman’s Nine Perfect Strangers, Michael Keaton’s Dopesick and Amy Schumer’s Love, Beth, among others. Joining FX on Hulu titles are Y: The Last Man, based on the DC Comics series, and American Horror Story spin-off American Horror Stories.
Agency performance evaluations are less effective than they could be, according to a study from the World Federation of Advertisers. In a survey, the WFA found that while 31% of clients said they conduct face-to-face discussions around the results of evaluations, in reality 7% of agencies get a phone call, 5% hear by email, 14% learn the results via an evaluation tool and 2% say they get no feedback at all. “Agencies want the performance evaluation process to be deliberate and genuine starting from agreed upon goals through to action plans and tracking progress against the plans,” the report said. “They want to be able to have a relationship with their clients where they are evaluated fairly and objectively and want to be able to provide honest feedback.”
Google net US digital ad revenue is projected to dip by 5.3%, to $39.58 billion, in 2020, according to eMarketer, with a corresponding drop in share from 31.6% to 29.4%. It’s the first downward estimate since analysts began covering the company in 2008.
“We’re committed to being a force for change,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a video during the company’s developer conference on Monday. Among the announcements made were the latest version of the iPhone operating system, which includes a change to the iOS home screen that offers the ability to set default email and browser apps. Users can pin widgets with updating information on the home screen, including calendar and maps mini-programs. Also unveiled were new features in the Messages app, including mentions and new Memoji features including an avatar wearing a mask, and a new feature, “App Library,” that automatically organizes apps and can delete pages of apps in one tap. A new translation app, “Translate,” allows real-time translation of languages, and digital car keys in iOS 14 and iOS 13, enabling users to unlock and start their car from their phone.
Cinedigm and Team Whistle announced a partnership to accelerate the distribution of Whistle TV streaming service, the company’s OTT linear and VOD sports and entertainment network. Cinedigm will work with Team Whistle to expand Whistle TV’s nationwide distribution on linear, AVOD and SVOD platforms on connected TVs, digital set-top boxes, media-streaming devices, and web-based and online OTT services. Cinedigm will also distribute select Whistle TV films and series in North America.
Spotify is now available to stream on Comcast’s Xfinity. Xfinity Flex customers can say “Spotify” into their Xfinity Voice Remote to access Spotify Free or Spotify Premium. Spotify has also begun rolling out to X1 customers and will be available soon as an Internet app. “Music streaming on Xfinity X1 and Flex is at an all-time high and we’re pleased our customers will now be able to enjoy Spotify’s Free and Premium tiers and extensive library of on demand music, curated playlists and podcasts right on the TV alongside the growing catalog of entertainment already available on these platforms,” said Rebecca Heap, SVP, Video and Entertainment, Comcast Cable.
NBC will air the two-hour special Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Concert on Saturday, June 27 at 8p. Hosted by Dwayne Johnson (The Titan Games), the telecast, from Global Citizen and the European Commission, will highlight the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on marginalized communities. The concert will feature performances from Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, Coldplay, J Balvin, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber and Quavo, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Usher and Yemi Alade, with appearances from Antoni Porowski, Billy Porter, Charlize Theron, Chris Rock, David Beckham, Diane Kruger, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Jackman, Ken Jeong, Kerry Washington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Olivia Colman, Salma Hayek Pinault and more.
PBS’s 40th anniversary (virtual) presentation of July 4 special A Capitol Fourth will be hosted by John Stamos (Fuller House) and singer/actress Vanessa Williams. In addition to live fireworks from Washington, D.C. will be performances from Patti LaBelle, John Fogerty, The Temptations and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Televisión Dominicana will be airing special coverage of the Dominican Republic’s congressional debates on Tuesday, June 23 at 9p and will provide all-day coverage of the presidential elections on July 5.
The Peabody Awards has partnered with PBS for a roundtable special featuring the filmmakers of this year’s 10 Peabody documentary winners. Peabody Presents: Best in Documentary will celebrate the films while encouraging in-depth discussion around the social issues they address. The 60-minute special premieres tonight, June 23 at 8p across PBS digital platforms.
Lifetime will celebrate Pride Month with an encore presentation of the 2009 original movie, Prayers for Bobby, on Monday, June 29 at 8p. Sigourney Weaver stars as a profoundly religious wife and mother who begins to question her faith after the suicide of her gay son.
Sky and Discovery struck a new, long-term partnership across the UK and Ireland, Germany and Austria. Discovery’s portfolio of real-life entertainment channels will continue to air across the Sky platforms in the UK, and on the Sky Deutschland platforms in Germany and Austria. The Discovery Channel will continue to be available on the NOW TV platform in the UK and Sky Ticket in Germany. The deal includes linear channel distribution, video on demand, direct to consumer products, and extension of the advertising relationship. For the first time, the multi-year deal also covers Discovery’s non-linear brands in the UK and Ireland, including existing direct-to-consumer streaming services such as MotorTrend, and new products from the future pipeline of Discovery’s direct-to-consumer offerings.
Corus Entertainment announced the launch of an e-gaming network in Canada in collaboration with adtech network Playwire. The new offering delivers advertisers exclusive whitelisted inventory online, in-game, and across connected TV devices, plus access to first party data. “E-gaming has become a global phenomenon and attracts huge, highly engaged audiences,” said Philippe Kleim, Head of Digital Sales, Corus. “Playwire is an innovative organization that seamlessly integrates brand messages into the world of e-gaming. Partnering with Playwire is another way Corus is delivering premium content across even more platforms, offering advertisers meaningful connections with Millennials and Gen Z in a brand safe environment.”
New shows on BBC TV will be required to have a minimum 20% of diverse talent starting in April 2021, as part of the broadcaster’s Creative Diversity Commitment. “The BBC has been committed to creative diversity and inclusion for 100 years; but we now want to go further,” said UK’s BBC. “The measures announced today are designed to accelerate the pace of change in increasing diversity and inclusion both on and off air.”
Keshet International has completed a deal for Owl Power’ Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing with UKTV.
Red Arrow Studios International has inked a deal for the thriller Dignity with HBO Nordic, for pay-TV and SVOD rights for Europe. The series will launch in markets including Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
Insight TV will broadcast Global Goal: Unite for our Future – The Concert in 4K UHD HDR beginning Saturday, June 27. The concert will air across all of Insight TV’s platforms in 46 countries starting at 8p.
Canada’s Global picked up newsmagazines 48 Hours and 60 Minutes to launch this fall. “The addition of 60 Minutes following our award-winning local news and Global National will help solidify Global as the trusted destination for important news and investigative storytelling every Sunday,” said Troy Reeb, EVP, Broadcast Networks, Corus Entertainment. “Additionally, after helping to define the true crime genre worldwide, 48 Hours is the ideal companion on Saturdays to Global’s homegrown success story Crime Beat.”