Is Hulu Ready to Take on Netflix and Amazon?

April 27, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When Hulu launched in 2008, the ad-supported streaming service wasn't a big priority for owners Fox, Disney and NBC. "It was like, if the ship is going to blow, at least we have an escape pod, but we don't want to equip this escape pod so well that everyone would prefer it to being on the ship with us," Forrester analyst James McQuivey put it. While Hulu attracts 30 million monthly uniques and 6 million consumers signed on for subscription service Hulu Plus, the company has been surpassed in buzz, breakout content and critical acclaim by competitors including Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go/HBO Now. "Suddenly for Hulu," said McQuivey, "it's either put up or shut up time." As Hulu prepares for its April 29 NewFronts presentation, it is squarely in the "put up" column, celebrating major coups in terms of both original series (including 11/22/63, a limited series from J.J. Abrams and Stephen King) and acquisitions (exclusive SVOD rights to all 18 seasons of South Park). "We have a mandate to swing for the fences," said Craig Erwich, svp, head of content for Hulu. "There has definitely been a mandate to get in business with the best talent that's available, support them creatively and financially, and be ambitious in terms of talent and creative vision." To that end, Hulu has spent much of the past six months making one major content announcement after another. The biggest by far was 11/22/63, based on King's best-selling novel from 2011 about an English teacher (James Franco) who finds a time portal and tries to prevent President John F. Kennedy's assassination. There's also Difficult People, a sitcom executive produced by Amy Poehler and starring Billy Eichner; Casual, a comedy exec produced by Jason Reitman; and The Way, a drama exec produced by Friday Night Lights and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims. "On the acquisition side, we are acquiring the best of the best," said Erwich, referencing "landmark" SVOD deals for South Park, several present and future FX series (including Fargo and The Strain) and Empire, this season's biggest new series. "So anything we do on the originals side has to measure up." In the process, Hulu hopes to finally land the signature series that has long eluded it. "These new shows stand to really crystallize the Hulu brand in the hearts and minds of not only viewers but also advertisers, in a way that Mad Men may have crystallized AMC or what House of Cards did for Netflix," said Peter Naylor, svp, advertising sales at Hulu. "So I couldn't be given a better slate of programming to bring to market, especially in a crowded upfront/NewFronts season where everyone's trying to turn people's heads." Hulu knows it needs more than marquee names to keep pace with Netflix and Amazon. "Deservedly so, J.J. Abrams and Amy Poehler get you sampled and noticed," said Erwich. "But the shows have to stand on their own." Of course, when you take big swings, there's the potential for big misses. "Hulu has to be committed to a good couple of big swings in a row," said McQuivey. "And if all of them miss, then you fall back on a distribution strategy." Not gonna happen, insists Hulu, which just pulled off yet another huge deal last Thursday with Turner, acquiring exclusive SVOD rights to a variety of TNT, TBS, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network series, including The Last Ship, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Robot Chicken. "We have a lot of momentum," said Erwich, "and we plan on continuing to capitalize on it."

Read More

The Future May Belong to Web and Mobile Video, but TV Will Survive

April 27, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Television is dead! Long live television! This, the ancient cry of royal succession, is entirely appropriate to herald what's happening right now—literally before our eyes—to the medium of television. TV has ruled our lives and lifestyles, our news and entertainment, our politics and (through advertising) our economics since network broadcasting began in 1949. And now its sovereignty is over. Randall Rothenberg Illustration: Alex Fine "Linear TV has been on an amazing 50-year run, [but] Internet TV is starting to grow," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said earlier this month, in announcing superb earnings for the streaming TV pioneer. "Clearly over the next 20 years, Internet TV is going to replace linear TV." Far be it for me to disagree. For what are the Digital Content NewFronts but an example of the revolution that is roiling television's half-century hegemony? Well, pssst, buddy, let me let you in on a little secret: The princeling that's replacing television … is television. Like the British monarchy or any long-lived royal line, TV has proved remarkably resilient and adaptable during its history. From black-and-white to color, from broadcasting to cable, from 15-minute newscasts to 24-hour news networks, from The Beverly Hillbillies to Mad Men , from wait-until-reruns to on-demand, television has been, is and probably will remain a near-perfect evocation of Darwinism, evolving rapidly to meet changes in technology, consumer interests and marketing needs. True, the changes television is undergoing now are breathtaking, in volume and speed. Prime time has become an anachronism. Today, Emmy-winning, high-quality shows, once the domain only of a specific time and device, are available across multiple devices at any hour of the day. We rarely sit down together as families and friends to watch a TV show after dinner. We watch the programming we love, on our own, several times a day, wherever we happen to be. And that family and friends with whom we hashed it over? That would be our social graph—an ever-present (and ever-growing) real-time feedback loop. The once-unmatchable power of the 30-second spot is also on the decline

Read More

Check Out These Photos From the 2015 FX Upfront

April 24, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Call it bowling for ad dollars. FX held its 2015 upfront event at Lucky Strike Lanes in New York Wednesday night. For the sixth year in a row the 21st Century Fox network corralled its talent for a night of bowling with assorted ad buyers and media. In fact, other than a few words thanking people for attending, executives let the chatter and alcohol flow. Instead of learning about upcoming series, attendees got to experience life just like the stars of the shows they watch: Cuba Gooding Jr. wrangles the last plate from the buffet just like the rest of us. Louis C.K.

Read More

BET Announces 7 New Shows and Looks Beyond TV for Growth

April 24, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Singer Tyrese was dubbed the "Mayor" of the BET upfront presentation Thursday night at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center. His constituents included Brandy, Kelly Rowland, Mack Wilds, Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifah. The night was full of surprises, including veteran rapper MC Lyte's elaborate "freestyle" about the Viacom network's ratings success, and boxers Andre Ward and Paul Smith came on stage to promote BET's first boxing event—part of a Roc Nation sponsorship; and a performer dubbed "Nelson Nielsen" interrupted the presentation to explain how he's the only black man in America with a Nielsen box. "We are the trendsetters; we are the influencers," said BET president of ad sales media Louis Carr. "We believe that black consumers experience our content—our sites, everything that we do—in a much different way than they do any other media company because of the relationship that they have with us." The network that delivers more African-American viewers than any other is adding seven new programs: Chasing Destiny: Kelly Rowland searches for the next Destiny's Child. About the Business: A docu-series following a group of friends in urban Hollywood. Criminals at Work: A docu-crime series about crimes committed in the workplace. Zoe Moon: Brandy plays a single mother in this sitcom. The Label: A docu-series about the rise and fall of classic record labels. DeSean Jackson: Home team: A series about the women who run the NFL star's life. Punk'd: A reboot of the prank show tailored for a BET audience. "We've got a slate of programing coming up that's going to engage our audience," BET president of programming Stephen G

Read More

The ESPYs, Growing Beyond Die-Hard Sports Fans, Will Air on ABC This Year

April 23, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The 2015 ESPYs will not be airing on their longtime TV home of ESPN, but on sister network ABC. The ESPYs, with lead sponsor Capital One, will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, July 15. Moving to ABC gives the awards—which recognize major sports achievements of the last year—a broader audience that is not uniquely sports-centric. The ESPYs have transcended the sports world in recent years, attracting celebrities from TV, film and music. The event is now held at Nokia Theater L.A. Live. The move also puts the awards show in front of a larger potential audience. Subscription-based ESPN is in about 95 million U.S. homes, while free over-the-air ABC can be found in approximately 113 million U.S. homes. "We can't think of a better way to celebrate the show than to offer it a larger landscape for more people to participate in the celebration," said Robert Mills, svp of alternative series, specials and late night programming for ABC. The Walt Disney Company owns ABC and has an 80 percent stake in ESPN. (Hearst owns the other 20 percent.) Two pre-award shows, SportsCenter at The ESPYs and The ESPYs Countdown Show, will still air on ESPN.

Read More

How Mike Rowe went from the Opera to Dirty Jobs

April 23, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Mike Rowe got his first big break in TV because of a bar bet and a pencil. Rowe, the longtime host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, who now presides over CNN's Somebody's Gotta Do it, told AdweekTV the key to landing the job of your dreams isn't by doing something you love, but by doing something you're good at. "Learn to love it later," he says.

Read More

Check Out These Photos From the 2015 MTV Upfront

April 22, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

New York's Beacon Theater hosted the 2015 MTV upfront presentation for advertisers. The Viacom network unveiled eight new shows with another 85 in development.

Read More

MTV Wants To Make Millennials Scream

April 22, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If MTV wanted to make it clear that it was the network for millennials, it did so with aplomb during its 2015 upfront presentation at New York's Beacon Theater Tuesday night. Featuring its top hosts and a concert by pop singer Jessie J, the network showcased what it would have to offer through the lens of the youth themselves. "All these MCNs (multi-channel networks) saying TV is dead, they are in our offices begging to be on MTV," Girl Code host Nessa said on stage. The network introduced eight new series, renewed 10 others — and announced a whopping 85 more shows in development. Returning shows include: Girl Code Teen Wolf Catfish: The TV Show Teen Mom 2 Awkward MTV president Stephen Friedman explained his slate of shows express millennials' "unbridled optimism" despite the fact that their "big dreams are harder to achieve." "It means layered and ironic entertainment," Friedman said. "The virtue they value above all others is hustle." Among the new shows: America's Best Dance Crew All Stars: Road to the VMAs which will focus on dance teams as they take on VMA-themed challenges. Middle of the Night Show: A late night talk show developed with College Humor, in which host Brian Murphy arrives unannounced in a random celebrity's bedroom and convinces the star to be the show's co-host on the spot. Scream: The TV Series, based on the hit 90s horror series by Wes Craven, debuting June 30. MTV has updated the iconic slasher films for modern times, complete with references to connected homes and extremely rapid text messaging. (Sadly, Ghostface has gotten a makeover. The new mask is still spooky, but we have to admit we're a little nostalgic for the vintage look.) If you needed further proof the 90s are back, MTV will also air Follow The Rules, a reality TV show about rapper Ja Rule. Despite the fact many of MTVs key demographic is too young to have experienced hits like "I'm Real" and "Put It On Me" while they were on the charts, MTV proudly touted the half-hour documentary series as a way for fans to keep tabs with the entertainer as he raises his family of teens and college-aged kids. Echoing previous moves to include more online influencers in its programming, MTV will also be adding Todrick, a reality TV series debuting Aug. 31 about YouTube star Todrick Hall—who has amassed more than 180 million views on the platform—as he creates dance and music videos. It is also developing a scripted comedy series around Vine star Logan Paul, who has more than 7 million followers on the app and 20 million Vine views. The series will chronicle Paul's early days as an social media star. Throughout the event, MTV prided itself on being able to connect marketers with the young demographic they covet.

Read More

Comedian Rob Corddry Says Working at The Daily Show Sucked the Fun Out of News

April 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Specs Age 44 Claim to fame Creator and star of the Emmy-winning Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital (Fridays at midnight); star of the upcoming HBO show Ballers (premieres June 21 at 10 p.m.) Base Los Angeles Twitter @robcorddry What kind of TV do you watch? To be honest with you, I don't consume a lot. I haven't watched live news in eight years, ever since The Daily Show. I will read Digg on the toilet while I'm doing my morning constitutional. I'll flip through The New York Times over breakfast. Mostly I just let headlines wash over me. People think they're consuming information, but I really think it's mostly just mind-numbing. Did working at The Daily Show [as a correspondent from 2002 to 2006] just suck all the enjoyment out of the news? It absolutely does. Your job is not to make fun of the news so much as it is to make fun of the ways in which the news is delivered. And 24-hour news stations in general created an epidemic where news is created, rather than reported. Deflate-gate, or whatever they were calling it, was non-news that overpowered anything even remotely important. Bias aside, it became more disgusting the longer it was around. That's just pervasive. How specifically do you think that constant grind hurts the news? As far as I know, good, proper analysis of an event cannot happen within minutes. Breaking news is not what they think it means. Twitter has become a popular place for both newsgathering and for comedians to try to workshop jokes. Is that appealing to you?

Read More

TV Land Renews Younger and Comedy Central Brings Back Inside Amy Schumer

April 21, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

TV Land has given the green light for a second season of Younger, starring Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar, Miriam Shor and Nico Tortorella. The Darren Star-produced series follows Liza, played by Foster, a 40-year-old woman who pretends to be 26 in order to get a job in the publishing world. TV Land says Season 1 of the show, which concludes June 9, has reached 20 million viewers across multiple platforms including TV Land, TVLand.com, Nick at Nite, Hulu and video on demand. "We couldn't be more excited that audiences are discovering Younger and falling in love with our fabulous cast," said Star in a statement. "I can't wait to have everyone back in New York to shoot Season 2." Another Viacom network, Comedy Central, is renewing Inside Amy Schumer for a fourth season. The third season of the provocative sketch comedy show premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET, with guest star Amber Tamblyn and—with the help of Method Man and Amber Rose—the premiere of Milk, Milk, Lemonade , an ode to the female anatomy and booty videos.

Read More