07/31/20: Sarah Barnett stepping down at AMC Networks

 

Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Friday July 31, 2020

Today’s Premieres
Amazon: The Last Narc
Disney+: Muppets Now
HGTV: Martha Knows Best at 10p
Hulu: Brassic
ID: 48 Hours on ID: NCIS at 8p
Netflix: The Umbrella Academy, Get Even

Saturday’s Premieres
BBC America: Earthflight at 8p
Fuse: Unframed at 11p
Ovation TV: The Code at 7p

Sunday’s Premieres
Bravo: Real Housewives of Potomac at 9p
CW: Fridge Wars at 8p, Taskmaster at 9p
Epix: Britannia at 9p
Netflix: Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything
Travel Channel: The Osbournes Want to Believe at 10p
Univision: ¿Quién Es la Máscara? at 8p

Sunday’s Finales
Food Network: Worst Cooks in America at 9p
HBO: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark at 10p
Showtime: Outcry at 10p

IN THE NEWS

Sarah Barnett is stepping down as President of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios after Labor Day. This is a year that has confronted us with radical change on multiple fronts,” said Barnett, who has been with the company for 12 years. “After a lot of consideration – and with a slightly breaking heart – I have decided that it is the right time for me to follow my curiosity and leave things in the very capable hands of the outstanding team at AMC Networks.” The company’s networks will report to COO Ed Carroll until a replacement is found.

CBS All Access got a big content boost, part of the SVOD’s transformation into what ViacomCBS described as “a diversified super service for the company.” More than 3,500 episodes across ViacomCBS’ portfolio of entertainment brands will now be available on CBS All Access, including series from BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian Channel and more. “Today marks the beginning of an exciting evolution of CBS All Access into the subscription streaming home for ViacomCBS and a preview of what’s to come,” said Marc DeBevoise, Chief Digital Officer, ViacomCBS and President & Chief Executive Officer, ViacomCBS Digital. “As the first Network to market with a branded direct-to-consumer service more than five years ago, we have the advantage and experience of building it from the ground up, establishing distribution points across all major platforms, creating a service with high user engagement and low churn, and crafting a robust slate of exclusive originals from which we continue to build.”

Discovery, Inc. is joining the On Addressability initiative, to unlock addressable advertising capabilities across its suite of 18 US networks. The initiative enables Discovery to offer advertisers dynamic ad insertion in both VOD and linear environments delivered to aggregated household audiences across the Charter, Comcast and Cox cable television footprints. “Discovery has long been at the forefront of the movement to bring linear addressable advertising to the US ad sales market,” said Keith Kazerman, EVP, Digital Sales, Advanced Advertising and Research, Discovery, Inc. “This initiative is a major milestone and represents a huge step forward in scaling Discovery’s addressable offering.”

The Universal/AMC groundbreaking deal for a 17-day theatrical window is a “complement rather than a replacement for a robust theatrical release,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in a 2Q20 earnings call. “There’s a growing segment of the population out there who doesn’t go to movie theaters. This structure with AMC allows us to take advantage of people who do go to the movie theaters, 17 days of exclusivity at minimum for theaters, but very soon after in the same marketing window, we can tap into that very large audience who doesn’t go to movie theaters, but is just going to SVOD to watch movies…We think this structure allows us to tap into this incremental revenue stream, allowing AMC to share in it a little bit.”

In NBCU earnings news, revenue dropped 25% in the second quarter, to $6.1 billion. Advertising was down 27%, and distribution revenue slipped 15%. Still, Comcast beat analysts’ forecasts, with adjusted earnings 69 cents per share, versus expectations of 55 cents. And Jeff Shell was optimistic about advertising, noting, “While the advertising market was hit hard, it is coming back more rapidly than we anticipated and upfront is now in full-swing.” Shell also revealed that Mark Lazarus, named Chairman, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming in May, is finalizing a new executive structure “that will demonstrate the unique way we plan to manage this business going forward.”

The Emmy Awards are officially going virtual. In a letter to acting nominees, the show’s executive producers said, “As you’ve probably guessed, we’re not going to ask you to come to the Microsoft Theatre in downtown LA on September 20th.” Instead, technicians, producers and writers will film nominees “and loved ones or whomever else you choose to be with” at home or another location of their choosing. Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the ceremony on ABC.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga landed the most nominations for MTV’s 2020 Video Music Awards, with nine each. Billie Eilish and The Weeknd earned six apiece. The show – featuring new categories “Best Music Video From Home” and “Best Quarantine Performance” – will take place live on Sunday, April 30 at 8p.

Law enforcement requests for Amazon user data is on the rise. The company’s latest transparency report showed Amazon received 23% more subpoenas and search warrants and 29% more court orders in the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019. Data comes from Amazon.com retail, Echo devices and Fire tablets.

Leah Remini (The King of Queens) will host pop culture crossword game show People Puzzler, based on the puzzles in People magazine. The show is slated to premiere on Game Show Network in early 2021.

Showtime is partnering with the Human Rights Campaign for Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative, aimed at preserving businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community. Applications for the initiative will be accepted through August 14.

Altice USA has agreed to sell its Lightpath fiber business, serving the New York metro area, to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners for about $3.2 billion. Altice USA gets a cash infusion, but will retain majority control of Lightpath. “Bringing in a strategic investor allows Altice USA to focus on operating our core businesses while infusing the capital needed to grow Lightpath and maximize shareholder value,” said Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is back as national sponsor of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations’ annual Clear The Shelters nationwide pet adoption campaign. The month-long effort runs through August, with the goal of helping more than 1,000 animal shelters and rescues find new forever homes for the pets in their care. Clear The Shelters has resulted in more than 410,000 pet adoptions since the program went national in 2015.

Comcast Corp. is playing ball with subscribers who paid for sports networks in 2Q20, but didn’t get to see any games. “We have consistently said that we would pass along all credits or any other adjustments we receive from regional sports networks to our customers, and will be offering adjustments to our customers based upon the Major League Baseball games that weren’t played in the second quarter because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said.

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PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

VICE scored a season two order from Showtime. “In the most challenging conditions imaginable, VICE serves as our collective conscience, delivering vital reporting from around the world, often at great risk to themselves,” said Vinnie Malhotra, EVP, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime. “We could not be more proud of the work the team has done, and we’ve marveled at their exceptional investigative and in-depth reporting.”

WildBrain has teamed up with filmmaker Kevin Smith (Mallrats) to develop an original animated series based on the superhero franchise, Green Hornet. The new animated series will target a family audience and feature classic Green Hornet elements.

Acorn TV has commissioned romantic procedural Cannes Confidential with Acorn Media Enterprises from Dramacorp. The Acorn TV Original 8-parter is casting now; production will begin in early 2021.

Submarine has optioned the rights to Matt Haig’s bestselling sci-fi novel Echo Boy to adapt as a hybrid live action/animated series. The studio is partnering with long-time collaborator Tommy Pallotta, who co-developed the animation technique used in A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life and Undone, for the Echo Boy project.

Swirl Films has secured the life rights of rapper, entrepreneur and activist, Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell. Swirl and Campbell will develop and produce scripted and unscripted projects highlighting Campbell’s influence on the entertainment industry, as well as his community-driven activism.

NEW & RETURNING SERIES

A Wilderness of Error, a true crime docu-series based on the bestseller about Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army surgeon sent to prison for killing his family, premieres on FX on Friday, September 25 at 8p.

PBS Kids preschool series Elinor Wonders debuts Monday, September 7. The animated show encourages children to learn about the natural world using their science inquiry skills.

HBO Asia’s Invisible Stories, an anthology drama that explores the lives of migrant workers in a Singapore housing community, lands in the US on Monday, August 3. All six episodes will be available to stream on HBO and HBO Max.

Also coming up on HBO is docu-series The Vow, exploring NXIVM, the self improvement group/cult whose leaders have been accused of sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy. The series debuts Sunday, August 23.

Season 11 of Wild Boar Fever premieres on MyOutdoorTV on Monday, August 31. “Since acquiring the series three years ago, we have seen the popularity of the show grow where it’s now proving to be one of our most popular shows internationally,” said Outdoor Sportsman Group President and CEO Jim Liberatore.

Warrier begins season two on Cinemax in October. Based on the writings of Bruce Lee, the crime drama is set during the Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 19th century.

XiXi Yang, the founder of digital publisher XYZ Media, announced the launch of pop culture show Pop News Edition, targeting a multicultural audience and focused on human interest stories. Beginning August 4, daily short segments will air PopNewsEdition.com, with a 30-minute format of the series airing weekly on Amazon and Hulu.

Season four of Nat Geo’s Savage Kingdom returns Friday, August 14 at 9p, narrated by Charles Dance (Game of Thrones).

STREAMING SCOOP

CBS All Access’ offerings will include the first spinoff of SponegeBob SquarePants. Prequel Kamp Koral, originally intended for Nickelodeon, will debut on the streamer early next year.

Peacock has signed up 10 million subscribers since its limited launch in April and nationwide debut this month. “NBCUniversal successfully launched Peacock in cable’s footprint in April, ahead of the streaming service’s U.S. nationwide launch earlier this month, with 10 million sign-ups to date,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement with the company’s earnings report.

The Streamy Awards will run on YouTube on December 13, YouTube’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony honoring online video creators is a collaboration with Tubefilter, dick clark productions and YouTube.

TECH TALK

Apple crushed it its fiscal third quarter, with revenue of $59.7 billion versus a forecast of $52.25 billion. The board approved a stock split that gives shareholders three extra shares for every share held.

Also handily topping analysts estimates was Amazon, with total revenue for the quarter $88.9 billion, versus the $81.56 billion expected. Said CEO Jeff Bezos, “This was another highly unusual quarter, and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful to our employees around the globe. As expected, we spent over $4 billion on incremental COVID-19-related costs in the quarter to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers in this time of high demand.”

Alphabet reported total sales of $38.3 billion, beating estimates of $37.33 billion, but below last year’s sales of $38.94 billion. “In the second quarter our total revenues were … driven by gradual improvement in our ads business and strong growth in Google Cloud and Other Revenues,” said Alphabet and Goolgle CFO Ruth Porat. “We continue to navigate through a difficult global economic environment.”

A contracting economy didn’t seem to hurt Facebook, which reported 27 billion monthly active users, up 12% from the prior year. The numbers “reflect increased engagement as people around the world sheltered in place and used our products to connect with the people and organizations they care about,” said the company, adding that as stay at home orders ease, engagement is expected to be flat or decline. Revenue grew 11%, to nearly $18.7 billion for the quarter. The advertiser #StopHateForProfit boycott for the month of July didn’t affect second quarter figures.

COMING UP

PaleyImpact series BET: Uniting Brands and Networks for Change premieres today, July 31 at noon on the Paley Center’s Facebook page. “Media platforms and powerful brands are uniquely positioned to be catalysts for change,” said Scott Mills, President, BET. “At this critical juncture, we must leverage our content and influence to combat the longstanding scourge of systemic racism and the many horrific ways it manifests, including violence upon our community and the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.”

Also today – National Heatstroke Prevention Day – AccuWeather is jumping in with programming and content featuring tips and advice on handling the heat from medical experts, the Red Cross, and KidsandCars.org under the AccuWeather Ready banner.

And tomorrow – #National Girlfriends Day – TV One is running a marathon of episodes of Girlfriends, from 6a-8p.

CASTING

Richard Flood and Anthony Hill have been promoted to series regulars for season 17 of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. Stefania Spampinato, who has been recurring on Grey’s and Shondaland sister show Station 19, will be a series regular on season four of Station 19.

GOING GLOBAL

One Animation has secured a international deals with broadcasters in Europe, Latin America, and across Asia Pacific for the season three and specials of preschool comedy Oddbods. Among the broadcasters onboard are teleTOON+ in France, TV3 Catalunya in Spain,Turner Latin America, and Mango TV in China.

London-based Beyond Rights announced acquisition deals with five new producer partners, totalling 35 hours of factual content. Shows include Undercut: Wooden Treasure, from GiUMA Produzioni in Italy; Race to Victory, from CIC Media; Filthy House, from Gobstopper; Trump in Tweets, from Wonderhood; and documentary The Unremembered, from Uplands Television.

Canada’s Boat Rocker Studios announced a new round of international sales for tween drama The Next Step, which saw its 200th episode premiere on CBBC in mid-July. The latest deals are with CMORE Scandinavia,Dreamia Portugal, RTE Ireland and HOT Israel.

Zodiak Kids it is producing a new entertainment series, Ultimate Video Skills. The 20-episode series will be available on Sky’s on-demand service, Sky Kids and on streaming service NOW TV in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland next month.

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RATINGS

Major League Baseball has been a hit among sports-starved fans. Average viewership for TV network games from July 23-26 was 1.23 million, according to Nielsen, versus 680,000 for the same period last year.

UPtv was on a hot streak in July, with delivery up +68% in HHs and +54% in W25-54 versus year-ago, and W25-54 rank among ad supported cable networks improving 18 slots from July 2019.

Food Network’s July Live+3 ratings for P25-54 are heating up for both Prime and Total Day, with year over year gains of +7% and +4% respectively, and up for M25-54 (+14% in Prime, +10% in Total Day). The network has reached nearly 40 million viewers to date this month and currently ranks as the #2 non-news cable network in Total Day and the #3 non-news cable network in Prime among P25-54. Discovery Inc. sib Cooking Channel is on track for its highest-rated July in network history, with Prime ratings up 6% year over year for P25-54, and up double-digits for W25-54 and Millennials P25-34, +14% and +19% respectively.

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Wednesday, July 29
Show, P2+ 0000s, (A18-49)
ABC: United We Fall 3.69 (0.5), The Goldbergs 2.10 (0.4), The Conners 1.93 (0.3), American Housewife 1.53 (0.3), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.31 (0.3)
CBS: Tough as Nails 3.46 (0.5), The Price Is Right 2.99 (0.4), SEAL Team 2.06 (0.4)
CW: The Hundred 0.35 (0.1), Bulletproof 0.34 (0.1)
FOX: MasterChef 1.41 (0.4), Ultimate Tag 1.15 (0.4)
NBC: Chicago Med 3.31 (0.4), Chicago Fire 3.46 (0.4), Chicago P.D. 3.25 (0.4)
Telemundo: Exatlon Estados Unidos 1.04 (0.3), Cennet 0.98 (0.3), Enemigo Intimo 0.69 (0.2)
Univision: Te Doy la Vida 204 (0.6), Medicos Linea de Vida 1.48 (0.4), Como Tu No Hay 1.64 (0.6).
Source: Nielsen live + same day time period averages

EXECUTIVE MOVE

ViacomCBS Networks UK announced the appointment of Sarah Rose as Chief Operating Officer. Rose joins ViacomCBS from Channel 4, where she was most recently Chief Consumer and Strategy Officer.

Summer Friday Fact
Some species of sharks are carnivorous in the womb – the first tiger shark pup to hatch will eat its siblings.

This Day in History
1936 – Tokyo was awarded the 1940 Summer Olympics, but they were moved to Helsinki due the Second Sino-Japanese War, then canceled due to World War II.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Who played Ted’s calculating boss in Better Off Ted (2009-2010)? Portia de Rossi. Kudos to: Douglas Hochstadt-Disney/NYC, Dennis Maguire-Apple/Tampa, FL, Joel Maxwell/NYC, Alee Petrucelli-BBC Studios/NYC, Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station, TX, Matty Fera-Bader-Rutter/Milwaukee, Paul Blutter-Walk and Talk Production Rentals/Burbank, Kerri Huyck/Kennewick, WA, Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

Today’s Trivia Question
Road Rules (1995-2007) was inspired by an episode of which series? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: a limit of four answers per time zone.)

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FRIDAY JULY 31
ABC: Shark Tank, 20/20
CBS: The Greatest #AtHome Videos, Magnum P.I., Blue Bloods
CW: Masters of Illusion, Masters of Illusion, Masters of Illusion, Whose Line Is It Anyway, Whose Line Is It Anyway
FOX: WWE Friday Night Smackdown
NBC: The Wall, Dateline NBC
PBS: Washington Week, Firing Line With Margaret Hoover, Great Performances
Telemundo: Exatlon Estados Unidos, Cennet, Enemigo Intimo
Univision: Te Doy la Vida, Medicos, Linea de Vida, Como Tu No Hay

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