12/03/20: Discovery Inc. offers details on new SVOD, discovery+


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Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Thursday December 3, 2020

Today’s Premieres
A&E: “Killer Cases” at 10p
Discovery: “BattleBots” at 8p, “Rocket Around the Christmas Tree” at 10p
Fyi: “Barret-Jackson Revved Up” at 9p
HBO Max: “Stylish with Jenna Lyons,” “Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults”
HGTV: “Flipping Across America” at 8p
ID: “A Time to Kill” at 9p
Noggin: “Kinderwood”
Science Channel: “Mysteries of the Abandoned” at 9p, “Conspiracies Decoded” at 10p
Sundance Now: “The Commons”
YouTube: “Pinkfong Wonderstar”

Today’s Finales
DIY: “Flea Market Flip” at 9:30p
TLC: “When Skin Goes Wrong” at 10p


“The global SVOD market will never be the same,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Inc., during Wednesday’s announcement of the launch of discovery+. The non-fiction subscription streaming service will debut in the US on January 4, 2021, in a partnership with Verizon that gives customers with select plans 12 months of the new service. In the US, discovery+ will offer more than 55,000 episodes, with over 2,500 current and classic shows from Discovery’s portfolio of networks. As part of a new content partnership, discovery+ will also include non-fiction content from A+E Networks’ A&E, History Channel and Lifetime, as well as a collection of nature and environmental programming headlined by BBC’s natural history offering, and content from The Dodo.

It’s all about teamwork. “We have been working methodically the past two years to bring all of our strategic advantages to the launch of discovery+, including distribution and advertising partnerships around the world, a world-class offering of quality brands, authentic personalities and the largest content library at launch, as well as a broad slate of exclusive programming,” said Zaslav. “With discovery+, we are seizing the global opportunity to be the world’s definitive product for unscripted storytelling, providing households and mobile consumers a distinct, clear and differentiated offering across valuable and enduring lifestyle, and real life verticals.”

Discovery+ will have 1000 hours of content in its first year, including additions to TLC’s hit 90 Day Fiancé franchise; food series including “Luda Can’t Cook,” starring rapper Ludacris; Martha Stewart as lead topiary judge in “Clipped”; and true crime series like ID spin-off “American Detective with Joe Kenda.” Also featured will be episodes from series headed for upcoming network Magnolia.

The second half of the final season of historical drama “Vikings” will have its first window not on History, which commissioned the show, but on Amazon. All ten of the new episodes will drop on the streamer December 30. History will have second window rights.

Sixty-five percent of 13-34 year olds think stories about athletes are more interesting that the actual games they play, and 75% like to learn about lives of athletes outside of sports, according to Whistle Wise report, “A New Age in Sports Consumption.” Other key findings include:
• Less than 2 in 5 Gen Zers watches more live sports than their parents.
Millennial males are 77% more likely to consume sports related content on cable TV than Gen Z males.
• 65% of Gen Z males consume sports content on social media.
• Showing athletes in a positive and fun format is more interesting to young fans than drama or scandal.

GroupM revised its 2020 US ad spending forecast. In June, the company projected a 13% drop, but has adjusted that to 9%. Factor in political ads and the dip is 3.9%, for a total of $228.1 billion. Next year, GroupM projects a gain of 11.8%, and 4.8% for 2022.

ViacomCBS released its first Environmental, Social and Governance Report, “Action: ESG at ViacomCBS,” focused on data through 2019 and the company’s global ESG priorities to date in three core areas: On-screen Content and Social Impact, Workforce and Culture and Sustainable Production and Operations. The report also provides select data and details on ViacomCBS’ efforts thus far in 2020, including the company’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and events of racial injustice in the United States. “ViacomCBS is focused on how we use the power of our platforms as content creators to meaningfully impact the issues that matter to our employees, audiences, partners, communities and investors,” said Bob Bakish, President and CEO of ViacomCBS. “As we all continue to cope with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, as well as a racial reckoning in the US, we recognize and embrace our unique role as a global content powerhouse that shapes culture, social attitudes and societal outcomes.”

President Trump’s nomination of Nathan Simington for the FCC gained approval by the Senate Commerce Committee, with a 14-12 vote along party lines. Simington would replace Michael O’Rielly, a Republican whose approval for another term was withdrawn in August after he expressed reservations about repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prevents web sites from being held liable over content created by third party users.

Speaking of, President Trump threatened to veto a military funding bill unless congress repeals Section 230, tweeting that it constitutes a “serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity.” Trump said if Section 230 is not “completely terminated,” he will be “forced to unequivocally VETO the [military funding] Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk.”

NBCUniversal has sold “Dateline” in more than 75% of the country for its fifth season in national syndication. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will also air on local stations, five days a week in broadcast syndication beginning fall 2021. “Both ‘Dateline’ and ‘SVU’ are time-tested, fan-favorite quality programs with a foundation in compelling storytelling that continues to generate pop culture buzz,” said Sean O’Boyle, EVP of Syndication Sales, NBCUniversal Syndication Studios. “‘We’re excited to offer our broadcast station partners these gold-standard premiere brands in both scripted and unscripted crime genre programming.”

In recognition of International Day Of Persons With Disabilities today, December 3, the International Labour Organization is recognizing Netflix’s “Crip Camp” with a conversation centered on the Higher Ground Productions’ documentary. “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” will focus on disability equity in employment in a talk that includes actress Marlee Matlin, disability rights activist and one of the subjects of “Crip Camp,” Judy Heumann, “Crip Camp” co-directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, and producer Andraéa LaVant.

TV5Monde USA has rebranded TiVi5, its 24/7 children’s channel. The rebrand has a new thematic look and feel, celebrating children, respect for the planet and an openness to other cultures.

Final Deadline! Final Call for Best of the Best Entries

Today is the day. Get your entries in for the Best of the Best Awards. What have you put out this year that deserves industry accolades? What creative initiatives or out-of the-box partnerships have you taken on to maneuver through 2020? We want to know! Cynopsis’ Best of the Best is looking to honor the best of our industry.

Nominate your best here by 11:59 PM PST tonight!


Adult Swim ordered “Teenage Euthanasia,”
an animated comedy produced by PFFR and animated by Augenblick Studios. Co-created by Alissa Nutting and Alyson Levy, the show focuses on a family working at their Florida funeral home dealing with a runaway family member who returns as a corpse and is resurrected by a bolt of lightning. “Alissa and Alyson have created both a world and a family that everyone can relate to, laugh at, and ultimately feel relieved that they aren’t a part of,” said Michael Ouweleen, President of Adult Swim.

Fox hit “The Masked Singer” was renewed for season five. Produced by Fox Alternative Entertainment, the competition series is based on a South Korean format.

Also coming back is CBS All Access’ “Texas 6.” The football docu-series scored a season two renewal just days after its debut on November 26.


Helen Hunt (“Mad About You”) has joined the cast of Starz series “Blindspotting,” a spin-off of the 2018 film. “It is such an honor to have Helen Hunt in this series,” said showrunner Rafal Casal, who co-wrote, produced and starred in the original. “We became friends after she tweeted about her love of the film and we have long looked for a project to do together. She has been our first choice for the character Rainey since we dreamed this show up.”

Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”) will play an anchor at UBA News on season two of Apple’s “The Morning Show.” New series regulars also include Greta Lee (“Girls”) and Ruairi O’Connor (“The Spanish Princess”).

Piper Perabo (“Covert Affairs”), Kevin Daniels (“Council of Dads”) and Mallory Jansen (“Galavant”) have been added to the cast of Fox pilot “The Big Leap.” Perabo will take over the role originally given to Laura Benanti, who had to leave due to a scheduling conflict, while Daniels replaces Matt Lucas, who also had a conflict due to a change in the production timeline.

Gabrielle Dennis (“Rosewood”), Page Kennedy (“The Meg”), Diamond Lyons (“All Screwed Up”), Khali Daniya-Renee Spraggins (“Empire”), and Jermelle Simon (“Animal Kingdom”) are onboard Netflix comedy “The Upshaws,” centered on a working-class family in Indiana.


FreeWheel, A Comcast Company announced it will be leading ad decisioning across all NBCUniversal properties using their new AutoScheduler technology, which streamlines NBCU’s scheduling process by analyzing ad breaks within linear campaigns, and automatically filling the complete schedule. The tool can dynamically place spots across NBCU networks and enable more efficient delivery against a marketer’s target demographic. “Our goal is to help marketers reach any audience at scale, on any screen,” said Ryan McConville, EVP, Ad Platforms and Operations, NBCUniversal. “With the same discipline and response time as a digital ad server, the AutoScheduler technology will help clients reach their target demos across linear with accuracy and precision.”

Mediaocean announced enhanced capabilities in its Scope product for TV Reach Extension that connects linear TV audience intelligence with CTV and closed ecosystems like Facebook. The new audience intelligence tools provide advertisers the ability to deduplicate audiences, manage reach and frequency, eliminate waste, and focus on incrementality across multiple channels. “CTV is exploding in terms of consumer viewers and providers. This is driving subsequent growth in advertising but CTV is one channel in a broader converged television mix,” said Anupam Gupta, Chief Product Officer at Mediaocean. “Most DSPs don’t touch linear TV or social media at all, given this inventory is typically only available via direct sales or API integrations, not through exchanges and SSPs. Our Scope product was purpose-built to operate within and across the walls of closed ecosystems, including converged television.”

People-based advertising software company Viant has added digital media network Firefly as its first media owner for its cloud-based Data Lake, which provides brands, agencies, and media owners a holistic view into their structured and unstructured data, within one platform. With Viant’s Data Lake, media owners can access tools to understand their users at a deeper level; develop their own tools or reporting solutions; and each their audiences off property through audience extension solutions.

DoubleVerify, the software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics, announced the launch of the DV Publisher Suite, designed to reduce the administrative overhead required to manage third-party revenue and measurement data, empower publishers through actionable inventory insights, and automate proactive optimization with tools that identify and resolve delivery issues. “Publishers deserve to be compensated for the quality content and programming they create, and audiences they garner,” said Matt McLaughlin, COO of DoubleVerify. “The DV Publisher Suite provides the measurement, insights and tools to improve ad delivery, enhance inventory quality and drive performance — all with the goal of boosting yield.” At launch, publishers using the DV Publisher Suite include Hearst, Meredith, Healthline, TechTarget, Univision, Comcast, Mashable, Remedy Health Media, among others.

IAB Tech Lab has released the Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines 2.1 for public comment for a 30-day period, offering standard metrics for podcast content and podcast ads to provide a common language for measurement. The new guidelines have significant updates over the current version, which was last updated in 2017, including a new section with guidance on user agent structure, recommendations for IPv6 IP addresses, and a number of additional podcast player recommendations. The guidelines 2.1 define four metrics: Download, Listener, Ad Delivered, and Client-Confirmed Ad Play. “The podcast industry has remained vibrant during the global pandemic. Podcast listeners are loyal and highly engaged which makes them an appealing target for marketers,” said Shailley Singh, VP, Product and Global Programs, IAB Tech Lab. “However, this medium is currently under-utilized due to industry challenges around a commonly agreed-upon set of metrics. The IAB Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines is designed to address this by creating a consistent set of podcast advertising metrics so buyers and sellers can engage in a conversation about campaign strategy with confidence.”

Clinch, provider of cross-channel dynamic creative optimization technology to advertisers, announced the launch of their real-time shoppable video ad units. Clinch shoppable video solution enables advertisers to incorporate unlimited and rich data feeds, such as location, inventory, products, and offers, in real-time. Clinch shoppable videos can also accommodate functions that promote user interactivity, such as QR codes, surveys/polls, message sequencing, gamification, dynamic maps and more. “We’ve positioned ourselves at the intersection of data and video commerce – a space where we see immense value,” said Oz Etzioni, CEO of Clinch. “By enabling brands to push commerce through video, we’ve opened up an entirely new revenue channel that was historically reserved for awareness.”

Vistar Media, provider of software for digital out-of-home, has announced the integration of Accretive Media’s proprietary Accretive Audiences targeting segments into its platform. Advertisers using Vistar’s platform have exclusive access to Accretive Media audiences to activate against ranging from locational data points, psychographics, shopping behaviors, among others. “Too much OOH data today is merely repurposed mobile data that doesn’t consider the nuance of the out-of-home market,” said Craig Benner, CEO and Founder of Accretive Media. “Accretive Audiences merges data science and out-of-home data, providing data sets specifically created to reach these audiences in this format.”


Amazon.com Inc. is in talks to acquire podcast producer Wondery (“Dirty John”), reports the Wall Street Journal. The deal would value Wondery at more than $300 million, sources told the WSJ.

“The Masked Dancer,” hosted by Craig Robinson (“The Office”), will stream on Fox Entertainment’s Tubi. The competition series premieres Sunday, December 27 at 8p on Fox, following the NFL on Fox doubleheader.

Estrella Media has launched its KSDX-EstrellaTV and Estrella News content on Samsung TV Plus. “Estrella Media’s mission is to champion and celebrate Hispanic communities as important and influential voices everywhere in American culture, and partnering with Samsung TV Plus allows us to deliver our award-winning and ‘in-culture’ content to new audiences on new platforms,” said René Santaella, EVP, Digital & Streaming Media, Estrella Media.

LGBTQ+ streaming platform Froot, recently launched in the UK and Ireland, has commissioned three new shows from drag performers: “Divina Di Campo: A Red and Silver Christmas,” which will be available to stream on Tuesday, December 8; and “Rosie Runs Riot” and “The Sweat Set with Dolly Trolley,” both currently in pre-production.


All four episodes of HBO Max Original “Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults” launch today, December 3, focused on the UFO cult that ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil. What draws viewers to stories like this? “I think one of the main reasons is that, while these groups, their foundations and belief systems seem so incredibly hard to understand, they still manage to attract devoted followers, and in many cases, ascend to unbelievable heights in terms of wealth, power and influence,” Ross Dinerstein, Campfire CEO and executive producer, tells Cynopsis. “Particularly, our series examines how the leaders of Heaven’s Gate were able to recruit so many well-educated individuals, from good homes and families, slowly brainwashing and indoctrinating them into increasingly extreme beliefs and practices. These people weren’t who you’d traditionally think of as ‘lost souls,’ and the series really drives home the point that this could happen to anyone.”

OWN adds to its Friday night unscripted lineup with “Belle Collective,” launching Friday, January 15 at 10p. The new series centers on the personal and professional lives of five “boss women” in Jackson, Mississippi.

AMC+ will air “The Walking Dead Holiday Special” on Sunday, December 13, with current and past cast members video chatting about the zombie drama and the holiday season.

The 2019 disappearance of 7-year-old JJ Vallow and his stepsister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, from their home in Rexburg, Idaho is explored in ID three-hour event “Doomsday: The Missing Children,” premiering Sunday, December 20 at 9p on ID. The show looks at events leading up to the disappearances through the eyes of the children’s grandparents.

Community” alums Ken Jeong and Joel McHale will host “Fox’s New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2021,” a live year-end special kicking off Thursday, December 31 from 8-10p, and picking up at 11p. “Ken and Joel together are one of the funniest duos out there,” said Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment & Specials, Fox Entertainment. “These two have been toasting and roasting each other on national television for years, so they were the perfect pair to ring in the New Year.”

ComplexLand, Complex Networks’ immersive digital experience, announced the initial Showtime Theater lineup. Onboard for the free, virtual multi-day event taking place Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 11 are T-Pain, Nate Robinson, Keisha Howard, and Josh Hart. Desus Nice & The Kid Mero, hosts of their eponymous Showtime show, return to Complex for fireside chat “Desus & Mero Explain 2020.”


Filming has begun on Banijay Studios Italy scripted series “Un Professore.” Set for Rai1, the drama will be directed by Alessandro D’Alatri. Alessandro Gassmann, has been cast in the leading role of Dante, a teacher who employs philosophical thinking to help his students deal with life’s problems.

All3media International has partnered with ITV Studios Australia to sign a new format deal with the Australian broadcaster, Network 10, for game show “The Cube.” ITV Studios Australia will locally produce the show, originally created by Objective Media Group for ITV in the UK.

Cineflix Rights has signed deals ahead of the Asia Television Forum 2020. Among them: CREO Contents has acquired “Timeline of the Century” for Korea’s NATV channel; NHK Enterprises bought “Who Was the Real Neanderthal?” for CBC, Canada; and TVB Hong Kong acquired “Lost Treasures of Egypt” for UK’s Channel 4.


November was a good month for news networks. CNN had the biggest jump, 180% from the year prior, to 2.8 million total viewers, for its most-watched month ever. Fox News nabbed the most viewers, 3.94 million, up 41%. And MSNBC jumped 29%, to 2.7 million viewers, for its best month ever. Among A25-54, CNN drew 948,000 viewers, up 297% from the year prior, Fox News almost doubled, growing 97% to 827,000, and MSNBC rose 52%, to hit 536,000.

On Thanksgiving, “The Masked Singer” posted a 4.0 Live+3 rating among A18-49 and 13.1 million total viewers, making it this season’s #1 entertainment telecast across all of television. It was the highest-rated and most-watched episode since the season one finale, and Fox’s highest-rated Thursday night entertainment telecast in nearly seven years.

Fox Business Network ended November 2020 up 23% versus November 2019, with 230,000 viewers, and up 80% among A25-54. In Total Day, FBN garnered 183,000 total viewers (up 30%) and 25,000 A25-54 viewers (up 92%), while the net’s Market Hours programming saw increases across both total viewership (239,000, up 24%) and the A25-54 demo (28,000, up 87%) year-over-year.

During the November sweep, Univision reports its stations delivered the No. 1 newscast in midday, early or late news, regardless of language, in several markets including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Francisco. In eight of the top nine markets, Univision generated the No. 1 or No. 2 newscast among key demos and dayparts.

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Monday, November 30
Show, P2+ 000s, (A18-49)
ABC: CMA Country Christmas 4.24 (0.7), Disney Holiday Singalong 5.71 (1.2), The Good Doctor 4.02 (0.6)
CBS: All Rise 4.25 (0.5), Bob Hearts Abishola 4.92 (0.6), Bull 4.90 (0.5), The Neighborhood 5.52 (0.8)
CW: Penn & Teller: Fool Us 0.63 (0.1), Whose Line Is It Anyway 0.87 (0.2), Whose Line Is It Anyway 0.86 (0.1)
FOX: Filthy Rich 1.27 (0.3), LA’s Finest 1.59 (0.3)
NBC: The Voice 7.17 (0.9), Weakest Link 3.29 (0.6)
Telemundo: El Domo del Dinero 0.76 (0.2), Todo por mi Hija 1.66 (0.5), Falsa Identidad 0.97 (0.3)
Univision: Vencer el Desamor 1.75 (0.5), Imperio de Mentiras 1.23 (0.4), Dulce Ambicion 1.20 (0.4)
Source: Nielsen, live + same day time period averages


Jennifer Biry has been named Chief Financial Officer of WarnerMedia. Biry, most recently CFO of AT&T Communications’ mobility and entertainment divisions, replaces Pascal Desroches, who will become CFO of AT&T.

Quintus Studios announced the appointments of Anouk van Dijk as Head of Sales, and Luiza Mitteldorf as Digital Program Strategy Manager. Van Dijk was formerly Global Head of Sales at Zoomin; Mitteldorf has worked as a Digital Marketing Strategist for Berlin based companies such as Star Entertainment GmbH and Philophon.

CBC has appointed veteran journalist Robert Doane to the newly created position of Indigenous Advisor. Based in Prince George, B.C., Doane reports to Nick Davis, Director of Engagement and Inclusion.

AMC Networks announced that Seth Zaslow, who leads the investor relations function for the company, is stepping down at the end of the year to pursue other opportunities. The company’s investor relations group will now be led by Nicholas Seibert as Vice President of Corporate Development and Investor Relations.

Barry Wade has joined AccuWeather’s as Senior Producer. Most recently, Wade was Executive Producer at WPDE-TV (ABC) in Conway, South Carolina. Kim Leoffler starts as Multi Media Journalist Field Reporter on December 14, following experience at Spectrum’s Bay News 9 in Tampa, FL.

AMC Networks announced that film executive Arianna Bocco has been named President of the company’s IFC Films division. Bocco has spent more than a decade overseeing acquisitions and productions for IFC Films as well as genre label IFC Midnight.


This Day in History
1926 – Novelist Agatha Christie’s abandoned car was found; she disappeared for 11 days after learning of her husband’s affair.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
On “Soap” (1977-1981), who murdered Mary Campbell’s first husband? Mary’s second husband, Burt, murdered gangster Johnny Dallas. Kudos to: John Ferlazzo/London, Eric Litt-Nexstar-Chicago, LaKendra Kennedy-Sinclair Broadcast Group/Hunt Valley, MD, NJ, Lisa Ciancarelli-CBS Television/NYC, Shannon C. Malone-deBenedictis-Redrock Films/Silver Spring, MD, Sasha M. Wolff-Discovery, Inc./NYC, Paul Blutter-Walk and Talk Production Rentals/Burbank, Kevin Moran-Blarney Productions/Pasadena, CA, Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA, Dan Haberer-Creo Entertainment/Playa del Rey, CA

Today’s Trivia Question
Which hour-long NBC drama was the first to star a woman? (Email [email protected] 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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ABC: Station 19, Grey’s Anatomy, A Million Little Things
CBS: Young Sheldon, B Positive, Mom, The Unicorn, Star Trek: Discovery
CW: iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Greatest Moments, World’s Funniest Animals, World’s Funniest Animals
FOX: MLS Pregame, MLS Soccer
NBC: The Voice, Law & Order: SVU, Dateline: NBC
PBS: This Old House, Ask This Old House, Nazi Mega Weapons, Antiques Roadshow
Telemundo: El Domo del Dinero, Todo por mi Hija, Falsa Identidad
Univision: Vencer el Desamor, Imperio de Mentiras, Dulce Ambicion


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