PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Apple TV+ announced a two-part Boris Becker docuseries from director Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) and producer John Battsek (“One Day in September”). The filmmakers had special access to the tennis sensation for more than three years, until late April 2022, when Becker was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for hiding assets and loans to avoid paying his debts. The series features a series of personal interviews with Becker, including an exclusive conversation with the champ the week of his sentencing. The series is a co-production between Battsek’s Ventureland and Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions, from Lorton Entertainment.
“God of War,” based on the PlayStation video game, scored a series order from Prime Video. The series, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (“Iron Man”), with Rafe Judkins (“The Wheel of Time”) as showrunner, follows Kratos, the God of War, on an epic quest. “We are so proud and excited to be working with our friends at Amazon Studios and our partners at PlayStation Productions to adapt this beautiful and heartbreaking game into a premium live-action series,” said Katherine Pope, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios.
Fox Entertainment and Modern Magic, a media company founded by filmmaker Rodney Rothman (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”) and producing partner, Adam Rosenberg, have entered into a broadcast direct agreement to develop animated programming for Fox Network. Content created under the broadcast direct deal will be fully owned and distributed by Fox Entertainment and produced by its animation studio, Bento Box Entertainment. Modern Magic will also look to partner on a variety of projects with additional animation production studios under its deal with Fox and Bento Box as the studio.
Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” will be directed by Charlotte Brändström (“The Witcher”), who directed two episodes in the series’ first season and has been named a co-executive producer; Sanaa Hamri (“Empire”); and Louise Hooper (“Flesh and Blood”). Season two is currently in production in the UK.
Argo Films has confirmed “Biafra,” a six-hour event limited series, as its first major television drama. The project is currently in development with the BBC, with global distributor and producer Fremantle attached as its strategic partner, and actor David Oyelowo (“Selma”) and his Yoruba Saxon Productions executive producing.
Tony Hale (“Veep”), Zosia Mamet (“The Flight Attendant”), and Tanya Reynolds (“Emma”) will star in Netflix period dramedy “The Decameron,” from Kathleen Jordan (“Teenage Bounty Hunters”) and Jenji Kohan (“Orange Is the New Black”).
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Grammy winner Jennifer Nettles will host Fox’s “Farmer Wants a Wife,” a fresh spin on the Fremantle format that has aired in 32 countries and resulted in 180 marriages. In the series, launching Wednesday, March 8, four famers show women from the city what it’s like to live like a rancher.
The CW will launch new DC superhero drama “Gotham Knights” on Tuesday, March 14 at 9p, after the season three premiere of “Superman & Lois.”
A different sort of superhero series launches Wednesday, January 11 at 10:30a on Disney and Disney Junior. Animated “Superkitties” follows four cuddly kittens who turn on their powers when trouble arises.
Family action adventure “Mystic” is back for season two on UPtv on Thursday, January 12 at 8p. Starting January 19 it will be double dose of family drama with the debut of “Wild at Heart,” focused on a veterinarian and his family who move to a game reserve, at 830p.
“Godfather of Harlem” returns Wednesday, January 15 on MGM+. Season three finds Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker) taking on the Cuban mob from neighboring Spanish Harlem.
The conclusion of Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” debuts as a two-night event on January 2 and 3 at 8p. “Surviving R. Kelly: The Final Chapter” focuses on the fallout of the former R&B star’s crimes as he faces multiple federal and state trials.
Starz cult comedy “Party Down” is being revived Friday, February 24 at 9p. Adam Scott (“Severance”) reprises his role as actor/bartender Henry Pollard, alongside original cast members Ken Marino (“Veronica Mars”), Jane Lynch (“Glee”), Martin Starr (“Silicon Valley”), Ryan Hansen (“Veronica Mars”) and Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”). Seasons one and two premiered back in 2009 and 2010.
Also back after a long break is “Frozen Planet,” the British nature docuseries that first aired in 2011. “Frozen Planet 2,” exploring wildlife dramas in the world’s coldest regions, makes its US premiere on Saturday, January 28 at 8p on BBC America and AMC+.
“Dear Edward,” a drama telling the story of the surprising consequences of a devastating plane crash, makes its debut on Apple TV+ on Friday, February 3. Written and exec produced by Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights”), the series stars Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”) and Taylor Schilling (“Orange Is the New Black”).
HGTV series “Rico to the Rescue” premieres Saturday, January 7, at 9p. Driven by his parents’ past experience with a crooked contractor, builder Rico Leon helps salvage renovations that have gone off the rails.
Apple TV+ sports docuseries “Super League: The War for Football” is set to debut January 13. The four-parter documents the high stakes battle that is set off when plans for a breakaway league emerge, leaving the game’s most powerful leaders to defend, or upend, the traditions of the sport.
The third and final season of Hulu’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” kicks off Wednesday, February 15, following band members as they go on separate journeys.
Ariana Grande will serve as a guest judge on the season 15 premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” airing Friday, January 6 at 8p. The series returns with back-to-back episodes and limited interruptions as it moves from VH1 to its new home, MTV.
Season four of A&E’s “Accused: Guilty or Innocent?” debuts Thursday, January 12 at 9p. The true crime series follows the stories of people facing trial, from the perspectives of the accused.
Dating series “MILF Manor” matches single women with men half their age starting Sunday, January 15 at 10p on TLC.
In an end of the year note to employees, Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, NBCUniversal, Advertising and Partnerships shared 2023 dates for NBCU’s Newfronts (May 14) and Upfront (May 15). “2022 was epic,” wrote Yaccarino, “but just wait for 2023.”
Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen team again to ring in the new year on CNN’s “New Year’s Live” from NYC’s Times Square. CNN’s Don Lemon man the mic in New Orleans.
MeTV’s Svengoolie Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Movie showcase, hosted by Svengoolie (aka Rich Koz), expands to two-and-a-half hours beginning January 7 with the premiere of “The Raven,” starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and a very young Jack Nicholson. The expanded timeslot allows for longer titles, and less editing.
The household penetration levels of the major subscription streaming services held mostly flat YoY, with the exception of Paramount+, which has jumped up to 17% from 11% driven by “Yellowstone.” That’s according to the latest DASH study from ARF, which noted Disney (41% up from 39%) and HBO Max (29% up from 27%) have risen slightly, while the market leaders, Netflix (66% down from 69%) and Amazon Prime (56% down from 58%), have declined slightly. Netflix and Disney remain the most shared services among both friends (12% and 13% respectively) and relatives (36% and 33% respectively).
Warner Bros. Discovery is continuing to remove titles from HBO Max as it puts together packages of shows to license to FAST channels. “Raised by Wolves,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “FBoy Island” and “Legendary” are among the latest shows being taken off the platform. This comes as WBD disclosed it expects to incur total pre-tax restructuring charges of $4.1-$5.3 billion, versus the earlier estimate of $3.2-$4.3 billion.
Music video network Vevo has extended its partnership with Amazon with the launch of 24/7 Vevo channels on Freevee. Each Vevo channel features linear programming dedicated to a specific decade, genre, or theme. “Amazon has already been a critical partner for Vevo in bringing on-demand, premium music video content to music fans via our Vevo app on Fire TV and Echo Show. We are excited to now expand our distribution footprint with Freevee in the FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) space, which is a major growth area for Vevo,” said Rob Christensen, SVP, Global Sales & Distribution, Vevo. “For our brand partners, this launch creates even more CTV advertising opportunities on the Vevo network.”
Dateline 24/7, Just for Laughs GAGS, Localish, and BET Pluto TV have joined Samsung’s offering of 250 premium channels. Samsung TV Plus is available in 24 countries and 465 million devices.
Outdoor Sportsman Group’s MyOutdoorTV is adding “Angler Stream,” the 24/7, ad-free streaming channel that features fishing shows.
The Super Arab IPTV streaming service pirated channels from Dish Network, determined a US District Court in Texas, and has been directed to pay Dish $2.1 million and stop streaming any content from the Al Arabiya, Al Hayah 1, ART Cima, CBC, CBC Drama, Future TV, Hekayat, LBC, LBCI (aka LDC), and Melody Classic channels.
Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group has partnered with Parrot Analytics in a multi-year marketing intelligence and innovation agreement that will enable Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group to access Parrot Analytics’ entertainment analytics and valuation product suite. “In this time of unprecedented industry transformation, we continue to be focused on innovation and successful value-creation strategies for the studio and our partners,” said Whitney Harris, SVP, Head of Data and Consumer Insights, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. “The capabilities offered by Parrot Analytics will enhance our marketing analytics and enable faster and better decision making to unlock the full value of our IP.”
Estrella Media has partnered with FreeWheel to expand its connected TV advertising business. The partnership will enable both companies to support the growth of Hispanic CTV across Estrella Media platforms. “Our passionate audience is watching more CTV than ever before,” said Rene? Santaella, Chief Digital & Streaming Officer. “We need to make sure they get an excellent free ad-supported experience surrounding the content they love. FreeWheel is helping our ad sales operation achieve better ROI on CTV so everyone wins.”
Cadent Aperture Platform announced a partnership with 605 to understand the full impact of campaigns and measure business outcomes. The combination of Cadent’s targeting capabilities and 605’s measurement and attribution solutions is intended to enable clients to run campaigns with a focus on fueling incremental consumer behavior, driving existing customer households to take action more often, and purchase or visit at a higher rate.
The Canela.TV free channel is now available on VIZIO’s free streaming service, WatchFree+ on VIZIO Smart TVs. Canela.TV on WatchFree+ offers over 10,000 hours of entertainment for adults and children.
Inscape, a provider of ACR data from VIZIO Smart TVs, has unveiled a proprietary TV audience weighting solution designed to build an ACR dataset that is nationally representative of the US population, called the National Representative Panel (NRP). The NRP calibrates a significant subset of smart TVs within the Inscape TV panel and balances it to the US Census, removing variances across audience segments such as age, gender, income, location, cable subscription, antenna usage and ethnicity.
Famer, the virtual sports coaching and mentorship platform, has struck a partnership with youth organization 3d Lacrosse. Under terms of the deal, Famer’s video production arm, Famer Productions, will work with 3d Lacrosse to produce a custom library of training videos covering everything from lacrosse skills, drills and game situations, to leadership and mental toughness. The on demand content will be provided to every member of 3d Lacrosse.
The Premier Hockey Federation has announced a significant salary cap increase for next season, doubling the amount from $750,000 to $1.5 million per team in 2023-24. Heading into the league’s ninth season, it marks the third annual salary cap raise and represents 900 percent growth since 2021. “This historic salary cap increase reflects the strength of our league and developing business model, and supports an enhanced player experience that over the last year has introduced full healthcare benefits, facility upgrades, league expansion, and a record 84-game schedule,” said Reagan Carey, PHF Commissioner. “We know how dedicated and selfless these players are to building more opportunities for women in sport, and the PHF is committed to prioritizing our support of these talented and skilled players on and off the ice.”
Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football’s” coverage starts at 7p with “TNF Tonight,” hosted by Charissa Thompson alongside Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Richard Sherman and Andrew Whitworth. Analysis of the NFL playoff picture, injury updates and news from around the league leading into kickoff at 8:15p include Tony Gonzalez and George Kittle discussing the tight end position, and a breakdown of the 49er/Seahawk rivalry.
NHL on TNT will be the exclusive US home of the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic®, pitting the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Boston Bruins on. Monday, January 2, at 2p from Fenway Park. Kenny Albert will provide play-by-play for the outdoor matchup, along with commentary from Eddie Olczyk and Keith Jones. 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic® coverage will begin at 1p with an hour-long “NHL on TNT Face Off Presented by Verizon” pregame show live from Fenway Park. Host Liam McHugh will be joined by Wayne Gretzky, Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter and Paul Bissonnette.
MultiStory Media has secured its first commission for streaming service ITVX. Using unseen archive and exclusive interviews, “Waco: A British Tragedy” will explore the story of the sizable British contingent of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian cult, and their experiences during the 51-day ordeal at Waco and its storming by the FBI in 1993.
Toonz Entertainment has secured a strategic deal with Sky UK Limited for its CGI-animated preschool TV series “Zoonicorn.” Sky has acquired rights for season one for Free TV, Basic TV, Pay TV, and SVOD in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and British Forces Overseas Bases.
Big Bad Boo Studios has partnered with Singapore’s Mediacorp on the new Children’s TV series “Galapagos X.” Mediacorp has acquired exclusive rights to air the new environmentally themed animated series on its free-to-air Singapore TV channel Okto on 5.